Long Winded Fitting Madness

Hey there again! This past week and weekend has been full of fun…and not so fun. Shall we start with the latter?

I decided weeks ago that I’d like to make a new dress for this past weekend, but I didn’t get started on fitting it until the weekend before (July 14th-ish), and ended up spending the whole week on just that. I am many things, but a procrastinator most of all. Plus, I decided that this dress was going to fit like a dream.

My choice?  McCall’s 6350, a cute little party dress with an adorable bust detail.  I used the straps from View A combined with the shorter 6-gore skirt from views C and D.  This pattern also has the plus of having multi-sized cups (A/B, C or D – I used the D). If you’re not familiar, Big 4 patterns (McCall’s, Butterick, Simplicity and Vogue) generally are sized for a B cup, so these cups that don’t require a FBA (full bust adjustment) are quite the treat, fitting-wise! Or are they…?

Let’s start at the end and then visit the beginning:


This thing was a monster to fit – cursing and frustration abounded. I meant to do a “work in progress” post, but fitting this thing was really a time suck and I was on a schedule.

The horror begins:

First fitting. Had to pin it in about an inch on the sides. (Sorry for the quality! Didn’t realize how blurry these were until now)

According to the pattern, the bottom of the midriff is supposed to hit at the natural waist, where my hand is. I ended up shortening this piece half an inch for the next muslin.

Also, check out the profile on this bad boy.  Pointy CITY!  Familiar at all?

To counteract this point, caused by too large of a dart uptake (creating a large angle), I split the vertical bust dart into two darts, moving half of the uptake into a side seam dart. I messed with these darts so much through this process – even when distributing the uptake they were still P.O.I.N.T.Y. I ended up backing them off from the bust point quite a bit (about 2″) and curving them/sewing parallel to the edge of the fabric for a bit before ending the dart. Thanks to the folks in the forums at Pattern Review for their help!

Since I liked where the neckline was sitting, I added another half an inch to the top of the bust and back pieces and also made all of the other adjustments mentioned above. Here’s what some of my altered pattern pieces looked like:

Cup base. Showing original pattern, alteration, and altered pattern piece

Cup overlay

Back and midriff pieces

After making these changes, I sewed up my second third muslin (we shall not speak of the 2nd muslin, which was a waste of time) and realized that where the midriff met the cups was not laying flat against my body like it should. Le sigh.


As you can see, I pinned out some remaining side seam fullness, as well as the fullness in the midriff (and also in the bust, creating a deeper cup…that I adjusted for with a slight small bust adjustment). Unfortunately, the midriff still wasn’t hitting me at my waist line, so I shortened it another 1/2″ (taking up the entire allowance for a petite adjustment):


One additional muslin later, for total of four, I made one last pattern adjustment (making my FIFTH pattern pieces) and got to a place where I decided it was time to stop futzing and just get on with it.  The only only other adjustments was to add more boning to the midriff – instead of just the two pieces in front and two behind that was recommended, I also put one in the center back and center front, one along the sewn side seam and two pieces flanking the zipper. I also widened the shoulder straps by 1/4″ to better cover my bra straps.

I began cutting out my fabric in the evening of Friday, July 20th and finished cutting the next morning, which was also the morning of the events – a wedding reception, and then a bachelorette party. I sewed this monster up in one long day.  I finished it with enough time to take a nap rest a tiny bit, get ready, and get to the first venue slightly late. (sad face)


I made the dress out of this awesome navy blue polka dot/floral/brown polka dot cotton that I got one Autumn at JoAnn. I bought some and loved it so much I went back the next day and bought the rest. I lined it with some navy broadcloth.

After I got the dress on, it felt very tight in the midriff, and a bit tight in the bust (Grr!). I think the midriff tightness could’ve been from the extra boning as the outer fabric fit appropriately and wasn’t tight at all. I might try to let out the side seams a bit and see how it goes.

So, after all of my labored fitting work, it wasn’t perfect, but what is?  I’m pretty happy with it.  However, I do feel like the dress looks more flattering in some  of the mock-up photos than in the finished product. Maybe the addition of a lining and boning are the culprits?


jess and john at aaron's wedding
Mr. 5 and me at the wedding reception.

Fishbowl with the Bachelorette, Tricia!

Things I’ve learned:

1.  I should’ve started with a 12, D cup on this pattern.  I had the 14+ size range in my pattern collection because Big 4 size charts indicate that I’m a 14 in my bust (overbust) and hips and a 16 in my waist. McCall’s wasn’t on sale anywhere in town and it’s against my “morals” to pay more than $2 for a mass-produced pattern.

2.  I could’ve used a bit more ease than I left for myself.  I was so obsessed with a well-fitting garment that I sacrificed comfort.  It’s not horribly uncomfortable, but it would be better if it were truly wearable.

3.  Just wear something else if you have a deadline on a garment and you haven’t started sewing until the day of. You make yourself cray cray otherwise. I should know this lesson by now, but I’m a little bit of a slow learner.

p.s.  During the time I was working on this dress, the Coletterie posted a blog entry on whether sewing can make you a happier person.  It was really a funny coincidence, since while I normally love making things, the fitting process with this dress was making me less-than-happy.


4 thoughts on “Long Winded Fitting Madness”

  1. Your recent post on Craftster led me here, and I just wanted to give you major props for detailing your experience with 6350 so well! I laid out this very pattern and a pile of muslin today, planning to start cutting this evening – so glad I stumbled upon this first. I even planned to use the same view combo & cup size. With any luck you may have saved me 2 or 3 mockups and a ton of effort – so thanks for being awesome, random internet person. :-)

    1. This is why I love the internet! It’s great to share experiences that can help other people and vice versa. Thanks for visiting, and I hope your dress comes together with a little less tedium than mine did. :)

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