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Harriet’s McCalls M7314

All of us sewists seem to commit to far too many things in December – whether that’s sewing presents, making jazzy dresses for ourselves or simply just getting caught in the rush – so having the Christmas box available to us now means that we can get our jingle bells on whenever we have a spare moment.

I chose to make the long-sleeved version of McCalls M7314, a lovely shirt dress (with pockets!) which was really popular among the sewing community over the summer. The pattern comes with four different cup sizes for the bodice – a feature that I always appreciate as I’m really quite disproportionate and have a larger bust than waist!

From the measurements, I decided that I’d likely be a size 8 with a C cup for the bodice.

The majority of my cutting out time was spent thinking about the pockets of the dress to be honest, and in the end I took the plunge and cut them out of the baubles fat quarter that came in the box! I like to think of the dress as being ‘secretly Christmassy’, with the main fabric being reminiscent of Christmas but not so much so that you wouldn’t be able to wear it a few months before or after December, but with the real merriness coming in the shape of the in-seam bauble pockets. Only I know they’re there, and the thought of wearing the dress in September next year and the little smile that’ll be on my face as I slip my hands into the pockets really does bring me a great deal of happiness.

It was all smooth sailing until I got to the collar, where the easing that was necessary being truly next level. After some swearing and a lot of unpicking, I managed to get the collar band attached to the neckline of the bodice without any little pleats cropping up.

On the inside of the dress, there’s quite a lot of hand sewing (being the collar band, cuffs and button band), which I got done while watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix and consequently feeling a strong desire to go to a cafe.

I went for contrasting white cuffs to bring out the lovely little leaf print on the fabric, and make sure that the small print didn’t swallow up the elements of the design. I used some white broderie anglaise from my stash, and I am so pleased with how they look – sort of Wednesday Addams if her wardrobe was a little brighter. Looking back, I do wish I’d used the white fabric for the collar as well, but not so much that I could face unpicking everything and going through the nightmare of easing the band back into the neckline again. Maybe next time, eh?

The cuffs were really simple, with no placket needed (yay!) although you’re told to attach the cuffs after sewing the underarm seam of the sleeve. Don’t do that, it’s a bad move and makes the whole thing take twice as long as it needs to. Sew the cuff onto the sleeve before you do the underarm seam while leaving the pressed edge free, and then sew the underarm seam. Do leave slipstitching the inside of the cuff until the end though, just to make sure that it doesn’t stretch funny or anything.

I used the buttons from this month’s box on the dress too; four for the bodice and one for each cuff. There aren’t any instructions for attaching buttons to the cuffs, but personally I didn’t want them open in case they dipped into food or something, so I sewed a button on to hold them closed.

Once everything had been finished and the elastic had been inserted into the waistband, it was final trying on time! It took me a good few minutes to get the waist over my bust… always a bad sign, but I persevered nonetheless. Once my arms found their way into the sleeves and everything was in the right place, I realised that the bodice was way too tight. Not just a little bit snug, tight to the point that I couldn’t do up the top button, which wasn’t even that high up.

I managed to take the photos to show you the dress, but you can see how much the bodice is pulling! I totally adore the dress though, so I’m going to first try wearing a sports bra to see if that helps matters, and if that doesn’t work I’ll either move the buttons or unpick the waist and move the front of the bodice apart… I’ll know to make the bigger bust size next time!

I know that there were a couple of different colour ways of the main fabric in the classic and mini boxes, but if (like me) you’re the owner of the red fabric with white leaves, why not use it for The Little Red Dress project this year? There’s still about a month until the reveal, which means that you’ll have plenty of time to cut out and sew – plus with 2.5m of the fabric in the classic box, the pattern options are endless!