Let me introduce my new favourite dress: McCalls 7974. This pattern is an almost identical match to the famous Cult Gaia Willow dress, so this pattern is the perfect way for home sewists to achieve the designer look but at a fraction of the cost. And yes, the pattern comes with the option to sew the puffed sleeves like the designer dress too. I chose to raise the neckline on my version for a more wearable day-to-day look, but that just makes me love this dress all the more, knowing I will feel comfortable wearing at any time.
Can we talk about the amazing fabric? This fabric (gifted) is called Animal Elements in the sage green colourway from Patterns and Plains. Whilst the fabric was gifted to me, all my opinions are my own. This is a medium – heavy weight viscose twill with the most amazing drape. It was easy to sew and press. I love both the colour and the print. And if green isn’t your thing, there are other colour options to chose from. You can also purchase the pattern from Patterns and Plains here.
In terms of pattern alterations I did do a 1 inch full bust adjustment (FBA). Here is a photograph to show you how I did that, and also how I altered the pattern to raise the neckline. On this version I raised the neckline by 3 inches, but in future I may reduce that to just 2 inches. I am also sharing a photograph of the altered front facing piece I created to allow for the raised neckline. I probably won’t make any sense until you come to make the pattern yourself 🙂
In case your wondering, and because I know you like to know these things, the front midriff seamline is about a quarter of the way over the lower part of my bust. I didn’t think the lines of this dress would suit me (having a large bust) but I love the effect. I didn’t have enough fabric to do the designer inspired sleeves, so I went for the puff sleeves with the tie detail. BTW, the inside of that opening is finished using bias tape. It was quite tricky to sew that opening. Next time I would probably make self fabric bias as you can see a hint of my bias tape peeking out.
Buttoned front dress has sleeve and length variations, fitted bodice with front midriff, back yoke and gathered skirt with side seam pockets.
I made a midi length version of view A.
6 – 22. I don’t think this dress is designed to be very fitted at the waist, so pick your size according to finished measurements and your actual body measurements to get the fit you want. I cut a size 18 through the bust, shoulders and arms, and graded out at the waist/ hips.
Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Yes, but I have raised the neckline by 3 inches.
Were the instructions easy to follow?
They are ok.
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I LOVE the finished dress. Probably my favourite dress that I have sewn certainly this year so far. Nothing to dislike, although I found it quite tricky to sew the opening on the sleeve view I made with the bias tape finish. Next time I would probably make self fabric bias tape.
A medium – heavy viscose twill.
Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
- I cut the skirt length at view A and added 5.5 inches of length to get a midi length
- 1 inch FBA
- Raised front by 3 inches – next time I might only make this 2 inches – and added extra button closures
- Added 1 inch extra width through the midriff front
- 5/8ths inch forward shoulder adjustment
- To allow for the extra width introduced through the FBA and midriff, I only took 0.25 inch seam allowance to sew the skirt front/ side front seams
- Took a 1 inch wedge out of the back bodice, tapering to nothing 4 inches from side seams
- Omitted the pockets
Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I might sew this again. It is a fabulous pattern. I do recommend.
For ladies with larger (or even smaller!) busts: don’t write this design off because the plunging neckline doesn’t appeal to you. A simple modification and I LOVE this dress.