Monday, April 5, 2010

An Easter Dress for My Daughter: McCalls 6020

Every year I try to make my daughter a dress for Easter. It hasn't always happened but this year I was determined to make her one. She needed a new dress (actually she needs a few) and I have so much fabric that it was a no brainer to make one instead of buy one. A month or so the Hanna Anderson catalog came in the mail and this dress immediately caught my eye. I loved the pleated bodice. It wasn't very expensive but since I knew I had fabric I decided to recreate this dress for my daughter.
So, I set out to find a pattern that I could use as a base to work with. I found McCalls 6020Front of my altered dress

Side rant: One of my pet peeves with patterns is how sleeves always look smooth but are really gathered. Why do they always make gathered sleeves anyway! Smooth set in sleeves usually look better. How often do you see a RTW shirt with gathered sleeves? Usually not, but they expect us to always construct home sewn ones that way. I am usually able to ease in about an inch of extra fabric but they often put in many extra inches. I really need to learn how to draft my own sleeves to fit armholes. Or I just need to learn how to take the extra ease out of my sleeves. If anyone knows a good book or tutorial I would really be interested.

Okay, I am done with my little rant now on with my review.

Pattern Description: Below mid-knee length dress with front band, gathered skirt, tulle ruffle on lining, back zipper and ribbon sash or tie ends. Sleeve options: sleeveless or gathered sleeves.

Pattern Sizing: 3-14 I made my daughter a size 8 but lengthened to a size 10. She measures a little less than size 8. The 8 fit her quite nicely.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? If I had made it they way they drafted it would have looked like the envelope. I changed my version quite a bit.

Were the instructions easy to follow? I didn't use them too much. I did like their instructions for lining the bodice and sleeve construction.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I picked this one for the square neckline.
Fabric Used: cotton with a little bit of stretch. The stretch wasn't necessary. A regular cotton would work great.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: Obviously I changed quite a bit and I hope you can follow my progress.

BODICE1) I traced the front band and the bodice front on to sewable tracing paper. Then I sewed these two pieces together to make one whole bodice front. This new bodice front is what I will use to do the rest of my alterations.

2) I cut off the "straps" and added 1/4" seam allowance to the "strap" and the bodice where the "strap" would be sewed back on after bodice is pleated.

3) Now for the pleating. I wanted 1" box pleats covering the front. I had to add 2" for each pleat. First I drew 4 (I wanted 4 pleats on each side of the center pleat) lines one inch apart parallel to the center front. Then I started at the center front and added 1" (this would be on the fold so I am adding a total of 2" to the center front) for the center pleat. Next, I cut the pattern on the lines and added 2". I added a total of 9" to my bodice front. Note: before you cut your lines apart make sure you draw perpendicular lines to keep your pattern lined up.

4) To make the pleats: I clipped at the top and the bottom of the pleat. Then I drew lines on the right side of my fabric with chalk on one side of the pleat. Next, I folded the fabric matching the clips for each pleat and stitched on my chalk line. Put a pin in the fold of the pleat. Match the pin to the seamline and press the pleat down.

5) After it was all pleated I reattached the "straps". This completes the bodice front.
This was fairly easy. There was already extra because it was going to be gathered.

1) In order to get my pleats to match I measured starting at the center front.
Measure over 1" (center pleat) and draw a line parallel to the center front.
Measure over 1" and draw a line.
Measure over 2" (pleat #1) and draw a line.
Measure over 1" and draw a line.
Measure over 2" (pleat #2) and draw a line.
Measure over 1" and draw a line.
Measure over 2" (pleat #3) and draw a line.
Measure over 1" and draw a line.
Measure over 2" (pleat #4) and draw a line.

Measure width of the skirt front. Subtract 9" (this is the # of inches I added for my pleats. ex. 23 1/2" - 9" = 14 1/2"
Measure the width of the bodice front. ex. 12 1/2"
Subtract the width of the bodice from the width of the skirt.
ex. 14 1/2" - 12 1/2" = 2"
The 2" is extra so I folded it out. Now the bodice front matches the width of the skirt front.

The skirt back is altered in the same way that the front. Keep in mind that you are adding a zipper to the center back so leave room.

As I am writing this I realize that this will need visual explanation also. I will be doing a couple of blog posts in the next few days with pictures of the above process.

Other design changes:
I put a ribbon over the seam line all the way around the waist.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Definitely. It is a very cute pattern.

Conclusion: Another fun project. I was so happy with how it turned out. It looks just like I wanted it to. My daughter really liked it too.

As I said above I will be doing a couple of posts that will have pictures of how I added the pleats to the bodice. So stay tuned.

Thanks so much for wading through this long post. Have a great day!

Until next time...


  1. The dress is really pretty. I like your clever adaption of the pattern to add the bodice pleating and the contrast sash is gorgeous. Your daughter looks lovely.

  2. That is really adorable. Nice work making it just what you wanted. The pleats are a wonderful touch!

  3. That's a good knock-off. The dress turned out very nicely. A suggestion for sleeves--take a set-in sleeve from the same pattern company and use it instead of gathered ones.

  4. Very cute Easter dress! You did a great job adding the pleats to the bodice. :)

  5. Very cute! Found your blog through I'm making the view C of this dress for my girl's flower girl dresses in my sis's wedding. Someone told me the pattern ran big so I wanted to check out other opinions. You did a great job!


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