Pattern Review McCalls 6561

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McCalls 6561 Mothers Day RS

 A table fit for Mother’s Day


When we went into Joann’s fabric store to look at patterns I had this funny feeling.  As we sat and perused the pages of the McCall’s pattern catalog, I watched her scanning, looking for that perfect…unique dress and when I saw her zero in on it, I knew right then that I had my work cut out for me.  My daughter chose McCall’s 6561.  Don’t misunderstand me.  I have nothing against the pattern, they definitely had a cool idea in mind but… 10 pieces just to make the bodice?  Just saying.


 McCall’s 6561




Needless to say, she had her heart set on it and so I said yes!  So the first thing I did was make a muslin.  Remember those 10 pieces!  We tried it on her and I had an “Oh Crap” moment.  I made the muslin up in a size 4 but my daughter is like trying to dress a pencil!


Pencil Dress RS


She is lovely, healthy and the eating machine in my household.  How she gets away with it I have no idea.  Her brothers harbor a little resentment since they have to count their calories, as do I.  Somehow she manages to maintain a 24″ waist!  We’ll see just how many years this lasts.  (that sounds evil huh)


Well… anyways, besides the fact that my daughter is a pencil and size 4 was too large, she was still fuller busted than the pattern allowed for so I had to do some major pattern changes to all 10 pieces!  It took me two muslins before I got it right!


While it doesn’t say it on the envelope, if you look at it on McCall’s website, it is considered  “easy”!  Well yeah…it’s easy to understand how to sew it; the instructions are pretty clear.  But it’s a  “sewer beware” pattern.   I think most of the difficulty lies in the fitting but for new sewers, I think constructing the bodice is not a cake walk.  If any of you readers are new to sewing and have already taken on this challenge and did it, I have two words to say to you.. You ROCK!!


Anyways, with the fitting out of the way, we were ready to choose fabric.  It was a unanimous vote, white with a splash of red.  The fabric is white embroidered cotton and the lining which Calley chose is a white silk cotton.  We found some beautiful  red satin trim but my concern here was whether it would bleed onto the white fabric when it’s laundered so several pieces had to undergo testing.  Cold water brought out red making the water pink, but hot water was worse.  I decided to wash the trim in my washing machine on gentle cycle, hang to dry and press it before applying to the dress.  (Heavy sigh; more work)


McCalls 6561 Dress Fabric RS











McCalls 6561 Dress Trim RS










After pre-shrinking all the fabric, I was ready to start construction.  Assembling the bodice wasn’t too bad though like I mentioned earlier, there were several pivots in the top and bottom of the front pieces that took me a bit but eventually I got them.


McCalls 6561 Front Bodice Pieces RS













McCalls 6561 Front Bodice Close RS


I took this close-up picture so you could get a good look at the bottom pivot on the center front.  I fussed with this one the most.



The main bodice is sewn to a gathered skirt and then there is a bodice lining that is sewn to a second or contrast gathered skirt.   Suffice it to say, there was a whole lot of gathering going on!  It wasn’t hard, just time consuming.


McCalls 6561 Dress Waist Band RS


I decided to hand sew the red trim around the waist after the dress was constructed.  I did try top-stitching it on first but I didn’t like the look.


To break up the layers, I sewed red satin trim on the top skirt.


McCalls 6561 Dress Hem RS



And here it is being worn by my daughter.


McCalls 6561 Dress B RS



The back of the dress…


McCalls 6561 Back RS


And a just because picture!


McCalls 6561 Dress A RS


The dress was a success, especially because it’s what Calley wanted but I am not real keen on making a 2nd or 3rd one.  Unfortunately I think she wants more of them and since she let me make her something versus buying it, how can I say no?  I’ll make 10 if I have to. 🙂  I truly love being her and her two brothers mom, and sewing for them is such an honor to me.  You can expect to see more of my family creations in the future.


With that, I think I will now go and enjoy Mother’s Day with my children.  If you are a mother, a child who has a mother, or know someone who is like a mother to you, take advantage of the opportunity today to give your love.  We don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but today is here, so live it to it’s fullest.  That being said, I’m now signing off to go and enjoy a glass, or two, of champagne!

Salute!  Jessica


  1. Did you use boning to hold up the bodice?

    • Hi Mary!

      No, I didn’t use boning but I did use a stiff medium to heavy weight sew-in interfacing. The idea behind this was to create more of a bra fit in the bust area eliminating the need for a bra. My daughter, who is a bra addict (LOL) was happy with how it supported and fit her.

      You certainly could sew in boning if you wanted. Are you making it now or just contemplating it? And if you do put in boning, let me know how it turns out. I have to re-build the bodice for a second McCall’s 6561 dress that I made for my daughter because she wanted it tight and… wouldn’t listen to me so I made it how she wanted… and…it’s too small! Imagine that! Anyways, the fabric is a shimmer satin so the dress is definitely more of an evening wear look and boning is a thought! Thank you for giving me the idea.

  2. I just love the little number you built for Calley. Sooo cute. Great job dear daughter.

    • Awe…thanks Mom. Calley loves it to and so wants me to make her another “little number” in blue and black. One thing for sure, I’ll get good at gathering!

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