Pattern Review – McCall's 5429 Skirt

I had a bunch of Dark Wash Italian Denim hanging out in my stash, and I am going to do some serious stash clearance over the next couple of weeks. Honestly, I think it’s going to become a Fabric Golem if I don’t! So this is the first parry in the duel between me and my stash….

Pattern Description: from the envelope back “MISSES’ SKIRTS IN THREE LENGTHS: Semi-fitted and below waist, straight or flared skirt has waistband, front pockets, topstitched hems and mock fly front with hook and eye closure; skirt A has micro mini and frayed hem; skirt B is below mid-knee with godets; skirt C is ankle length.” I made View B.

Sizing: 4-20

Did it look like the it was supposed to? Oh yes, though I think mine looks better!

How were the instructions? The instructions were very good, with one exception. There is a misprint in the illustrations for the side-front. They tell you to stitch through the large dot to reinforce, then clip the seam allowance to the large dot. There are two large dots on the side front: one up at the pocket, and the other at the placement spot for the godet. The illustration shows the pocket, but they actually mean the godet placement. Keep that in mind and you’ll be fine.

Likes/Dislikes? No dislikes other than that nit about the instruction. Likes? Love the juxtaposition of the jean styling with the 8-gored, godet skirt. It’s so fun and pretty! I also love the topstitching:

I used a size 14 topstitching needle with jeans topstitching thread. In the bobbin I used plain Metrosene navy blue thread.

Fabric Used: Italian stretch denim from my stash. Yay!

Any Changes to the Pattern? Absolutely none. I will note that this pattern seems to run a tad large. I made a 14, and it’s a smidge loose on me. I think the 12 would be too small, but you might want to do a flat pattern check before you sew.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yes to both.

Conclusion A great pattern! This will be a year-round wardrobe staple. I’ll wear it tomorrow with a tank top and espadrilles, and I can see it with boots and a sweater in the winter. It’s a great look!

One thing to note is that, when working with really dark wash denims, even if you have pre-washed a couple of times, you’ll get a fair amount of dye on your hands during construction. I neglected to take a picture, but I can honestly say that my hands looked cyanotic! I used a salt scrub to take off the color, but I still have blue fingernails!

Here are two views of the finished skirt: one with the godets out and the other with the godets in

Happy sewing!

Next Up, A Skirt!

I know I have all those great Simplicity Patterns that I picked up last week, but I think I’ll make a skirt first. I had to stop at JoAnn to pick up some pins (no pun intended) and needles, and they were having a sale on McCalls patterns, so I got this one.

I have the perfect denim for it, this Italian Stretch:

I think I’ll make View B, the mid-length version. I really like the combination of the jeans styling with the 8-gore skirt. Stay tuned!

Happy Sewing!

Up Next, Another Cosmopolitan Dress!

The jacket is done, hurray! I’m wearing it as I type, and it looks and feels great! So, given that I am a classic example of OCSD, I’m already cutting the next project. Another HotPatterns Cosmopolitan Dress! I’m making if from the Chain Link Jersey in brown and coral. Then I have GOT to start sewing down some of my older stash! I have so much gorgeous fabric from my darling Kashi, it’s a sin to let it languish, you know?

Fortunately, HotPatterns just did me a great favor in that end. Those naughty folks just came out with a whole new collection (apparently in collaboration with the McCall pattern company) of No Sweat Easy Sew pieces that look great. I (honest to God), just ordered the entire collection. There are a bunch that I am going to make for my niece (this is the orphaned one that you heard about last year). She’s in school out in Oregon, and the poor kid needs a decent wardrobe now that she’s out of the Goth phase. So I figure I’ll make her these to start. The Poetry in Motion Top (one for her, one for me!):

The Bubblicious Dress:

And the Triple Tee Dress:

For me? The Cha Cha Cha Dress, of course!

Well, I’ve got a hobby. Back to the sewing room!

McCalls 5106 Jacket

Miss Me? There’s a great saying that goes, “If you ever want to hear God laugh, tell Him your plans.” Boy, that can describe my weekend to a tee! I had planned to have this up by Saturday, but snowstorms and friends made for a difficult time achieving my plan. Oh well. The snow is melting, the friends are good company, so it all turned out okay. And I got back to the sewing room today.

My goal was to finish my jacket project. The quest for this project was to take this pattern from McCalls, 5106:

and glam it up, á la D-Squared, the Milan fashion house:
I wasn’t interested in an exact copy of this look. Rather, I was interested in an “inspired by-” look. I had a couple of yards of imported wool denim wanting to be made into something, and this seemed like the perfect choice. So to the cutting room I went.

To achieve this look, I had to do a few things. First, I did all my standard alterations for a full bust. Next, I sliced 3 inches from the bottom of the pattern pieces to crop the jacket and sleeves. Then came the tricky part, slicing the pattern up to add a bib-yoke front. To do this, I took the original front piece:

And traced it off. I decided where I wanted the yoke lines to fall. I used a muslin for this, trying it on and marking it up with a sharpie. Then I sliced the front of the muslin piece along the style lines. I used tracing paper to trace the resulting pattern pieces, and I added seam allowances.

I sewed up the front and yoke pieces first, essentially reassembling the front. The other critical part here is making sure that you line up your yoke pieces carefully when sewing to ensure that they meet across the center front. It’s not difficult, but it involves some hand basting to ensure proper matching. If you do it, you’ll get great results. If you don’t? Becky-Home-Ecky. It’s definitely worth the few minutes.

I had to stop work for a couple of days because I wanted exactly the right closure. I had ordered some Riri zippers from Zipper Stop, and I thought they would be perfect. BUT, the ones I had were 22 inch separating zippers. I needed 16 inch. Never fear! Call Jeff at ZipperStop and ask him to cut them down for you. I called on Friday during the snowstorm. They arrived, perfect, yesterday.

While I was waiting though, I debated. I had bought some really great screw-on nickel grommets at Pacific Trim in New York when I was there with Gigi and Phyllis in January. I thought they would look great on the mini-patch pockets I was putting on the jacket.

They do, just not with the zipper. Had I been using a nickel zipper, it would have been fine. But the two elements were in competition, and I think that had I put them both on the same jacket, it would lose the designer look that I was after. Diva Phyllis has a great attitude about embellishment. She thinks that you have to be like Jackie Kennedy. Put everything on and then take one thing off. When it comes to trims, less is definitely more in most cases. And if you are ever unsure about whether you have too many trim or design elements on a piece? You do. Better to leave them wanting more, right? That’s my attitude in singing, and I used it here.

The rest of the construction of this pattern was quite straightforward. I eliminated the overlaps at the center front so I could insert the zipper. And I lined the jacket in a lovely silk charmeuse that I bought a couple of years ago. It all went together beautifully, and I am quite pleased with the results.

Here’s a picture of the lining:

And finally, here’s a picture of my exhausted self in the jacket:

Some notes on using this fabric, which is available for sale over at Gorgeous Fabrics. It’s heavy enough that, though I used some lightweight interfacing on the collar and facings, I think you can get away without it for a jacket like this. You’d need it if you make a trench, but don’t try to put a heavy horsehair canvas with this. Also, when you hand-sew with this fabric, use a thimble. It’s very, very tightly woven. Use heavy steam for shaping. It tailors beautifully, and it wants to do what you tell it.

All in all, I think this turned out pretty okay! It will make a great jacket for spring evenings (if Spring ever makes it up here!). The moral of this story is: Patterns are guidelines, not gospel. Play with them, use them as starting points for design decisions, but put your own stamp on it. After all, that’s why we do this, right?

Happy sewing!

On the Cutting Table: McCall's 5106

I pulled this pattern out of stash today to make it up in my wool denim. I have to admit, I was really, really disappointed with the jacket selections in the pattern books right now. Do you remember two years ago, when jackets were the big hot wardrobe item? Simplicity, for one, had tons of great jackets that were inspired by Marc Jacobs in their catalogue. Gone. Nothing is worth even looking at. And most of the jacket patterns that are out there are either too Jackie Kennedy for this fabric, or else they are just plain dowdy. This one skates along that thin line of being dowdy, but of course I’m going to fab it up quite a bit.

First off, I’m going to trim off about 3 inches, and then I’m going to slice and dice so it looks something along the lines of this jacket from DSquared:

But with a Riri zipper that I bought from ZipperStop

I won’t be parading around in bloomers, and I won’t be showing my well-toned midriff (yah, right) like the model does, but with the right coordinates, it will look very cool. Stay tuned.

Happy Sewing!

McCalls Late Winter/Early Spring 2007

I’m taking a short break from caring from DS who has the flu, and I see that McCall’s has put their late winter/early spring patterns on the site. Mostly ‘meh’, if you ask me. but there were a couple that caught my eye, not always in a good way, if you get my drift.

5214 is a Sew News pattern for a wrap style dress. I like the princess lines, and the full skirt is pretty. They suggest it in eyelets and cottons. I’d also try it in something more dressy, like a taffeta for springtime special occasions.


is a three skirt wardrobe. The button-down skirt would be perfect for the scalloped front closure treatment that Threads Magazine wrote about in the July, 2006 issue. The skirt with the lace galloon is interesting too, but skip the gingham fabrication they show. I saw a very expensive designer version done up in a stretch wool tweed with the black lace at the hem. $1200 expensive, and with this pattern you can get that look for a fraction.

These aren’t new, but I just took notice of the fact that McCalls now has a line of patterns that cost $2.99. I’m sure that’s to compete against New Look and the $1.99 specials at the national fabric store chains. But there are some good basics in this collection. But be warned, there is a lot of chaff (please, someone tell the pattern companies to get over the poncho already!). A couple that caught my eye for their positive aspects include:


5297 is a knit top and shrug pattern. Shrugs seem to have staying power for the spring, and I like them because they are good for Bostonian winters. 5374 is a cute, basic dress that you can dress up or down, depending on the fabrication. It looks very much like some of the patterns in the Vogue pattern line (also owned by McCalls), but for a fraction of the price.

Now for the not so good. The vast majority of the collection was a yawner. But there were two that made me smirk a little. This one, 5318:

Does anyone remember “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”, or do you catch it on Nick at Nite? You know her best friend Rhoda? This is a Rhoda dress. Actually, it’s a Rhoda nightgown. Seriously, I think it would make a kind of cute nightie now that I look at it. But it’s not something I’d wear anywhere farther outside than my deck while getting the newspaper.

And this jumper, 5313:

I have got to tell you, I laughed when I saw the “Contemporary, trendsetting designs” moniker next to the picture. Why? Because, my dear readers, that is an almost exact replica of the very first pattern I ever made, when I was twelve! You know what they say: what goes around comes around. And here’s your proof!

Well, I’m off to take care of DS and finish the Laura Bennett Dress.
Happy sewing!

The Fitting Muslin is Done

I’ll post a photo tomorrow, but the muslin for McCall’s 5289 is done. I did a number of adjustments before I cut the muslin: FBA, start with a 12 at the shoulder and taper out to a 14 at the waist, added long sleeves. There are a couple of issues. First, the neckline opening is really, really wide. This is a style issue, not a fitting issue, It’s wide enough that I need a strapless bra under it. I am adjusting the front yoke piece (piece number 3 in the pattern) to be wider at the bottom and hopefully cover the bra straps. I think I may add about 1/2 inch around the upper shoulder areas. just at the seams. It’s okay, but even though my cross-chest measurement is a 12, my broad back puts me right between a 12 and 14. Other than that, the fit seems really good. The sleeves from the Vogue Roland Mouret knockoff pattern are a little tight at the bicep for my taste, but I will slash the pattern tomorrow and add about 1/2″ to 3/4″ of ease. That should take care of it. Stay tuned!

Happy sense of self!

Next Up, a Holiday Dress!

I fed Skippy my Eviler Twin some Godiva Chocolate and she has retreated back into her cave. But before rolling the boulder across the cave entrance, she turned and hissed, “I’ll be back to keep the world safe from idiots who are so clearly educated beyond their intelligence!” Okay Skip, buh bye! Or should I say, a bientot!

The world is in balance again, even if the moon is full. To celebrate, I started on my holiday dress! And this is it. McCalls 5269:

Look at the model in the picture. Now look at me. Notice a few things.
1 – She is coquettish. I am fabulous.
2 – She has bird-arms. I have Schwarzzeneggar arms.
3 – She’s all of 19. I’m celebrating the (mumble mumble) anniversary of my 29th birthday shortly.
Changes must be made.

Change one: I’m ditching the cap sleeves and putting long, sleek sleeves on instead. I have morphed the armhole and grabbed the plain long sleeve from this Vogue Pattern:

I almost made this pattern instead, but my fabric really is spectacular. I didn’t want to have to cut across it with a waistline seam. The McCalls pattern has a similar neckline and shoulder treatment (a flange sort of thing), and adjusting it to a long sleeve was pretty simple.

Change two: It will be shorter than the photographed version, but will have no ruffle or (god help us) pouf at the hem.

Change three: I’m going to make it from an amazing fabric (hint, it’s pictured here on the site) that will be an homage to Laura Bennett of Project Runway. I have stretch silk charmeuse to underline the main fabric. And the hemline will be To Die For!

The muslin is cut and half way sewn. I should have the fitting shell tomorrow or Friday. Hopefully I’ll finish the dress by mid-next week. Stay tuned.

Happy Sewing!

New McCall's Patterns

Hell Week is over! “Shofar” was a resounding success. I don’t know if anyone from the press reviewed it, but I thought it was great, and the audience gave us a 10 minute standing ovation. It was a good sized crowd, too. Sanders Theater was about 2/3 full, which is nice. So now I’m back in the sewing room working on a client project. The bathroom curtains are most of the way done, so I thought I would come downstairs and get dinner started and surf the web.

After watching the first half of the Patriots/Colts fiasco (I’m a Pats fan, remember), I’m in no mood to read Sports Illustrated, so I pulled up McCall’s Patterns and had a look-see at the newest crop of patterns. McCalls is not one of my favorites. I think of all the major pattern companies, I’ve sewn the fewest of theirs. There were a couple worth noting, though.

5236 is a pattern for different styles of shrugs, along with a basic sleeveless shell.
I really like the ruffled one that they show in the photograph. I wish I could find something exactly like that except full length. I have this great silk velvet eyelet that I bought from Kashi, and it would be perfect as a long jacket (“deshabille”, as Diva MaryBeth calls it). I’d really like to make it for Thanksgiving dinner. I’m on a quest. If you know of any patterns that fit that description or are in the ballpark, please let me know!


Is a pretty close approximation of the jacket in Vogue 8305. If you don’t want to buy the entire Vogue wardrobe pattern this would make a good alternative. I love the notions list for this garment: “Thread”. It doesn’t get much simpler than that!

is a nice jacket pattern. I like the shoulder princess seams, and I think the neckline is pretty cool. I could see this in a silk ottoman or 4-ply crepe with a matching (or contrasting) silk heavy organza or gazar for the neck ruffle. Imagine it in lipstick red for the holidays with really outstanding rhinestone buttons. Pair with a tight skirt or beautiful black pants and you have a perfect office party look.

5249, PJs and Nighty set:

I’m really not a fan of the whole “Mommy and Me” look. Of course, I have boys, so I don’t have to deal with it – yay! But I like this set. I especially like the PJs with the shrug. That’s a cozy outfit for sitting in front of the fireplace reading the newspaper and drinking coffee. I don’t get the “gift bag” thing, though. Maybe they had extra space on the pattern instructions and needed to fill it up.

Those are the ones I like. There are some cute home-dec projects, but I think if I ever came out of the sewing room with something like peppermint lollies or trees… well, let’s just say it would never happen. There are a couple that made me go “ewww!” and recoil from the screen, so let’s get snarky for a moment, shall we?

5246 Coat:

“Fabulous Fleece”??? My ass. The proportions on this coat are just all wrong. The pockets, the cuffs, the collar…. everything. And back the freak away from the fleece! It’s patterns like these that keep the fabric stores swimming in fleece and not bringing in decent fabrics. Just say no to the fleece conspiracy! With apologies to Malden Mills, who really does do great fleeces, but the rest of it is dreck.


In the words of Edna Mode, “No capes!”

This costume, 5264:
Looks like “Madama Butterfly Takes the Titanic to Seoul”. What the heck is it supposed to be?

Well, that’s enough snark for now. Time to pull the roast out of the oven.
Happy sewing!

McCalls and Kwik Sew Fall Patterns

I was hoping to do Butterick and McCalls together, but Butterick hasn’t posted their early fall patterns yet. Kwik Sew has posted their new patterns, so I’ll combine them with McCall. Let’s start with Kwik Sew. I’ll tell you this right off, I find Kwik Sew’s patterns to be good basics, but their fashion drawings leave something to be desired. On the plus side, they are accurate, if not inspired. Read on!:

Let’s start with

outerwear. Kwik Sew is known for their patterns for knits and activewear. This season they published a raglan sleeved jacket and a similarly styled vest. These are both really good looking basic patterns. I really like the contrast insets in the vest and the contrast back of the jacket. From the picture, it looks like the jacket back extends slightly forward of a standard side seam. Both of those are very slimming effects. I would do them up in a lightweight fleece (say, Polartec 100 or lighter) in a bright color and use black as the contrast. I’d also match the zipper color to the contrast for a designer touch.

I’m seeing a lot of blouses like 3436 in the pattern catalogues for fall. It’s nice that they are a little dressier. For a great transitional piece, I would make the long sleeve version in an ivory or black cotton eyelet. View B, the short sleeved version, is very of-the-moment. But here’s a caution. That sleeve length can be deadly if you have either a large bust or if your arms are not model-thin. I’d recommend lengthening the sleeve to just above the elbow. That will cover multitudes of, well, you know. If you’re adventurous, push the envelope and make it from a jersey rather than the recommended wovens.

3451 is the Kwik Sew version of the ubiquitous bubble skirt. I’m going to be frank. I don’t like these skirts. That’s my personal taste, and it’s influenced by the hideous bubble skirts worn by Angela on the current season of Project Runway. The other thing about bubble skirts is that, if you don’t have perfect legs, avoid them like they were plutonium. Now that I’ve said all that, let me point out that, if you do want to make a bubble skirt, this is a cute pattern. I really like the fact that this pattern has a twisted bubble as well as the straight version. Try making this dressy by using a really high-quality silk shantung (Thai Silks and Metro Textiles both have good ones), or a silk gazar as the top layer of the bubble.

In the activewear category, this pattern, 3443:
tops my list of must-buys for this season. I love, love, love the waistband on view A. It’s just a great look. I’d make this pant in versions for the gym, and maybe in a silk or lightweight rayon jersey as a pajama bottom (hello, Kashi?). I am less thrilled about the waistband on view B, but I love the length for Cy-Yo (it’s a spin/yoga class I take). Yes, this pattern is going in my basket next time I’m out.

Okay, snark alert. For some reason this pattern, 3444

reminds me very much of Frank Gorshin as the Riddler on the 1960s TV series “Batman”:

Maybe it’s the green trim on the leotard. I don’t know. This may be the latest style for the dancing crowd. If so, then go for it. But I would be careful about the color combinations, or it can look like a Harlequin costume from a third rate Commedia dell’Arte troupe.

McCalls Patterns
I wasn’t really thrilled with the new patterns on the McCall’s website. They seem like they are rehashed versions from the Vogue catalogue. There were a few that I liked though.

Jacket 5176 is a basic princess jacket, but I like the view D with the ribbon trim. It will make a nice platform for some of the great beaded trims I’ve bought from Heritage Trading. View A is nice too, especially if you try using Georgene’s idea on The Sewing Divas and make the flounces from tulle.

5184 is a basic skirt pattern with hemline flounce variations. I made one very like it three seasons ago when Simplicity did this same type of pattern. It’s a great wardrobe builder. Take a pass on the cutesy appliques, though. They scream “happy hands at home”. Instead, I’d make this in a beautiful lightweight crepe, pair it with a fitted jacket and wear it to the office and then out to dinner.

This pattern, 5206:

Is titled “Snow Queen”. Hmmmm….. I don’t know. To paraphrase Lloyd Bentson,

“I know Jadis, Queen of Narnia, and you, Ma’am, are no Jadis, Queen of Narnia!”

That’s all for now. Happy sewing!