Will You Ever Learn? {McCalls 8033}

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Oooh, now what is this piece of bohemian goddessy goodness floating around in my front yard? Why, it’s McCalls 8033 (Sophia to her friends) in rayon from Spotlight! Yes it is. And if you’re in Australia, it will probably be three long summers before the pattern arrives in stores here, so you might need to buy it online like I did. It’s a different offering from them though, no? Please note that the skirt is tiered. I totally missed that when I ordered it, but like it. The version I made had four tiers, which brings it to maxi length. I ran out of fabric though, so have three tiers and don’t mind the midi length.

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But before you sew that sucker up, make a damn toile. I didn’t. I should have. But I hate them. Don’t preach to me about toiles. I understand the concept. Truly. But by the time I sew one up in boring fabric, I have lost the will to make another in decent fabric. Even in these times when we’re mid-pandemic and have plenty of time to spare (I still don’t, what’s with that?). So just toile the bodice, how about that?

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So, going by the finished measurements (as I always do) I decided to make a size 18D (oh yes, we have cup sizes on this one – a treat!). Bigger than my usual 16 in McCalls, but I’ve become a bit rounder over the last 12 months and am happy to accept that. Before I did anything, I shortened the bodice by 1.5cm, which is standard for me – I’m short waisted. There aren’t pockets in this pattern and I didn’t add them, I thought in-seam ones might gape and pull because the skirt is a bit more of a close fit at the hips than I usually wear. Patch could work, but probably not in this light weight rayon.

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Allow me to list the other things that needed altering:

  • Still too long in the bodice, needs to come up another smidge, more so in the centre front(?!)
  • Mega in the shoulders. Like, massive. Apparently if you’re a D cup, you’re also a 6ft 4 Amazonian Princess. I ended up taking a wedge from the shoulders, which helped heaps but it’s still too big around the armholes. I do enjoy having plenty of space in the bust, especially with buttons.
  • Big all over, should have made the 16. Took it in at the side seams and moved the buttons further across.
  • The darts are very big (height and width). The width I get, big boobs need big darts. But these suckers finished up and over my bust. Not helped by the fact that I took it up at the shoulders, but still. Huge. Making them shorter was a problem because (a) the wider the dart, the harder it is to make them finish shorter and (b) because the darts are so big, the instructions have you trim them, so I could only shorten them a wee bit. Now they’re kind of a weird shape, but whatever. Maybe they’d be better split into double darts? And curved.
  • There seems to be a bit of pulling at those bottom buttons, which I didn’t notice until I saw photos. Images can be a bit unforgiving that way. I’m not bothered by it, but I reckon my facing probably got off grain there. Not surprising with rayon. Maybe block fuse it before cutting.

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It’s not all bad, just more changes than I’m used to and admittedly, I am way more fussy with fit now than I was when I first started sewing. I’d probably accept all this from RTW even. I do like the floaty blue pain in the bum, so I will get some wear out of it. I’ll wear it with docs for winter and pretend I’m in a 90s grunge band.

Falling Leaves {McCalls 8040}

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A while back I ordered a few of the new McCalls patterns, shipped directly from the company because it takes us approximately three seasons to get them in Australia (not even joking). The shipping is a bit costly, but if you get the patterns when they’re on sale and make the most of the shipping, it’s a bit more worthwhile.

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Out of the patterns I ordered, M8040 topped the list as the one to make first – quick, straight forward and those sleeves. I don’t have a whole lot of woven top patterns, so it’s nice to have something to wear with jeans and work pants.

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I used some Dear Stella quilting cotton I’d had hanging around for a while and made the cropped version. The only change I made was adding a bit of extra volume to the sleeves. if you’re going to have a crack – the cropped version is proper cropped. I’m quite short waisted and it’s pretty short on me, often I still have to shorten cropped bodices, but not this one! And, as always, check the finished measurements. I get the vibe that McCalls are trying to look a bit more like the indie pattern companies with their new line drawings and pattern names (this one is called Emmie), and it seems like the heap of ease they used to have is shrinking. I usually make a 16 in McCalls (even though my measurements put me in an 18 or 20) and I made a straight 18 in this one.

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So what’s the next logical step for a girl who likes a top? She turns it into a dress bodice, of course. With double gauze from Spoonflower. I threw caution into the wind with this one, which I would like to say is due to the state of the world at the moment, but it’s not. I just get a bit like that with sewing.

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I shortened the top another 1.5cm above the ‘crop’ line on the pattern pieces, but once I’d attached the skirt pieces later it was still a bit long in the bodice, so I had to decide whether to unpick and shorten or add elastic to the waist seam.

 

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I decided on the elastic because I figured it would give my wardrobe a bit of variety and the gauze gathers up quite nicely. I thought it might end up pulling at the button at the waist though (and it did), so I added a hook and eye there to secure everything.

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I ended up with 14 buttons in total and I stitched the facing down so it doesn’t curl up and flap around, as it tends to do on lighter weight fabrics.

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I just squeaked it out of three yards of fabric and even then, my sleeves had to be cut shorter and one of them on the bias. Ooops. I wasn’t willing to forgo my giant sleeves though, I love them.

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The Power of Three {Rosa, Alma and McCalls 6696}

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The perfect button up shirt pattern. I’d been on the hunt for one for quite some time. Does it exist? Will I ever find it? Truth be told, I was being a bit fussy with my prerequisites.

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Stuff I wanted:

Legit collar and collar stand so I could button it all the way up, all hipster-like.

Minimal seams and yokes and other fussy bits so I didn’t have to cut through my busy prints like some kind of animal.

But some shaping (darts) is necessary. No one wants to wear a sack. I’m not a monster.

No gaping of buttons. I know I have boobs and a waist, but is this really such a big ask?

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I’d browsed the pattern books, I’d looked online at the indie companies. But no one had exactly what I wanted. It was either loose fitting men’s style shirts or yoked and princess-seamed women’s numbers. NO. I was feeling a bit foot stompy.

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Then it occurred to me. What if I just mash up the patterns I already have? Can I create some kind of shirty Frankenstein monster?

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Yes I can, you guys. Yes I bloody can. Not gonna lie, had no idea what I was doing and was quite sure it was going to end up disastrous. Turns out though, I ended up with the best fit I’ve had from a shirt. Ever.

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To make the monster, I used:

Tilly and the Buttons Rosa neckline and collar, because those are the shiz. Rosa is a rad pattern, but has two yokes and front and back princess seams. I didn’t want to chop my foxes.

McCalls 6696 for the bust dart and all round bust fit, as well as the armscye and sleeves. That dress never lets me down at the bust, but you know, it’s a dress.

Sewaholic’s Alma blouse for the length and front and back waist darts, as well as the shaping in at the waist. Delicious.

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And there she is, folks. Look at that fit! No gaping at the bust. Those buttons aren’t going anywhere. Ever. My only consideration for next time is that neck and collar region. I think it could be smaller. But I’m not sure where to start with that so maybe I’ll just leave it. It’s so close to perfect.

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Ooh fabric is Cotton and Steel from Hawthorne Threads (it looks to be out of stock, sorry!). Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to make more of these babies. They are a tip top work shirt. Professional, yet not.

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That 60s Dress With The Metal Zip {Vintage McCalls 9083}

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Have I told you before that my mum is a legend? My mum is a legend. Last week I received a very excited phone call from her because she found a few things at an op shop that she knew I’d love. Two of them were these barkcloth (I think) table cloths. Both in excellent nick and around 1m x 1m. One looked like it had never been used, one slightly used. Not a huge difference in colour between them both though.

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My ma knows me well, so of course they became mine. I had planned on making a full gathered skirt with them, but decided to see if I could stretch it to a dress instead. It was time to make something a bit different. I dug through that lovely vintage stash that was given to me a while back and came up with McCalls 9083, a dress pattern from 1967.

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I did make some pretty significant changes to the pattern. First and foremost, my bust is nowhere in the vicinity of 34 inches, so some grading up had to happen. Then a 2 inch full bust adjustment on top of that. I am so glad I did too, because it fits like a glove. FBAs are magic, 10/10 do recommend. I use this tutorial to do mine. I lowered the neckline slightly too, because that sucker is high.

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I slashed and spread the skirt, eliminating the darts and making it more A line in shape. It’s a bit of a weird feeling for me because I am so used to wearing very full skirts. I feel a little bit naked, which is ridiculous.

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I decided on patch pockets because I had a feeling side seam pockets might stick out a bit on this style of skirt.

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I had planned to use an invisible zip, but it turned out I didn’t have one long enough in my stash. Then I remembered I had a pretty long thrifted metal one hiding somewhere, so I dug it out. I think the metal is way cooler and gives all that floral a little bit of an edge.

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The bodice is lined in black lawn and yeah, I probably should have used black thread but I wasn’t sure whether to match the lining or the zip. So the zip it was.

Peace, love and tablecloth dresses.

Like A Pirate {McCalls 7542}

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If you haven’t seen McCalls 7542 in your travels yet, well quite frankly, I don’t know what you’ve been doing with your life. Or maybe you’re not a sewing nerd like me. In all honesty, you’ve probably seen similar in RTW while you wander around the shops. I wanted it as soon as I saw it, as I knew it would fill that ‘what to wear with jeans’ gap in my wardrobe. The curse of too many dresses.

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I nabbed the pattern and the fabric (which is cotton poplin) from my local Spotlight over the weekend. Apparently this pattern is sold out in a lot of places, so I was lucky to score it. I know you want to know about my awesome bee necklace, it’s from the lovely Natalie over at Fancy Lady Industries. It’s a Teddy bee, which I love, because we have those cute fatties hovering around our lavender from time to time.

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Overall it went together super fast. The instructions have a bit of a weird way of attaching the lower sleeve to the upper sleeve but I just ignored that and went about it my own way. There’s no zip or anything, just a hook and eye at the back of the neck. I was lazy and just overlocked the sleeve hems, folded them over and stitched, but I think I’ll finish them with binding next time.

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The shape is quite boxy and although poplin was one of the fabrics recommended on the envelope, I can’t wait to make a version in something much more drapey, like rayon. The sleeves remind me of something a pirate would dig, but I think I’m ok with them.

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Oh and you know the best part about this pattern? Good old McCalls do cup size variations. So I went straight to my old friend the D cup pattern piece and it’s a great fit at the bust. No FBA! YAS! I have plans to use this bodice again with different variations. Including a very 80s collar.

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More Collar Love {McCalls 6696 hack}

 

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Continuing my collar making binge (my third in a week – what?!), I decided to make another McCalls 6696. I made this one a couple of years back and remember the collar being the most head scratching, tear inducing¬† part. I’m going to blame that partly on the fact it was my first time ever sewing a proper collar with a stand and partly on McCalls tip top instructions. Anyway – pug shirt dress:

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It’s a bit of a fabric hungry pattern (the skirt panels are wide) and I really didn’t feel like sewing a million buttonholes (slight exaggeration), so I decided to just sew the bodice with the buttons and leave the skirt as a regular gathered skirt, thus saving me on fabric and hand sewing buttons.

I also decided I didn’t want a button on the waistband because that little guy always manages to work his way free after a big meal. Ahem. So I decided to put a zip in the side seam to make sure I could actually get it on and off. Sorted.

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I didn’t even look at the instructions this time, as I was making some changes and with the lovely Rosa dress still fresh in my head I was able to figure out how everything went together without them. Stark contrast to the last time I made this dress.

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I completed the entire bodice first, not even looking at the skirt pieces. I even did the buttonholes because I thought it would be easier to manage before the skirt was attached. I tacked the bodice pieces closed before sewing on the waistband. Obviously the waistband notches no longer match anything because I started and finished at the side seam rather than in the centre.

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I made sure I didn’t close up the left side seam so I could add a zipper later.

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A pocket from chambray scraps went in the right hand side of the skirt, because I’m not clever enough to put a pocket and a zip in the same side. Still, one is better than none.

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I made the best collar I’ve ever made, taking so much care to roll the seams towards the facing of the collar and then promptly sewed it on the wrong way. So now the seams show. Idiot. I didn’t even realise I’d done it until the end. I can live with it though.

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Discovered the most perfectly matched buttons in my stash. Awwww yeah, love it when stuff like that happens.

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We didn’t talk about fabric! Now, I’m not much of a floral girl, but occasionally there’s an exception. This is one of them. It’s so pretty, isn’t it? Love the navy, love the types of flowers and I especially love the tiny little snails. It’s Heather Ross from Hawthorne Threads – as soon as I saw it, I knew I had to have it. Added bonus: it’s a beautifully light and drapey lawn, which is so perfect for our super hot summers. Our winters are pretty mild too, so I’ll be able to get away with wearing it with tights, boots and a cardi. Quite looking forward to that right now!

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There’s a bit too much ease in those sleeves, I’m going to take some out next time. Other than that, I’m pretty damn pleased with this one.

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