children's clothing · kids clothing · sewing

McCalls 6501

Ah, the making of this dress was a tale of woe.  It’s a good thing that the end product was so pleasing!  The pattern is McCalls 6501.

McCalls 6501 in silver foil spot printed cotton from Darn Cheap Fabrics

So, where to start? Maybe with the line drawing and pattern description.

GIRLS’/GIRLS’ PLUS TOP, ROMPERS, DRESSES AND LEGGINGS: Pullover top, rompers and dresses have back button neckband and narrow hem. B,C: elasticized upper back and blouson, dropped waist. C,D: button trim. A, B and E: gathered, single layer flounce (wrong side shows) with tab. A, D and E: back neck slit. Leggings have elastic waist and no side seams.
Designed for light to medium weight woven fabrics. F: Medium weight moderate stretch knits.
SUGGESTED FABRICS: A,B,C,D,E: Cotton, Cotton Blends, Challis. F: Cotton Knits, Jersey.

We chose to make view E, which is the view that is photographed on the pattern cover.  I had become a little wary about the sizing of girls’ patterns from the mainstream pattern companies, so after checking Clare’s measurements against those on the pattern envelope we decided to make size 8.  Now, I made a number of errors and had to make a number of changes when sewing this.  Error number one: the ruffle.

McCalls 6501 in silver foil spot printed cotton from Darn Cheap Fabrics

This is one of those situations where I should have read the instructions. You cut two of the ruffle. I assumed that I would then sew those right sides together and turn them inside out and then insert into the off centre front seam. Um, no. I was supposed to narrow hem each of the two ruffles, as they open out at the top and there is actually one sewn to each of the front pieces. Out came the unpicker, I undid all the ruffle stitching, went to the overlocker did a nice rolled hem on the edges, and I followed the instructions to attach the ruffles to the front pieces. I sewed the back pieces together at centre back, leaving an opening a per the instructions, sewed the front and back side seams….then realised that my fabric was incredibly see through. Time to cut out lining pieces.

McCalls 6501 in silver foil spot printed cotton from Darn Cheap Fabrics

I had plenty of cream silk/cotton in stash to use for lining, so used the front pattern pieces overlaid as one to cut one front lining piece, and cut two back lining pieces. The front and back lining pieces were then sewn together, and the centre back lining seam up to the opening. After unpicking the back dress finishing, I sewed the back lining to the back dress with right sides together, thereby clean finishing the centre back opening. I also sewed the lining and outer together around the armholes, clean finishing them as well. The original instructions had you turn and topstitch a narrow hem around the armholes.

McCalls 6501 in silver foil spot printed cotton from Darn Cheap Fabrics

By then I was on a roll – I sewed the dress to the neckband, and tried it on Clare. And it didn’t fit. The armholes were WAY too low, the neckband was too large, and the whole dress really didn’t work. I tried pinning out the excess a few different ways, and eventually decided that I needed to sleep on it. I did remember to take this in progress photo to show just how much fabric needed to be pinned out.

McCalls 6501 in need of lots of alteration

I think I spent most of the next day trying to figure out the best fix. In the end I cut off the neckband, rather than unpicking it, which instantly brought the armholes up about half an inch. I recut the neckband from my fabric scraps, and used a better quality interfacing on it. I shortened the neckband completely by taking one and a quarter inch seams at the shoulder seams (and trimming appropriately) rather than five-eighths of an inch, and trimmed the seam allowance where I was going to join the neckband to the dress back to about a quarter of an inch. I then joined the dress to the neckband, this time only using a quarter inch seam allowance. It worked beautifully with a much nicer neckband than the first one.

McCalls 6501 in silver foil spot printed cotton from Darn Cheap Fabrics

Of course, the saga wasn’t finished. I had taken the dress in quite a bit at the side seams up to the armhole. This time when she tried it on the armholes were a bit too tight and binding at the front. I was able to turn the dress inside out and scoop the armholes out further at the front, because of course when I’d taken it in I lost some of that armhole curve. Wish I’d thought that part through earlier. So another try on later, a quick press, and a narrow hem on both the outer fabric and the lining, it was done!

McCalls 6501 in silver foil spot printed cotton from Darn Cheap Fabrics

Thank goodness she likes it so much is all that I can say. The fabric came from Darn Cheap Fabrics by the way – it’s a cotton with silver metallic spots (that stick to the iron terribly if you are not careful) and it’s almost impossible to get all the wrinkles out. I made a top with the same fabric here. So, will this pattern get another outing? She has expressed interest in the halter neck romper version, but I am certainly in no hurry to make it at the moment.

McCalls 6501 in silver foil spot printed cotton from Darn Cheap Fabrics


11 thoughts on “McCalls 6501

  1. Looks great. I hate it, though, when you think “I’ll just run this up” and then ten hours later you’re still problem solving. But your end result looks very pretty, so well persevered.

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