McCall’s 6514 Royal Pants

I have been tossing up making this McCall’s 6514 pattern for a while now. I bought it because I liked view A with the tapered leg and they have an elastic back waist, no flys to fiddle with, it is marked as an “easy” pattern after all. I wasn’t sure about the pleating at the front and whether it would accentuate those pesky problem areas however. Additionally it was one of the items in my 2015 SWAP and I believe they are a trans-seasonal piece of clothing.

I used some royal premium faille (100% polyester). The same fabric used for my self-drafted maxi skirt. A word of advice, never cut, sew or iron when tired or it’s late. I was cutting out the pattern pieces on a double layer and when I opened them up this is what I saw.

back leg cut

I was obviously being conservative with my fabric and not double checking what was underneath. I wasn’t too worried though as I have enough fabric to re cut the piece, or option 2 was to continue sewing because as I held the pattern piece to my leg I knew I would have to shorten the pants anyway, and if they end up too short or the mishap is unavoidable in the end, I may just add a cuff at the ankle or taper in the legs a bit more.

I followed the sparse instructions, I feel like these are quite poorly written and some steps aren’t described to completion in my opinion but nothing that can’t be figured out. I serged my pocket pieces before assembly as I like them to look neat on the inside.

These pants have a lot of ease so I went down a size. They fit well around the hips however I struggle with getting them on. The waistband/elastic doesn’t stretch wide enough for me to get them easily over my hips without doing a wiggle. Shame really as all I had left to do was hem them at this stage and I really wanted to like them. In the photos they are still unhemmed but folded up towards the inside by about 2 inches.

Mccalls 6514 front

Mccalls 6514 front 2  Mcalls 6514 back

Needless to say once they were on I felt like a clown in them, not flattering at all, thus the lack of photos. It’s a shame because I really wanted them to work although I did have reservations from the start due to the aforementioned issue and that this fabric probably was not the best choice, it doesn’t drape very well. I tried them on again and thought if I stitch down the pleats maybe they would look better.  NO!!!!!!!

For my last try on, I removed the elastic from the waistband and then contemplated adding a back invisible zip but still NO!!! They are just too unflattering for me to be comfortable in. I now have the big decision of whether to trash them or salvage the fabric for something for my girls – I just love the colour.

The pattern has definitely had an early retirement.

The Accidental Perfect Pair: Tania Culottes and McCalls 6960 Top

I would imagine a lot of people that sew make some sort of plan or sewing list be it physical or mental, I personally do both. But on occasion, probably more often than not, those plans go out the window, well mine do anyway for whatever reason.

We were invited to a kids pool party and I’m a bit impartial to wearing bathers and splashing about in front of others. Anyway, said party was at a public pool, in the toddlers pool actually, this was great for me because it was barely knee deep and I could just wear normal clothes whilst chasing the kids. Of course looking at my clothes there aren’t really any pool appropriate clothes. I don’t own shorts, I rarely wear short skirts or dresses so what is a girl to do? I initially thought of a scarf type wrap around dress, but then, lightbulb!!! Why not make some shorts that look like a skirt, aka Tania culottes by Megan Nielsen since I already had the pattern. I have been following her blog/business for quite some time but never made up a pattern before. The reviews for these were quite positive, so off I went.

Tania's and Mccalls 6960 front 2

                         Tanias and McCalls 6960 side   Tanias and McCalls 6960 Back

I broke my fabric fast again and bought some rayon fabric that was on sale mind you. I wanted something that was cool but also wouldn’t show water stains if I got splashed. It’s a printed rayon batik SPR9307 in wine (100% rayon) and drapes really well. This pattern is a fabric hog and I didn’t even attempt pattern matching.

Tanias Fabric

The size was spot on for this skirt and I chose to sew the midi length, and the construction was quite quick and easy, aided by the clear instructions and diagrams. I neatened all my seams with a serger and did this on the left side pattern pieces prior to the zip insertion and also fused some interfacing at the seam to add strength. The pattern also called for a 22cm zip but I had a 20cm white invisible zip in the stash so used that instead. Unfortunately it does show a bit on the side. I also tacked down the zipper ends to the seam allowance. I think this pattern would be great with pockets although one would need to be inserted in the zip seam on the left.

Tanias and McCalls 6960 side 2

I leTanias and Mccalls 6960 full front 2t the culottes hang for 6 nights before hemming to allow them to drop/stretch. The hemming part is a long process however. I straightened the hemline by lining up the culottes with the original pattern pieces. Surprisingly they didn’t seem to stretch as much as I expected although I did have to shave off about 2cm on the most stretched out part of the culottes. I then did a narrow machine hem.

The aforementioned event had been and gone and in trying to get rid of the UFO pile, I pulled out my McCalls 6960 project where all the pattern pieces were already cut and interfaced and just needed to be sewn together. The fabric is a pure cotton lawn in curry (100% cotton). I followed the instructions and found all the pieces lined up and fit together neatly. Some hand stitching is required to enclose and finish seams at the neckline.

McCalls 6960 Top hanger

I found thMcCalls 6960 top sidee neckline was a bit low and the back neckline gaped so at the shoulder seams I took a 3cm seam allowance instead. As you can see it has quite a significant hi-lo hem and I believe I actually ended up cutting the length for the small size as this view is described as a tunic. The instructions also recommend a 1.5cm narrow hem but I did a machine rolled hem and therefore didn’t need to ease in any extra fabric.

The tops for this McCall’s pattern can also be made up in moderate stretch knits, maybe next time. I’m happy I have been able to mark off another SWAP 2015 item.

McCalls 7121 Knit V-Neck Teardrop Dress

Let me start by saying this dress is ultra comfortable. McCalls 7121 is a pretty popular pattern with lots of options for various designs and I may possibly make more in the near future.

I made view B with the V back using the length of view C . My fabric is poly spandex knit teardrop in navy (95%poly/5% elastane) and I’m pretty hesitant to use this fabric because I had such a hard time with my twin stitching in the past but I think I have now conquered my fear. Especially after using it so significantly this time. Plus I have a few more cuts of this fabric content in my stash to contend with.

mccalls 7121 front 3

                       mccalls 7121 side mccalls 7121 back

I cut the front and back bodice on the fold because I didn’t want to break up the print or worry about pattern matching but it just meant I had to alter the way I finished the neckline and armhole edges. For construction I found a ball point needle best and used a zig zag stitch and then neatened the seams with the overlocker. I wasn’t sure which direction to cut the fabric at first and decided the visual impact was nicer with the teardrops pointing downwards.

I cut a size smaller than my measurements and think the fit is pretty good overall. I had to shorten the bodice by about 2 inches so the seam sits closer to my natural waist, unfortunately I forgot to do this with the lining but the seam doesn’t show from the outside. I had enough fabric left to self line the bodice and for the skirt I used some white knit lining from the stash and cut the lining to the length of skirt A. I omitted the elastic at the waist as I will more than likely wear this with a RTW belt anyway. I really need to get some personalised labels because I have been sewing a ribbon bow at the back of my garments to date more so when it’s difficult to tell the front from the back.

                                               mccalls 7121 inside front    mccalls 7121 inside back

                                                          Front                               Back

I was too busy thinking about fitting this dress that I sewed up the side seams before lining the dress and couldn’t do a neat machine finish to enclose all seams. In the end I just turned the armholes in twice to make a narrow hem and twin needle stitched but felt the neckline required a more professional finish. I use the tutorial from Craftsy on Sewing Knit Necklines: How to Make a V-Neck. My neckline was 96cm long and I cut the neck band at 93cm so that it lay nice and flat and the width was 1 1/4 inch but it also made it an extremely fiddly process to sew on such a narrow band with slippery, thin fabric. To finish the neckline I sewed down the seam allowance with the twin needle. I must admit it did turn out quite nice.

mccalls 7121 neckline

The hem was turned up twice and was also finished with the twin needle.

I don’t love this dress but it is extremely comfortable. Is it the over whelming pattern of the fabric or that it’s too conservative and the racer back option may have been better? Or is it the length or maybe how I have styled it? It musn’t be too bad though as I did receive compliments while wearing it and my sister in law requested a replica.

McCall’s 6503 Denim Dress

This is another item to mark off my SWAP 2015. This is McCall’s 6503, I made view C, without the flounce, and the last minute decided to make a pleated skirt but had already cut out my pattern pieces for the view C skirt, more on that below. I used some broadmill denim (100% cotton) in indigo. Although I pre-washed my fabric, it was a bit stiff for this dress, probably better suited to jeans, Gingers here I come, but I’m hoping after some wash and wear it will soften.

mccalls 6503 front

                         mccalls 6503 side front mccalls 6503 back

I found the instructions really good as it allows for a nice clean finish on the insides of this dress. The only thing difficult for me was due to the thickness of the fabric, in some areas I had to sew through 6-8 layers (including interfacing) but my trusty cheapo machine was like a workhorse.

mccalls 6503 inside

The dress fit straight out of the envelope without major fit adjustments however I did make some aesthetic changes. I lowered the armhole about 2cm at the bottom and tapered to nothing at the sides of the armhole and these were bound with 12mm black bias binding, as instructed. I also chose to make the front placket non-functional by omitting the button holes and sewing the buttons through both left and front placket. I used silver 13mm buttons which don’t really show up too shiny in the photos but thought they were the best choice for this fabric. There is also about 5cm of the side bodice which is stitched together before the zip starts but found I couldn’t really get the dress on comfortably so decided to make the zip go right up to the armhole instead. Unfortunately due to the thickness of my fabric, the zip insertion didn’t go that well and doesn’t lay as flat as I would like but I can live with it. I added a hook and eye to ensure it stays closed. I’m not sure if an invisible zip would have been better but maybe again the multiple layers of fabric or the stress at that point may have had a similar outcome.


I didn’t want to lose any length of my skirt so I bound the hem with 12mm black bias binding which also had a functional role as it would have been very difficult to turn this fabric twice to stitch the hem as instructed. As mentioned above, I was originally planning to make view c but wasn’t sure if the gathers would sit right so just used the already cut out skirt pieces and put in 4 pleats at both the front and back. I probably should have aligned the back pleats with the darts but wasn’t too fussed. I probably should have also checked what the difference was between view c and d pattern pieces as I may have been able to use it to measure out the pleat placement on my skirt panels.

There were so many layer of denim that it was also hard to slip stitch the collar down on the inside and also the internal midriff band so I decided to top stitch both these areas. I just wish I had graded, or cut my seam allowance smaller for these midriff bands, as you can see from the photos the seam allowances are visible.

mccalls 6503 side front  2

Just for my own reference, I serged the shoulders and bodice sides before step 24 which is where you attach the front to back bodice pieces. I serged each side of the midriff bands after step 44 after they are attached to the bodice. Lack of concentration however had me attach the midriff facing to the bottom side of the already attached midriff band which I only noticed after understitching. Thank goodness this is a forgiving fabric. I also serged each of the skirt pieces prior to sewing them at the side seams.

Overall I’m really happy with this dress and the gap it fills in my wardrobe. I have worn it twice already since having been made 4 days ago. I also really like this pattern and definitely will be making it again and perhaps may make the midriff bands a little thinner next time too.

McCalls 6278 Dress, No Longer a UFO

I’m not sure what it is but I get excited about sewing something new for an up and coming event, no matter if it’s something formal or a casual day out, to the point where I cut my fabric ready to sew, but then………..procrastination sets in. As the self imposed deadline looms I’m not quite sure what happens. It’s like I want to start something new again and leave this behind so it can go into the abyss of what is the UFO. Is it boredom? I’ve always been like that, even as a child. I’m getting better at finishing things off and as it stands have 3 UFO’s – from last year, actually after this one I have 2.

Not happening this year though. Change of thought process and I guess this is one of the reasons I started blogging, along with keeping track of what I make and connecting with creative minds and becoming part of a community. It was about being accountable for finishing things off otherwise there would be nothing to write about, good or bad.

So I’m happy to say it’s finally finished. This pattern is McCalls 6278, now OOP, a style I instantly was attracted to when it first came out as is indicated by the fact this dress was started back in April 2014. Many reviews give this pattern a thumbs up, but for me it was doomed from the start but I think, actually I know, this has more to do with user error than anything else. I used Luna printed cotton sateen 6 in green (96% cotton/4% spandex) for this dress and black premium cotton sateen (96% cotton/4% spandex) for the accents. It’s such a good fabric because it’s cotton, easy to wash and wear and thick enough to not require lining.

mccalls 6278 front

 mccalls 6278 backI cut my so called correct size but this is where the problems began. I am now looking back to how much my skills and confidence has changed in just the 12 months and although I tried to salvage this dress with said skills I couldn’t finish it the way I wanted. When I picked this dress up again last month, I was up to attaching the diamond-shaped waist inserts and had already done two but found the subsequent inserts were best inserted if I stitched each seam individually rather than pivoting at the corners as instructed. I am pretty happy with the matching of the side seams however.

mccalls 6278 back side

As I mentioned earlier, I cut the wrong size and if I didn’t do anything the dress would be completely unwearable so I added black sateen inserts down the centre back, about 2 inches wide. In hindsight, I should have made them wider still and then adjusted the upper portion of the dress for fit as it is still a smidge too tight overall. I used an 18 inch black invisible zip and a hook and eye.

I didn’t like the length of the dress on me either and since I had already done some colourblocking (translation: patchwork to adjust for fit) I thought I would add a black sateen contrast hem band of about 13 cm. I machine stitched the hem because by this stage I was so over this dress. I must make mention however the lack of stretch in this portion of the dress makes it very hard to get on and off. I may once I have enough mental strength, insert a back vent.

I am not proud of the inside of this dress. The waist insert seams are neatened with pinking shears and all the other seams overlocked. Which is another story altogether. My serger tension was so off with this dress, don’t know why, don’t know how, but it took me what felt like forever to get it right again and not to mention I kept the white thread in the serger because didn’t want to tackle another hurdle. Another indication, as if there weren’t enough already, that this dress was a disaster dress is that I refused to iron every seam during construction which I normally am really good about. SO OVER IT!!!!!mccalls 6278 side

I felt the original neckline a bit high for my liking, a little restrictive/constrictive. I did shave some height off and bias bound the neckline so this lowered it a bit further. This last step took me a week to finish off as I couldn’t bring myself to step near the machine as I was so disheartened from this whole process but thought best to perservere and get it done. Couldn’t bear to make it a UFO twice!

The bottom line is it is still wearable if I go somewhere where I don’t have to sit, or eat, or move, fat chance!!!! It might be the incentive I need to get fit and healthy, aka weight loss. But in all seriousness, this dress did take a lot out of me and took the enjoyment out of sewing but I think overall the finish product turned out ok. Finally ready to move on to my next project.

McCall’s 6604 Cowl Neck Top

It’s always nice to accomplish something quickly and with minimal fuss. That is how I felt with OOP McCall’s 6604, a fitted, pull over top with armhole bands and bias front. The reason being that I started this top way back in November 2013 and it’s been folded in a draw ever since. Back then I only got as far as cutting the pieces out so as far as I’m concerned, the worst job was done.

front          back

The fabric came from my mums stash, it’s from the “Kanebo International Collection” as printed on the selvage, if that means anything to anyone, but I think it may have something to do with the dye process. I’m assuming its polyester and loved the colours. For the armhole bands I used black satin. I had to shave off about 2cm from the underarm when putting this together as it was too restrictive which meant my pre cut armhole bands were a tad short but since the curve of the band is sewn to the armhole I was able to stretch it to fit. Can anyone tell me if I would need to make this adjustment on patterns with sleeves? I have made so many sleeveless things lately due to the weather, I guess I’ll have to measure the pattern first and go from there.

I sewed up the top following the instructions which had me a little confused when it came time to attach the front to the back. The front cowl is self facing and until I attached it together incorrectly the first time, it then all made sense the second time around. The top part in the photo on the left is the cowl facing and needs to be attached to the shoulder seam as shown on the right.

folded cowltop cowl

Needless to say, the top is a bit tight around the bust and I think this is the reason for the pulling at the back too, visible by the pull lines and clearly my body has changed from a year ago and the recent festivities haven’t helped. I think I may also need a sway back adjustment – please help, what do you think?

                                                                                                                side                 side back

Overall I will make this again because I like the style and the curved hem with a few modifications and the version with the sleeve and collar will be good for colder weather.

UPDATE: Just wanted to do a quick update on my Simplicity 3850 pants from this post. After wearing and washing these a few times I found they shrank in the length and had to lengthen them by 1.5 inches and the waistband has stretched to the right amount in my opinion. Overall they have retained their shape everywhere else. My biggest gripe is that they still attract so much lint, the next pair will definitely be made from different fabric.

McCall’s 6744 Maxi Dress – Doesn’t Get Much Easier Than This

I wear maxi dresses quite a lot and had made this McCall’s Fashion Star 6700 pattern on 3 occassions, 2 of those with knit fabric and the other with a woven, and they have all been in constant rotation over summer. I wanted another easy dress to wear and McCall’s 6744 fit the bill. I made view C, a pullover dress with an elastic waist and narrow hem, mock wrap, very loose-fitting bodice with elasticized shoulders. It doesn’t get much easier than that.

I used an oriental printed knit flower in a grey colourway from Spotlight, 148cm wide (95% polyester/5% spandex) and I had 3m. Not much to say about construction of this dress as it went together really quickly. Due to the print of the fabric I cut the pieces in a single layer, which is why I used so much, to make sure both sides and the back were symmetrical and hopefully avoid any bad print placement.

McCalls 6744 frontMcCalls Front 2    McCalls 6744 Back

My major issues were with the narrow hem as per the instructions. The fabric shifted during sewing and the topstitching was a little wonky on the overlap skirt panels, and I did go back and fix this. I am showing you the worst area of topstitching but you catch my drift. I also figured a longer stitch length was much better.  What I have come to realise over time is that people rarely notice these flaws and are more impressed by the fact that I can actually sew clothes.

               mccalls 6744 topstitching mccalls 6744 topstitching fixed (2)

I wish in hindsight I just turned the hems once and topstitched and then cut away close to the edge. For the hem of the dress I used a twin needle rather than a narrow hem. For the life of me I always have such trouble with the twin needle. I’ve tinkered with stitch length, tension, sewing speed, types of needles and whatever other suggestion I have found online and always end up with skipped stitches particularly on my left needle. If anyone knows why, please help!

mccalls 6744 hem skipped stitches

The instructions also called for double stitching of seams, which I did do, but was double the work really, because I also serged them for a neat finish.

It is fairly obvious from the pattern photo the crossover front bodice is loosely designed and doesn’t provide much coverage but I tend to wear singlets under a lot of my clothes anyway (as you can see below I’m just checking everything is covered up). In this case I will need to wear a dress slip as the fabric is a bit sheer and given the split in the dress I can’t wear anything too long underneath. There is a lot of ease in the top part of the dress and I cut a size XS for this dress so it was more fitted. Next time I may cut the size up in the skirt so it has a bit more flow.

McCalls 6744 bodice

The skirt is a mock wrap and the overlap is not very big and too revealing for me, opening to the high thigh.  I stitched from the waist down to about 46cm, trying to match the prints. I find the split is still quite feminine and allows me to bend and sit quite comfortably at this length without any fear of indecent exposure.

                                                                                                                   McCalls 6744 spli                                          McCalls 6744 split when walking

My fit issue with this was that the lower armhole is a bit tight. I think because it is a knit and the weight of the dress stretches it a bit, it is ok, however this seems to be a common trend for me. It’s an easy enough alteration to make on sleeveless tops and dresses but requires more thinking and planning for those with sleeves. Does anyone recommend any good resources to combat this? My bad for not making a muslin and while I’m putting it out there, let me say I never make a muslin and fit as I go. I know its risky but I lose interest quickly and want to get things done so I can wear them.

I’m also a little silly in that I used white thread to sew this up when I think blue would have blended in more and perhaps showed up less of the imperfections. Oh well, live and learn!