Sewing Inspiration from McCall's 8138

Sometimes a simple black dress is just enough. But when you add a center-front, exposed zipper, the level of cuteness goes straight through the roof. I’m screaming and dancing over this Fit & Flare Knit Dress and today I’ve got some sewing inspiration from McCall’s 8138, just for you. Keep reading.

Sew Inspiration for McCall's 8138

When I first saw this pattern, I was immediately drawn to the style first, because I LOVE fit & flare dresses. But when I laid eyes on the center-front, exposed zipper on the model in View C, I gasped. The zipper, alone, is cute enough, but it was the silver ring zipper pull that did it for me. I knew that I needed to have the ring on my zipper too if I was going to make the dress. Sometimes it’s the simple details that make the greatest impact. Now you tell me. Would that zipper be as appealing on this dress without the ring?

Sew Inspiration for McCall's 8138

McCall's 8138 | The Pattern

McCall’s 8138 is from the “Learn to Sew for Fun” collection. It came out in 2020 and the pattern envelope indicates that it’s a Level 2. I would classify Level 1 as appropriate for new beginners and Level 2 for beginners who already have some experience sewing simple patterns.


Learn to Sew an Exposed Zipper

Each “Learn to Sew for Fun” pattern highlights different techniques that the beginner will learn while sewing the pattern. When sewing McCall’s 8138, you will learn how to insert an exposed zipper. View A has the zipper at center-back, while Views B and C have the zipper at center-front. I agree with the rating on this pattern because I think some new beginners may struggle with the zipper insertion. The instructions are very clear and easy to follow, but I would recommend practicing on a scrap piece of fabric if this is your first exposed zipper install.

Sew Inspiration for McCall's 8138

Fabric & Notions

I used this Black, Rayon, Rib Knit (medium weight) and it was perfect for the dress. It has a lovely drape and is thick enough for cooler weather. I wanted the ribs to run vertically instead of horizontally. Therefore, I cut my dress on the lengthwise grain instead of the suggested crosswise grain. The interesting thing about this fabric is that it had the amount of stretch I needed lengthwise, but not crosswise. 

The pattern suggests two-way stretch knits (50% cross grain). So, it worked out perfectly for how I wanted to cut the dress. I purchased the fabric from my local JoAnn Fabrics, but I don’t see it listed on the website.

Sewing Inspiration for McCall's 8138
Sewing Inspiration for McCall's 8138
Sewing Inspiration for McCall's 8138

The pattern calls for a 9″ zipper but it wasn’t long enough to reach the top of the collar. So I purchased a longer zipper and shortened it to the length I needed. I purchased my zipper at the local JoAnn Fabrics but I don’t see the longer length on their website. Take a look at Wawak for your zippers and other sewing supplies.

Sewing Inspiration for McCall's 8138
Sewing Inspiration for McCall's 8138

I used a size 12 Jersey Needle, All Purpose Polyester Thread, and Knit Fusible Interfacing to sew my dress.

Sewing Inspiration for McCall's 8138

Styling the Dress

I plan to wear this dress a LOT because it’s so cute and comfortable. There are many styling options that can elevate the entire look. I styled it for two different looks to share with you here. But I have a YouTube Pattern Review Video coming soon with more sewing inspiration from McCall’s 8138.

Sewing Inspiration for McCall's 8138

Styling Option #1

For the first look, I added a long chain (doubled) around my neck, large hoop earrings, scarf around the neck, a bling clutch purse, and high heel sandals. Did you check the zippers at center-front on the shoes? Now you know I screamed when I pulled these shoes to pair with the pattern and fabric (before I made the dress). Hahaha! And YES I did a little song and dance in my closet when I tried it all on after making the dress. I make up songs all the time when I get happy about my outfits. Hahaha! I finished it off with red lipstick to match my red nail polish. I think it’s a pretty classy look that can be worn to work, church, dinner, speaking on stage, and business meetings.

Sewing Inspiration for McCall's 8138

Styling Option #2

Next, I styled it with a pair of black boots, the same long chain from Option #1, stud earrings, a small clutch purse, and a scarf tied over my hair. I really love scarves and own a lot of them. I think they add a touch of class to any outfit. Wearing a scarf on the head with a pair of sunglasses gives me all the Audrey Hepburn vibes. I would wear the scarf this way and add a warm coat. After arriving at my destination, I would tie the scarf around my neck. Or, if I’m carrying a purse with handles, I could tie the scarf onto one handle.

Sewing Inspiration for McCall's 8138

How would you style the dress?

If you’ve been hanging with me for a while, you already know I like to rock big hats. So why don’t you see one with this dress? I saved it for the fashion show at the end of the Pattern Review Video. I styled it with two big hats! Hahaha!

What others are saying

I asked the ladies on my Facebook and Instagram how they would style the dress. I got some great feedback, and here are a few from Instagram. 

  • White parka vest, white boots, silver hoop earrings, royal blue purse (LaTisha)
  • White boots, earrings, fuzzy pink jacket (Lara)
  • Red jacket, red clutch, hat (loving_the_bag)
  • Stretch belt with a nickel-silver chain (Vanessa)
  • Boots, black hat, single strand of pearls (SY)
  • Motorcycle jacket, suede boots, big earrings with bling (sequimbeccj)
  • Boots and pearls (April)
  • Boots and hat (Marilyn &  Rhona)
  • Fur vest (gardengoddess52)

My favorite is the first option but I don’t own a white parka or white boots. I’ve never even considered adding white boots to my wardrobe. But if I find the right pair, I’m definitely buying them and making a white parka.

Thanks for the styling tips, ladies!

Now it's your turn

Now it’s your turn. Leave a comment below and tell me how you would style the dress. Give me some ideas because, remember, I plan to wear the dress a lot. And if you’re not a member of my Private Email Community, make sure you get signed up so you will be notified when I post new content, special updates, and opportunities that are exclusive to my email members.

More Inspiration for Beginners

Also, if you enjoyed this sewing inspiration from McCall’s 8138, I have another post featuring a pattern from the McCall’s “Learn to Sew for Fun” line. Check out McCall’s 7531.

Thanks for stopping by,

Remember: When you live in your DESIGN, it is from there that God SHINES! 

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(DISCLAIMER: This blog post may contain affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a small commission on qualifying purchases. All opinions in this post are my own.)

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This Post Has 31 Comments

  1. Barbara

    Anita – this is such a pretty dress! Love the many ways to add accessories and create different looks! I enjoy your posts so much. The weekend forecast is for some snow here in the Southeast so I hope that gives me some nice relaxing sewing time!

    1. Anita Morris

      Thank you so much. I hope you got some good sewing done.

  2. Peggy

    Hi Anita. I love the dress. I’m a simple Simon. I think the dress is beautiful as is because the silver zipper adds that extra pop. Maybe just add a pair of silver loop earrings (not too big), of course boots and a clutch. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Anita Morris

      Thank you, Peggy! Yes, it’s just as lovely by itself. I will certainly wear it that way sometimes.

  3. Graziella Bruner

    This is just so beautiful, and so perfect. It absolutely looks amazing on you. I’m so excited to try this pattern. Can’t wait for the finished product.

    1. Anita Morris

      Thank you, Graziella! Have fun making your dress.

  4. Tamar

    Lovely Sis Anita! Yes I agree that the zipper ring pull really sets it off. Thank you for the inspiration.

    1. Anita Morris

      Thank you so much, Tamar! YES! That zipper ring did it for me.

  5. Ramona

    I love this style. Dresses such as this one compliment my body type, as my hips are on the “curvy” side. I love how you have styled it. I can see myself with a moto-jacket and boots with this one.

    1. Anita Morris

      Yes, Ramona! A Moto-jacket and boots would be so fierce with this dress.

  6. Sheila

    My sister, you are wearing that black dress. You look beautiful in it, as always. I always love your pattern selections. I got to get this pattern.

    1. Anita Morris

      Thank you so much, Sheila! Yes, get this pattern.

  7. Sharon

    Sista Girl you rock. I love it. In fact every dress you create looks fabulous. They are also timeless pieces – plus the way you model and style them brings out the beauty in each piece.

  8. De

    You look great! I’ve never been a fan of exposed zippers but I think I might reconsider. Maybe one in the front like on your dress may work for me. I’m still not sold on a long one down my back. After viewing your earlier posting, I envisioned a scarf and silver jewelry but I did not consider a zipper ring. You could possibly add a charm-type zipper pull or a large scarf over one shoulder. This is one look where you can’t go wrong with accessories. Without a doubt, you knocked the ball out of the park with this one – comfortable, stylish, and versatile!

    1. Anita Morris

      Oh, I love your styling tips, De! I’ve already purchased a charm-style zipper pull because I plan to make this dress again. I purchased the same fabric in a beige color. I can’t wait to make this dress again. I agree, you can do so much with this dress.

  9. Susan Barton

    The dress is so cute, and you’ve detailed it perfectly. I am 77 years old, so my figure isn’t quite show worthy, but knit is so forgiving, isn’t it? My life has changed so drastically since my dear husband died in September, that I just can’t seem to get energized to sew anything. I’m continuing to read your posts as inspiration to keep my motivation alive. I know you understand what I’m going through.

    1. Anita Morris

      Oh Susan, I’m so sorry to hear about your husband. I certainly understand not having the motivation to sew. It took me a very long time to start sewing again after my husband died. Yes, just take your time. I didn’t force myself to do anything after my husband’s death. I just focused on allowing myself to go through the grief process. I’m sending you so much love and I pray that you will be gentle with yourself and take all the time you need to heal.

  10. Dagmar Krůtová

    Dear Anita, you look great in this dress as always! I like your high heeled shoes, you wear them quite often when you style your clothes, don’t you? I enjoy wearing dresses like this in different colours, I would style it with a red, yellow or black beret, red or yellow collage coat and black high boots. Sincerely Dagmar

    1. Anita Morris

      Oh yes, Dagmar! Splashes of color would really look amazing with the dress. Yes, I wear the heals with a lot of my dresses. I love them so much.

  11. Cynthia Jarrett

    I love your style so anything you wear is fabulous… I would definitely love the white boots and jacket idea… but the dress could be coupled with any colors. I am a great friend of silver and gold. I enjoy your style and teachings …

    1. Anita Morris

      Yes, I agree. You can style this dress with any colors and it would look fabulous.

  12. Linda

    You are so right about the zipper ring! A simple detail, but totally gives the dress some sass. I’m a boot girl, myself, but I could see adding a simple silver chain (anklet style) with a hoop breaking the chain midway (directly opposite the chain clasp). Love the look! Can’t wait to see the YouTube video. Thanks for all you do for us sewists.

    1. Anita Morris

      Oh, I never thought of adding a chain around the boot, Linda. That would definitely add interest and more sass.

  13. Stephanie

    Fabulous, wait till you add your HAT!!!!!!! Talk about the outfit says it all!!!!! And thank for your sewing tips and sew alongs!!!!

    1. Anita Morris

      You KNOW the hat leveled it ALL THE WAY UP!!! Yeeesss! I can’t wait for you to see it with the hat.

  14. Grace

    Anita, I love the dress on you so cute and flattering.
    I love bracelets I would add bracelets and a wide leather belt.

    1. Anita Morris

      Oh, YES! I LOVE bracelets too and I can’t believe I forgot to add my silver bangles. Next time! I added belts in the YouTube video.