Sewing Fast and Slow: Quick McCalls 6886 and a Break from Tailoring

All right, well it’s been a busy and strange few weeks here in DC, and I’ve been a bit distracted from sewing things. Last week I finally started a new project (a Vogue 1247 skirt…), but it’s been slower going than it should.

So, today I’m offering up some reflections on past sewing.

First, two shiny new dresses which are no longer shiny or new but are unblogged. And then, a coat project update.

Here is Mccalls 6886 a very basic pattern for knit dresses.

These I made for myself as a reward for getting through a certain number of hours of work on my white whale of a garment — the topcoat for my husband. I felt like I really needed some quick satisfaction projects after spending so much time just trying to unf*ck my past mistakes.


For my first iteration, I used the scoop neckline of view D



But, erm, oh hey boobs.


Look, I don’t need the image of my struggles to keep things decent preserved on the internet, so you’ll have to trust me on this. Once, I accidentally threw my sorta-push-up bra in my gym bag instead of my make-me-look-flat-chested bra when I brought this dress to wear for the day. I was standing up uncomfortably straight all day long, shoulders pulled way back so as not to let the neck line fall away if I bent forward.

SO. Lesson learned, the next iteration is the (blurry) crew neck.












This one is also not perfect, but that’s because I effing goofed on the cutting layout and ended up supershort on fabric after I’d already  cut out the front and back of the dress. Between fabric wrangling and offerings to seam-ripper gods, I managed to eek out these sleeves from what was left. Let’s call them bracelet length.

Some pattern talk:

It’s awesome. It’s four pieces. It takes not much time to sew. And it’s for knits, which means you can totally fudge around some (but not all!) fitting problems.

I used a size 10 at the shoulders (experience with bigger pattern cos tells me my shoulders are narrow), a 14 at the bust (based on upper bust measurement) and a 12 at the waist and hips.

And in terms of adjustments, I:

:: shortened the bodice by 1/2″ between the shoulder and bust line (yes, even on the superlow scoop neck.).

:: shortened by 1/2″ at the waist.

:: shortened by 1/2″ at the hip line.

:: hacked 2″ off the bottom once all was said and done from the white and black one. I went even shorter on the floral.

:: Did an 1″ full bust adjustment. Using the Maria Denmark tutorial. Again.

:: I tried to make a sway back adjustment but just couldn’t get ish to lie properly once i did it. I think I only managed about 1/4”, but I could clearly use a little more. Check these wrinkly lower backs out!

m6886-1-3  mccalls-6696-47

These dresses have been really great this winter. Straight skirts look semi-professional, but stretchy fabrics mean I can easily manage biking to and from work and around the city for meetings and events. A jacket on top makes them acceptable ladyworkwear. Since both of these are winter dresses and worn exclusively at times I would wear tights, I cut them a bit shorter than I would warm-weather dresses. I like the proportions better, and it makes for easier biking.

For work-wear acceptability, I think it helps that both fabrics are relatively thick, which keeps the dresses from being too clingy.  The cross hatch is a non-scratchy wool blend from Emma One Sock. In the case of the Gorgeous Fabrics-procured floral scuba print, I was a little worried at how the white background of the fabric seemed to peak through when it was stretched out. See:


So on that version I reduced the seam allowances from 5/8” to 3/8” when stitching. That gave me an extra 1” of ease all around, and I’ve been happy with how it wears.

Also, guys, I did this:

m6886-1-4  m6886-1-5

What? The pieces had just been sitting there since last year.

It’s the Colette Wren, without a big enough sway back adjustment. But the rest of it’s all right.

(And yes, there must’ve been something very interesting just slightly out of frame on the floor for me to keep looking that way.)


Now, for the husband coat update. I’d written up a whole bunch of stuff about too-short facings and slip stitching, but this post was getting way, way too long, so I’ll save that for another time.


Instead, I’ll just leave you with a pic of the abso-fucking-lutely terrifying step of making the internal breast pocket. I used the Roberto Cabrera instructions for a Barcelona pocket. It worked, it wasn’t even that hard, and check this out.



  1. Love your dresses, they all look fab! love the wren, it’s on my to sew list. The pocket photo is awesome!!!!

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