A hacked McCalls 7543 dress

Today I’m bringing you my latest Minerva Crafts project!

This make is ALL about the fabric. I picked out the gorgeous Lady McElroy Cobra Corsage print in the cotton lawn (it also comes in a jersey crepe). I love the print on this fabric – that juxtaposition of those beautiful flowers intertwined with beetles and snakes. It just screams Gucci! And seeing as how Gucci under Alessandro Michele is one of my all-time favourite designers, I just couldn’t resist!

The question now was what to make with it?

I don’t use a lot of cotton lawn. For me this fabric is in that weird middle ground where it’s too light and thin for anything particularly structured but also not as drapey as my much beloved viscose fabrics. It took me a while to decide on what would work best!

In the end I went with a hack of the McCalls 7543 pattern!

This is a pattern I’ve used once before to make a gingham off the shoulder dress last summer. It’s a beautifully simple pattern to use – quick and easy to sew but hitting all the right points in design.

It features an elastic off shoulder neckline with a variety of different options for top, tunic or dress length and a few different types of sleeves. I opted to cut the tunic length and the plain short sleeve with the plan of adding a gathered panel at the bottom to make it either a midi or maxi dress.

For my alterations:

– I widened the sleeve pattern piece. I wanted to make my sleeve a little bit more poufy than the original so I added 10cm of width right into the middle of the pattern piece.

– With the front and back dress pieces, I straightened off the hems, keeping it to the shortest point. This ended up reaching just below the bum. At this point I sewed up the dress as instructed leaving the bottom hem raw. I kept the pockets in there of course!

– I cut a long rectangle one and a half times the width of the dress and the length that I wanted it. In my case this was about 50 cm wide.

– I sewed up the short ends of the rectangle and sewed two lines of basting stitches along one long edge.

(Tip: sewing 2 or 3 lines of basting stitches will help you position and sew your gathers more evenly)

– I then gathered these stitches and attached this panel to the rest of the dress and then hemmed the bottom edge.

I kept it at a mid-calf midi length which I rather like.

I love that this has ended up with a weirdly Spanish vibe but the fabric keeps it a bit edgy instead of full out costume. It’s incredibly comfy to wear and I think it’ll be a great holiday dress!


  1. Beautiful Emily! You’re so right – that fabric is so beautiful and I bet it’s soft and airy too. I’m a big fan of cotton lawn although mostly for my home clothes (lounge wear) – for example I made myself up a few Liberty Ogden camis for lounging around the house and love them! For gathering (which I do rarely except over the sleeve cap) I always use my serger – I set my differential feed to 2, lengthen the stitch length to the longest it will go and voila! gathering that’s even and easy to manipulate 🙂

  2. I have that EXACT problem (as in I bought some Lady McElroy cotton lawn because I loved the print and now I can’t figure out what to sew with cotton lawn that I’d actually wear), so glad you found this beautiful solution!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.