I snoozed and so I had to hack M7969

A while back I kept getting notifications that Minerva was offering a free download of the popular McCall’s M7969 pattern. I thought that’s great, I’ll have to get that. Well, I kept seeing the emails and kept saying I was going to get it, and I finally got ready to download the pattern, only to find it was no longer being offered. Drat! You snooze – you absolutely lose.

Anyway, now this dress that I hadn’t been raving about before, and probably only wanted because it was free, was now a top priority on my obsession list.

I almost bought the pattern! Then I had a little brain wave. I’ve been trying out a pattern-making system called Tailornova which is kind of an identikit method of creating bespoke patterns. It has your measurements then you pick the elements of your design e.g. sleeves, bodice type, skirt shape and length. I decided to make my own version of this pattern using this method. After carefully scrutinising the original, I came up with a combo of raglan bishop sleeves; a surplice wrap, an empire-waist top; and an A-line skirt.

If you compare the line art of my pattern with M7969, you can see that there are some slight differences. The raglan sleeve heads are gathered as is the skirt. The system is not quite versatile enough to add the additional gathering that M7969 has, so I had to do a little manual intervention.

The diagram below shows the pattern pieces of the Tailornova dress. The skirt pieces are provided full flat and I’m a little annoyed that I found the front and back are almost identical so I could have saved myself loads of paper and sticking together. I folded them in two and then added 20cm at the centre of each piece to provide the additional fullness required there. For the sleeves, I slashed the pattern piece from top to bottom at the centre, leaving a little hinge at the bottom and then spread it to add ease at the top of the sleeve. The bodice has pleats in the copy but the original does not, I kept the pleats to make sure I’ve enough room in the bust.

See the wedge added to the centre sleeve

I’ve also decided to make it maxi length for an upcoming trip where modest dressing may be required. Plus, I wanted to show off my fabric to the max. The fabric that I chose for this project is another from the Minerva exclusive fabric range this one is called Rainforest Rhythm. Once again it’s another beautiful riot of colour in a slightly autumnal mix of deep green and purple with a hint of navy blue, pale greens and peach as well. It’s a really lovely combination and the leaf motifs definitely give it a bit of that fall character. All the usual preparation steps for viscose were taken – this one actually managed to get washed twice because I forgot that I’d done it and shoved it back in the washing machine again.

When it came to the gathering I decided to try the dedicated presser foot on my machine rather than doing my usual two lines of loose stitching. It seemed to work reasonably well, but still think that two lines probably give you more control over the amount of gathering and distribution, it definitely saves time doing this in one go around on the machine rather than having to do it all twice, especially on the waist which was quite long.

It’s actually quite a straightforward pattern to sew up: it has an overlapping front with gathering to the bust, as I said. I added gathering at the shoulders to give it that fuller puffiness but it is relatively easy to make up and when I finished I was really happy that I have done quite a good dupe of this pattern.

I think I probably need to look at my gathering a bit next time as the fullness at my shoulders is not quite in exactly the right place, I did guesstimate how much to add to the sleeve, so I would have to adjust that if I did this again. The skirt has just enough gathering, I didn’t want it too pouffy and I think I got just the right amount. The neckline is still quite low at the front, so I think I need to make sure I have a scarf as well to ensure it is modest enough for when we visit Egypt.

Once it was all made up I left it to hang for 24 hours to let the hem settle. Although I still managed a bit of a wonky hem which needs fixing.

I have to say I’m really happy with the results. It’s not perfect, but it is in my opinion a very good substitute for the free pattern.

I love it when a plan comes together.

Thanks for dropping by,


I made this dress about a month ago and meant to post this while I was on the road, but shortness of time and poor internet changed my plans. Can’t believe what was waiting for me in the mailbox when I got home. New package, but same pattern! I’m not pressed though, I enjoyed the challenge of creating my own patterns and it’s encouraged me to try more.

About Elaine Batiste

I'm a teacher, a lifelong learner, a traveller, a maker, an adventurer and a 'want to do more' kind of gal.

7 Responses

  1. I almost bought that magazine for the pattern, but my sewing list is too long! I love your version too. Thanks for the link to tailornova. Have you made many patterns using the system? It looks like a similar idea to Lekala, but I’ve found their patterns don’t have enough wearing ease at times.

    Liked by 1 person

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