Shape It Up! McCalls 2401 Garment No. 18

30 Jun Shape It Up! McCalls 2401 Garment No. 18

“The dress must follow the body of a woman, not the body following the shape of the dress.” —Hubert de Givenchy

Since I returned to sewing nearly five years ago, I’ve been looking for the perfect simple dress pattern and have quite a collection. Shifts, Sheaths, A-lines, Empire Waist, you name it…… I’ll buy the same pattern with a slight variation and then search for another. ~~~

So last week I took stock of my growing look-a-like pattern collection, I assessed my dying RTW dress collection and concluded all but a few were constructed from uncomplicated and basic foundations.

I knew I already had ‘the perfect dress pattern’ ~ actually lots of them, and I knew the way to move forward was to start at the very beginning. For me, this meant making a shift and shaping with darts, before making another dress.

IMG_0164If I was going to make a shift, then it was going to be a silk shift ~~~ and soon I was underlining, basting and thinking of Susan Khalje who told me she could keep someone busy for a week sewing a pencil skirt.

By golly, my shift would be a couture shift ~~~~ and then I came to my senses; it need not be all or nothing 😉 Breaking away from the couture standards, I inserted an invisible zipper following the Brother Invisible Zipper tutorial. (which is a foolproof tutorial)


The dress pattern is McCalls 2401 (described as a sheath),and sewn in a  s m o o t h  dupioni from B&J Fabrics, not papery at all.

I made one design change and lowered the back neckline to match the front neckline.  To achieve the fitted back, I extended the darts all the way through the upper edge on the back pieces (click on photo above for detail).

The silk is underlined with a mystery fabric I received as a bonus from Farmhouse Fabrics which has a nice weight and texture for underlining.


I lowered the bust darts by 1/2 inch and extended the front darts downward by three inches for better shaping.


The dress is lined with a Grenadine Crepe de Chine from Mood Fabrics.

striped dress lining

I tried talking myself out of using this beautiful fabric for a lining, but the crepe de chine transformed the shift into the dress I was seeking for the sizzling summer.

IMG_0130 2

Obviously, it’s all about making the pattern perfect for you, bringing the search for perfect dress patterns to an end ……………

IMG_0098 which means all new dress patterns are icing on the cake!

Until soon 🙂




  • Becky Riddle
    Posted at 10:23h, 30 June Reply

    Well, this post was quite timely for me, as I am trying to make the best of a certain garment for me, have been shopping for the perfect pattern, and told myself just last night that I knew what alterations I needed to make to the pattern I have fit well. So why didn’t I do it? I think I am just not quite confident enough to make the needed changes at this point. I really detest making muslins, but I realize that it is necessary to make the necessary alterations to achieve the garment I want. So, having said all that, I will get busy and just DO IT. Thanks for the encouragement! By the way, your dress is gorgeous, and you look gorgeous in it, as usual.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 12:31h, 30 June Reply

      I feel your pain as I’ve been there many times! I did not make muslins until I started sewing again 5 years ago, and I’ve never regretted making a muslin 😉
      Good luck and many thanks for the comment!

      • Sharon E
        Posted at 15:08h, 30 June Reply

        I made my first muslin just this year as my intended pattern was quite unlike anything I have ever made. Good thing I did it, otherwise the size that I had chosen would have been much too big. It felt good to downsize.

        That dress is stunning on you. The zipper looks perfect.

  • peggy leah
    Posted at 10:33h, 30 June Reply

    Invisible zipper or not, you still don’t find underlined AND lined
    dresses in ready-made.. Dress is marvelous and lining makes an
    elegant special feature known only to the wearer! Love o
    receive your email!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 12:32h, 30 June Reply

      Thank you, Peggy! I love the result of couture clothes but do not hesitate to take shortcuts with modern technology 🙂

  • Joyce Love
    Posted at 10:35h, 30 June Reply

    Sure looks couture to me! 🙂

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 13:36h, 30 June Reply

      Let’s call it Sorta Couture or Semi-Couture 😉 Many thanks!

  • Melissa
    Posted at 10:43h, 30 June Reply

    Such gorgeous fabric. Love the Dupioni and the lining is absolutely lovely. What a great dress.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 13:37h, 30 June Reply

      Thank you, Melissa! The dupioni is some of the nicest ever, unlike the papery nubby fabric. I didn’t know this quality existed.

  • Ana Sullivan
    Posted at 10:56h, 30 June Reply

    That is so funny!!! I followed the link of your pattern to find that I too have made that pattern. Many times. I have made it with the round neck, I have made it with and without sleeves. I have made it with crepe and I have made it with silk. One version was my go-to LBD for many many years. I will have to dig it out and make a fresh version. Thanks for always giving such good inspiration to make garments.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 13:37h, 30 June Reply

      You could make this one with your eyes closed, Ana! Many thanks for your comment 🙂

  • Brunella B Rosser
    Posted at 11:13h, 30 June Reply

    A very nice video tutorial!
    This type of teaching is always good, whether presented as an introduction to a new sewing technique, or as a review.
    While I’m here, I want you to know that I enjoy your blog.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 13:39h, 30 June Reply

      Thank you, Brunella! This video is one of the best YouTube tutorials I’ve seen 🙂

  • Irene
    Posted at 11:15h, 30 June Reply

    Beautiful, as always. A basic sheath (shift) dress is the basis for so many dresses. I’ve been on the same quest myself. You’ve inspired me to buckle down and actually work through the fitting details until I come up with something that I’m happy with. (At least until something else catches my attention.)

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 13:40h, 30 June Reply

      Thank you, Irene! Fitting your pattern is what it’s about if you’re after the perfect one. I’m sure you’ll come up with something!

  • Suzy
    Posted at 11:30h, 30 June Reply

    I really like you blog. I have been following it for years. I end up buying many patterns of the items you’ve made because they come out so nicely (yours, not mine!). Thanks for the great content.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 13:41h, 30 June Reply

      Thank you, Suzy. I’m flattered by your comment 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Rosalind Clayton
    Posted at 12:13h, 30 June Reply

    A simple silhouette but the engineering of it is detailed & fabulous. As always you do beautiful work! Gorgeous colour combination for summer!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 13:42h, 30 June Reply

      Thank you so much, Rosalind! In hot sticky weather, simple is appreciated 😉

  • Cissie Wellons
    Posted at 12:15h, 30 June Reply

    Perfect couture sheath dress, one that you’ll be wearing for years. It is timeless and classic. Lining is that extra something that makes couture so special.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 13:42h, 30 June Reply

      This one is definitely a keeper, Cissie! Many thanks.

  • Margene Yeaton
    Posted at 12:54h, 30 June Reply


    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 13:43h, 30 June Reply

      Thank you, Margene!

  • Yoshie Wong
    Posted at 13:26h, 30 June Reply


    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 13:43h, 30 June Reply

      Thank you, Yoshie!

  • Kathy
    Posted at 13:39h, 30 June Reply

    Great job! Absolutely love the color of the lining, It is like a secret surprise that only you would know, which makes the dress that much more fun to wear.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 13:44h, 30 June Reply

      Many thanks, Kathy! I am certain that the dress would not be nearly as special without a lining or even with an inexpensive acetate. I’m glad I bit the bullet 😉

  • becky michaels
    Posted at 14:09h, 30 June Reply

    Sunsational! What a happy dress and what an ooo-la-la lining! You are a true inspiration and I love following your sewing flights of fancy.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 20:39h, 30 June Reply

      Sunsational will be remembered and used, Becky! Many thanks for your comment 🙂

  • chris johnson
    Posted at 14:46h, 30 June Reply

    This is such a great post! Love the dress. It’s hot!!!!! And the inspiration to use some couture as it fits the fabric, design, or simply ones desire is making so much sense to thoughts I have been mulling over about improving my construction process. Your quote from Susan K. saying that she could keep a person busy for a week on a pencil skirt, resonates with how slowly I seem to construct items, even without thinking couture! And those oh-so-similar patterns you collect mirror my own sentiments about my pattern collection. One of my goals recently is not necessarily to declutter my well-organized pattern collection, but to use patterns more than once – to see the potential they offer. Cassie’s recent PR post about the McCall’s shift she has made more than 5 times that do not look like they are from the same pattern was similarly inspiring. As I am learning, It’s best to sew what works for my body as much as what works for my evolving personal style. Looking forward to your next post and more of your thoughtful insights.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 20:43h, 30 June Reply

      Thank you so much, Chris! I do believe sewing a pattern repeatedly is a great way to improve sewing skills, but that’s not to say that we shouldn’t try new techniques and styles along the way. Congratulations on the ability to sew slowly ~ that’s a discipline in and of itself 😉

  • Heather Myers
    Posted at 15:49h, 30 June Reply

    Thanks for the excellent reminder fit is the key. I finally have a pants pattern that fits, and there’s no substitute for it for pants or shorts – no more searching for a classic pant pattern! Lovely dress!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 20:44h, 30 June Reply

      Aren’t you lucky to have a pants pattern that fits!Thank you so much for your comment, Heather 😉

  • Marvel Donovan
    Posted at 17:10h, 30 June Reply

    Why does it take us so long to make muslins a habit? I just started making the muslin first last year and have had no regrets. You inspire me to begin sewing again when I get home from vacation. I’m excited.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 20:47h, 30 June Reply

      Thank you, Marvel! I hope you’re having a great vacation 😉 I too, never made muslins until I returned to sewing nearly 5 years ago and appreciate their value on many levels.

  • Linda
    Posted at 17:17h, 30 June Reply

    What a great pattern and I love the fabric such bright colors!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 20:48h, 30 June Reply

      Thank you so much, Linda! The colors were calling my name 🙂

  • Gerhild
    Posted at 17:45h, 30 June Reply

    Beautiful fit. You’ve done an outstanding job, especially matching the stripes in the back for the zipper. It pays to take time to create something special.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 20:49h, 30 June Reply

      Matching the stripes was a miracle, Gerhild 😉 Many thanks for the comment!

  • Fleur Bernasochi
    Posted at 18:19h, 30 June Reply

    Beautiful work! Last night my husband and I looked at the garments I have made since I started sewing again two years ago. We decided that simple sheath dresses which fit well are my most successful (read worn) makes and really do suit me best. I am petite and feel overwhelmed in anything busy. I love pattern and texture so every dress can have its own personality derived from the fabric. So, like you, I intend to stop using new patterns and make my TNTs, and then focus on fabric and construction quality. Thank you for your wonderful blog whic I thoroughly enjoy.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 20:53h, 30 June Reply

      You are fortunate to know your style, Fleur! You’re right in that we petites can manage texture and prints as long as the style is simple and the fit is excellent.
      However, I hope I didn’t confuse you ~ I will continue to buy dress patterns, but I have quit searching for ‘the perfect dress pattern’.
      Many thanks for your comment 🙂

  • Maggie edger
    Posted at 19:42h, 30 June Reply

    Another WINNER!!!!! A Maggie

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 20:37h, 30 June Reply

      Thank you, Maggie!

  • Gayle
    Posted at 21:11h, 30 June Reply

    I truly envy your sewing skill. I have been working on a muslin for the Granville shirt and you have completed two garments in the meantime! Please keep inspiring us!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 21:33h, 30 June Reply

      LOL – If you read my Granville shirt posts, you’ll discover I spent about two weeks on that pattern! Many thanks for your comment, Gayle 🙂

  • Jeff Laskowski
    Posted at 00:04h, 01 July Reply

    I am glad you decided to use the fabric. It is a darling dress and very flattering on you.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 05:49h, 01 July Reply

      I knew I’d like the fabric from the little online sample! Simple dresses are the best – many thanks for the comment 🙂

  • KathieBennett
    Posted at 08:28h, 01 July Reply

    You really know how to work those horizontal stripes. I had no idea horizontal stripes could be so flattering! Love it.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 08:45h, 01 July Reply

      Ha-ha-ha! I think horizontal stripes get a bad rap but I know what you mean 😉
      Many thanks, Kathie!

  • Sonja
    Posted at 09:47h, 01 July Reply

    What a great dress! It’s so summery and fun!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 10:34h, 01 July Reply

      Thank you so much Sonja!!

  • MaryEllen
    Posted at 10:02h, 01 July Reply

    Another great dress ! Your posts are so packed with great info . I need to bite the bullet & make muslins . Thanks for the inspiration

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 10:35h, 01 July Reply

      Thank you, MaryEllen! You are correct ~ making muslins are so worth it 🙂 🙂

  • Claire
    Posted at 11:45h, 01 July Reply

    Great dress in your signature happy colors! Funny because I just completed a refashion of an old Ann Taylor dress in what looks like an almost identical silk in a different color way. Your comment about mixing RTW and couture techniques resonates especially as this is the topic of the Manus x Machina exhibition currently at the Met. I can’t stop thinking about that exhibition. It’s wonderful. Anyway, the exhibition has a great quote from Miuccia Prada where she says that she thinks that the best results are achieved with a mix of hand and machine. And the Chanel wedding dress/gold cape that headlines the exhibition is called “haute couture without couture.” So your approach to this shift dress is shared with the greats!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 12:32h, 01 July Reply

      Hi Claire!
      Oh how I’d love to see that exhibit! Glad to know Prada and I on on the same wavelength ~ lol 😉 Seriously, technology exceeds many of my hand sewing skills and I say choose whatever technique works best.
      Many thanks for your comment!

  • Pat
    Posted at 18:20h, 01 July Reply

    Wow. I love everything about that dress. The lining was worth the sacrifice.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 18:55h, 01 July Reply

      Thank you, Pat! The lining truly made the dress in my opinion 😉

  • Mary Funt
    Posted at 20:23h, 01 July Reply

    Wonderful dress! I absolutely love the lining.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 05:33h, 02 July Reply

      Thank you, Mary! It’s been awhile since I’ve used a luxury lining and it was so worth it 😉

  • Cindy Aymes
    Posted at 08:05h, 02 July Reply

    Beautiful construction, as always! I have yet to get this dress to fit me – 3 muslins later! I do have a princess seam dress that fits perfectly and I was wondering if you find it helpful to have a darted dress pattern that fits too? Do you think there’s a reason to have both? Love your dress and those perfectly matched stripes!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 06:07h, 03 July Reply

      Thank you, Cindy! I love, love, love princess seam dresses on many levels. I think darted dresses are great for fabrics with large scale designs that are tricky to match, or would lose their punch with too many seams.
      Aren’t you glad you’re making muslins instead of cutting into fashion fabric? Have you tried Sarah Veblen’s fitting book? It has solved all of my fitting issues!

  • Creative Hormone Rush
    Posted at 19:10h, 02 July Reply

    WOW! Superb craftsmanship! This dress is truly magnificent!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 06:08h, 03 July Reply

      Thank you so much!

  • Sew Jean Margaret
    Posted at 05:54h, 03 July Reply

    Beautiful! !!! The fit, the stripe matching, the lining…everything is just perfect.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 06:08h, 03 July Reply

      Thank you, Jean! This project was a fun one 😉

  • Margo//Creating In The Gap
    Posted at 06:37h, 03 July Reply

    so lovely Sara! Your stripe matching in the back…perfection. It’s a nice feeling to go the extra mile with couture techniques. You did an amazing job.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 05:40h, 06 July Reply

      Thank you, Margo! Simple patterns call for p e r f e c t i o n in my opinion 🙂

  • Tomasa
    Posted at 09:48h, 04 July Reply

    Love the vibrant happy colors of this dress which fits you perfectly.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 05:40h, 06 July Reply

      Many thanks, Tomasa! I’m totally pleased with this dress 🙂

  • Gretchen
    Posted at 12:18h, 04 July Reply

    I have not yet lined a summer dress fearing it will be heavy and hot in humid 90+ temperatures yet you seem to do it all the time. This dress is lined AND iunderlined! Could you explain your choice, besides the process making a beautifully finished garment.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 05:50h, 06 July Reply

      Many thanks for your comment, Gretchen. I knew this piece of silk needed to be underlined for a straight dress. If I had made a dress with a full skirt I would have underlined the bodice only. I learned from Susan Khalje that often the fashion fabric is only the topping and that the real construction lies underneath. This silk needed the underlining to maintain its shape. I have only worn the dress at night and found it to be comfortable.
      I’ve noticed that many RTW summer clothes are lined with batiste ~ dresses, shorts, skirts. Batiste is wonderfully cool and absorbent making it perfect for lining clothes which can easily stretch out of shape. Having said all of this, I only line a summer if I believe it really needs it 😉

  • Anne
    Posted at 12:38h, 07 July Reply

    Beautiful dress – I particularly love the lining. Gorgeous colour.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 13:22h, 07 July Reply

      Thank you so much, Anne!

  • Cindy Byrne
    Posted at 11:28h, 17 July Reply

    Impressed by your matching stripes on darts! Very nice dress!

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