A Simple Grey Dress: McCall’s Learn-to-Sew M8064

Not every sewing project works out the way it is supposed to.

But let’s start with what went right. This fabric is a cotton baby rib knit, in grey, from Our Social Fabric. It might be the softest cotton rib knit I’ve ever used. And it’s on the thinner, drapey-er side. It’s so nice that I ordered more.

Our Social Fabric is a non-profit fabric recycling initiative, run out of Vancouver, Canada, selling donated fabric and fibre arts supplies online and in-person. In March, they kept 6,531 lbs (2,962 kilograms) of fabric and sewing-related supplies from ending up in landfills. That makes buying fabric here a bit more ecological.

The project requested by Kid No. 3 was a simple knit dress. So I bought McCall’s Learn-to-Sew M8064. It’s described as a pullover dress, fitted through bust, with neckline, sleeve and hem variations.   I made View C (long sleeves, crew neckline, knee length).

This is a very simple pattern with just 5 pieces (in View C).

This dress comes in sizes XS (4-6) to XXL (24-26). My daughter is a size 10-12, but I opted for the size Small (8-10).

This dress fits very large. If you make this dress, you will need to size down a lot.

I’ve been sewing for a long time, and have made a lot of items in knits. This pattern had an odd fit for a knit. 

In a close-fitting dress, in a knit, there should be negative ease. If you look at other popular patterns, the ease in the bust is negative, or zero.

  • True Bias Nikko Top And Dress 8101: -1.5″
  • McCalls 6886/8058: 0″
  • McCall’s 7561: 0″

If you look at reviews for McCalls 6886, 8058, 7561, people are often going down a size, to get that negative ease. 

If you look at this pattern, there is +1.5″ of ease in the bust. That means that going down just one size might not be enough.

I would recommend choosing the size based on whatever would give you about an inch of negative ease in the bust.

I ended up recutting the entire pattern, after having sewn it. What I finished with was smaller than the XS. I had to grade smaller, beyond the sizes listed.

I still had issues with the fit though. The neckline was very wide – more of a bateau neckline, and I had wanted a crew neckline. The shoulders were set very wide apart and extra low. 

I wonder if maybe the pattern makers used a pattern block for wovens and did not test? 

The pattern also used a 5/8″ seam allowance – which is odd for a knit (but typical for Big Four knit patterns). I had already trimmed down the seam allowances on my pieces before I started, but it was still very large.

I added cuffs to the sleeves and removed a bit of length. My daughter is a bit shorter than average.

In the end, after recutting, the dress is cute and does get worn, so I’ll chalk this up as a success. But I’m not likely to use the pattern again. It’s a bit disappointing, because this pattern had a lot of potential – cute design, multiple views that all look wearable, good instructions, quick to assemble.

Summary

Pattern Review: McCall’s Learn-to-Sew 8064. View C.
Fabric: Cotton Baby Rib Knit, Grey, from Our Social Fabric.
Size: S (8-10).
Cost: Pattern: About $15. Fabric: $18.80.
Sewing Level: Beginner
Modifications: I added cuffs, and recut the whole dress.
Results: Ok.

Author: Shannon Smith

Data scientist, journalist, sewist, hiker, modern quilter, slam poet, and mum of four. My best friends are trees and my favourite food is granola.

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