My experience with McCalls 7542

Apparently, McCall 7542 is one of the most popular patterns of all time.  A simple boxy shirt with sleeve variations.  It’s the sleeve that draws you in and they are ever so popular right now.

Image result for mccalls 7542

My first try did not please me, however.  I had misgivings from the beginning – mostly about my fabric choice.  I wish I had done a muslin.  Consider this a muslin, but not wearable.

The fabric is a nice crisp red shirting fabric from Gorgeous Fabrics.  I really like it, but it’s better suited to the Donna Karan shirt from Vogue 1440.  I knew this and proceeded anyway, after watching the little vignette on FB from McCalls that structured fabrics work well.  It’s my fault for continuing though.

Since the fabric is super crisp, I went with view C, the pleated sleeves.  I lengthened it the top, as the cropped version would not work for me.  I spent a great deal of time basting to get perfect pleats (and I got them).

Generally speaking this is an easy pattern.  Here is where I encountered problems:

  1.  The neckline.  It doesn’t call for stay-stitching, but I couldn’t get the facing to lie flat without lots of clipping, so stay stitching is a must.  It still doesn’t look great though it’s hard to see in the photo. IMG_2886
  2. The sleeves, part 1.  As I noted above, I took a  great deal of time basting, and executing those pleats perfectly.  I didn’t miss.  But the lower sleeve is smaller in circumference than the upper sleeve by about 3/4 of an inch.  Others have mentioned the need to ease here, and I did need some of that to ease the two, but I did take in the underarm sleeve about 1/4 inch first.
  3. The sleeves, part 2.  Even after taking out 1/4 inch in the armscye by bringing in the underarm sleeve, I couldn’t ease this sleeve cap properly.  Multiple tries yielded terrible results. I don’t think it’s because there is too much ease (I think it’s probably right), but here is where my fabric choice failed me – this fabric is difficult to ease.  Keep that in mind when you choose the fabric.  The photo shows my basting stitches as well.IMG_2887
  4. Fit – You can see on the model that the top doesn’t fit her well in the upper chest.  Mine doesn’t either, even though I’m narrow and shallow there.  I get pulling on the sleeve (not the bust – but above it).  The bust dart ends in the wrong place too (too low for me).  I think these are specific to me – I usually make a 12 (often a 10 in shoulders) without issues. I’m not really sure how to fix these issues – I may experiment with changing the shape of the armscye.  None of my fitting books seem to address this, except that that Vogue Sewing suggests making the changes to the bodice, not the sleeve.  It’s as if I need more width across the upper chest.  Hard to describe, and I could not get a good picture.  In the photo, on my dress form, it looks perfectly fine (though you can see the bust dart is too low).  On me, it pulls at about the point where the ease dot would be.  Note it pulls to the hip – I didn’t add circumference when I added length.  Another thing to fix. IMG_2888

I like the top enough to work on the problems, and to look for a more suitable fabric.  For now, this top is finished, while I turn to finishing another project.

Style Arc Skye Top

img_2466I’ve been working on improving my wardrobe, both everyday and work.  It turns out, finding a good top pattern for wovens, that also works for my body and personality, is really challenging.  I’ve been perusing Nordstrom, and with their liberal return policy, getting a sense of what works beyond the basic blouse, but still trying new things with patterns and fabrics.  Personally, knits don’t work well in this climate – too clingy – and fitted designs don’t work as well with my middle-aged weight gain (and clingy in humidity).

I originally bought this gorgeous blue and white stripe stretch cotton sateen (from Gorgeous Fabrics), with Nicola Fineti’s crop top in mind (Vogue 1486).  I knew from the outset it would be too short, and that the oh-so-trendy crop top wouldn’t work for me right out of the envelope.  But given the construction,  I had a minimum number of seams to match.  Spoiler – it didn’t work.  The muslin showed it to be much shorter than it looks!  As in, 4 inches above the navel!  Granted, I’m long waisted,  but…  And something was weird about the neckline, ‘sleeves’, and bust darts.  Oh, I will play around with the muslin eventually, but I’ve set that aside.

img_2461I turned to the Style Arc Skye top.  This is a really cute top and I like it when I don’t raise my arms and have the right bottoms (I’m wearing the Style Arc Anna pants). I love the fabric’s weight, stripes, and colorway. (Check out that matching!)

I didn’t make a muslin, but I wish I did.  It’s shorter than you would think.  The front hits be about one inch below the navel, so it’s also slightly cropped. And it turns out, I don’t really like crop tops.  I will make this again, but I’m going to be adding two inches to the midsection.  One inch will be between the armcyse and the bust dart (which is too high) and one in the midsection proper. Why? Where the top joins at the sides, with its cute shirt-tail curved hem, is far too high up for my comfort… though with a high-waisted skirt or pants it would work.  I can’t tuck this in, so it’s a boxy silhouette.

The baimg_2469ck has a keyhole neckline, but it turns out that I don’t need it to pull the top on – I always forget to unbutton when I change.

Construction-wise, this is easy.  Based on the website, I chose size 10, though the fit seems a bit off, perhaps a size smaller, especially if a drapier fabric? Tips:  neaten (serge/overlock) your edges prior to sewing, complete the arm “hem” after the side seams.  I also went a bit narrower than the recommendation for the top-stitching.

As always, photography is not my forte, so forgive me.  These pictures were taken after wearing several times and are wrinkled from wear.

 

 

Hot weather comfort: Style Arc Anna Pant + McCall’s 7411

I’ve been away for a while, at 8000 feet, with no humidity.  I’m back in Florida, and not only is my sewing mojo in full swing, it says: comfort clothes, please; nothing too tight!  So, flowing  linen pants paired with a loose cotton voile top was my choice.  I’ve had the Style Arc Anna pant on the docket for a while, and decided to pair it with View C of McCall’s 7411 tank.  The navy stretch linen and the printed cotton voile are both from Gorgeous Fabrics.  I love the fabrics absolutely and both were very easy to work with.  The Style Arc Anna pants are fantastic, the top doesn’t pass the wearability test.

As always, photography is not my strong suit, the pictures are barely adequate.

Style Arc Anna: This is a straight leg pant, with a drawstring.  This pattern is super easy to make and goes together well.  If I make it again, however, I will purchase the pattern, rather than use the PDF.  I had a lot of trouble with lining everything up, and I’m pretty sure the pants are slightly off grain as a result.  I’ve used many other PDFs before, but this is my first Style Arc attempt – it may be my printer.

From the Style Arc website:Anna Pant - Straight leg drawstring pant, casual & sporty

I really love my Lily Pulitzer beach pants, but not the $180 price tag that comes with them. I wear the medium in Lily; here I sewed the 10 with only one modification.  The crotch curve (more of an L than a J) and rise match the Lily pant perfectly.  However, I wanted to make sure that the leg had enough ease to swish – and my thighs measure 23″ at their fullest point (hey, I run). So, I added 1/4 inch to the outside front and back seams, for a total 1/2 inch each leg.  Perfect – not tight when I sit, and the right amount of flowy beach swish when I sit.

The lily pant has three inches of ribbing for a lower rise pant, and the drawstring is merely decorative.  I didn’t have ribbing, so I constructed the fold-over waistband as directed.  I did switch out the fabric drawstring for navy 1/2 inch twill tape (much more comfortable, less bulky) and used 1/4 inch eyelets instead of button holes.

Last, an important improvement over the white Lily pants; – the 31.5 inch inseam is perfect to wear with flats/flip-flops.  The Lily pants are longer, requiring 3 inch heels, hemming, or rolling up.

This was my first Style Arc pattern, and I like it enough to try another, especially in pants.  I also love these pants and can see myself wearing these regularly.

McCall’s 7411 Layered Tank:

From McCall’s webpage, view C

I chose this pattern, but wasn’t thrilled with it.  The line drawings showed potential, even though I didn’t like the way it fit the model. I thought it was simply a lack of effort from the manufacturer, especially since the pressing job was less than adequate.  I also thought the neckline was boring.  I thought I could improve on this one, but I was wrong.

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There is a lot of ease here.  I mean a lot.  I wear a 12, but sized down to the small (8-10).  The finished measurements for the medium are 41″ (bust), 44″ (waist) and 37.5″ (bust) and 40.5″ for the small.

I decided that I wanted to add piping to the neckline and armholes, though I considered other options.  I made my own piping using the facings from view A as a guideline (cut on the bias) with 1/4″ piping.  This decision led me to abandon the order of construction.

I had never made my own piping before, nor added it to a neckline.  I referenced a few sources, but none that I found quickly suggested how to do it sandwiched this way.  I found, after doing the neckline, that the piping foot did not give me a tight “pipe” or abutment to the fabric edge.  I used a traditional zipper foot and was far more successful in getting the look I wanted. You can see the piping in the pictures below, and the rearview problems as well.

For the neck, I made the piping, stay-stitched the edges, then basted it to the overlay.  I then added the base layer and stitched.  I closed the back opening as directed at this point in the directions.  I did the same thing with piping the armsyce, except this time I stitched the piping to the overlay, pressed and then hand stitched the base layer in place (I couldn’t figure out how to turn things otherwise).

I was surprised at how comfortable the fabric is, but how terribly this wears.  I took great pains with the pressing, yet I still end up with the wrinkles and pulls in the chest and “sleeves” as in the model.  I also get gaping at the back opening, and it’s not just from the pose.  The darts are all wrong – two short, wrong angle.  I thought, okay, fine for grocery shopping.  But all the fit/pressing issues only got worse in real life.  So, this shirt is for the charitable pile.  I love the fabric, though and will be re-ordering it, but I doubt I’ll make the top again.

 

 

 

A Tale of Two Skirts (Vogue 8835 & McCalls 7022)

I’m trying to get back in the swing of things – so how about a couple of skirts to warm up those rusty skills?  Short story: I’m pleased with my sewing quality, but displeased with my fitting work.

Vogue 8835:  This is a very basic (now out-of-print) work skirt. I made view A, with modifications.  The first time I made it back in 2012 or so, I threw it away.  I thought it was the cotton poplin I was using, but I really do think something is up with the way it was drafted.

I used a very fine grey wool suiting from Emma One Sock, in “banker’s grey” (sold out). I really love the fabric, but it is “superfine 120” and needs a lining.  This skirt is unlined.  I decided to flat-line it with a silk/cotton batiste from Gorgeous Fabrics.  I didn’t have the right buttons on hand, so I left them off.  I added a 2-inch hem, and a self facing to the flap that opens.  In the original, these are all done with narrow 5/8 inch hems.

I also made this in a size 14, based on my measurements.  I should have made a muslin to perfect the fit, because this doesn’t fit well – too much pulling across the hips/thighs, but too large in the waist. Something to keep in mind for the next project.

I’m not sure I’ll keep this.  I won’t have a need to wear it until Fall, so if my waist/hips change more, we’ll see.  Otherwise, off to the charity bin.  I won’t make this skirt again.

McCall’s 7022:  I made version C before, in a denim.  I love it and wear it all the time. I’ve always wanted a circle skirt, and I like having a yoked skirt.  I paired view F with a beautiful and drapey fine black linen from Gorgeous Fabrics.  It’s the last of the linen from when I made this color-blocked dress a few years back.  I have no more, and it’s sold out!

Since I’m still wearing the denim version, I made the same size (12). I made no changes to the pattern.  I should have though – the yoke is cut on the bias, and it grew on me, even though I was careful and interfaced pretty quickly. I didn’t have this problem with the denim, so I might have cut it on the cross-grain – and should have here.

I love it – though I’m not convinced it’s my style.  It’s super-comfortable and breezy.  But fair warning:  the finished hem width is huge!  It took a very long time of careful machine stitching to make a narrow hem.  Don’t forget to let it hang for a day or two to let the bias set. I measured multiple ways to make sure I got the hem even, but it’s tough to do without help.

 

Last, what about my time-hop choices?

I haven’t decided yet.  My mother-in-law suggesting finishing the red Patou.  I tried it on and it is very tight.  I’ll have to do some major work to get it to fit my body after all this time.  But we’ll see.  The Balmain got the most votes from friends and family, but I’m not sure on fabric choice.  Assuming a muslin shows it works for my body, I’m going to make the Finnetti in either a pique or stretch cotton sateen (I’ve got six fabrics in contention).  My 30th (!) high school reunion is three weeks after the anniversary party, and it will work well for that.  Whether I end up with one or two  dresses by the beginning of August remains to be seen!

Calling it quits on McCall’s M6963

I don’t like to give up, but this is one time I will.  McCall’s 6963 has been well reviewed elsewhere.  Given my success with another Palmer Pletsch top, I thought it would work for me.  It just does not.  Here’s the line art:

Line Art
Line Art from McCall’s webpage, M6963.

I made view C, with short sleeves in a super comfy awesome black silk jersey I purchased from Gorgeous Fabrics several years ago (I have a little left, so perhaps something else).  I was unable to get any good pictures – black is hard to photograph.

Aside from just not flattering me (and cowl necks often work for me), here are some of the problems I encountered:

  1.  The back neckline just stretched out and would not sit flat without gapping.
  2.  I cut a size 12, same as the other t-shirt, but got serious pulling across the bust points.  I’m a straight B cup  (really barely a B cup), so a FBA does not even enter my imagination.  Almost every review I read was from bustier gals, all of whom did the FBA.  I let out the side seams, but just couldn’t make it work. BTW, I measure a 10 for shoulders, grading to a 12 waist/hips, but this one was too narrow at the shoulders for me at a 10.  I didn’t tissue fit or make a muslin, so my bad.
  3. I think for this top to really work, you need to do the deeper cowl.  The shorter cowl isn’t very flattering.  I chose it because I’m smaller chested and worried about the flashing issue when I lean over.

So, I’ll hem it and donate it.  I may try it again in the deeper cowl, but I don’t know.  Meanwhile, my sewing agenda is super full:

  1. Star Wars costumes for the whole family (finished the 4 yo, the only one that matters).
  2. Figure out how to resolve the button placket and finish the silk blouse.
  3. I’ve figured out the fitting issues from the Alice and Olivia skirt I made last year and made a new version.  It needs a hem and final pressing.
  4.  A light weight jacket now that the mornings are cool.
  5. A pant and blouse combo.
  6. And more, and more and more.

The Luau Maxi Dress that Wasn’t

IMG_0005Because I didn’t buy enough fabric and I ran out of time. The party was two weeks ago. I finished it yesterday.

IMG_1674The inspiration and pattern choice: I had a vision of what I wanted from this dress, and I almost got there.  I’d seen the Sloane maxi dress from Lily Pulitzer and thought I could make something similar.  I liked the midriff, the v neck and back and overall shape.  I thought that Simplicity 1102 could be altered to be close, though the skirt would definitely be fuller.

https://i2.wp.com/images.patternreview.com/sewing/patterns/simplicity/2015/1102/1102line.jpg

This dress doesn’t look that great to me on the envelope cover.  But when I looked at the line drawings, I saw possibilities. The bodice is fitted, eliminating gapping, the midriff was about what I wanted, only the skirt was too full.  The sleeves are awful, but I thought I would work with view C and lengthen to maxi.  Of course, I bought the fabric requirement for view C without thinking.  That’s okay – I like it, even though I didn’t do as well a job as I would like.

IMG_1636The fabric!  This is from Gorgeous Fabrics, called Boldly Go, in a silk-rayon matte jersey.  It has a nice hand, drapes well and is easy to sew.  I was nervous about the bold print on my body, so perhaps that’s why I’m okay with the shorter length.

Changes and Construction Notes:   I made a muslin of the bodice. Since I’m smaller through the shoulders, with a smaller bust, I was worried about fit and gaposis.  What surprised me was how modest the V was!  I ended up lowering the V by about three inches and widening it by folding back the pattern from the bottom of the V up to the shoulder line (and narrowed the shoulder on the inside by about 1/4 inch).  The pictures show some gapping on one side – this is a function of how I’m holding the selfie stick. This was a very clear case of less is more when it came to the dress – less coverage was definitely more flattering.  I also wanted to see if I could eliminate the zipper – but could not.

I wanted to remove some of the weight of the skirt.  I feared that much gathering would bring unwanted questions about children.  I liked the skirt from McCall’s 7121, but didn’t want to go quite that narrow (I laid the matching pattern pieces on top of this one to get a sense of what I wanted).  I carefully folded out 4 inches, along the grain.  I did this by folding out one inch midway between the CF and side seam and CB and side seam.  So far so good.

I had also seen a dress in a window in Santa Fe that had concentrated the gathers at CF.  So I did that as well.   This was a mistake.  I didn’t make adjustments for the grain, and now the skirt side seams hang forward, toward the front.  I should have tested this with a muslin.

Ugh! I didn't like this insertion method for the invisible zipper.
Ugh! I didn’t like this insertion method for the invisible zipper.

As for the instructions – they are fine, but if I make this again, I would not follow them, as I think they lead to less than professional results.  The lined bodice (lined with a sold out Gorgeous Fabric knit lining and the tricot interfacing from Fabric Sewing Supply) is finished almost completely before attaching the skirt and zipper.  By completely, I mean the lining is stitched down to the fashion fabric at the midriff.  This means that the zipper is inserted so that you can’t stitch the lining to the zipper tape and hide it.

Other changes:  I did the ruching and the underlining by hand using a small running stitch.  I also did a narrow machine rolled hem instead of a 1 1/2 inch hem.

IMG_1673Final notes:  I love the fabric and it’s so comfortable to wear.  Doing the muslin for the bodice meant the perfect fit there.  I have so many other things I want to make, but I might revisit this one down the road.  I wore it to the salon today and received many compliments!

Comfort Wear Skirt and Tee: McCalls 7022 and 6944

Painting by Georgia O'Keefe, from the Georgia O'Keefe Museum in Santa Fe.
Painting by Georgia O’Keefe, from the Georgia O’Keefe Museum in Santa Fe.

I’ve spent much of the last two months traveling by car – both here in Florida and in the American Southwest.  We took our 4 yo son out to Colorado to visit relatives. We made many stops on our road trip – train museums, Houston Space Science Center, Roswell, NM and 5 national parks.  It was a great trip.

Of course, all that time in the car and eating out meant some weight gain, even with all the hiking.  No sewing for a long time meant I needed a warm up before starting (or finishing) anything ambitious.  It also gave me glimpses into what is missing in my casual wardrobe – one that needs to be comfortable and suitable for eating out in at a decent place.  So, a simple skirt and tee.

From McCall's website: 7022
From McCall’s website: 7022

The skirt: McCalls 7022, view C.  This is a simple a-line skirt with a yoke.  No fancy anything, make in an evening.  I made a 12, and with my weight gain, I should have made a 14.  Still, a 12 fit almost perfectly.  It tends to ride up the hips a bit (meaning it needs more ease) and I added 1.5 inches to the length (and it’s still a bit short for my comfort).

For fabric, I used a mottled denim from Theory, that I picked up as a roll end from Emma One Sock.  I love the fabric.  It’s not heavy, but it has a fair amount of body, so it stands away from the body a bit. IMG_1507

I didn’t follow the directions, though I glanced at them. I love skirts – making them and wearing them.  I’ve made this style many times, and knew my order of construction and changes.  BTW, it’s very similar to Vogue 1247, the super popular Tracy Reese skirt (if you do a faced waistline and get rid of the pockets which always stick out weirdly on me).

First change: invisible zipper; prepared front and back, then zipper, basted sides to check fit.  Second, I used the directions from the Pattern Runway Sweet Scalloped Shorts to apply the facing to the yoke.  It’s easier, looks more professional.  To paraphrase, sew facing together, finish the lower edge (with serger),  trim the seam allowances from the  facing at the zipper, sew these edges to the zippered edge in a narrow seam, sew facing to yoke at top, press, understitch, turn facing in place and edge stitch facing to yoke (from right side) at the yoke seam line.  (Instructions say to turn the lower edge under, then slip stitch, but with the denim…unnecessary bulk.)

The Tee: My default tee has always been Vogue 8536, though I’ve never been thrilled with the results.  I’ve made it 6-7 times, all pre-serger days.  I wanted something different, so I thought I’d try McCalls 6964.  I have the Palmer Pletsch book (one anyway), so I thought I’d try a pattern.  Turns out, I didn’t use their suggestions (more later).  PatternReview was all over the place on this pattern, from too loose, too long sleeve, too tight armcyse, etc. The fabric is an organic black cotton knit with lycra from Marcy Tilton that I purchased a few years ago.

From McCall's website: 6964.
From McCall’s website: 6964.

I like it, much more than the Vogue tee. I made the size 12, but had to add width at the hip (graded out 1 inch from the waist, adding a total of 2 inches).  I like that it skims the body – doesn’t hug it.  The heat and humidity makes tight clothing far less desirable.  And I like that I almost got the neckband in perfectly (a bit more practice needed).

I thought that the P/P guidelines would help me with fitting.  But have you ever tried tissue fitting yourself?  Alone?  Yeah, you know what I mean. So, I made up a trial version, adjusting the hips only (an obvious change I needed), as if making a muslin.  And it’s wearable!  Turns out, the only P/P adjustments that might have come in handy are the sway back (which went away after letting out the hips) and narrow back.

Still using an iPhone for pictures, now adding a selfie stick.  Took many photos, this is the most usable one.
Still using an iPhone for pictures, now adding a selfie stick. Took many photos, this is the most usable one.

I didn’t follow the directions, except for the neckband. The directions have you stitch the seams on a regular machine and then double stitch or serge; I just serged the seams all at once.  It also has you do shoulders, sides, set- sleeve as if for a woven, neckband, hem. I reversed the sides and sleeves to set the sleeves in flat.

I’m pretty pleased with the result.  The fits feels just about right, though I’m sure I’ll tweak on the next version.  The v-neck is perfect for my small bust/frame – not too wide or low.  I’m still getting used to the serger, and had trouble keeping my seams straight.  Hey, I’m used to a 5/8ths guideline, and this serger has optimal control at 3/8ths (I’m going to trim the extra quarter inch off in the future). I almost got the neckband perfect.  Even though I basted in place, I still ended up with a small hole at the bottom of the v – likely from struggling to keep the seam allowance even.  More practice!

Shorts! Pattern Runway Sweet Scalloped, that is.

I met my husband a little over eleven years ago.  And eleven years ago this past week, we had a weekend date in Sedona, Arizona.  We went hiking, and I wore shorts.  When the pictures came back (!), I vowed that I would never, ever, wear shorts again (except running shorts while running).  My legs looked like sausages – the cut and length were all wrong.  I’ve stuck to dresses and skirts and pants.  And, yes, they make skirts and skorts just for hiking.

IMG_0006

Now I live in a climate that is summer for about 9 months of the year, and I’m better at sewing, so I’ve been contemplating making shorts that fit and flatter my body.  When Rachel posted her review of the Pattern Runway Sweet Scalloped shorts, I was smitten.

Trouble was, could I make these work for me, when I don’t have Rachel’s long, slender legs?  I thought the scalloped hem would help lengthen the leg and not cut it off in an awkward way.  Upshot, I like the shorts – even if I haven’t seen a picture of me wearing them yet (always the test right?)

IMG_0005

What I liked:

  • Awesome instructions!  Well marked pdf pattern, making assembling the thing less of a pain.
  • That beautiful, faced scallop hem!  It really is easy to do and makes the shorts more upscale.
  • The shaped/contour waistband and directions for applying the waistband (new to me, led to a more professional result, less handwork).
  • Directions for adjusting the crotch depth.  Wow! what a difference.  I was skeptical of reducing as much as it recommended, and did 1/4 inch less.  This worked with the muslin (non stretch med-heavy twill), but my fashion fabric had stretch, so I should have followed their guideline. I made a medium, and this was the only alteration I made. I’m slightly larger than a 12 in Vogue, not quite a 14.
  • Good coverage on the bum, without being frumpy (again, I think the front scallop makes the difference).

What I did differently:

  • Not much.  No really, I pretty much followed the directions with two exceptions.
  • I used my own (well Lladybird’s) method to insert an invisible zipper.  I didn’t like the result using the instructions on the muslin, so I went back to the TNT method.
  • Left of the back welt pockets.  I couldn’t get them to work in the muslin, so I abandoned the idea.  I think I like the shorts better without, but I really need to learn how to do these.
  • The fabric, the last bit of a stretch tropical wool from Gorgeous Fabrics that I’ve used three times previously (two skirts, pants), is NICE.  The quarter inch top stitching is nice on the more casual twill, but for this fabric, it looked way more professional to stick with 1/8 inch edgestitching.

IMG_0004What I will do differently:

  • The zipper is currently inserted in the side seam with the pocket. The bulk of the zipper, pocket, and pocket lining (cotton batiste) means the zipper doesn’t lay flat.  It annoys me!   Next time I will do like Rachel and put it in the CB seam.

Wearability:

  • I’m traveling a lot right now, and wore these in Miami last week.  Black wool in Miami heat and humidity?   Perfectly comfortable.
  • They’ve stretched a bit, super comfy, but a teensy bit too big.  Just something to work on for the next pair.

I’ve been and will be super busy with work, so pictures and blogging are limited.  Wait, so is sewing.  I had planned to finish a silk tunic for these shorts, but won’t be sewing consistently for a while.  Once I get the top made, I’ll blog it and provide pictures of the whole outfit.  That’s when I will know for sure if the style really works for me!

Let’s Talk about Ease (McCalls 6796)

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When I started this project, I had no idea how popular this pattern was (McCalls 6796).  I just thought it was cute when I saw it on another blog.  But fitting this on my body turned out to be a real challenge.

I chose a beautiful sweater knit from Gorgeous Fabrics (sold out).  In retrospect, this knit may not have been the right choice for me – it added bulk where I didn’t need it.  But it’s beautiful!

I was really concerned about fit, as this is one of my goals for 2015.  When I read the pattern, this is what I saw:  “close-fitting, pullover top”.  Page 119 of the Vogue Sewing Guide notes that close fitting tops should have 0-2.25 inches each.  Here’s what the pattern for size 12 says, followed by the finished garment widths printed on the pattern:

  • bust 34″, 36″ finished (2 inches ease)
  • waist 26.5″, 35″ finished  (7.5 inches ease)
  • hip 36″, 38.5″ finished ( 2.5 inches ease)

That’s a lot of ease through the waist. In fact, the Vogue Sewing Guide would say that is loose fitting.

Anyway, I stitched it together as is to start.  I ended up having to take the shoulders up about 1/2 inch to fit me better there. And take the armcysce seam a little deeper (1/8 inch).  But when I tried it on, it looked like a rectangle on me and didn’t flatter at all.  So, I took it in, way in.  Better, but the style still didn’t work for me. In fact, I think I over-fitted just under the bust area.  I like it on the dress form, but not on me.  I’ll be donating it.

As for construction I did three things differently from the instructions.  First, I set the sleeves in flat.  Second, I cut the collar out on the lengthwise grain instead of the cross grain.  I wanted the contrasting effect with the ribbing.  Third, I hand-hemmed the sleeves and top, since I tend to get wavy hems.

So, what did I learn from this project?  That I’m still struggling to fit the upper body, I need to do a better job choosing fabrics that flatter my body, and styles, too.  I may try the pattern again in the future with a different style knit – one that drapes.

More Fitting Questions – the narrow back?

M6796, Misses' Tops

This is my next project:  McCalls 6796.

This is what many tops look like on me, without alteration (a bit worse actually, since my shoulder are narrow). Essentially, excess fabric about the waist.  I’ve a few books on fitting, and they suggest this is a narrow back adjustment.  That is, if I read and interpret the drawings/photos correctly.

Thoughts anyone?  Suggestions?  Please comment!