Questionable Sleeves, Party of One: McCall’s 7717 Pattern Review

You know, it must be frustrating at times to be a pattern designer. People make a bunch of edits, use inappropriate fabrics and pretty questionable methods, and then critique your design for not being perfect. So I’m not really critiquing McCall’s 7717, since I did all of those things. That said, I’m not a fan of the final dress — without some updates, that is.

This is a Laura Ashley branded pattern, which makes it extra funny that my husband referred to this as my “scandalous dress” after seeing me in it. Let’s just say that if you want to wear this dress to the office or church, you might want to consider adding a couple of inches to the hem and raising the v-neckline a couple inches as well. It’s pretty clear from the cleavage on the envelope that the low-cut look is intentional, so that wasn’t a surprise, and it’s not actually something I mind at all. (I’m still on my, “not-in-an-office-daily-I-do-what-I-want” kick.)

I think I should start with the edits I made first, in order to provide some context. They aren’t extensive by any means, but they did change the overall look and feel of the dress. The big change was that I made this in a knit — a lovely Liverpool knit from Cali Fabrics. I hadn’t worked with Liverpool knit before (because I’m a super late adopter on, like, everything) and wanted to give it a try. My opinion?

It’s awesome. It’s a thick, kind of clunky double knit, but the crepe-like texture keeps it safely out of ’70s double-knit territory. It has a nice body and weight, meaning that no lining is needed to smooth over bumps and lumps and it’s not transparent. So, with that in mind, I edited out the lining of this dress. Then, of course, I happily edited out the back zipper and cut the back bodice, midriff, and skirt pieces on a fold. Yay for fewer seams!

Fewer seams = more fun!

That made this a pretty simple sew, and the whole thing came together pretty quickly. I finished the neckline with bias tape. Thankfully I had just been practicing on another test garment and got a healthy refresher on bias tape finishing. (Meaning, I totally botched things up a few times on the practice garment. Whoops!) I still interfaced the midriff pieces per instructions, using a knit fusible interfacing. Mixed experience there: the interfacing removed a lot of the stretch, making this dress a wee bit challenging to take on and off, but I think the extra stability is worth it. I’m just not sure what the point of knit interfacing is if the stretch is compromised so much. User error, perhaps?

I also added a couple of darts in the back to finesse the fit a bit. I really need to start doing this on every garment, but I always forget in my new-project enthusiasm. Ideally, I would’ve made the edit to the pattern, not on the actual garment. Fortunately, the print on this fabric obscures them anyway. Actually, the print on this fabric obscures pretty much all the seaming details on this dress. The princess seams and midriff band are pretty much wasted on this print. (It reminds me of the fireworks I would draw as a kid by making successive rings of crayon hashes. Anyone else?)

Seriously, you can’t even see the details. Shrug.

Speaking of the midriff band, it looks like it’s designed to hit close to the natural waist, but ended up sitting higher on me. After trying on the bodice for a fitting, I was hoping it would all come out in the wash, but nope — this dress is more of an empire waist cut on me. Not really a problem, just not what I was expecting. I was expecting an A-line skirt, and that part totally works. I generally prefer a slim silhouette, but this dress has me thinking twice. With the combo of the knit, the print, and the A-line, I can let it all hang out in this dress. It’s super comfortable, and provides solid cover for a brunch buffet belly.

The sleeves are the showpiece of this dress, and that’s where my awesome, comfy, cozy Liverpool glitched out. (Sidenote: I couldn’t get the word “Liverpudlian” out of my head while working on this.) When I said that the thick double-knit didn’t look like it was from the ’70s, I really meant, unless you add giant bishop sleeves. And then you will look like you picked up this dress at a kitschy thrift shop.

Giant sleeve alert! Watch where you’re swinging those things, ma’am!

I don’t think it’s a trainwreck, but I don’t like it. Also, the cuffs ended up being too wide for my scrawny wrists, so that’s not helping the hang of the sleeves. I could have gone back and unpicked the cuffs and tried to rework that detail, but I just didn’t care for the way the bulky knit draped when gathered so tightly. My solution?

Be lazy. (As per usual.)

This is what I do when my husband says, “Act natural.”

I just pushed the cuffs up over my elbows, let the sleeves bag out, and I like it! To me, it just looks like an intentional elbow-length bell sleeve. Plus, I kind of like that this way, I can’t get the sleeve caught on anything — it’s locked down and baby-proofed!

Confession: I didn’t actually finish the cuffs with buttonholes and buttons. I was working against the clock to try to finish this and pack it for a quick vacation. I just stitched a button through all thicknesses on each cuff and called it a day. Thank goodness! It would’ve been a waste of time to go to the effort, as it turns out. Laziness wins again! Sadly, this dress did not get a vacation debut, since it was too damn cold. We went to Carmel during winter’s last gasp. Instead of getting sweet pics with the ocean in the background and feet in the sand, we huddled in our jackets on the beach for about 10 minutes, and you get driveway pics instead. Shrug. I feel like that’s really the story of this dress. Great intentions not quite realized, but a decent time had by all anyway.

Just ignore the gigantic bruise on my leg. No idea where that came from.

Welcome to the closet, my Obscenely Comfy Statement Sleeve Sack!

DIY Raglan Tee into Funnel Neck Pullover

It started as a “Hmm… I wonder if this would work” hunch, and turned into a great project!

I’ve been having the most fun tweaking patterns lately. I’m not super into the idea of drafting my own blocks, but I just can’t resist the urge to add my own spin to pretty much any pattern. Now that I have a little more time to dedicate to sewing, it’s all about playful experimentation!

I was curious about whether I could turn a regular raglan tee into a funnel-neck top by just widening the neck band. Answer: yes!

Wet hair, don’t care

The pattern I used is an old early-aughts McCall’s, but you could do this with any raglan tee pattern. I’m not going to do a whole tutorial since that’s not my thing, and I’m not sure anyone wants it. That said, here’s a quick rundown of the steps I took to turn a basic raglan pattern into a DIY funnel-neck pattern.

  • Added a number of inches (maybe 7ish?) to the neckband pattern piece, then doubled that so I could fold it over and stitch it to the neckline like a cuff
  • Added two buttonholes in the top front of the funnel-neck and created a casing by just adding a line of stitches about 5/8″ from the top fold
  • Inserted cording through the buttonholes and knotted the ends
  • Added cuffs to both sleeves, breaking stitching along the cuff seam to create thumbholes
  • Added a band of doubled fabric at the bottom and attached like a cuff
  • Added a kangaroo pocket to the front

That’s it! It was pretty easy, since none of the parts needed any real shape or actual “drafting,” It was more about just measuring the existing pieces and, for this particular fabric, matching the stripes where possible. I’m thinking McCall’s 7093 could also be a good candidate for this funnel-neck treatment!

I’m finding this top so wearable, especially as a spring transition item. I just wish I had yoga pants that went along with it, so I could go full soccer-mom.

When you line up your pocket too well and it disappears!

The funny thing for me is the fabric. I bought this heathered windowpane knit fabric, and was a bit let down at some discoloration along the selvedge and throughout the piece. That’s when this fabric was downgraded from, “can’t wait to make something awesome” to “I guess I’ll just experiment with it.” And after I cut out the front, I noticed that portion of the fabric is a shade or so lighter than the rest of it! I was expecting this garment to be recycled almost immediately.

Turns out, the discoloration is a feature, not a bug. My mom actually thought it was a RTW garment because the slight two-tone look isn’t something home sewists can easily replicate. So, with mom-approval, I wholeheartedly embraced this top. While I’m excited to make another (I have some French terry lined up… yum!), it looks like this garment will be sticking around for awhile.

See? I promise the kangaroo pocket is there, just extremely well-matched!

As far as changes to the original pattern, I narrowed the sleeves quite a bit (possibly too much), shortened the sleeves before adding cuffs, and definitely needed the bottom band added because it was pretty short as drafted.

Finally, let’s talk budget. The fabric was a steal at $3 a yard (I picked up 3, so that I could make something more complex if needed), and the navy cording cost $1.25. At a total of $10.25, I have a lounge-y top, some boxer shorts, and about a yard leftover. (A sleep shirt? A regular tee? Playclothes for Baby JuJu?) What looked like a waste of money is already paying for itself. I love it when that happens!

Welcome to the closet, my Surprisingly Successful Funnel(neck) of Love!

Longline Cardi Love: McCall’s 6803

Dudes, longline cardigans are everywhere. Seriously. And I want one.

There’s the Driftless, the Annie, the Kinder, the Blackwood…

And what do I do? Tweak a generic Big 4 pattern to get what I want. Because that’s what I do.

While I love the Blackwoods I keep seeing in my Insta feed, I already had a cardigan pattern on file — McCall’s 6803.

This model will cut you. Don’t try her.

Since I love tweaking patterns, I wanted to try to create the look of the RTW and indie cardigans I’ve been seeing with something I already had on hand. I used a hacci sweater knit from Girl Charlee, rolled up my sleeves, and went to work.

Turns out, it really didn’t require that much sleeve-rolling or work. I just lengthened the front, back, pocket, and band pieces by as much as the fabric would allow, and that pretty much gave me what I wanted. I only had two yards of this fabric, so I was limited in how much length I could add. I measured a RTW longline cardi I bought a few months ago (before I started sewing again) and approximated the length to that.

Spoiler alert: it worked. This is exactly the look I was going for, and I’m glad I was able to use something from my (overflowing? extensive? superfluous?) pattern collection. This sweater is so cozy and I love the larger pockets. So good for holding my phone and burying my hands in!

Much cozy. Very pockets.

I do wonder how long this piece will last. The fabric went through the wash well, and is SO soft! It’s almost… too soft. I know, I know, ridiculous! I’m just concerned it’s going to pill too soon, even though it hasn’t shown any signs yet. If it does, at least I know how to snag myself another longline cardi, since this project was super easy to make. I also wasn’t sure about the chevron print. I know chevrons are super played out, but I was still drawn to this fabric and the richness of the print. In the end, I like it, so I don’t really care what the current status of chevron is in the fashion world. (Seriously, I wear orthopedic shoes. I don’t think the fashion world considers my opinion all that relevant.)

Action Shot!

Besides the length, the only other changes I made to the pattern were to narrow the sleeves quite a bit and also shorten them. This is a unisex pattern, which in my experience, means that the smallest size is still too big for smaller women. Knowing that, I wasn’t surprised that I needed to remove a ton of width from the sleeves, and let’s face it, I’m also a sucker for skinny sleeves. Oh! I also removed the buttonholes and buttons to better mimic the RTW versions I was into. Next time I make this, if I need another version or a replacement (solid color? yes, so necessary!), I’ll try to tweak the band at the back neck, where it totally gapes on me.

Neckband, what are you even doing? Also: camoflage sleeves!

I would also add some length back to the sleeves. I swear I tried it on and marked the appropriate length, but the sleeves in the finished product are a bit too short. Not actually too short but, like, too short to constantly tuck my hands up into, which is what I was going for. Oh well. Appropriate sleeve length it is then.

Finally, budget. The fabric was $12.60 for two yards, with no notions needed. Not bad, and I’m guessing I’ll have my cost per wear down to under $1 (always my goal) before the end of spring.

Welcome to the closet, my Longline Love!