Category Archives: McCalls

Magical McCall 7445

You know it’s a true love sewing project when a) I peel myself out of bed a little early on a school day to photograph them in the semi-dark for the old bloggo and b) I want to wear them so much, I do so even on a highly weather-inappropriate day. It’s close to freezing here in London and here I am, flashing a bit of ankle in my snazzy new pants.


These are the wide-leg cropped pants (yes, more!) from McCall 7445, which I got – and is still currently – half off at Minerva Crafts. This is a design by Melissa Watson for the Palmer-Pletsch line, and I actually discovered the pattern via Melissa’s Instragram feed showing her own versions of the pattern. Look at her silk velvet pair in action – swoon! I made view B, which has an exposed front zip and a waist facing instead of a waistband.

Fun fact time – Melissa is Pati Palmer’s daughter, and in case you didn’t know Palmer-Pletsch are known for being the goddesses of fitting. They’ve written several books on the subject and pioneered the tissue-fitting system. An unexpected bonus of this pattern is that the instructions have thorough guidance on how to tissue-fit the pants and make common alterations – flat/full butt adjustments, sway back, crotch curve adjustments, that sort of thing. The pants also have a one-inch seam allowance on the side seams for easier fitting. I assume all of the Palmer-Pletsch line patterns have the same?


As it happens, the size 14 was basically perfect on me out of the packet – or they look pretty good to me, anyway – so I didn’t need to use any of the enclosed advice. After basting at the given one-inch I ended up shaving about an extra half-inch or so off the waistline but that’s it in terms of adjustments. My measurements are actually a little over a Big 4 size 14, but they come up typically large, and I was also using a fabric with a slight stretch, a fine needlecord from Croft Mill, which meant I wanted to get them nice and snug. I also took one inch off the length.

They came together super fast, a few hours on Sunday evening. Turns out exposed zip flies are the easiest ever! It sounds gushy but I just love every detail of this design. It’s pretty rare I make a pattern exactly as designed without fiddling around with it, but these really are the one. It makes sense I guess since Melissa seems like a super stylish lady from her Instagram feed… alright, now I’m definitely gushing.


Internal details (excuse the fluff, needlecord loves it!): I love the squared-off pockets, which I lined with leftover silk from my Helmi dress, and the sleek self-faced waistline. I’m gonna make another pair of these pretty fast in some olive green heavy crepe I’ve got in my stash, perhaps with a concealed size zip.

And they’re a second tick off the 2017makenine list, hurrah. Yay for pants that make me want to dance!

Two simple smocks

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Here are the two full finished dresses from my no-flip facing tutorial post. They’re both very simple loose smock shapes in some fun prints, ideal for autumn and winter with tights and a cardi.

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The first and most recent is another Megan Nielsen Sudley dress made from a lovely new season Liberty tana lawn print called Moon Dust. (I’m going gaga over quite a lot of the AW prints this year – constellations and clouds and tigers, oh my.)

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It’s funny to compare it to my first Sudley and see how the use of a very fluid viscose vs a slightly more crisp lawn affects the silhouette. The skirt stands away from the body more in this one, making it rather more loose and bell-shaped.

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I did the above-elbow sleeve length option this time and also dipped the front neckline lower, omitting the keyhole detail from the back. and of course, instead of self-lining the bodice I did a no-flip facing !

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For this dress I used the bodice from McCall 7080. I was attracted to the cute waistline tuck in the pattern, however it turned out really weird-looking – bulky and unflattering – so I unpicked it and got left with a much more simple silhouette that’s basically the same as the Sudley.

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The fit on the bodice and sleeve is really quite nice though so I may use it as a block again. I cut the skirt midi length originally which was a bit overwhelming in the print, so I hacked some off. I might go a tiny bit shorter still.

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This fabric is particularly special to me because I bought it on my birthday back in January, when I took myself off on a solo daytrip to Brighton. I had an amazing lunch at Silo, trudged the chilly beach from pier to pier, and of course popped into one of my very favourite fabric shops, Ditto, where I bought this stuff. It’s a silk poplin and the print is so beautiful, weird and unique – the very definition of a conversational print. It’s long out of stock but Ditto has another silk poplin in a monochrome globe print which I’m tempted to snap up too as this stuff sews and wears like a dream.

What are you sewing this weekend? I’m feeling quite uninspired at the moment, perhaps because I hate winter and cold-weather dressing, but I might dig out some knits and make a couple of turtleneck sweaters.

Sew Bossy: McCalls 6960

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I’ve been bossed! I’m sure you’ve heard of the Sew Bossy initiative started by Heather, but if not, the idea is you team up with another sewing blogger and swap a secret package in the post containing everything they need to make a garment. They HAVE to make the project just as you ask, then both projects are blogged! I was really excited to be challenged to a Sew Bossy swap by Emily of Seymour, after she saw my comment on Morgan and Sally‘s swap saying how fun it looked. I love Emily’s laid-back, crisp and minimal style so it seemed like a good match. I had fun picking out her kit and nervously sent it off, hoping she’d like it, while awaiting my own from over the pond.

Sew bossy: McCalls 6960

I didn’t have long to wait, and the package was definitely a surprise! Firstly there were some lovely local Washington coffee beans – I’m a big home coffee drinker so that was an awesome gift. The pattern Emily chose for me is McCalls 6960, a summery cami with a swingy shape and some very cool strap options. I was really pleased with this as I rarely buy top patterns in favour of dresses, but definitely need more of them in my wardrobe and am on a summer top kick at the moment. The fabric is a breezy rayon challis in a colour and print very out of my usual comfort zone – I don’t typically do stripes, brights or white, eek! But it felt delicious, and she also thoughtfully included some cotton voile to use as lining/underlining, plus matching interfacing and thread. Challenge accepted!

Sew bossy: McCalls 6960

Here’s my bossed make! I went for view C of the pattern which has a very cool T-shaped chunky back strap. I considered the the stripe placement across the body as I cut the fabric, placing the wider strips of colour across the top and bottom, with narrower stripes in the midsection.

Sew bossy: McCalls 6960

You’ll notice a bit of enforced pattern deviation. My first baste-together showed it was way too big all over (even though I sized down to account for oversizedness) with some pretty epic gaping around the neckline. I pleated out about 2″ of excess fabric at the front, topstitching it all the way down to form a faux button band. I actually think this detail really makes the top now, especially as I picked out some jaunty little anchor buttons from my stash to tie into the nautical stripes. I love a happy accidental ‘design decision’.

Sew bossy: McCalls 6960

I like the flash of shoulder blade in the back and it was surprisingly easy to fit – no adjustments needed, even for my weird shoulders and back. I thought the stripes might look odd across the curved top strap so cut it out of one of the wide solid red stripes in the fabric.

Sew bossy: McCalls 6960

Sew bossy: McCalls 6960

I gave myself some extra fun by following my own bad advice and completely discarding the pattern instructions. I’m always turned off when a pattern has lots of stop-and-starting of seams, ie for the back straps there was lots of ‘stitch to the marked dot, turn right sides out, press in the seam allowance and finish the seam from the outside’. Way too fiddly, so I attempted to bag out as much of it as possible. I came unstuck a bit at one point when I sewed a giant Möbius strip which wouldn’t turn right sides out again, but unpicking one shoulder seam and handsewing it shut again sorted it out. I ended up with a nice clean finish on the inside so it was worth a bit of extra brainpower. The cotton voile is a dreamy lining fabric, pressed beautifully and feels really good to wear.

Sew bossy: McCalls 6960

As I was making this I had guilty thoughts about overdyeing the finished garment black or navy to make it more wearable for me, but actually the cheery colours and stripes are growing on me, especially for summer and holidays. What do you guys think? – I feel like you sometimes know my taste better than I do! Either way I’m really glad to have done Sew Bossy and been pushed to try things I wouldn’t normally pick for myself, and I’ll certainly be using the pattern again. Thanks for being a great swap partner, Emily! Be sure to head over to her blog to see what I bossed her into making – it’s gorgeous, if I say so myself :)

McCalls 6923 summer playsuit

Floral romper

You can tell it’s getting warmer here – I have summer sewing on my mind! I’ve been hankering after some more shorts and culottes because I find them much easier to wear than skirts. After yet another failed attempt at the Tania culottes (this pattern just looks horrible on me, I have accepted it now) I cast my net a bit further and found this cute thing.

Floral romper

It’s McCalls 6923, a sweet romper and babydoll dress with skirt and culotte variations. Like usual, looking past the horrible envelope fabric options was required (though I like the idea of a lace-overlay bodice version) but from the line drawings I could see that this would be a handy little pattern to have. My main issue with the Tanias is that there is just too much fabric in there, but these have just enough fullness to create a skirt effect without being a ridiculous full circle on each leg.

Floral romper

I made the culotte version up in a fabric from my stash, a light drapey viscose print bought from Fabricland in Brighton. I knew I wanted to play with the direction of the floral stripes, and even though I barely had enough fabric I managed to make a nice placement across the bodice, sleeves and shorts. This fabric was really nice to work with and feels lovely and cool to wear. I spritzed it with spray starch before cutting and sewing the hems for a bit of extra stability: this stuff is my new sewing BFF, it really helps to give floaty fabrics a bit more body and crispness where needed as well as preventing any shifting around.

Floral romper

It’s a quick and easy sew, though I didn’t really follow the instructions as I have my own weird methods for doing linings and zips by now. The fit is alright, but I’m going to make some improvements for next time. It’s too wide across the shoulders and upper back, and my sway lower back is doing its usual weird things to the waistline. For a casual summer romper I can deal with it though. There is a (pink!) CB zip in there, no close up as I did a really bad job with it. I’m going to take it out and re-do it. My only beef with rompers is that you really need a zip as you can’t pull the crotch over your head, ha ha.

Floral romper

Did you notice this boo-boo yet? – due to a silly cutting mistake, I had to piece the bodice to make it longer. Luckily I had an off-cut of just the right size and pattern position to fit in quite seamlessly. How often does that happen?!

Floral romper
Floral romper

The (original-length) bodice is lined in a very lightweight stretch mesh, because I wanted to add barely any warmth/bulk but to get the nice clean neckline edge that a lining creates. Again, I spray-starched the mesh to make it easier to work with. I bought a bunch of this mesh from Rolls n Rems in white and navy as it’s a handy lining to have around for summer frocks.

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I can tell this playsuit is a winner because it got thrown into rotation as soon as it was off the sewing machine. In a stroke of good timing, I went to pick up my rather matchy-matchy shiny new bike from Nissa today, and gave the playsuit a road-test in the process. It performed admirably, staying happily in place for my little test spin to Clerkenwell and back home. Now to sew an army more rompers to take me through summer!

PS If I tempted you by the Zippy Top pattern, there is 40% off See Kate Sew’s shop until Saturday with the code SUMMER.