McCall’s 3415: Pride, fall, yadda, yadda

McCall's 3415

I am feeling summery-dressy.  What better way to move on to my next sundress triumph than to finally get around to the lovely McCall’s 3415? I love this pattern so much—the sleek line, empire waist, CF seam. The high, round-neck version is my favourite. And I just happened to have this fabric perfectly matching view C on the pattern envelope. I pulled out the pieces, did some quick tracing, pin-fitting, and even made up the bodice-lining as a kind of muslin to check the fit. Everything looked good.

What could go wrong?

Those of you with keen eyes may have noticed that this pattern is Misses’ size 10. Most of the 70s patterns I’ve made up to now have been a size 12.

Now technically both my bust and hip measurements are in between these two sizes, and I’ve read advice that when choosing a size from the big 4, if you’re between sizes, go with the smaller one. And with the few modern Big 4 patterns I’ve made for myself (hmm, that might actually only be one) I’ve ended up with the 10. But 12 seems to be a more common size in the single-size vintage patterns that have thrown themselves in my way, so I’ve often gone with that, and, at least for Simplicity, have my alterations pretty much worked out. The addition of a padded bra to bring my bust up to the official size-12 range, and I’m good to go.

I’m not nearly so clear for McCall’s patterns, having only made up one for myself, and that one being basically unfitted. And a size 12.


Still, when you’re using $2/metre thrift store fabric, you can’t really justify much in the way of muslining. So off I went. I liked where the under-bust seam was falling, so I didn’t petite the bodice. I did do a small swayback alteration in the back, but that was all. I blithely added side-seam pockets, even remembering to interface the front side seam allowance (a tip from the Marcy Tilton book) so they don’t bag out. The bodice is intended to lined, with lining and shell cut from the same pattern piece. This is of course just asking for the lining edges to roll out, especially as it would be pretty near impossible to understitch those narrow parts around the neck, and I wasn’t feeling up to painstakingly making a lining piece taking into account turn of cloth, so I went with my old standby: piping. Yay! Is it possible for a wardrobe to have too much piping? We shall see…

Piping and button-loops

The pattern instructs you to use hooks and eyes for the non-overlapping closure at the back of the neck. I’m not a fan of hooks and eyes generally, and this definitely seemed a little flimsy (not to mention Becky Home-Ecky), so I made little tiny spaghettie strap button loops. I cut them on the bias, used the bobby-pin method to turn them, steamed and stretched and ironed the crap out of them until they were as skinny as I could get them, and I think I’m in love. I’m also a little astonished I was able to find a bobby-pin in my house, but anyway. The cute little buttons are from the stash, and probably are of a similar vintage to the pattern, if not older.


And then I got it all stitched up, minorly flubbing the invisible zip because I was too lazy in the zone to re-read Sherry’s tutorial. It’s okay, not great, and I did have to rip to re-position the waist seams so they matched.

And then I made my worst mistake yet. I tried it on.


Oops. Ok, so it’s not totally, totally awful. The bodice is pretty much perfect, barring a small amount of gaping at the sides that probably has more to do with my poor fabric-handling technique than anything else. But that is, ah, a wee bit MAJORLY tight through the hips. And there’s the wrinkling in the back. And a bit of gaping over the pockets, probably to do with the tightness in the hips (the Marcy Tilton book also discusses the amount of ease you need to have side-seam pockets in a skirt, and I’m pretty sure I don’t have it here. Also the side-seam swings back, suggesting I need a bit more booty room. This is, shall we say, a bit unusual for me.Hmm.So, depending on how you squint your eyes, I did one of two (possibly three things wrong. Arguably I should have shortened the upper part of the skirt to accommodate my short waist, which would basically bring up the wider part lower down to where the width is needed. Alternatively, slashing and spreading to widen the skirt from waist down would’ve done much the same thing. For fun, I took a tuck with a bunch of pins.


I didn’t do as good a job pinning up the back (it’s tricky with the zipper) but I think that’s a definitely improvement in the front. The side-seams are still pulling back a bit, though, which I think means that more booty-ease is still needed in the back.

All of which is fascinating, but doesn’t help me save the dress’s current incarnation. At this point I’m considering removing the pockets and just making the side-seam as small as I can, but since I already serged the seam this won’t increase it by much. Maybe enough to at least lose the worst of that stuffed-sausage look, though… Alternatively I could try an add a godet at each side-seam, but that seems risky, too…



Filed under Sewing

19 responses to “McCall’s 3415: Pride, fall, yadda, yadda

  1. Tenshi

    Why don’t you rip the underbust seam and shorten it there? That might not be a perfect solution, but it might work well enough. You could always fudge a new waist curve where you need it afterwards. Or you just recut the pattern pieces for the knee-length skirt from your current skirt pieces, but with more room across the hips.

  2. This just kills me. Beautifully made but fits like hell. Since I don’t do muslins this has happened more times than I can count. I now have a dress form that was made from my body. I recommend it !!

  3. How far does the zipper go down in the back? I could see a slightly ruffly flounce put in the center back seam assuming the zipper isn’t too far down. Or I vote for the pintucks. You could do multiple little tucks there.
    Love the high halter neck and the piping.

  4. Bummer 😦 That looks like a hard fabric to fit w/o bulges showing. My solution might be a girdle-thing, lol. Not the greatest for hot weather, though.
    Tenshi’s idea of shortening the skirt is a really good one! Or you could wad it up in a corner until it fits one of your daughters, lol.

  5. Oh, this happens to me too. Although I’m so terrified of “too small,” I often make beautiful things that are too big. Ridiculously huge, in fact. After a certain point, you can’t take in the seam anymore because it loses its shape, so some things have ended up complete wadders.

    I would try Tenshi’s idea. Since you have to take out the zipper to do that anyway, you could try putting it back in with a smaller seam allowance in the center back and that should help with the pulling across the butt. Speaking as someone with a prominent rear end, this actually doesn’t look that bad to me. I regularly walk around in clothes that pull WAY more at the back seam, since I’m just now learning to fit for it.

  6. Oh, man. That’s a gorgeous dress! I was thinking along Tenshi’s line as well – Rip off the skirt and cut some off the top. That bodice is too pretty not to save!

  7. I was going to say unpick and redo the zipper with a smaller seam allowance. Speaking of someone with, um, BOOTY, this can help. Maybe doe a lace insert at the side seams? I know that’s kind of elaborate but lace is always my answer when I want to fix unsightly issues. All my dresses have lace at the bottom because I suck at hemming!

  8. Grr! Why do y’all have to be so right all the time? ;). I was really hoping not to unpick everything… /sniffle. But you’re right, Tenshi has the right idea. /sigh. (… off to find the seam ripper…)

  9. Re: elizabeth (aka Lady K)’s suggestion of lace-insert at side seams.
    If you don’t like the look of lace on the dress, maybe use 1.5-2″ wide pieces of the fashion fabric instead and pipe those seams as well too (it”d make it look like they were supposed to be there ;))? If need be you could still unpick the empire-line seam and raise the whole skirt-section upwards if you fancy 🙂

  10. Oh, it’s so gorgeous! I would do the unpick at empire waist and bring it all up thing. I have a really short waist too and have the same trouble with many dress patterns. Really, it’s not that my ass is too big. It’s just in the wrong place….

  11. I’m always running into this too short waist thing, too. I like the pin-tuck. And the bodice is beautiful. Love the piping! And those button loops! I’ve got to try that!:)

  12. I say make a new skirt out of contrasting or patterned fabric making the appropriate adjustments and use the existing bodice. Sometimes there’s just no saving it. You can use the discarded skirt fabric to line another bodice, or waistbands or pockets.

  13. Joy

    It’s gorgeous! And the fit on the bodice is so nice that I don’t think you’ll regret doing a little unpicking in the skirt. But then I wouldn’t worry too much about the side seam…something only the sewist’s eye would see.

  14. It’s beautiful. Do unpick the waist seam; that seems like the solution to the inexperienced me…
    The colours are pretty, and i LOVE piping. I can relate there.

  15. Beautiful dress, and great suggestions above – it CAN be saved. I love the piping and lace insertion suggestions the best – I may file those for a future project 🙂

  16. Pingback: Sometimes you just have to walk away. | Tanit-Isis Sews

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