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Pattern Review: McCalls 6559 Maxi Dress

2013 September 1
by elizabeth_admin

I know I just talked about my Fall sewing plans, but I have a boat party this afternoon and wanted to wear something new.  I thought a maxi dress would be perfect.  So I pulled out my pattern and auditioned some fabrics.  I can’t believe that I waited so long to make up this pattern.  What was I thinking???  I mean, it’s so easy, so fast.  It’s really flattering.  Note to self: Make more of these.  Especially since they’re probably about to go out of fashion now that I’ve started making them.  Here’s my review of this amazing pattern that everyone else has made before me many times over.


McCalls 6559


Pattern Description:  Misses unlined jackets and dresses.  Very close-fitting, pullover dresses.  I made the plain maxi dress, version D.

Pattern Sizing:  Sizes 6-14.  I made the size 14.  I know most people went down 1 or two sizes in this pattern.  I’m usually between a 14 and 16 in the big four.  To determine my size, I used a method that I first heard about from Myrna, where you drape the knit against your body so that it’s width and drape is pleasing to you and see which size that matches up to on the pattern.  I tested two areas using this method, my full bust and my hips.  Both came out to the size 14, so that’s what I used.  When I pinned it together, I found I wanted a little more ease in the hips and used a smaller seam allowance from the hips down.  Love the way this fits on me now.  Some people like a really fitted silhouette with negative ease on this dress.  With my body curves, I really don’t, so I have a some ease everywhere.  It’s what I’m most comfortable wearing.  So if you make this up, I advise to baste to check for your preferred fit.  It’s such a fast make that it really doesn’t take much time to do.    

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?  For the most part.  I added a binding to my neck and arm openings and my dress had more ease.  

Were the instructions easy to follow?  I didn’t use them but I looked at them to check for this review.  Since I bound my neckline, I changed the order of construction to allow for that.  Also, I wouldn’t recommend just turning over the seam allowances to finish the neckline or armscyes.  That just looks becky-homecky.  That being said, this is such a simple pattern, that you don’t really need instructions.  For reals!

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?


  • Super fast
  • Super easy
  • Only two pattern pieces
  • Great fit (did not even need an FBA – can I hear an Hallelujah for that?)
  • Great dress


  • NONE!

Fabric used:  I used the really cool pintucked striped knit I bought a few weeks ago from the National City Swap Meet.  I went with my local ASG garment sewer group.  Fun day and I scored some amazing fabrics for dirt cheap.  Love this knit.  It’s got a lot of body and is perfect for a maxi dress.  Win-win!

Pattern changes or design changes made:  No real design changes, but I did bind the neckline and armscyes with some black Fold Over Elastic (FOE) I had in the stash.  I was a little hesitant to use it, but I looked up some tips on the inter webs and consulted with my friend Susan who’s made this dress several times, and then just winged it.  It turned out pretty well, but there was a bit of a learning curve getting the neckline to stay tucked between the ends of the FOE and how much to stretch as you sewed.  I think I will definitely use this method again.  It’s pretty easy once you get the hang of it.



Any problems encountered during construction?  It wouldn’t be a project by me if there wasn’t some stupid user error somewhere along the way.  I realized I forgot to cut off the seam allowances on the armscyes before adding the FOE.  Of course I only noticed after I serged up the side seams.  *Sigh*  Now I will have to cut off my FOE and add new, but this time in the round, since the side seams are already serged.  *double sigh*

Any interesting design details in this pattern?   Well, not on the plain version D, but the E and F versions are pretty cool.  I will try those with some other stripey knit sometime soon.  This one with the swirly pintucks already had enough going on.

Which sewing machine(s) did you use for construction?   I used my Brother serger for the construction, my Emerald 183 for the FOE application and my Brother coverstitch for the hem.

Time to complete construction:   This was a little embarrassingly long for such a simple project, but with the basting to fit, my learning curve on the FOE, and the user errors, it took me about 4.5 hours to complete.  Next time it won’t take that long I’m sure.

Will you sew it again or recommend it to others?  You bet I will.  It’s a great dress.  And who doesn’t need a couple of maxi dresses in their closet when you live in sunny San Diego?!?  I definitely recommend it to anyone, beginners and advanced sewers alike.  Just because it’s easy, doesn’t mean you an advanced sewer should turn her nose up, it’s a real looker on.  Just remember to check for fit and bind the neckline for a more professional look.

Conclusion:  Awesome pattern: quick, easy, gorgeous.  What more could you ask?





Darn, I wish I had time to make that sweet little jacket to go with it.  I might make another dress before I start my Fall sewing though.  Happy sewing!

27 Responses leave one →
  1. Wendy permalink
    September 1, 2013

    The dress is great. I’m looking forward to seeing the little jacket!

  2. September 1, 2013

    Ooooo that fabric is awesome. It looks like you got a really flattering fit – it drapes over your curves but doesn’t cling. Pretty!

  3. September 1, 2013

    Girl, that dress ROCKS on you! Make more! xos

  4. Karla permalink
    September 1, 2013

    So THAT’s what that great fabric turned into…I love it. A jacket will extend its usefulness into fall and what passes for winter in SoCal. You look great in it. Enjoy!

  5. Shams permalink
    September 1, 2013

    That came out great, Elizabeth!

  6. September 1, 2013

    Ooooh….love your version! And I love this pattern:)

  7. September 1, 2013

    Pretty maxi and like the use of the FOE.

  8. September 1, 2013

    Love it! This pattern is definitely in my top makes list!

  9. September 1, 2013

    Nice maxi dress. Great job with FOE! Liked your tip om checking knit to determine size. I will have to try this.

  10. September 1, 2013

    FAbulous dress, it looks great on you and the fabric is great.

  11. September 1, 2013

    Wonderful dress! It fits and flatters you perfectly, and what an awesome fabric find!

  12. robin permalink
    September 1, 2013

    I love the fabric and the fit. I haven’t seen a bad review yet for this pattern– need to get on the bandwagon.

  13. September 1, 2013

    Adorbs and you look fab!

  14. September 2, 2013

    Ok, because of your review, I just bought the pattern on etsy!
    I am super fascinated that it fits so well yet has no CB seam nor any darts….
    I love the FOE finish! It’s a great accent to that fabric.

  15. September 2, 2013

    You are so beautiful. And inspirational.

  16. September 2, 2013

    Love it! Like you, I just sewed my first dress from this pattern, and I wonder why I didn’t do it earlier – what a great pattern!

  17. Ann's Fashion Studio permalink
    September 2, 2013

    I love the fabric and the dress looks fantastic!

  18. September 2, 2013

    What a fab dress!:) Very flattering on you, I’m sure it was a big hit:) Great idea binding the neckline too.

  19. September 2, 2013

    that looks fantastic, what a great fabric choice and perfect fit.

  20. September 2, 2013

    Fantastic! The fabric is perfect for this dress. And, yes, you need to make more of them.

  21. September 3, 2013

    oh, this is so perfect. the fabric, the fit, the line… i’m always a little terrified of a “simple” dress like this, because i need those seams everywhere went i go wrong and need a seam to hack!!

  22. September 3, 2013

    This is awesome! Love the black n white fabric you chose for this. Hope you had a wonderful time on the boat trip and it’s not to late to make the little black jacket to go with it!

  23. September 4, 2013

    I am glad it worked out. Of course after seeing your new version I cut another one out last night. This is an addictive pattern for sure. What a great swap meet find with your fabric. It really adds an extra flair to your maxi.

  24. maggie permalink
    September 5, 2013

    E, I love your blog. We are very similar in size and fitting issues. Your pattern reviews often guide my choice to do or not do FBA . Love the great job you did matching the side stripes on this dress. I recently finished NewLook6022 that you made a few years back on your other/older/beginner blog. I added the belt from view C to the sleeves from B. I tie the belt high empire waist style.. at the slimmer part… like Clinton and Stacy on What Not to Wear recommend. M

  25. Diane Tolomeo permalink
    May 20, 2015

    I’m about to make this in version E (the one with the cut-out star). The knit fabric I have has a crosswise stretch but the pattern layout shows the back laid out so that the stretch will run up and down the dress, not across the body.

    Does the pattern take this into account and still fit? The patchwork bits on the front should give enough ease with all the bias pieces, but I’m worried that the back will fit tight.

    Do you recall anything about this?

  26. Shirley permalink
    October 18, 2016

    can another fabric be used instead of a stretch fabric? corduroy, heavy cotton, velvet, or the like?
    if so, should i get the pattern one size larger to allow for “no stretch”?

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