Tag Archives: McCall’s

Redundant but cozy

A couple of years ago I acquired 2m of this waffle-knit in my favourite muted blue colour

I then waffled (hah!) about what to do with it. I should maybe have gone for 3m as that would’ve given me more options for cozy-wrap-blanket-clothing, but it was full price and I’m cheap so I didn’t.

Anyway, since the twins started preschool this past fall, they and I have basically been sick the entire time. I think we have this in common with most of the country (don’t get me started on the great Tylenol shortage of 2022), but it really highlighted the limited nature of my casual/comfy wardrobe. I’ve run into this issue in the past, because frankly I’d generally rather sew (and wear) fancier stuff, and I haven’t really spent a lot of time at home lounging around in the last decade. Except for my maternity leave three years ago, but I didn’t have a lot of sewing time at that point.

So I was determined to get this fabric sewn up. To do so I finally caved and went the easy route—my much beloved McCall’s 7622. I have made this pattern at least five times before, and it does nicely straddle the line between cozy comfort and the drama that I crave in my wardrobe. Even if I almost always make the boring scoop-neck-and-long-sleeve version.

I should mention that my main hesitation in using this pattern for this fabric is that I already have a version of this pattern in a stretch velour of the EXACT SAME COLOUR. So technically I don’t need another one. But that version has some issues around the neckline that keep me from wearing it for much except bumming around the house, so, um, still justified?

Anyway, this pattern is a bit of a fabric hog and I wound up needing to add a narrow yoke to the back piece to get everything to fit. I also used a lightweight cotton spandex knit in a complementary blue to do the neck binding and make the pockets.

Pockets, incidentally, aren’t the best idea in a knit dress of this style, as they inevitably pull and drag on the side seams—but this is also clothing for function and I require pockets in pretty darn near everything these days. I did use 1/4” clear elastic to try to minimize how they stretch out the seam, which does help a bit but it’s pretty easy to go the other way and get wrinkly side-seams. So damned if you do, damned if you don’t. I shall wear it regardless.

I am quite happy with how the Euphoria handled coverstitching the hems, which I was a bit worried about. I just turned up the differential feed, and then the pressing after took care of the small amount of rippling. I haven’t actually used any seam stabilizer for hemming since I got the Euphoria!

Oh, and I had just enough scraps left to squeak out some matching Rosalie Stockings, cut down to knee length. They are cute and comfy, and adding more clear elastic to the junction of the cuff seems to keep them up. I could maybe take them in around the ankle a bit, but I probably won’t

So yeah, not much to say, but it’s warm and cozy and exactly what the winter has called for.



Filed under Sewing

Tiny Princess Highjackers

Lately, the twins have had a breakthrough realization—Mommy MAKES clothes.

Which means she can make dresses

All dresses must be PRINCESS dresses.

Which means she can make PRINCESS dresses.

Tris in particular is super keen to sew by herself, diligently selecting a fabric (anything pink… yes, we’re in THAT phase) and shoving it through the under-arm space of the sewing machine in the hopes that it will magically come out the other side a dress. I also need to double check all my machine settings every time I sit down (we won’t go into the time she somehow changed all my server’s tension settings to 0 WHILE I was sewing with it)

Anyway, the result is that instead of a measured progression through my sewing queue, I keep getting side-tracked by adorable and insistent requests to make dresses out of THIS fabric. And they’re so excited it’s difficult to resist, and all of a sudden I’m highjacked.

It doesn’t help that my friend Temperence Swimwear Intimates, gave me a bunch of kid-print knit remnants, that I really need to use promptly lest they linger in stash beyond the twins’ interest in them.

Of course, the twins’ sense of what a suitable amount of fabric for a princess dress is a bit, ah, flexible. There was the day Tris was determined to make herself a pink princess dress out of a single small mitten. I was able to divert her only by digging out some of the fabric for Temperance (and I don’t have a lot of pink fabric at all, by the way…) It was really just scraps I think were supposed to become undies.

That resulted in the first highjack dress, a revisit of the same pattern I used for the little ghost girl dresses last summer. If this version looks more like a shirt in flat-lay, it’s because I decided to use a band for the neckline and then, instead of gathering the neckline and sewing it to the band, tried to rely on the band’s own recovery for the gathering. It’s a pretty beefy cotton-spandex with great recovery, but even so there are limits. As a result, the neck is pretty large. But she’ll be able to wear it as a shirt until she’s ten or something.

I did irresponsibly dodge my parental obligation to make River a dress next, well, until a couple of days ago when they were digging through the fabric again and she spotted this tool print cotton interlock… of which there was a scant half-mètre or so.

I did, however, also have plenty of plain white interlock, purchased in the days when I was fantasizing about making my husband T-shirts. I figured I could eke it out.

Now, long and long ago I made these cute little dresses for the twins, which are basically just a long-sleeve tee pattern, slightly cropped, with gathered skirt attached. And I really think that’s the best basic style for making a winter-friendly dress for a smallish kid. These are long since outgrown, and frankly were outgrown far too quickly, so I didn’t want to make anything that fit “just right”. My go-to pattern for kids tees is Jalie 2805, but I didn’t really want to use the size I traced out for these tees last year and I was much too lazy to trace a new size, so instead I dig through the mass of un-filed patterns sitting on my basement counter until I settled on the fairly forgettable McCall’s 3315, which stood out only in that it was a single size, 3, and was “for unbonded stretchable knits”.

Actually it’s a pretty cute, slightly flared turtleneck dress pattern with a non-knit jumper to go over top, but it’s also an early 70s knit pattern—designed for stuff without too much stretch, and with way too much ease in the sleeve cap. But, I wanted roomy, and a bit of a puffed sleeve cap just adds to the princess cred of the dress, so I went with it, or at least the portion above the waist. Since I didn’t want a turtleneck style, and did want to add a band, I cut the neckline down a good 3/4”. I ended my use of the pattern at the lengthen/shorten line, which created the slightly cropped length I was going for, and omitted the CB seam since no I’m not going to put a zipper in a knit.

For River’s dress, we had extremely limited print fabric. After I had cut the sleeves, I had wanted to use the remaining print for the square skirt, but it would’ve made a very scant, not very twirly princess skirt. So I cut the piece in two to make a bottom tier, and cut the upper tier out of the white interlock. I added a print “waistband” to the top, too, to break up the white, using a bit more of the stuff I had cut off for the band at the neck. I had been envisioning two gathered tiers, but it turned out that my two lengths of print put together was only slightly longer than the single length I had cut of the white. I could of course have reduced the amount of white in the skirt, but instead I just eased the two together. You can see that it gives a slightly more flared shape to the skirt. The most important part is that it twirls, though. I used a fair bit of coverstitch topstitching to flatten down the extra seams in this dress; this worked well for the tiers of the skirt, but I don’t like how it turned out on the waistband so I will likely rip that out.

I asked them for Princess poses. Apparently this meant standing on one foot.

Tris’s second dress was made after (trying to take turns) and under no such fabric limitations as I have a full 2m of this abstract rose print in stash, purchased way back when my nieces were small enough to enjoy it. I’m happy to get to use it on the twins, though this project didn’t come close to using it up. I did want to harmonize with River’s dress, though, so I asked Tris if I could make the bodice white like River’s, and she agreed. Part of me wishes I had done the tiered skirt part as well, but also that adds a butt ton more time to the project and this is cutting into my me-sewing time already, dammit. As it is, Tris’s dress came together in just over an hour thanks to all the machines being already set up (give or take having to check all the settings and occasionally rethreading things, thanks to my very helpful helpers.)

In the end, it was pretty fun to see these come together quickly and how excited the twins were by them. I didn’t really sew when my older girls were in the twirly-dresses stage; I did sew a few twirly dresses for my nieces when they were young, (like this one) but they were done as presents, not collaborations where they got to pick the fabric and “help” with the sewing.

I’m also wondering if this is the end of the era of twinning outfits. Since starting school the twins are much more vocal about their sartorial preferences, and they’re rarely wanting to wear the same thing at the same time. I already mentioned how Tris wants EVERYTHING pink right now. And thank goodness for the plethora of hand-me-down tights they’ve finally grown into because it’s all dresses all the time right now, so their adorable overalls and jeans and flannel shirts are getting less than no love.

Ultimate Princess Level unlocked.

So now I can get back to finishing boning my Victorian bodice. Except, um… I stumbled on this Butterick pattern while looking through the mess. Have you ever seen a more ultimate princess dress??? I’m loathe to give the decade of my birth credit for much, but they could do a princess dress like nobody’s business. Anyway. I’m exhausted just looking at it… but also… can I not? Maybe I’ll just read the instructions…


Filed under Sewing

Blue (not for) Christmas

I had actually forgotten completely about this fabric. It was a bit of an impulse buy not long before my Fabricland shut down, a random bolt of stretch cotton sateen in what I fancy to be a slightly purplish navy. When it went on cheap, I bought a LOT. And apparently pre-washed it, folded it and tucked it into stash to be utterly forgotten. Along with a single sock, which re-emerged when I pulled the fabric out as a “fall sewing” possibility way back in October of last year.

Matching it up against a number of dress patterns on my “really want to sew” list, I ended up going with McCall’s M8177, which has the distinction of being the first Big 4 pattern I’ve gone out of my way to acquire since I stopped working at Fabricland. It hits all my (current) boxes—button front (breastfeeding friendly), princess seams (easy fitting), and big, puffy, fun sleeves (on trend, or at least whatever personal trend I’m on at the moment.) I had to actually ask my aunt to pick it up when/if she found it on sale, since I don’t currently have a membership at Fabricland to take advantage of the big sales.

Navy isn’t one of my “core” colours, but I don’t hate it, especially when it’s leaning towards the purplish side of the hue. Which, admittedly, might be a trick of the light or some wishful thinking. I like it, though. And the fabric is on the lighter weight end of the stretch cotton sateens I’ve met, but is still really crisp and, in hindsight, a bit too heavy for this pattern—not so much the main part, but the sleeves with all the gathering.

Cutting out a project this big is a bit of an accomplishment in my life at the moment, and was possible only thanks to my stylish sister-in-law taking the twins one Sunday afternoon. Sewing proceeded in much smaller increments, at a veritable snail’s pace, and then stalled shortly before Christmas when the matching buttons I had found in stash disappeared just after I sewed the buttonholes. All it needed was the buttons and a hem.

One of the things that drew me to this pattern was the sleeves, which superficially resemble the sleeves of my beloved Adrienne Blouse. However, the draft is surprisingly different, presumably because this is a woven pattern, or perhaps because it is based on a set-in sleeve block instead of a raglan sleeve. Anyway, instead of being flat along the gathered shoulder edge, this sleeve has a big, curved sleeve head (to which bias tape is applied to make the elastic casing—not exactly hard but definitely not as near-effortless as the Adrienne version. In addition, there is a tiny pivot point on the McCall’s pattern, where the sleeve goes from underarm seam to across the bodice slightly before turning up to form the edge of the neckline. You have to mark that point, stay-stitch, and slash the seam allowance so the fabric can make that turn. I forgot to mark, and then attempted to figure out where to slash after I had applied the bias tape and elastic to the shoulder. It was neither easy nor tidy to figure out at that point, and I did not do a good (nor symmetrical) job. It’s not exactly a flaw in the pattern, just a different approach, and me being slapdash and not paying sufficient attention to the instructions, but it’s definitely not as simple as the Adrienne blouse approach. That point also pulls like crazy across the back when I move my arms, which I don’t know entirely if that is a fitting issue, error on my part, or innate quirk in the pattern.

I also struggled with attaching the facing, which runs under the bottom of the sleeves and follows that slightly complex shape. Not because things didn’t line up, but I kept getting bits of the sleeve folded into my seam, and I didn’t notice all of them before I had understitched, which was a bit of a nightmare to unpick. Again, it’s not a problem with the pattern so much as my failure to take the time and attention this pattern requires. Probably because I’ve made almost nothing of significant complexity in the last two (three) years.

The pattern includes a deceptively large pocket piece. I say deceptively because, while it is very large, as directed the positioning places a good 2.5” of the pocket bag above the opening, so the actual “effective” pocket is no more than average size. I was initially quite annoyed with this drafting, but I currently have a theory that it was designed to reduce the way an inseam pocket like this can pull on the side-seam, or at least move that “pull point” at the top of the pocket bag up to the waist of the pattern where it’s less noticeable. I still would’ve liked a deeper pocket bag, although they do work just fine and are nicely big enough for my phone.

This is also the first time I’ve had to really reckon with my size changes in a standard pattern size. Throughout most of my active sewing journey of the past 11 years, I’ve measured a size 12 (give or take), often making a 10 at least on top as that gave me better shoulder fit (especially in McCall’s patterns). While I had been giving myself “a bit of wiggle room” in the hips for a while (this is an area where I like extra ease, unlike the bust and waist), this pattern was the first time I made a straight size 14, which is where my measurements put me these days and also looked reasonable compared to the final garment measurements. I was still nervous, mainly about the shoulder width.

I still made my standard alterations: small swayback adjustment and raising the underarm slightly (not sure how much impact this had). I also took in the shoulder elastic significantly, although in a design like this that has a lot to do with the strength of your elastic vs. the weight of your fabric. I did make sure to finish the edges of all my Princess seams separately, for optimal fit adjustment later. (I’ve found McCall’s to have dodgy fit around the Princess seams in the past, and also my bust sits a good inch lower since the twins were born).

The good news is my fit alterations were pretty acceptable. The swayback adjustment could’ve been slightly larger as there are still a few folds there (perhaps because the pattern size is slightly longer in the body than I’m used to) but otherwise the fit is generally good, and I haven’t felt obliged to go in and mess with the princess seam shape anywhere. The only real issue is that pulling across the back when I raise my arms.

I also shortened the long sleeves by about 3”, for more of a 3/4 length, as I prefer that to full-length full sleeves. I should probably have made the shortening smaller, say 1.5” or even 1”, as they’re a bit shorter than I intended, and I don’t think the pulling in the back would bug me nearly as much if it didn’t pull the “wrist” elastic up past my elbows.

Hunting through stash for buttons was a bit more of a problem. I would’ve liked silver buttons, but didn’t have 10+ of any of them. I originally found a group of ten plastic buttons of the perfect shade of slightly purplish navy, although they’re a tiny bit smaller than ideal, but no sooner had I sewed the buttonholes than they disappeared. I held off further progress, expecting them to surface, but they never did, so when I finally had some sewing time in March I made myself sort through the button stash and finally settled on these very boring chunky grey plastic ones. The main feature was that I had enough of them.

I’m a bit torn on this project. I like the resulting dress, despite its issues, and I have been wearing it as much as I can get away with. I don’t know if I would make the sleeved version again since I’m not a fan of the construction there, but the sleeveless version is definitely on the List. Not that I get to a lot of things on the List these days. Especially since at Easter back in April we had a plumbing leak in the basement that basically filled the sewing room with junk from other places until, um, June. Facepalm. Anyway, here’s to hoping for more sewing in the future.


Filed under Sewing

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