Tag Archives: McCall’s 6800

Planned obsolescence

I have a complicated relationship with distressed denim. Like most teens in the 90s, one of my main goals in life was to shred my jeans—or at least bust through the knees. However, the romance of the tattered denim faded pretty abruptly when I had to start buying my own jeans—I wanted those to last as long as possible! So I avoided the pre-tattered distressed looks as much as I could. I’ll put my own holes in them, thanks.

I don’t generally try to distress my homemade jeans for the same reason, and I’ve complained loud and long about being unable to find hole-free jeans for my children. But the one thing I do miss about storebought jeans is the complicated wash and fading, even though I also think it’s environmentally questionable.

I went with unfinished, frayed hems.

So I was both fascinated and repulsed by this pre-shredded denim fabric when it came into my Fabricland three or four years ago, part of one of the random groups of jobber fabric they would get in. I couldn’t decide if I loved or hated it… anyway, in the end I settled on the side of love. But it’s still ridiculous. Someone went to the trouble of weaving this perfectly good denim, and then scraped, bleached, and shredded holes in little lines all the way along, until the sturdy, serviceable cloth is almost a kind of lace.

Everyone else seemed to think the fabric was a bit too weird. It sat, and sat, and sat. And then one day I got to work and the entire group had been shunted into the bargain centre. So I bought the whole bolt, and the idea of making the weird, impractical stuff into an equally dramatic McCall’s M6800, began to tickle the back of my brain shortly thereafter.

Fast forward to about a month ago, just after making the Kilt Jacket, when I had a weird little lull before I could start working on class samples. And for some reason the tickle to make something completely irrelevant, impractical, and unnecessary overwhelmed me. I guess I was a little late to #sewfrosting?

Anyway, having made this jacket twice before, the fitting was largely sorted out. Which left the matter of which options I was going to use, as this pattern has many. I decided to try mashing the wide-lapel view with the hood. I love it when a hood runs right into a fold-back lapel. I wasn’t actually sure this was the right way to achieve the look, but it seems to work. I added about two inches to the front of the already-voluminous hood to extend it onto the lapels, reshaped the lapel neckline into a smooth curve rather than the angle for the notch collar, and I did wind up trimming about 1/2″ off each lapel to get them to line up with the hood.

For construction, I used the same method as my first version, a combination of bound seams and topstitching. With all the little frayed holes, this fabric is fairly delicate, and I wanted lots of reinforcement on the seams. I used some grey-blue gauzy cotton, left over from this dress. Maybe not the sturdiest choice I could’ve made, but I think it worked out. I skipped the facings, too, opting for a binding folded to the inside for this part too.

However, Hong Kong binding plus double topstitching does not make for a quick project. I also didn’t go full bore, and had to occasionally interrupt… anyway. It developed slowly.

But, it’s finally finished. Or, maybe finished isn’t quite the right word. In temporary equilibrium? Because this piece calls out for distressing. I’m almost tempted to go at it theatre-style, get some patina going. Failing that, the shredded fabric is more-or-less guaranteed to begin failing sooner rather than later.

I’m already planning visible mending, layering, patching. I don’t really think this jacket is done.

I think maybe it’s ready to start becoming. Obsolescence is a part of the plan.



Filed under Sewing

Hallowe’en 2017: Interview with the Steampunker

I didn’t really mean to do intense Hallowe’en costuming this year—frankly I was more excited about decorating the house (which we ended up not even doing!)

But my kids had other ideas. Fortunately for me, they’re also old enough to contribute to the process pretty significantly.

We’ll start with Syo, because that’s who got her shit together and started sewing first. She wanted to be steampunk again. Wow, clicking that link was a flashback! Actually she wanted to be a vampire, but a classy one, with glue-in fangs. She even got the fangs, except that they don’t really work with braces. So, steampunk. But every choice she made it seemed like she really would’ve rather gone vampire. After some debate she settled on wearing my red Angel Underbust corset and making a coat, skirt, and blouse.

Repeat patterns help a lot for speeding up Hallowe’en sewing. For the coat, we settled on McCall’s M6800, which I made ages ago in camo denim and lace.

I won’t lie, making this coat hurt. Not because of construction or kid-wrangling issues, but because it used up not one, not two, but three fairly “precious” fabrics in stash. Most particularly a stretch denim with flocked velvet medallion pattern that I only got two mètres of, years ago, around when Cindy of Cation Designs made a pair of pants from similar fabric. I’ve been planning to copy her shamelessly ever since.

but now I won’t be. Since 2m is not enough fabric for this pattern, we had to continue stash diving to find something compatible. Settled on a nice, beefy bottom weight cotton stretch sateen. Not as precious as the flocked denim but still a nice basic I’d hoped to turn into something practical for ME. For lining, we used the last of my precious red Kasha, (what did I say about vampire wannabe-ism?) which would hopefully make the whole thing a little more Hallowe’en-friendly (Hallowe’en here is either on the cusp of winter or in full on winter so making costumes warm is a priority).

I’m telling myself it’s ok because she loves the resulting coat and will probably wear it for lots of other things, but mostly I’m only ok with it because we’re actually the same size these days other than height so all I need to do is make some detachable cuffs from the scraps and then I could wear it.

Syo did most of the cutting out and basically all of the sewing on the shell. I directed and sewed the lining and hems. And the main hem is the main thing that we probably should redo, because I hemmed the two layers together and I shouldn’t have, but we were on a tight time schedule. So it doesn’t hang as nicely as it should. I made the buttonholes but she selected and sewed on the buttons.

The skirt(s) and blouse were much simpler and quicker. I drafted the skirt as a high-low half-circle on some black stretch velvet. And by drafted I mean, took a measuring tape and some chalk and and drew lines right on the fabric. I made a bunch of ruffle with some still-kinda-precious-to-me stretch mesh, and added various gathered bits until it started to look ok. There’s an underskirt of red mesh made much the same way, too. It was harder to let Syo help with this part, since I was flying by the seat of my pants. But it also didn’t take too long.

The blouse was both last and least. The pattern is just a peasant blouse from the late 70s, not unlike the first pattern I ever sewed. 😂 the only alteration was to shorten the sleeves a bit, though I suspect she would’ve preferred a more plunging neckline. The fabric was a remnant of black rayon twill that, again, was way too nice for a Hallowe’en costume. At least it wasn’t expensive. But rayon twill might be my new favourite fabric.

Guys, I love this costume. Like I wish it were for me grade of love. None of the snapshots really do it justice—it deserves a proper photo shoot. Someday. 😂


Filed under Sewing

Camo & Lace

The Coat

The Coat. Yes, I added lacing at the back.

I’m kinda torn. I almost don’t want to post about this at all, and wait until spring when I can get better photos. But I’m also afraid if I do that it just won’t happen. And I’m impatient. And I really, really like this jacket.



Ralph Lauren Duster

Inspiration: Ralph Lauren Duster. Don’t see the resemblance?

So, way back in the day, Lady Katza of Peanut Butter Macrame posted about this (already-not-news) “duster” coat-dress-thingy. It’s apparently Ralph Lauren. I don’t know. All I know is I agreed with her about its general fabulosity. Anyway, memory morphs, as it does, so what I remembered was a long, swingy denim coat trimmed in lace. And somehow when this drab camo twill showed up at my local Fabricland (which has been a pathetic, camo-less wasteland for over a year, I will point out), well, it seemed like the perfect riff on this idea. Especially matched with McCall’s 6800, which I have had a crush on since it came out.

McCall's 6800

McCall’s 6800

In fact, it’s pretty much everything you could want in a swishy coat pattern. Princess seams (two sets). Two-piece sleeve. Lapelled or standing collar options. Detachable hood. Detachable fur collar, if that’s your style. It even had the high-low hem option ready-made! And I will make a real wintery-coat-version someday, but it was a great starting-place for the image in my head.


Front view. Ok, I’m a little surprised at how short it ended up. The pattern photos made me think it would go from just above the knee in the front to mid-calf in the back.

Curiously, the really ugly greige-colour of cluney lace at Fabricland looked perfect with this fabric. Unfortunately, they don’t have much selection in that colour, and and this was the only one that was the right kind of edge and scale. And all they had was four metres. Which seemed like plenty at the time, but as it turned out, was just enough to go around the hem once. My dreams of lace frothing at throat and cuffs were dashed. Maybe I’ll add it in later.

back lacing

back lacing

After checking the finished measurements, I figured I’d be safe to go down a size, with the possible exception of the waist—so I made part of my usual petite alteration right at the waist, figuring that would shave off the narrowest part. Then, I figured I’d add lacing in the back, for some extra fit insurance. Because who doesn’t love lacing? And it turns out I’m glad it’s there, so I probably didn’t need to worry about the waist being too narrow. I’m glad I made my usual petite alterations, though I could’ve skipped the swayback. I think I don’t need it in full-skirted things like this, hard as that is to wrap my head around. I added 4cm length to the sleeves, divided between upper and lower (and there was a lengthen-shorten line in each! This was enough added length, but definitely not excessive. 5 cm (2″) would probably be perfect, especially in a bulkier fabric. I did find the sleeves quite full when I first tried it on. Of course, I had already topstitched the outseam, but I was able to take it in fairly satisfactorily at the under seam. By 1/2″, so a total of a full inch per sleeve. Of course, if I were making a winter-coat version, I would probably want that fullness. While I’m talking about the sleeves, I shaved down the sleeve-heads by about 1/4″ and could probably have taken off more, considering cotton doesn’t ease well. In wool, I think the amount of ease would work. The shoulders are nice and narrow, maybe because I went with the size 10. They’re perfect for this, but I wonder if they wouldn’t be a little narrow for a winter-coat version with shoulder pads (yes, you do need shoulder pads for a tailored coat. Not thick ones, but *something*)



I showed you my bound seams before, but here you can see (however blurrily) the pockets. I made a little support running between the pocket bag and the facing, so it doesn’t flap around. Speaking of the facing, that’s one of the two (maybe three?) things I didn’t like about this pattern. There is no separate piece for the facing—they just tell you to cut four of the CF pieces. Well, I did that in my Winter Coat and I can’t help but suspect that it was a contributor to the mysterious front-flaring-out that almost killed the coat at the final stages—only major hand-stitching (basically padstitching the two layers together) saved it. Anyway, when I went to cut my second pair, I skipped the flare. For this topstitched design, I wasn’t concerned about turn-of-cloth allowance on the lapels, but if/when I make a proper version, I’ll be over at the RTW Tailoring Sewalong posts, where Sherry went over all the necessary changes for drafting a lining and facing properly. Such a good sewalong.


Buttons and buttonholes. If you look close, you can see where I ran out of topstitching thread SIX INCHES FROM BEING DONE!

Of course I had to use jeans buttons. Of course, I couldn’t find ANY of my handy-dandy little thingies that hold the two bits in place while you hammer, nor could I find my awl. Let me just say, those two gadgets make life a lot easier. I made the buttonholes with a vintage Singer buttonholer.

Buttonholer. First use.

Buttonholer. First use.

I should perhaps mention it was the first time using this particular buttonholer; in the past I’ve used my Greist one. I did not notice a measurable difference between the two (and they both use the same templates, which means my little extra kit that has the short keyhole template works in either). I did NOT try to use the topstitching thread for the buttonholes—I have come to the conclusion that this is just asking for trouble. They look just fine in regular, matching thread.



I used 8 buttons, which felt like quite a lot, but I like the closely-spaced look. Also, less gaping if when I lace things up really tight. And my nifty-measury-gadget only does 8 holes. Probably that’s enough for most things.


Neck yoke, with hanging loops. Also, I love binding.

There was no rear neck facing piece (another boo—basically there were no proper lining pieces, though there was a proper undercollar). So, I made my own. I’d go into my process, but a) Sherry covers it really well, and b) I totally didn’t follow her advice and just kinda laid some tracing paper over the half-finished jacket and traced out the shape. I am glad I remembered a hanging-loop, even if I didn’t think to add it until after.



So, I’m pretty happy with the outcome. And even Osiris approves, which is pretty rare, although he wondered why I didn’t use more lace. Sadly, the weather being what it is, this jacket won’t get much wear for a couple of months. What can I say? I was, ah, inspired. Which is a great feeling to follow, isn’t it?

Now I had better go be a good girl and make a onesie for Syo next…


Filed under Sewing

In Progress


McCall’s 6800.

But first, bias tape.

Lots and lots of bias tape.

Sandpaper for distressing seams before topstitching.

Topstitching. Also lacing loops in back. Because everything is better with lacing.

Bound seams.

Sneaky pocket topstitching.

It’s coming together! Also, full circle skirt. Also, I got 4 metres of that lace, and it’s all laid out there.

Tomorrow, I put in sleeves! And maybe buy more lace. And more fabric for bias tape. I’m going to run out.


Filed under Sewing