Monday, September 07, 2009

The Perfect Knit Dress has met its match - or - McCalls 5974 review

Move over McCall's 5752. There's a new "perfect knit dress" kid in town and she's called McCall's 5974.

McCalls 5974 Palmer Pletsch Perfect Knit Dress View B

Back in November I gave McCall's 5752 a "two thumbs up" and said it was indeed the perfect knit dress. But after sewing both view B and view D from this new pattern (McCall's 5974), I must say, it is now the reigning champ.

I sewed view D first - the v-neck with the big wrap tie - and it's fantabulistic. I then moved onto view B so I could compare the two. Another winner. (But just between us? I like the one with the tie belt the best.)

Tonight's review is for view B. It is the black dress on the cover of the envelope.

(photo from

The entire dress took less than three hours, including altering the pattern, cutting it out, sewing the dress and taking photographs.

Instruction sheet
The pattern instruction sheet is well written and detailed. It is sprinkled through out with Designer Tips and Pro Tips to help you with the sewing process.

The entire first two pages are filled with tissue fitting instructions as well as information and diagrams to make adjustments to your pattern. The best part? The cutting lines for the adjustments are marked on the pattern tissue, making it very easy for you to make a pattern adjustment. If you're not comfortable with, say an FBA (full bust adjustment), no more guessing! Sweet.

I did a small (3/8") FBA, a forward shoulder adjustment, a sway back adjustment and a small (less than 1/4") round back adjustment. I also needed to shorten the long sleeves by two inches but that's pretty typical of everything I sew.

Polyester knit from JoAnn Fabrics. It has been in the stash for awhile. I've made very few fabric purchases anywhere since the beginning of the year - and it's pretty rare that I purchase fabric from JoAnn's when I do buy fabric - so it's possible it's older than six months. The colors will make for a nice transition piece as the warm weather ends and the cooler weather begins. (Which could be any day think I'm joking but trust me, it could happen.)

Sewing the dress
The bodice and front skirt fullness is created with pleats and held in place by the midriff band.

McCalls 5974 Palmer Pletsch Perfect Knit Dress View B band and pleats

The midriff band is only on the front of the dress and it is interfaced. I interfaced both the band and band facing for a bit more stability. (This is noted in the instructions as an option.)

You might want to consider adding staytape or clear elastic to the shoulder seams for stability. I added clear elastic.

I didn't follow the instructions for the neckline finish. Instead I serged clear elastic to the inside of the neckedge, turned the edge to the inside, and stitched in place.

Sew the sleeves in flat and then sew the side and underarm seams. Working with a knit you shouldn't have any problem easing those sleeves in flat.

You do not need a zipper! I have no idea why this dress was designed with a zipper. In fact, I'm going to give away a partial tip that is included in this pattern. That tips says "Don't put in a zipper unless you have to!" See? Even the designer doesn't think a zipper is necessary. Unless you're sewing this dress in a very firm knit I doubt you'll need the zipper. And if you're sewing this with a very firm knit, you might not be too happy with the end result.

To hem the dress I ironed on light Steam-a-Seam on the wrong side of the dress, turned the hem up 1-1/4" (the pattern is designed for a one inch hem) and stitched in place.

I think the ease on the dress is generous - both views. I ended up taking in the center back seam - especially in the waist area - on view B as the fit was looser than I wanted. On view D I knew the tie belt would pull in the fullness so I left it as is. I may go down one size in the neck, shoulder and waist the next time I sew this pattern.

Oh yea, there will be a next time.

Be sure to come back tomorrow as I'll share my thoughts - and photos - of view D.

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  1. Simply beautiful!!! Love that fabric...wore the T shirt yesterday! That Pati Palmer sure knows how to draft a great pattern doesn't she?

  2. Very pretty dress.

  3. Beautiful dress. Palmer/Pletsch really does a nice pattern and fit instructions. Yay!

  4. Your dress looks great. This pattern made my wish list as soon as I saw it on the site! I hope it's in the stores around here in time for the next sale.

  5. I just bought this pattern yesterday! It is next up on my sewing list.

  6. I love the mix of colors in the fabric. This a beautiful dress. You've convinced me to get this pattern.

  7. This is an awesome print used to make an awesome dress! Loves it!

  8. Nice dress. I can't wait to try this pattern. Thank you for the tips.

  9. Very cute dress! Can't believe how fast it went together for you.

  10. Great dress and I love the fabric!

  11. The colors are beautiful. I love that you can get so many different looks from one pattern!

  12. Great looking dress. I have the perfect fabric in the stash. I worry about the extra ease why is it perfect if it has an ease issue?

  13. Vicki - I think it was designed to be a looser fitting knit dress. I say that based on the intro paragraph on the instruction sheets. At the end of that paragraph Pati Palmer says "And, if you follow our fit instructions, you will make the dress loose enough to also help you in the camouflage department!"

    Again, I think the ease is a personal preference. Some might sew this in their "normal" size and be pleased while others, like myself, want it just a tiny bit tighter.

  14. Anonymous6:58 PM

    I love this one also.. I am so glad I order this pattern in the pattern sale last week.. Can't wait to make one of these dresses.



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