McCalls 6074 – My First Knit Dress | Jane Dugger

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My first knit dress had a definite learning curve. It was not an “1-Hour Dress” as the pattern envelope claimed.  McCalls 6074 is a basic Pullover dress with front elastic casing detail, deep V-neck, flare skirt and a stitched hem.  I made view D with cap sleeves and a length of about 2″ below the knee.

I completed this in March 2012. It’s sewn up in an unremarkable purple (eggplant) knit from JoAnn’s. Not knowing what I was doing I cut out the size 16 pattern based on my skewed sense of my body size. I did not understand the concept of negative ease.

Needless to say – It was way too big!

And I had no clue how to sew a knit: straight stitch? zig-zag? use a ball point needle? How do I finish the seams? Crikey!  I was paralyzed with indecision.  Can you relate?  Of course, we all experience it at some point in our sewing.  Good thing the seam ripper and I are well acquainted.

I took my questions to the Denver Sewing Collective meetup.  Kitty set me straight: She advised to choose to cut on one pattern size lower than what your measurements suggest.  And that of course meant buying another pattern!

In the end, I simply cut out nearly six inches from the center back seam (3″ on each side).  The fit is not fantastic but it is a great housedress, super comfortable and nice enought for a Walmart trip.

I used a few different techniques for the seam finishing.  Technique 1: pressing the seam to one side then stitching the seam flat.  And technique 2: turning the edges under and stitching. (It loosely resembles a Hong Kong Seam finish.)

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After my initial fear, it wasn’t difficult at all.  I don’t know why I fretted so much.  I don’t think I will use this pattern again but I have definitely sewn more knit items.

Check out Kitty’s and Lynne’s versions.  Super cute!  We need Jill and Jamie to make one now!

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How about you? What was your first knit dress pattern?  Success or Fail?

Until next time darlings …

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17 thoughts on “McCalls 6074 – My First Knit Dress | Jane Dugger

  1. Your first knit dress is amazing! I can’t remember how my first knit garment turned out, but I do remember the intense frustration that led me to avoid knits for a year or two. Knits are my favorite to work with now, but I totally understand some people’s fear of them…once you learn how to wrangle ’em, you’re good as gold.

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  2. Oooh, your knit dress came out beautifully! I’m currently doing an experiment with those 1 or 2 hour patterns. I have a top and 2 skirts. So, far, one skirt done….so fail in terms of time. My first knit and many subsequent others, I really had to fight with the fabric. I think it’s all about fabric choice as even when you know all the tricks and notions, etc, some knits just don’t sew well!!

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  3. Back in the day, we sewed knits on a straight stitch machine using the “stretch and sew” technique, which basically meant stretching the fabric as it went under the needle. And it was fine! I recommend the 70s Betsey Johnson patterns (on Ebay or Etsy) which were created for this technique.

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  4. Alright, guess I have to make this pattern now!

    You know, I think my first attempted knit was an eggplant colored jersey too. I tried to make some kind of knit top with a shawl shoulders that twisted into the front piece… probably was too complicated for a first piece and I messed it up and had no idea how to alter it. I found it the other week when cleaning, and it had thread pieces in it where I thread traced the “grainline”. NO IDEA why I did that! Still not as overboard as hong kong seams on something that won’t unravel. 😛

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    • Yea … peer pressure still works.

      Isn’t it funny when we look back at our first attempts they seem so comical now. Good thing you persevered. You do sew beautifully with knits.

      And I don’t know what the heck I was thinking about with the Hong Kong seams. I am definitely way more laxed about it now. Well – you know sort of laxed.

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  5. Jane You look good in this style. However, you look good in most styles! The Hong Kong finish looks the best in you pics. I’m lazy when it comes to stitches in knit fabric for me. All you ladies look nice in this pattern.

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    • Sylvia, you are too kind. You and I are very fortunate being a hour glass shapes; it really makes most styles work for us. And I would never describe you as a lazy seamstress. Have you seen the great clothes you make? We need to get your stuff on the web!

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  6. Jane I love your version! Thanks for sharing it with us. I never considered doing a special seam finish for knits since they don’t fray, but your faux Hong Kong finish looks fabulous! I might have to try this for knits.

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  7. My first go was with a ribbed knit. It was a nightmare on my machine even wih a ball point needle. I never could get it to work even with a lot of internet searching for ideas. I ended up hand stitching the sleeve and bottom hem. I donated it so I would have the reminder of such frustration.

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    • Oh my you are very brave. What was the issue with your machine? Too much thickness? I decided to use only the smallest microtex needles on any project (knit, silk, woven, etc. except denim) and they work really well for me. I have an old machine though (1963).

      Have you tried again?

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      • Jane,
        my trouble was with skipped stitches and the needle pushing fabric down into the machine. I serged the interior seams with no problem but my Janome was a no go for the hems. Ive sewn up a nice ponte and a tshirt knit using the ball needle and had no problems. I’ll give the microtex needles a look.

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    • Oh Jill you crack me up! I have since relaxed on my finishing of knit seams. I do like the sleeves. I wear a lot of sleeveless & cap sleeve dresses. I don’t discriminate. Neither Lynne’s or Kitty’s versions have the sleeves. Just go for it!

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    • Thank you. Have you ever heard the saying “take the poison first”? That is how I felt when I finally got up the nerve to sew. What could really go wrong? Try again. Just in case don’t use fabric you love. I have made two more knit dresses and *love* both of them. Don’t give up. And believe me I still had plenty of issues with my second one.

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