McCall’s 6801 Goes Rogue

By | September 29, 2015


I don’t want to jinx myself, but I feel like I’m on a roll! I just finished stitching McCalls 6801, and I think I’ve got another staple added to my closet.

This is a Tracy Reese branded pattern, and I was totally sucked in by the model photo. (The color-blocked sketch version…. eh, not so much.)  I’ve been waiting for the right fabric to make this. It just screams ITY to me, and I don’t have any on hand right now. Plus, I’ve made way too many dresses lately. I’m wearing them all, but a woman can’t live on dresses alone. This woman, at least, needs some separates.

With the exception of the blue ponte dress, I’m trying to be really thoughtful about what I need in my closet. I’m feeling very proprietary about my time and efforts. I don’t want experimental or artisanal, I want wearable!

I’ve been struggling to find tops in my closet to wear to work with jeans and trousers. I like a slim-fitting top with trousers, and most of my top patterns are pretty boxy or blousy. Cutting off this dress and making it into a top seemed like it would give me the slim silhouette I wanted with some interest in the crossover drapes.

I’m so glad the model photo shows this in a print, because I would’ve thought the many, many, MANY gathers of this dress wouldn’t have done justice to a print, but it works.

This is an Art Gallery knit purchased at Hart’s, and it’s the most expensive fabric I’ve ever purchased. No joke. I am serious about making keepers, and we’ll see how the indulgence plays out in long-term wearability.

Okay, on the pattern:

1. Overall, in terms of a finished product, I love it. It’s interesting, and the sweetheart neckline and yokes are flattering.
2. There is SO MUCH GATHERING in this design. Sheesh. I wasn’t being super-fussy about trimming off my thread tails, and 3/4 of the way through, I was drowning in stray threads everywhere. Be diligent, folks. It pays on this one.
3. OMG McCalls! The illustration for Step 9 is totally incorrect, and you suck so hard for letting that happen. If you go by the picture, which I did, you end up with the right side of the front sewn to the wrong side of the back when you attach the yokes. Thanks a lot, a-holes. (Probably uncalled for, but I was pissed at the time!)

And apparently, I have a very different way of sewing than most of the sewers online. Reading the reviews, it’s all, “Easy peasy! The directions are great! You won’t have any problems with this make!” So when I’m left totally confused and swearing up a storm, I feel like a complete idiot and an outlier. In my efforts to figure out how to attach the yokes, I finally found a review on PR that noted some confusion in attaching the yokes, and then another commenter specifically calling out the incorrect illustration in Step 9. Thank you both for saving my sanity! With that info, I was able to pinpoint where I was going wrong and fix the damn thing.

I think sewing comes a lot more naturally to many folks, because when the vast majority of reviewers are like, “Piece of cake! Perfect for beginners!”, I’m over here struggling and swearing and WTFing. Also, sorry Random YouTube Pattern Reviewer who only had nice things to say about how simple and totally beginner this pattern is. I said some regrettable things to you under my breath, and I apologize.

Also, a note on the sleeves: I basted in one gathered sleeve (as drafted in the pattern) and decided to nix the puff. This design did not need more gathers and volume, particularly in this print. I recut a different sleeve ( I went with Vogue 8593 yet again) and set it in. The sleeve I cut is a bit too small across the back, and it makes the yokes hover over my collarbone. I’ll need to fix that when I make this as a dress, but for this project, I’m over it.

All in all, wearing the shirt is a bit fussy. I keep pulling at the (self-imposed) raised yokes, and fussing with the gathers across the bust, and rearranging the ruching across the front. It’s worth the drama for such a cool look, but it’s not an effortless wear. Just saying.

Let’s talk budget. The trend is not good, folks. The last 2 items I’ve sewn are by far the most expensive things I’ve made. Like, ever. This top cost me $28.49  in fabric, and $2.99 in thread, for a total of $31.48. On the bright side, I’m totally motivated to wear this top a bunch of times to justify that expense, and I picked a print that will go with a lot of different bottoms in my closet.

I bought the most expensive fabric I’ve ever purchased in my life, because I’m trying to sew things that are awesome, not just affordable. This is a knit from Art Gallery fabrics, purchased at Hart’s in Santa Cruz. I really hated pulling the trigger and paying $18.99/yard, but I was committed to picking a print and knit that would create a top I would love and that would go with a variety of items I already have. Plus, the Art Gallery knit just felt the best–soft and with plenty of stretch.
Going to Hart’s is an overwhelming experience because OMG so much gorgeous fabric, and it’s definitely not as affordable as buying fabric online. That said, there was a significant difference in the quality of many of the knits that was not correlated to price. I might’ve bought a different fabric if I’d been shopping the store online, thinking that the high price would be a guarantor of quality, only to find it out on arrival that it’s crispy and stiff.

Shopping in person at Hart’s does not help my sewing budget, but at the same time, I think I’m breaking even by buying 1-2 pieces at a time in person and making things right away while I’m still inspired. By screening them for hand and weight and color in person, I don’t have those inevitable surprises that seem to go hand-in-hand with online fabric shopping. I know that every time I order 3-5 pieces online, one of them always ends up rotting in my stash for years because it’s not what I expected from the description.

Online vs in-person: it’s a conversation I’d love to have if anybody’s interested.

In the meantime, I heart this top. And not one person asked if I made it, which makes me think it does not look home-sewn. That, or nobody really cares about my shirt, and that’s not possible, right? Right. It’s gotta be the first one.

7 thoughts on “McCall’s 6801 Goes Rogue

  1. McCallPatternCompany (@McCallPatternCo)

    Hi! This top turned out great! We read about your frustrations with our instructions and were wondering if you would please take the time to send us an email. Maybe just elaborate what you said in # 3? Our quality assurance team meets regularly to review customer issues and determine if changes should be made.

    Also, would you mind pinning the things you make with our patterns to our Pinterest fan gallery? We love what you’re sewing!

    1. Sara in Stitches Post author

      Thanks for the feedback–I’d be happy to send an email. It’s great to know that customer feedback is listened to.

  2. Rikki

    What a gorgeous top, I love all the gathering! You have such a great figure too!:) I enjoyed reading your post. I’ve been trying to be more deliberate in my fabric purchases too as my stash is enormous (I think I have fabric is just about every room in our apartment, except the bathroom;). I’ve never actually purchased fabric online as shipping to Canada is rather expensive. I think it must be a lot cheaper in the U.S. I love visiting my local fabric store though, and I find it very helpful to see the fabric in person. Sometimes the print is great, but the fabric itself isn’t the best quality. Glad to see McCalls take interest in their instructions! I’m lost without clear illustrations!:p I have this pattern and I’m looking forward to using it.

    1. Rikki

      I’m always fiddling with gathers on ruched dresses too! Haha, sometimes its a pain, but they’re just so flattering!:)

    2. Sara in Stitches Post author

      If the stash starts to creep into the bathroom, only then do you have a problem, right? 😉 It’s a heartbreaker when you fall for a print, but not the actual fabric. Fortunately, there always seem to be about 20 other fabrics that I’m drooling over! Thanks for the kind comment–I totally recommend you put this pattern to use!

  3. Brenna

    Love your version of this! I probably would not have picked up this pattern as a dress, but I adore the shirt, and I agree, I need more form fitting shirts to wear to work.

    I’m totally with you on purchasing knits on-line. I’m very comfortable buying quilting fabrics on-line, as you generally know what you’re going to get, especially with certain brands. But I am always so nervous about buying knits on-line as you can’t touch them and see what kind of drape they have! But the stores around here never has as much variety as I’d like especially in knits, so it’s a trade-off, to say the least.


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