A sewing blog about building a functional, cohesive handmade wardrobe, one garment at a time.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

The Wimpy Cowl-Necked Dress

I happened upon McCalls 7353 sometime last summer, and put it on my list to buy during the next pattern sale at Joann's.  I was drawn to the dolman sleeves, waistband and cowl-neck of View C.  There aren't a lot of reviews out there for this pattern, but one of the ones I saw on Pattern Review weren't glowing.  In particular, they noted the very excessive amounts of ease included in the pattern.  I wasn't put off by the reviews, and I am glad I read them before buying the pattern, because I ended up purchasing the smaller size range rather than the larger one.

I pulled the pattern out in late November.  My measurements put me into a size 20, but I cut a 14, the finished measurements of which are still 2" more than my bust and 8" more than my hip.  I didn't worry about an FBA because the sleeves on this dress are cut-on with no shoulder slope, so I didn't need to make a smaller size for my shoulders as I normally would.

The fabric is a rayon/lycra jersey precut bought on major sale from FabricMart last year - three yards for a whopping $4 total.  The fabric is very nice and substantial, with more stability than I would have expected from an inexpensive rayon/lycra.  Although the view and size I used called for three yards of fabric, I managed to get mine out of just over two yards of fabric.

I did a quick tissue fit and decided to lengthen the bodice by 5/8".  If I were working in a stable fabric, I would have likely lengthened it 1.5-2", but I knew that the rayon will be pulled down by the weight of the skirt and I didn't want the skirt/bodice seam to be too low.  As it turned out, I probably could have lengthened the bodice by another 5/8" or so, but it's ok as it is.

I hemmed the dress up by 7/8" and probably could have made it a little shorter.  It falls slightly below the knee.  I like the length with boots, but I may find that I want it a little shorter when wearing it in the spring with flats.

I considered cutting two cowl pieces instead of one for a more substantial cowl with a cleaner finish, but ultimately decided to sew the pattern as drafted.  My instincts were right, though - the cowl is kind of wimpy.  I'd like to widen the whole piece by at least three inches, and probably cut two of them to create more volume around the neck.

The dress is cut in separate bodice and skirt pieces, and the waist seam is then folded over on the inside to create an elastic casing.  I didn't follow the elastic cutting guide.  Instead I tried the dress on, pinched out the volume I wanted to remove at back, and then subtracted that from the waist measurement of the dress to find my final elastic measurement.  My dress waistline is 44" and I cut my elastic to 38" (my waist is 34").

The pattern calls for sleeve cuffs, but I just hemmed my sleeves because I have a coverstitch machine.

I've worn the dress a lot this winter, and it's filled a hole in my wardrobe where there were previously very few dresses.  I've spent so much time over the last eight years nursing babies, that I had stopped wearing dresses.  I'd forgotten how nice it is to be able to just throw one on and go!

So I'm calling this dress a win, wimpy cowl notwithstanding.  Just be sure to go by the finished measurements and size down if you decide to sew this one up.

Thanks for reading, and see you next time!


  1. I really like this dress! I'm inspired--maybe I'll give that pattern a whirl!

  2. I would wear the heck out of this dress, once I stopped feeding that it...
    Love it!

  3. CUTE! And comfy! But I must agree - a more substantial cowl would improve the proportions of this dress.

  4. It looks good - I think it deserves a second version with a less wimpy cowl :)

  5. Looks nice, and very comfortable.

    Mary in Thailand

  6. How nice is it to be able to wear dresses, hey? The dress looks great on, the cowl and all ;)


Hi! I am so happy you came by. Thanks for your comment!