Mystery dress – McCall’s 2401

Despite my sensible plans for the next few projects, I have ended up sewing anomalies these past couple of months. Enter McCall’s 2401, a pattern with an illustration I find incredibly uninspiring. I made up for it with this off-white mystery fabric.

This has been made up from fabric that has loitered in my stash for about three years. I bought it from a Cat’s Protection League charity shop for about £4. It was so exciting, as I had never seen dressmaking fabric in a charity shop before, and I’ve not seen it since. This fabric is woven, printed, washes well, is very soft to the touch, and has a really nice drape to it. That’s all I’ve got information-wise, I want fibre content! I’m assuming it’s synthetic because the print seems very 70s, but it’s just so soft! I’ve wanted to use it so many times, but always held out for fear of ruining it (that ‘precious vintage fabric’ syndrome I seem to suffer from). I’m glad I waited, because all the ideas I had prior to this simple, basic sheath dress were overly fussy and complicated, and I doubt I would be happy with the result. The facings are made from silk as I didn’t have enough shell fabric. The zip is a vintage metal one from my stash.

Alterations I made to this pattern include moving the bust darts down by 2cm, and subsequently moving the front and back darts down to match. With hindsight, I don’t think I should have moved the back darts down. It’s a little bit big and blousey at the upper back. I graded from a 12 to 14 when cutting the pattern out near the hips, and the length is shorter than the pattern denotes due to limited fabric length. I did cut the skirt to be a wee bit a-line, by adding on about an inch to the width each side.

Luckily it fit pretty well straight off (I rarely make muslins). All I did was take in the side seams a little around the waist, so it was a touch more fitted. Sometimes I go a bit ‘fit-crazy’ and take things in repeatedly until both the garment and I look a mess. I managed to refrain from doing that here, and left the dress at semi-fitted.
The sleeves eased in with no problems which was a nice surprise. Usually sleeve ease causes a lot of unnecessary drama. I love that little stand-away rounded sleeve edge, it always looks so professional.

The dress only took a few hours to make – a very quick project, for all levels of seamstress. Best of all there was no unpicking (I’m not counting the hand basting of the zip), which pleases me no end. I haven’t had a project for a long long time where I didn’t have to unpick anything. It’s a great pattern, and I’m glad I bought it. I can see more variations of these appearing in the future. I’d really like to make a smart version for work or interviews like this from A Good Wardrobe (I love the zip on this, and the fit is incredible, right?)

Does anyone have any good tips for identifying fabric? I’ve not got enough experience with different fabric types to be a good judge. I struggle with this when using mystery stash fabric, and can end up frustrated at my unsuitable choices for projects. Are there any hard and fast rules?

Thanks for reading!


  1. What a great dress! I know what you mean about making constant alterations – I do that all the time and can end up ruining the “look” :-(

  2. Thanks! The alteration issue is a weird one. Glad I’m not the only one tampering to the point of ruin. It’s as if someone else take over my brain and wants me to make everything tight and form-fitting just so I can prove to myself I can make clothes that fit. Fit-psychosis. Slowly learning when to stop…

  3. Yes the fit is incredible! You should definitely copy that bodice as a sloper.

  4. I like the fit as well, I never get that close without a muslin. But the shoulder is maybe a bit to wide? You can see that the seam hangs a little from the shoulder. And there is a little vertical crease at the armscye, maybe you should’ve used size 12 and do a small FBA? Sorry for enabling your fit psychosis 😆
    You can do a burn test to find the fabric content. Narural fabrics nurn to ashes and usually smell like burnt paper/hair. Synthetics will form a plastic-y buble, like when you set a platic cup in fire. What, you never did that?! :D

  5. I just realised how old this post is :)

    1. Better late than never!
      Funnily enough I tried this dress on two weeks ago and the fit is awful now. I think I may have lost a little bit of weight, and it looks terrible now. And you’re right – it’s all around the bust and shoulders. You have a very good eye for fit, clearly! I thought this was pretty good when I initially made it.

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