Sunday, November 13, 2022

McCalls 7122, 8092, 7606 and 7862

This post covers my incompatible sewing patterns, ones that were sewn up, hung in the closet and mostly left there. It could follow the pattern of my earlier post "Drafting Simple Sewing Patterns" and be titled "Messing up Simple Sewing Patterns". However, the pattern numbers are a more useful reference. It is not that I want to blame the patterns--the problem is not with the patterns, but with my relationship with the patterns. We are apparently, for now, incompatible. Since I have put in the effort to write about the process (I usually make notes as I sew.), I will publish my thoughts, mostly so that I will be discouraged from repeating my mistakes. I'm sure someone will look up these patterns at some time. If so, they may benefit from my experiences. However, clothes fit differently on different people and look different in different fabrics. Sometimes you don't know until you try, so don't let my opinion discourage you from trying these patterns.

First up, but last made, was McCalls 7122, a raglan dress pattern for knits (leggings are included but not attempted by me). This pattern required 1 3/4 to 3 1/2 yards of 60" medium weight knit fabric for the dress, depending on length. The only difficulty in this pattern was the cutting, simply because the large pieces were hard to align on knit fabric. Otherwise, it was a breeze. There was enough fabric to cut the large in the C length with long sleeves. View B was my preference, but after the waist was raised by 2" it would not have been long enough. Although the short sleeves would have been preferable in this fabric, I knew they would look better on me about 4" longer. However, the short sleeves are cut in an arc at the hem, precluding lengthening them.

Here is a bit of the dress, just enough to give you the effect of the print. It looked much better in the photo I saw when I ordered it.

The fabric I used was more of the cotton/poly/lyca jersey from Fabric Mart (used quite successfully for McCalls 7650), this time in a green print. Since I had purchased 2 1/3 yards for only $10.50, I added the pockets from McCalls 8085. The fabric is 56" wide, very stretchy, and sews smoothly, no walking foot required. A simple narrow zig zag worked for all the seams. Although the pattern does not suggest it, I top stitched the seam allowance down below the neckband. I find this prevents the neckband from flipping down and echos the twin needle hems. I cut 2" from the sleeves and kept them long, and then cut 2 1/2" from the hem.

Neckband--that's a nice addition, so much easier than fussing with a turned hem. A neckband also allows me to fine tune the fit by sewing a narrower seam at the back, raising the back neck a bit. The back neck is 2" below the natural neckline in this pattern, a little low for me. I find that a back neck that is too low will make the front neck ride up. Maybe that is a misconception that I derived from knitting patterns that require short rows at the back neck to lower the front?

The combination of the twin needle and the walking foot worked well for the hems. It was all very easy sewing. What is wrong? Either the dress is just unflattering, or the print is a bit too much.

In a last attempt at this pattern, I made a quick top with the short sleeves. I was not pleased with this top, either--the fit and the fabric were the problems. The short sleeves sit up above my arms too much. The fabric was a combination of a remnant and the leftover print from the dress. The remnant I used was 2/3 yard long, 60" wide, 2106847, regular $6.99/yard fabric from Hobby Lobby. The usual 30% off sale put it at $4.89/yard; my total paid was $2.79. The fabric was 96% polyester, 4% spandex, brushed, very soft and very stretchy--close to 100% stretch crosswise, some stretch lengthwise. The fabric was too stretchy to sew nicely, even with a walking foot. Also, the rust color, although flattering to my skin tones, does not go with anything in my closet. Neither the dress or the top has seen much wear so far. That should be enough to warn me away from using this pattern again.

In the summer of 2021, I tried McCalls 7606 on the theory that a wrap skirt would be more comfortable than one with a fixed width waistband. That theory did not prove to be true. For the toile, I used a blue & white variegated stripe fabric from JoAnn, 42" wide, 2 1/2 yards purchased for $22.73 plus 1 yard purchased as a remnant for $3. Since it is striped and matching was a problem, there was not much fabric left after cutting the skirt. It was 100% cotton, made in Indonesia (machine wash gentle cold, tumble dry low, warm iron). After being washed on warm/cold and dried on low, it puckered like seersucker and would not iron flat. Due to the look of the fabric and the disappointing fit, I am sorry I took so much effort with this pattern. For this first try, I modified the curved hemline to be a straight one without ruffles or curves. I cut an XL for the back, and an XXL for everything else, leaving plenty of fabric to accommodate alternations, such as deeper hems--the pattern only allows 5/8" hems. In the end, I kept the hem to 1" since it must be curved due to the a-line shaping. It was easier to follow the pattern lines than to redraft them.

There is an error in this pattern. It shows the ties attached to the side seams. That is incorrect. The ties are attached at each end of the waistband and don't need to be inserted until after the waistband is attached to the skirt.

Next, I tried McCalls 7862, using a black "tie-dye" print from JoAnn, 100% lyocell "Tencel Denim". The cost for 2 yards was $33.58. (I bought another 1/2 yard in Santa Fe for $7.20 but did not need it to cut out this dress.) The fabric was listed as 52" wide but measured closer to 60" wide. The care instructions are machine wash cold, line dry, cool iron. It does ok in the dryer but does pucker under a more than warm iron.

I cut a size 16, moving the darts lower after viewing a Craftsy class on muslins. The fabric is very nice, stays basically as I bought it, smooth, with a little drape and a bit of body. It works well in this swingy type of shape. The sleeves are large so they stick out in this fabric. Overall, with the print and the way it stands out from the body, this dress looks a bit like a caftan.

However, after wearing this dress a few times, I found the neckline was too high in front. That was especially disappointing because fitting the neckline band to the dress was really difficult. The hem construction is similar, very difficult to fit together. Additionally, the back neckline slit is too long and gapes open. To address these problems, I removed the neckband, sewed up the back slit, then bound the neckline with bias binding that I stitched on and turned to the wrong side.

The photo above was taken before this alteration. Since then, I have worn and washed the dress several times. The fabric is puckering and the dress looks disheveled. The altered neckline is still uncomfortable. I doubt that I will use the pattern again.

McCalls 8092 is a pattern I purchased because I was hoping to use an Indian block print on cotton. Before I dared to invest in this lovely piece, I wanted to have a pattern that I felt suited it. A quick trip to the pattern counter was all I could manage, simple patterns were all I was attempting. This resulted in my choosing an off-the-shoulder dress that I hoped I could modify to a standard gathered neckline. Thus began the toile.

JoAnn Fabrics sells several lines of fabric by the name "linen". Some of these are 100% linen, some are linen blends with varying (15% to 85%) amounts of linen, and some have the appearance of linen. One of these is actually 70% polyester and 30% rayon, and is called "linen look". The cut of fabric I purchased last Spring was a beautiful golden brown, almost an ochre. It was listed on my receipt as Anhu(?) Tobacco Potting Soil linen, 52" wide, 2 1/2 yards at $15.39/yd. for a total of $38.48 (012993046). Although that price is a little more than I have been paying for fabric for a first try of a pattern, I thought I was buying 100% linen in one of my favorite colors, a golden brown that is between brown and ochre. Whether it is linen or not is a guess. After washing, it remained quite stiff but thin and a bit sheer. Some of it went for the back side of the two pockets in a skirt. The rest served as the muslin for this pattern.

This dress plus the belt takes over 5 yards of 60" fabric. With less than 2 1/2 yards in this narrower piece, there was not even enough for the dress in the size L. After the substitution of a short raglan sleeve from McCalls 7862, there was enough for pockets and the ruffle at the hem. That meant shortening the dress to the view A length (plus 1" because there was enough fabric and, for me, longer is better). Beside the sleeve substitution, the neckline is 1" higher to allow for the neckline to fall normally around the neck rather than the off the shoulder look of the pattern design. The hemline ruffle is cute, and the dress is a good length, but there is entirely too much fabric in the top of the dress and the sleeves.

After a run through the washer and hanging to dry, it is definitely a wearable toile. I doubt that it is wearable outside the house--even a belt does not improve it much. However, it tops out the cool and comfortable scale and is either a very nice nightgown or an at-home dress. It gets worn now and then, notably on trips when I want something comfortable to wear in the hotel room.

The second version of this pattern was inspired by a ready-to-wear dress by designer Anna Mason. It took some inspiration to move me to make this again. This one uses some quite nice batik print in a cotton that is lightweight, more like a poplin than a quilting cotton. It is an ombre print, meaning the colors (tones in this case, since it is all gray) get progressively darker from one selvedge to the other. There was 3 1/2 yards for $12.99/yd., 30% off, so about $30. Because of the color progress across the grain, I cut the fabric cross-grain, using view A again, with an inch added at the top and the bottom of the body pieces. There was enough fabric for the pattern sleeves, cut to the middle length as well as added pockets from McCalls 7862, as in the first version, and a longer ruffle. The front was cut into two pieces at the fold line to allow a seam that created a v-neck, as in the dress that inspired my second attempt:

To allow for the edging around the neckline, the shoulders should have been raised by more than the 3" I allowed.  As far as my version of this dress, the sleeves came out nice, the sizing looks good. I even made a simple belt rather than the belt that is part of this pattern. After that, there was not enough fabric left to cut the bottom ruffle in the darker part of the print. So I ordered more fabric. It was on sale at Hobby Lobby for $9/yard. Cutting a 3 yard strip 18" deep along the edge produced the piece for the bottom tier.

This dress falls in an awkward in-between, in between light fabric that would be cool enough to wear in warm weather and heavy fabric that would make the length right for colder weather; in between casual at-home wear and less casual going out wear. I haven't worn it much. As a result, I have not attempted to make this pattern in the precious block-printed voile but have selected another pattern for that piece.

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