THE SEWING DIVAS sewing, design, fashion

May 22, 2006

McCall’s 5137 – Final

Filed under: Fit/Pattern Alterations,Pattern Reviews — Gigi @ 4:58 am

by Diva Gigi 

How many of you have been plagued by neckline gaposis? The neckline looks so pretty laying there on your pressing surface yet when you try it on you want to sob. Naturally, you blame this either on your body or your sewing skills. Yet, it’s more likely a problem with the pattern and, the larger your bust and more open the neckline, the bigger the problem can be. Look at the neckline of this pattern when sewn as-is:

Now have a look at the neckline after altering the pattern:

Which neckline would you rather wear? The problem is that the neckline seam is too long. It needs to be shortened in order to hug the body as in Fig. B below. So, how do we achieve this? It’s actually very simple.

If I can, I like to stitch up a quick neckline sample in my fashion fabric. If that isn’t possible you can tissue fit but fabric will be the most accurate. In this case, I marked the area where the neckline was gaping (this is for my own reference only – you only need to mark the area where the excess will be removed) and pinned out the excess fabric – about 1/2″. I transferred the markings to my tissue as shown below. Notice that I have also marked the seamline at the outer edge. This seam joins the bodice and must remain the same length at the seamline.

Next, I slashed between the 1/2″ marks to but not through, the seamline. To make a small hinge at the seamline, I then clipped from the outer edge to, but not through the seamline. Next, I closed up my neck edge the desired amount, filling in the small wedge that forms at the bodice edge with tissue before truing the edges.

Lastly, you will need to redraw the grainline. The other alteration you see at the top of the pattern piece is where I shortened the entire bodice as mentioned in my first post.

Once the neck inset has been sewn it looks quite odd. But, as you can see from the photos above, it fits beautifully.

I’m very pleased with the finished garment. It’s very easy to fit and sew. This is also one of the few gathered skirts I can get away with. The skirt is gathered at the center front only and falls gracefully in a fluid fabric. A few changes you might want to make:

Bodice and skirt back: Eliminate the unnecessary center back seam.

Back neck facing: If I were making this in contrasting fabrics I’d possibly eliminate the back neck facing and continue the neckline inset around the back. But, then again, if your hair is long nobody will see that anyway. It’s just a thought….

Hem band: If you run short of fabric (as I did here) you can eliminate the hem band facing and sew a regular hem (don’t forget to add extra). In fact, if you are using a wild print like mine you could lengthen the skirt pieces, eliminating the band altogether.

Sleeves: If you are fuller busted, I’d probably avoid the longer sleeve. In my opinion, that’s far too much fabric for most women to carry off. If you are small busted, very slim and/or tall, go for it. For the rest of us, View A will be the most flattering. If you really want a longer sleeve, I’d recommend the Hippy Chick Dress from Hot Patterns instead. I made it last fall and LOVE it!

To avoid too much peek-a-boo, I sewed the side seam up 1″ higher. During pin-fitting I could see my entire bra band when I lifted my arm! I also reinforced that seam with bits of Stay Tape – just as I reinforced the neckline of my graduation dress.

This dress also looks really cute if you wrap the ties around the back and tie them at the center front – Obi-style!


  1. Wow, Gigi, that dress looks great! And I will take this tip to heart. I battle with bustline gaposis all the time.

    Comment by Gorgeous Things — May 22, 2006 @ 7:37 am

  2. Cute dress Gigi! Yours is cuter than the pattern envelope, for sure.

    Comment by jemgirlca — May 22, 2006 @ 9:08 am

  3. Gigi, this dress is beautiful, I like the pattern drawing, but your version takes it to another level! Your tutorials are so helpful, thank you, thank you, thank you!

    Comment by Courtney — May 22, 2006 @ 2:44 pm

  4. Great tutorial! This is something evyer sewer neeeds to learn early on.

    Comment by Phyllis — May 22, 2006 @ 5:51 pm

  5. Gigi, your dress is so cute, and thanks for the tutorial on gaposis! Nice to find your blog:)

    Comment by Teri — May 23, 2006 @ 8:02 am

  6. Gigi ~ thank you for the tutorial and the dress looks as good as I thought it would! Do you think we could see you in it? And did you remove a lot from the front? Your version has definitely made me rethink this pattern!

    Comment by cmarie12 — May 25, 2006 @ 10:25 am

  7. the dress looks beautiful.

    appreciate the tutorial. i only wish I understood what you’re trying to convey.i’ve read it several times and can’t make sense of what’s going on. (and I’ve been sewing from patterns for years)
    my guess is that the only people who can understand are the ones who are already experienced pattern makers.

    Comment by Anonymous — May 28, 2006 @ 11:13 pm

  8. Gigi … wonderful. So much easier to explain things with pictures than with words alone, I’ll be pointing beginner’s in your direction.

    I think I feel a Duro fever coming on … must … buy … pattern!

    Comment by Kira — June 9, 2006 @ 12:18 pm

  9. Wonderful dress, Gigi! Thanks for the great tutorial on gaposis, even us fairly small-busted women deal with this! 😉 I’m re-reading this again so I can file it away for when I make the Simplicity version… thanks again!!

    Comment by Evatgirl73 — July 11, 2006 @ 3:51 pm

  10. Thanks, Gigi! How would you raise the neckline? For my purposes (work, church, school functions), a neckline an inch or inch and a half higher would serve me much better. I want to duplicate your dress otherwise. Can I just draw the neckline higher freehand?

    Comment by Anonymous — July 11, 2006 @ 10:26 pm

  11. Dear Gigi,

    I really liked your detailed tutorial, I have not tried it but I am sure that according to the drawings and instructions I could do it myself. My wife would have the same problem that the last person commented on. She would use it for conservative events and either raise the neckline or insert some lace so it would not be too revealing.

    Comment by Jason Mallory — December 1, 2007 @ 6:36 pm

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