Monday, December 5, 2022

McCalls 7981, View D (new) and View A (toile)

Warning: The waistband on this pattern is 4" longer than listed on the pattern piece. Although it matches the other pattern pieces, it is larger than the lengths in the size chart. However, the discrepancy between the size chart and the pattern pieces can be accounted to ease. If you don't want ease at the waistline, size down. Do not refer to the measurement printed on the waistband, at least in the L-XL sizes. I prefer elastic in the back of my waistband and use the larger size to allow for it. However, it is nice to know after sewing the toile that I don't need the size XL in this pattern.

Another revelation from sewing the toile is button placement: Reviews of this pattern report a problem with gaping between the top two buttons. That problem ocurred with my flannel toile. It's because the buttonhole is placed horizontally on the waistband and vertically on the button band. In that case, the head of the buttonhole on the waistband should line up with the buttonholes on the buttonband, allowing the button to slide all the way over and still be lined up with the other buttons and the button band to align with the buttonhole band. In the toile, I centered the waistband buttonhole over the button band buttonholes. That didn't work because the pressure at the waist will make the button slide over the the head (left side as worn) of the buttonhole. The simple fix was to move the button over so that the bands align. However, on this and subsequent versions, I will place the waistband buttonhole further away from the edge of the buttonband and make sure the button is sewn in the correct spot to allow it to sit at the head of the buttonhole and still be lined up with the other buttons. Still, a fastener at the bottom of the waistband might help line up the button band with the waistband.

About a year ago, I made a wearable toile in this pattern, using View A, with an additional 6" in length. That made it between View A and B. I cut a size XL, even though L would have been large enough. Since there are only two sizes in the size block I purchased, it made sense to use the larger size for this wearable toile to allow for alterations and to take advantage of the drape of the fabric. This length used the full complement of 7 buttons, plain off white ones that were left over from a sweater project.

The fabric was purchased at JoAnn and was 3 1/4 yards of cotton flannel in a printed plaid, 44" wide, $11.90. After machine washing and drying, it shrank to 40" wide and 3 yards long. There is at least a yard left over, so the actual cost is nearer $8. The contrast fabric is a brown Buffalo plaid flannel remnant from JoAnn (161008103, 3/4 yard, 86 cents).

All pieces were cut out with the fabric flat, except for the back which was cut on the fold, folded along a vertical stripe. Nonetheless, the plaid matching was difficult and is not as good as it should be. Matching the pockets to the exterior fabric, which meant cutting two of each fabric, did work well, since the side seams sit at an angle and the pocket and side plaid pattern can not be matched the full length of the seam. Matching the front button bands to the front panels was close--the horizontal lines of the plaid match and the vertical lines would have matched if I were happy with leaving the seam of the band that the buttons are sewn to exposed. I was not, so the plaid misses matching vertically by 3/8".

The hem method was a simple blind hem 1 1/2" deep with the button band folded over the hem. I put tailor tacks in the button bands to mark button and buttonhole placement. However, the 1 1/4" buttonholes were adjusted to the button size to 1 1/8" by the machine and the placement is 3" apart. The tailor tacks, which took some time, might not be necessary, especially in a small plaid like this one, where the buttons can be placed along the lines of the plaid.

There is a little extra fabric in back waistband that is taken up by 14" of elastic which is sewn down at the sides (where a side seam would be). The elastic could have been a little shorter, but not any longer than that. Adding the elastic made it a 32" waistband.

The buttonholes were very quick and easy on the Janome. I will be looking for more patterns with buttonholes now. The buttonholes in the beige thread that I used for the skirt are quite obvious on the plaid. Black would have been a better choice since they run down the black/gray stripe. It is a relief that they are even and tidy, since uneven buttonholes would have been noticeable.

Even with the difficulty of plaid matching and button bands, it is very likely that I will make this pattern again. I have just the right amount of tan linen to make View D, no matching required.

Now for the second version, a size L cut from view D, but 3" shorter. This used 2 1/2 yards of 56" wide linen, in beige, nearly 6 oz. (5.88) per sq yd, so it is heavy. Cost was $32.38 from Taos Adobe Quilting. It washed and dried beautifully, even smoothing out some variations in the weave that were like slubs. There was just one large slub that hangs ominously from a tiny hole at the lower back of the skirt. With a dab of fray check, it may stay put and not fray. This fabric does not fray as badly as a thinner linen does, but it still frays, leading me to overcast stitch the unenclosed seam allowances. It is too heavy a fabric for french seams and too light in color for a contrasting Hong Kong binding finish that might show through to the front. (In my view, a Hong Kong finish isn't worth the effort if you can't use a cute contrasting material.) Assembly was much simpler without having to worry about matching plaid patterns. After stitching the back seam and side seams, including pockets, the the hem is next. Wait, what?

The hem is sewn before the button and buttonhole bands are attached, simply because they are turned under around the hem. Although the different order of assembly is not difficult, it precludes the ability to hang the skirt, letting the fabric stretch into place, before hemming. As a result, the hem may look a bit uneven. However, the fullness of the skirt may disquise most problems.

After the waistband is attached, there is slip stitching--down the bands, around the hem and around the waistband, about 6 yards of hand sewing. Actually, the hem is supposed to be topstitched, but if you're slip stitching everything else, why not the hem?

The waistband is a puzzle. Even after stay stitching the skirt at the waist, the waistband is too short. Perhaps if the stay stitching is done immediately after cutting the fabric, it will reduce the size of the waist. However, the instructions put the stay stitching off until the skirt is assembled. At least the stay stitching can be used to ease the skirt into the waistband. Finally, putting elastic through the back waistband brought the 36" waistband in to 32-33".

View D is quite long, would be a maxi skirt on me, so I cut it 3" shorter. The result, at 31", it is a little long. It is recommended that a skirt hem hit your leg at the narrowest part in order to be flattering. (!?Flattering in what way, should it make your leg look thinner or more muscular?) For me that would be 28" for a below-the-knee length and 34" for a maxi skirt. The buttons I have chosen are smaller than required, but I have them, they match, so on they go. The eight buttons are 3 1/2" apart, a little closer together than the pattern calls for the larger buttons.
The vest is a recently completed knitting project, something quick from leftover yarn. I thought I would have to make a top to wear with this skirt, but it turns out that my hand-knitted sweaters all look great with this skirt.

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