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May 13, 2012 / Miss Karen

McCall’s 6503 is done and now I’m a Tula Troop!

I truly had fun making this dress.  The 100% cotton voile fabric is heavenly — silky, with a soft, yet almost crisp hand.  Before cutting out the pieces, I machine-washed the fabric and tumble-dried it, and it came out perfectly!

Before we look at construction details, you probably want to know about the “Tula Troop” part, right?

Tula Pink is one of my favorite Free Spirit Fabrics designers.  She is a fabulous artist.   I just purchased her brand new book called Quilts From the House of Tula Pink and it’s full of goodies!

Recently her collection called Nightshade was released, and it’s on its way to my shop now!  I can’t wait!

She has a devoted group of fans on Twitter whom she calls #tulatroops.  I am one of them now that I have sewn with her fabric, because this dress is made from Tula Pink’s Prince Charming Hex Box Coral.

I’m looking forward to more projects with Tula Pink fabrics.  Currently I have 4 Tula Pink voiles in the shop, but I will be buying more at Market next week.  Here’s what we have right now.  Below is Prince Charming Dandelion Indigo and Coral.  See the dragonflies and butterflies?  Love.

And here is the Prince Charming Hex Box Indigo and Coral:

If you ever have any questions about the color shades, I can provide Pantone numbers.

Now let’s get down to the nitty-gritty for the dress.

Pattern:  McCall’s 6503, View C (the solid pink view)

Fabric: Tula Pink Hex Box Coral in 100% cotton voile

Underlining and Interfacing: silk organza (see the Silk Organza Rulz post)

Interfacing for the left side edges (for the zipper):  Pro-Sheer Elegance from Fashion Sewing Supply

Seam Binding: Hug Snug, of course! (see the Hug Snug Love post)

Notions:  invisible zipper and buttons from the stash

Finishing Techniques:  Hong Kong finish and bindings for the armholes

Construction Point #1: hand-baste silk organza to the bodice front, bodice back, both collar sections, all 4 front band pieces, all 4 midriff pieces.

Construction Point #2: Hem the ruffle, which is Step #15 in the pattern instructions.  Pay attention to the sketch and not the text, because they leave out a step in the text.  First stitch 1/2″ away from the edge and press up:

Trim the edge:

Finish the edge by turning it up narrowly and stitch close to the edge.  Here I am finishing the short edge the same way as the long edge.

It is so easy to do this with the voile.  It’s easy to handle and does what you want it to do!

Construction Point #3: Continue with steps 16-21, then STOP.  Don’t slipstitch the front band facing down!  Stitch in the ditch with your machine! (See the Get the Itch to Stitch in the Ditch post for details.)

I hope you can see it from this blurry photo.  Notice that the hand-basting stitches have not been removed yet in the front band.

I pin in an opposite way from everybody else, don’t I?  Blame it on being left-handed.  I do everything backwards from the rest of the world!

Here’s the underside afterward:

The black basting stitches keep the organza underlining in place while I work.  The white long stitches are gathering stitches for the midriff.

Construction Point #4: Continue with steps 23-25, remembering to treat the voile and organza as one.  The collar is next.  I did the collar differently from the instructions.  First I pinned the collar to the neck edge:

After stitching the outside of the collar to the neck, I stitched the underside collar section to the outside collar:

To finish the collar, trim the seams and turn under the neck edge of the underside collar and, yep, stitch in the ditch at the neckline instead of slipstitching it down.

Construction Point #5: Do step 31.  That brings us to the armhole edges.  I didn’t use bias tape as they show.  Instead, I used bias strips of the voile.   I measured the armhole and cut pieces of bias strips of the voile using that measurement plus a few inches at a width of about 2″ or so.

Fold the strips in half and press.  Mark the halfway point of the strip, pin it to the shoulder, and then pin the rest of the strip to the armhole.  You should have loose edges at the underarm seam.  Open up the strips and stitch a little seam to make the bias strip a circle and so that the strip fits the armhole perfectly.  It’s easy to do.

Trim the little seam and after pinning down the rest of the strip, stitch this binding to the armhole.   Trim the seam.  Turn the binding to the bodice and stitch it down.  You can use your machine, but I didn’t want the stitches to show from the outside, so I blindstitched it to the organza only.

As always, press as you go.  Look, Ma, no stitches showing outside on the armhole!

Construction Point #5: Continue with steps 40-42 for the midriff.  After that I completely disregarded the instructions.

I didn’t turn under the seam allowance for the midriff facing when they say to do so, because it usually doesn’t work well for me.  Therefore…

I stitched the midriff front and back to the dress, and then went ahead and attached the skirt to the bottom of the midriff.  Then I stitched the facing at the top of the midriff, but I stopped stitching a few inches before reaching the edges of the open side.  Why?  Because the instructions tell you to go all the way to the edge with that facing, then add the zipper.  I think the zipper is going to lie better if you do it this way.

I inserted the zipper using Els’ wonderful tutorial for invisible zippers.  It worked great.

Two IMPORTANT things to remember for zipper insertion:

1.  Interface the edges where the zipper will be stitched!  After I took the pic above, I fused strips of interfacing to the edges.

2.  Make markings on the zipper tape where the seams will meet so that the seams won’t be askew when you’re finished, knowwhatImean?

So after inserting the zipper, I stitched down the midriff facing using the stitch-in-the-ditch method, natch, but I stopped a few inches before reaching the zipper.  This leaves me with a midriff facing that’s not sewn down completely.  To finish, I blindstitched it down.

I finished the end of the zipper with a little big of Hug Snug and then hand-stitched the hem with a blindstitch.  Done!

More photos of the finished dress inside:

The voile is semi-sheer, so I will be wearing a slip with the dress.  I admit I love slips!  More pics:

I know you guys want to see the dress on a real body, so here is your very reluctant goofy model.


I’m looking forward to wearing it at Quilt Market next week and meeting Tula Pink!  Stay tuned for a report.

If anyone would like to have this used pattern (it’s in great condition…pieces have been cut on the size 10 line…some pieces are uncut) for free and you have a U.S. address, email me at karenATfancifulfabricsDOTcom.  First come, first served.


Leave a Comment
  1. Peggy / May 13 2012 2:59 pm

    Great design and the fabric choice is perfect. Love the sweater with it! Interesting tutorial – I’ve learned a great deal from this post. Thank you so much!

  2. prttynpnk / May 13 2012 4:26 pm

    Thanks for this! I’m not familiar with hugsnug but now I’m a fan!

  3. threadtime / May 14 2012 11:24 am

    Beautiful dress … beautiful job! Love Tula’s fabric as well. Great use of this piece.

  4. tigergirl / May 28 2012 7:08 pm

    This is a great dress. Did you make small tucks in the skirt rather than gathers?

    • Miss Karen / May 28 2012 7:20 pm

      Thanks, tigergirl! The skirt is gathered — there are no tucks. To get even gathers, I first machine-stitch 2 rows of long stitches at 4/8″ and 6/8″ (only if I don’t have to worry about needle holes left in the fabric — it depends on the fabric weave). Patterns usually suggest long stitches right at the seam line, but that makes it hard to remove them after the permanent stitching.

      Then I adjust the gathers and hand-baste the skirt to the bodice (or midriff band). My basting stitches are at a right angle (perpendicular) to the edge of the fabric. That way it’s easy to remove them after machine-stitching. Also, it works really well to keep the gathers in place.

      • tigergirl / May 28 2012 7:25 pm

        Thanks. The reason I asked is that I’ve done a couple of dresses with gathered skirts and they just look so ho hum on me, kind of frumpy, which isn’t the way they look on other people. I wasn’t sure if it was a look on me that I’m not used to or it just didn’t suit me or ?? Lately I’ve read a few things where people suggested small tucks instead of gathers because they found the same thing and as yours looks so good, I thought maybe that was what you’d done. Later today I will be ripping apart a dress to redo with tucks instead of gathers.

      • Miss Karen / May 28 2012 7:54 pm

        I really like the look of tucks. That’s a good idea. Another thing you might want to try is partial gathering where you just have gathers on the sides, with a flat front and a flat back. Or, you could have gathers in the center front and center back and the sides are flat.

        Have fun sewing!

  5. verykerryberry (@verykb) / Sep 8 2012 2:46 am

    Fantastic detail in the construction of this dress- I found this post via your etsy shop

    • Miss Karen / Sep 8 2012 6:24 am

      Thank you so much! I appreciate your comment! I hope to post again soon, but life has been a whirlwind lately.


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