I’ll get right into it. I just finished sewing another dress—actually, I should say I just finished sewing another PINK dress. I know, right? I dunno. I guess I’ve been on this kind of girly, pink kick lately. (If you followed my last post, I made a very cute pink plaid fit and flair).
I think maybe because it’s February and I’ve been meaning to make some kind of Valentines Day dress but my sewing ended up being way too late. Oh well, even if I did manage to make something to wear on Heart Day, it would have been too cold to attempt to wear it, let alone be dressed up and go out and try to celebrate anything. (BTW, how are y’all faring so far during this unusually cold Winter? I say “unusual” for the benefit of us SoCal peeps. I dunno about you, but my hands and feet have turned to blocks of ice and have not thawed since December. Dang, it’s cold….)
Anyway, as I was saying, I just finished another dress in the form of the McCalls M7974. I’m usually very late when it comes to getting into trends, so naturally I became interested in this dress long after seeing so many gorgeous versions of it on IG. I really liked how it seemed to fit so beautifully on many body types. I figured, why not me as well?
- The M7974 silhouette is reminiscent of tea dresses from the 40s. The bodice is a low v-neckline with close-fitting top panels that are gathered underneath the bustline. the midriff is also close-fitting and join the bust at the bottom point of the neckline. The back is one piece and it is also slightly gathered in the middle.
- This dress is intended as a button-down and there are A LOT of them! It calls for 13 and I believe I used 12. I’m sure you can work around this with a back zipper or possibly snaps underneath some faux buttons.
- There are variations of sleeves (or no sleeves if you wish). I really love the tie sleeve so I went with version A. The keyhole of this will need bias binding of some sort. I made my own with my fabric for matching purposes.
If you are interested in sewing a dress in this style, there are some rare true vintage 40s sewing patterns if you are lucky to find them, but there are also vintage repros (M7974, obvs) and other great indie brand patterns that are more accessible, such as Gertie’s Society dress (Patreon exclusive only), and Sew Over It 1940s Tea Dress (available in PDF and print.) Click/tap on image to enlarge.
(L-R: Advance 3875 / Du Barry 5037 / Society Dress via Gertie Patreon / Weldons Pattern 148713 / Sew Over It 1940s Tea Dress)
Fabric & Notions
The pattern suggests cotton blends, crepes, lawn, and charmeuse. I’m not sure about knits or stretchy fabric for this pattern specifically, but I’ve seen other dresses with this silhouette in knits and even stretch velvet. I used a lovely premium cotton from Art Gallery Studio. I fought over whether to go with a print or a solid. I naturally gravitate towards a print when it comes to light colors. I also battled over whether to use my beloved black or gray hues…but like I said, I’m on a pink kick after all. I ended up choosing a Mauve hue (aka, “Mauvelous” per AG Studio.) Even though this shade technically belongs to the purple family, it still has a dusty pink tone to it. In reality it’s a little lighter an even more pink than my monitor showed, so win:win!
I was nervous about using my buttonhole foot again. It’s been acting up since my last couple sews, and I needed to make a whopping 13 holes on this dress. Thankfully, it played nicely throughout the whole process. I used these cute pearl heart shank buttons that, in the end, are an absolute PAIN to button up! Thankfully, I only need to unbutton a few before I can comfortably slide into the dress.
All the pattern pieces I used for the M7974 are well constructed and clearly marked. It’s always a delight when all notches and markings line up perfectly as they did on my fabric. The instructions were ok and I understood them well enough. Truthfully, when I received the pattern, I was worried it would require major alterations for it to fit me correctly. I don’t always do well with garments featuring close fitting busts and waistlines. I did make one muslin of the bodice for fitting and construction practice. I cut out my usual size with some leftover navy blue linen and did all the necessary steps for construction in hopes that I could make it a wearable toile. I added a contrasting back yoke, a peplum, and some pretty buttons. It made a decent top, actually.
I’m glad I went with a muslin first. The pattern is marked “Easy” but that’s only if you already know what you are doing. If you are a true beginner, this may not be the best pattern to start out with. Construction was easy for me, but I did need a little practice on getting the front waist panels to sew up nicely and create that sharp point at the top where the waist meets the bust. You have to sew that corner juuuust right in order to have it lay neatly. If you have eagle eyes you can see where I flubbed that top corner by the first button. I’m gonna need to remedy that somehow. The tie sleeve, while easy to make, takes a little bit of finagling to get it pinned up and fitted into the cuff properly. I sewed my size right out the envelope and was pleased to see that I hardly needed any adjustments! What?! That is very rare for me. If anything, the bust could have been taken in a teeny bit, but I honestly didn’t mind or felt it needed any changes, so I forged ahead on the pink dress.
The Finished Dress
You can’t see in the photos, but I’m shivering because it’s so cold on my covered porch! I was kind of rushing through my “photoshoot” because all I wanted was to be back in my sweats, hoodie and warm socks! This dress has been finished for over a week, but I just wasn’t able to blog about it until now due to the cold, gloomy weather. Plus, there just hasn’t been much sun lately, so I’ve had to wait out the days until we had persistent sunshine and adequate lighting. All I can say is thank God for pockets. I’m desperately trying to warm up my icicle hands…
Here is a close up of the buttons and tie sleeve. In retrospect, I wish I had used flat buttons instead of shank ones, and I also should have sewn my buttonholes vertically instead of horizontally. I think doing so would have made buttoning up so much easier! Oh well. At least my buttonhole foot didn’t give me any issues this time!
So my bodice lays nice and flat when I’m standing or sitting upward, but I may add a little closure above the top button, just so I’m not flashing everyone when I bend forward slightly.
I really love the tie sleeve. I did end up cutting the longest size ties just in case because I didn’t want to end up with short, dinky looking knots. I really hate that on a tie sleeve. These are plenty long enough. I actually think I could have gotten away with just cutting my regular size. It’s a cute detail and I think I will incorporate this sleeve into other patterns in the future.
I was pleasantly surprised and pleased with the M7974. I posted before about what I considered to be my “Sewing Woos & Woes“, and one of my “Woos” is when a pattern fits me perfectly and there is no need for alterations. This is truly a miracle dress! I definitely will sew this again sometime–I’m dying to get this in black or gray!
I would recommend giving this pattern a try. There is a reason why there are 1000+ #m7974 posts on IG featuring this beauty. I think the silhouette is very flattering and will compliment many body types. It may be a little challenging to sew if you are a new beginner. But hey, it’s always good to challenge yourself to grow as you sew! Don’t forget to make a bodice muslin first!
This dress is ready to wear! Now all we need are warmer temperatures and more sunshine! (I love you, Winter, but GET OUTTA HERE!)