McCall's M7974 dress
Makes,  Tutorials

The Joys of Slow Sewing and Pattern Adjustments: McCall’s M7974 Dress

The lovely Sally of @modistasewing organised a challenge in April which encouraged sewists to share pattern adjustments they make to achieve a better fit. The #memademodista challenge inspired me to sink my teeth into the M7974 by McCall’s that I’ve been lusting over since it came out. Now that their patterns come digitally, it was easy to get during one of their 4.99 $ sales. The bodice comes with a plunging v-neck, gathers at the bust and shoulder to add shaping, a back yoke, and a midriff panel. I knew I would have to toile this and adjust the bust to make it sit in the right place, and this challenge was the perfect push I needed to do so.

For reference, I made version A, size 14 at the top, grading to a 16 at the bottom of the midriff panel. I used an embroidered viscose as the main fabric, plain viscose for lining, and finished the dress off with sparkly Atelier Brunette buttons.

Fit adjustments

The bust

Even before I cut out the toile, I made a 1.5 cm full bust adjustment on the bust pattern piece. McCall’s patterns are drafted for a B cup (2 inch difference between your high bust and your full bust measurement), and I’m more of a C/D cup. There is a bit of wiggle room because of the gathers, but I still wanted to add a bit of room.

First, I had to lower the bust point, and then did an FBA based on what Erika Bunker did while adjusting this pattern. The only difference being that I lowered my bust point enough for the FBA not to affect the depth of the v-neck, as I wouldn’t want it any deeper.

The shoulders

On the toile, the shoulders were sitting a bit too far out, so I made a 1.25 cm narrow-shoulder adjustment, which is a pretty common adjustment for me. In all honesty, I struggle a little with where exactly the shoulder seams are supposed to sit, but in general I like my shoulders quite narrow.

For this adjustment, I always follow the Curvy Sewing Collective tutorial, which works a treat. Normally, you would do this to both the front and the back pattern piece, but since the front is gathered into the back piece, I only adjusted the back and simply gathered the front a bit more.

The back

Another problematic area on the toile was the back, as I had a bit of excess fabric above the waist there. This was easily fixed with a small sway-back adjustment. There are different ways of doing this, but for this pattern it was fine to just cut off the excess in the middle of the back and taper back down to the side seams, which have to stay the same length to correspond to the front side seams.

Design changes

As much as I love the design of the pattern, there were a couple of things I wanted to change:

Back waistband

The pattern is designed to have a midriff panel at the front, but there is no corresponding piece at the back. Instead, the back is one long pattern piece which joins onto the skirt. I wanted the front waistband mirrored at the back. So I simply measured the length of the front waistband and drew a corresponding back waistband on the original back pattern piece, then traced it off and added seam allowance both to the new back waistband as well as to the shorter back piece.

Sleeve and skirt length

My arms are not the thinnest and the original sleeve was not hitting me in the right spot, so I added about 8 cm to the length, simply extending the lines down and moving the keyhole down as well.

I had quite the opposite problem with the skirt. I’m quite short, so I cut off also about 8 cm.


In the original version, only the midriff panel is lined and the neckline is finished with a facing. I’m not a fan of facings and my fabric was seethrough, so I decided to fully line it, including the sleeves. This meant I went a bit rogue on the instructions, which I would have done anyway, as I didn’t like how they finished the waistband.

I cut the lining skirt a few centimeters shorter. The front panels of the skirt have in-build facings, so when cutting out the lining, I deducted those. Otherwise I just cut everything in the same way as from the main fabric.

Lining the whole dress was definitely worth it, as the inside is just as gorgeous as the outside.

Final thoughts

I am absolutely chuffed with this dress and I am glad I took the time to perfect the fit and make the adjustments I needed and wanted. I am particularly glad I did this beautiful embroidered viscose from my local fabric shop justice, as it is absolutely gorgeous. I don’t think I’ve ever come across an embroidered viscose before… The buttonholes were a bit of a pain, where I had to go across some of the embroidery, but it worked out in the end. I have a tiny bit left, so I’ll have to think of how to incorporate it into something else. Anyway, back to the pattern itself – I love it and will have to make it again soon, both as a dress and as a blouse, which is what I made as my toile, simply adding a peplum at the bottom of the bodice instead of the gathere skirt (though soon is relative, as my list of sewing plans is absolutely huge).

What about you, have you made this pattern, or are you planning to give it a go?

Till next time,



  • Frieda

    Hi Magda 🙂

    Can you please explain how you fully lined this dress?
    Where exactly is the lining attached to the outer fabric and in which order of steps did you do this?

    Thanks in advance!

    • admin

      Hi Frida, sorry for the late reply. It’s been a while, so I don’t remember exactly. But the steps would correspond roughly to how you would line any other dress fully lined dress.
      For the skirt, I cut the lining shorter and deducted the skirt facings. I sewed the lining to the facings and then based the lining and the outer fabric together at the waist and attached it to the outer fabric of the bodice.
      For the bodice, I just cut out the same pieces from the lining fabric as from the outer fabric, put the both bodices together and then attached the lining along the neckline, understitching it (you can see what it looks like on the inside from one of the pictures in the blogpost).
      For the sleeves, I think I just sewed the inside seam and then I put the lining inside the outer fabric sleeve and worked with the sleeve as if it was just the outer fabric from then on, meaning I attached the whole thing to the outer bodice armhole only and then handstitched the bodice lining onto it to cover the raw edges.
      Hope this helps!

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