PATTERN REVIEW: McCall's M7969
It seems like everybody and their neighbour has made the McCall’s M7969 dress, and I was feeling pressure to make a version as well since I’m afraid to miss out.
The popularity of the dress can be attributed to the bulbous raglan sleeves that are attached to a mock-wrap bodice that ends at the empire line. This dress has many views with different sleeve and skirt length options, but the bodice and skirt shapes remain the same throughout. The skirt is simply made out of 2 rectangles gathered at the seam where it meets the bodice. There are also sleeve and skirt ruffle options to add more flounce-drama if desired.
Everyone seems to favour View A, which has sleeves shaped like cloud pillows, gathered below the elbow with bias binding. Big sleeves have been a thing for more than a year, so I can see why this dress has appeal that is much bigger than its sleeves. First, it is not difficult to make; and the shape, though billowy, will flatter most body types. It has a relaxed feel, and there’s enough ease to simply pull the dress over your head to put it on. It’s roomy enough to accommodate a belly full of 12 spring rolls and 24 dumplings (very important!). In fact - it can accommodate a full tray of Dimsum and a baby - it can double up as a stylish maternity dress! Best of all, this dress feels like spring, and is the anecdote to pull one out of winter hibernation.
I chose a fabric that illustrates peacocks and other birds flirting on tree branches with budding blossoms at the height of spring fever. This is an Art Gallery Fabrics cotton poplin that is earth-friendly (OEKO-TEX). It was gifted to me as part of the Minerva Brand Ambassadors Program and the print is simply gorgeous. Warning: you can get lost for hours just looking at the details of it - turquoise skies, fecund pink and blue birds watching peacocks and peahens checking each other out, coral blossoms and green luscious leaves. It’s like wearing a sexy-bird painting. The fabric is 100% cotton and of medium weight. Even though the sewing pattern recommends using a lightweight fabric, this cotton poplin had the extra body to give the sleeves more structure and definition. The fabric is super easy to work with and the stellar print is a feast for the eyes. One can’t help but be cheerful working with it.
For contrast, I used a fuchsia linen that is in my stash for the bias binding that goes around the neckline, sleeve hems and back pocket. Oh right - the pockets. There are none provided in the sewing pattern, which is its greatest flaw. How can a joyful pattern like this NOT have pockets? To correct this, I added the pockets from the Peppermint Wide-Strap Maxi pattern to the dress. I chose these pockets because I wanted another pop of contrast colour at the pocket opening. Simple in-seam pockets can be used as well, but dear god! - put them in for an extra dash of happiness and sass when wearing the dress. Pockets RULE!
Another minor hack that I did was to lengthen the skirt length to to a midi. The original length for View A ends at the knee, and I just lengthened the skirt to whatever length the amount of fabric afforded me. It’s also a good idea to check out the miniscule finished bust measurements on the pattern itself to determine which size to sew up. Or measure the bottom edge of the completed bodice to make sure that the measurement will fit through the head and shoulders when putting on the dress. In the end, I settled for an XS even though my body measurements put me in size S. There’s quite a bit of ease written into the pattern.
As I said, it is not difficult to make the dress, but be prepared to invest some time in gathering up the sleeves and skirt, and hand-sewing the second edge of the bias bindings for sleeves and bodice. You might be able to get away with sewing down the second edge of the bias by sewing in the ditch, but hand-sewing produces the best results in my humble opinion. It is also less fiddly than trying to make it happen at the machine.
If you haven’t made the McCall’s 7969, then join in the fun, and inspire your neighbour to do so as well. I am doing my best impressions of a spring mating dance in the kitchen in my spring-awakening dress. But it’s definitely no match to the beautiful birds in the print, and the real ones chirping outside my window.