I first became aware of McCall 6363 when Debbie Cook did a series of posts on it. You all know how I love a knit dress, and a knit dress with interest and tummy disguise? Fuggedaboutit. I had to have it. When I went looking for the pattern I realized why I'd never seen it before, as it is available only in plus sizes.
Debbie's ultimate conclusion on the pattern was "Don't buy it," so perhaps it is lucky it only comes in plus and I had to draft my own. I bought the pattern to study the pieces and use the instructions.
To draft this pattern, you start with a basic t-shirt dress. I used Burda 01-2009-106. Can I tell you how nice it was to trace a pattern that already came in size 34 and didn't have to be graded, and is on the old, less dense pattern pieces? It was sooooo easy. I raised and slightly widened the neckline, but otherwise used it as is.
The back is used as is. All I did was alter it for swayback.
For the front pattern piece, I first doubled it so I had a full size piece (the front is cut single layer).
Next, I marked the waistline all the way across the piece and cut from the left side almost all the way over to the right, leaving a little hinge in the seam allowance. If I were to do this again, I would split it 1" or 1.5" above the marked waistline. I found that having the growth right at the waistline means that the weight of it falls below the waist, so I lose a little bit of waist definition.
I spread the bodice up almost to 90 degrees (in examining the M6363 pattern piece I extended the grainline full length and then created a horizontal grainline to determine the angle at which their bodice is tilted) and then filled that in with a diamond of tissue, rounding the extending edge.
The front grainline runs down CF of the skirt, and the bodice bends over to be almost on crossgrain. I was surprised by how little fabric this took (my fabric was 60 wide, though). I had only 1 5/8 yard, but the front and back fit together along the width of the fabric so I only needed the length of the dress, a little more than a yard. I have plenty left for making panties.
My pattern piece is not shaped entirely like the McCall's. On theirs, the right side (without the tissue extension) runs straight down from the armscye, while mine is sharply angled. I think they did not split the pattern all the way to the side seam, but stopped short of it and added the extension to 2/3 of the bodice rather than the entire bodice (a possible alternative I discuss in my video).
Debbie Cook observed (and I confirmed) that the front neckline and shoulders on M6363 are not symmetrical. She thought that might be necessary to compensate for the differences in grainline and volume. Mine is symmetrical and I have no trouble with the way it sits--but keep in mind that I am flat-chested, which makes things easier fitting-wise (in this instance, at any rate).
Once the pattern is created, it is very simple to cut out and sew. The dress is just four pieces, a front, back, and two ties. I cut my ties 6 inches wide and about 25 inches long.
To construct, you first create "the growth." It is my guess that the drafter of the McCall pattern was influenced by Japanese design. The idea of adding a growth seems similar to some of the pieces in Drape Drape 2, as well as what I've seen of Pattern Magic (never seen the book in person, just on blogs).
Anyway, you first hem the tip of the growth to create an opening. The sew together along the edges until you get to the waistline (i.e., the end of the tissue extension and back on the original pattern).
Next you place your ties and sew the side seams. This is where I found McCall's directions confusing. In the McCall version, both ties are sewn to the right side, a fact that they do not actually come out and say. The growth radiates from the left side and then is pulled across the body to the right. One tie is sewn to the outside of the dress, and the other to the inside. The inside tie is pulled through the hem on the growth. I did mine differently, with the outside tie sewn into the left side, the side from which the growth radiates. It is pulled across the back. The inside tie is sewn to the right side, the side to which the growth will be pulled. This closeup shows the draping.
I found it hard to take photos and explain how this works, so I used my new favorite blogging toy and made another video:
To finish the neckline and armscye I used a twin needle. For the neckline, I used clear elastic slightly shorter than the length of the neckline to ensure that it stayed snug. I have never made my base pattern, Burda 01-2009-106, as drafted. A Burda size 34 is usually perfect for me at the shoulders and bust and #106 is meant to be close fitting, but I found this somewhat large. I'm not sure if it's all the result of my added tissue or not.
The hem on the M6363 pattern is straight and I used the same on mine. I think that is the right call, though the hem drapes a little weird at the front. Tweaking the depth of the hem didn't seem to correct it, so I think it's just a function of the extra fabric. I did not want to call attention to the not-perfectly-parallel-to-the-ground hem by using a double line of straight thread, so I used a machine blind hem. It came out truly invisible in this fairly substantial poly knit.
It would be fun to experiment more with this pattern. As mentioned in the video, I would like to see if there's a way to make the growth work if drafted smaller and pulled the other direction (pulled left instead of right). As I was playing with it, I realized the design principle is somewhat similar to the Vogue 2064 Donna Karan top and dress I made several years ago, only without the wrap skirt.
I didn't know exactly what to expect when I had this all put together, but I was pleasantly surprised! I love the casual-chic vibe this dress gives off, and the slightly bloused front is right on trend.
I made this as a muslin for my Very Special Silk Jersey that I am determined to sew after 3 years, but unfortunately it came out more trendy than I thought. I don't know how long that blousing will be in style, so it's out of the running for the Very Special Fabric. I definitely plan to make another for Fall/Winter, though. Maybe my chain link fabric, to play with the stripes? The snakeskin pattern on the fabric for this dress is vertical, and I love the way the vertical design gets modified by the front pattern piece.
This was a totally fun project, and I promise you that anyone with a t-shirt dress pattern can make this happen. I urge you to give it a try!
All photos are here and the pattern review is here.