Party Pants Pattern Review: McCall’s 7726

I’ll start with the tl;dr — the pants are super fun to make and wear.

I planned on skipping this pattern, even though it caught my eye on its release. I think pleated-front pants are, in general, a mistake — thus, the palazzo style I went for with my #catpants. (Also excellent party pants for the record.)

Then, I discovered this was That’s Sew Monica’s pick for #sewyourview, and I was in. I’m so glad I gave these a try! Okay, first, the positives:

  1. The silhouette is fun, in a cool, “I-don’t-care-about-fascist-figure-flattery-I-do-what-I-want-who-needs-a-torso-anyway” kind of way.
  2. The pattern is enjoyable to sew up and everything comes together smoothly. Maybe I’m just getting better, but I also think that the instructions were solid and the pattern pieces well-drafted.
  3. The pockets are spot-on perfect! I’m not super obsessed with pockets, but I’m in love with these. They hit at just the right height and the pocket bag is a perfect length. It’s so natural to have my hands in these pockets, and they are ideally sized to hold my phone without creating weird lumps and bumps. Having added some ill-advised pockets to garments through the years, I can appreciate an uber-functional pocket when I find one!
  4. My hands fit so perfectly!

  5. The zip fly deserves a call-out for being easy to install. I botched the last zip fly I tried (in this romper), but this one was a total breeze. Of course, I did also watch Brittany J Jones’s Sew with Me video and found it helpful. That said, this zip inserted beautifully on the first try.

Another plus? The fabric. I love this fabric! I struggled for years (I’m realizing this only retrospectively) to match patterns to the right fabric. I was always trying to retrofit something to work with a fabric I had in the stash that wasn’t really the best fit, or vice versa. Because I’m so damned cheap, I rarely ever bought fabric specifically to go with a pattern. I bought fabric that was on super sale, then stashed it for some unknown use later. Buying fabric for specific patterns has made such a big difference in my end results, and these pants are a case in point.

La-la-love this fabric!

The fabric is a cotton/linen twill by Milly, purchased from Cali Fabrics. (I placed a big order and am really, really happy with the quality!) It’s suitable as a bottom-weight, but has a bit of a soft hand that works well with the pleats. And it’s just super rad! It has a splash of neon yellow, but is still a bit of a wild neutral. Since I opted for the sash instead of the carriers, I used a full two yards to make these. Both pattern and fabric are working overtime here!

Okay, onto construction notes:

  1. I stitched up my usual size 10 and these fit. Barely. Yikes! I’m not surprised, based on the finished garment waist measurements, but it’s a close fit. Just something to keep in mind — these might run a tiny bit small. On the other hand, there are eight pleats with which you can tweak the fit at the waist, so don’t sweat it too much. (That was my plan — let out or take in as needed, and hope that they relax a bit with wearing. Seems to be working.)
  2. I actually cut a 10 at the waist and graded down to a 6 at the hip and through the leg. That part definitely worked for me to keep the look relaxed but not Hammer-pant-esque.
  3. Just a warning: if you suffer from Concave Butt Syndrome (known colloquially as Flatass), these pants will not do you any favors. You may or may not care. I don’t. But these definitely flatter women with curves in back!
  4. CBS victims, unite!

  5. There was one direction for the zip fly that called for inserting the zipper stop at the large circle. I couldn’t find that large circle to save my life. Am I blind? What is going on? Either way, there’s a healthy margin of error since there’s a bar and hook at the top anyway. Don’t spend too much time worrying about this if you have Selective Large Circle Blindness as well.
  6. I eschewed all top-stitching (called for on the pockets and pleats) since my machine needs maintenance before it’ll do a non-gnarly top-stitch, and it won’t show up in this print anyway.
  7. I took the hem up an additional 1-1.5″ than drafted. I wanted them to look intentionally cropped, but just barely. As drafted, you have a bit of room to play with the hem length. (I’m about 5’6″, for what it’s worth.)

Also, the marking on this pattern is key. I hate marking. I was taught to mark with snips and pins, and sometimes it creates a real headache. I decided to whip out my Crayola Washable Marker and just transfer markings that way and it was SO MUCH FUN! It was easy to mark (on the wrong side of the fabric), and equally easy to find my markings later. I also feel like it’s not 100% accurate, but pretty good, since I don’t end up transferring from pin to pin to pin. I’m going to get more creative with my markings in the future in the hopes of enjoying the process and being more accurate. Anyone want to start a betting pool on how long it is before I accidentally ruin a garment with “creative” marking?

Alright, time to wind this up! Love the pants, love the fabric, love the process — total win. I wore these the day after I finished them, and can’t wait to wear them again. Total summer staple!

Welcome to the closet, my Pleated Party Pants!

Blue and White Boatneck: McCall’s 6755

I’ve been avoiding writing about this top. Usually I love the reflection that comes after a completed project. I just, uh… don’t have a lot to say about this one.

The pattern is McCall’s 6755. This is a Fashion Star branded pattern, from the good old days when McCall’s was trying to compete with Simplicity’s Project Runway licensing, and Jessica Simpson was still relevant. Pretty sure I bought this to have a cute, basic top pattern on hand, and well, that’s pretty much exactly what it is. (The skirt is rad, but I’ve never been able to commit to three coordinating fabrics for it. Maybe someday, but probably not.)

This pattern is designed for a woven, but I opted to use a knit. The blue and white knit is from Girl Charlee, and I got it for a steal. Seriously. And since this top takes less than a yard, I still have some fun scraps to use up. I treated the fabric like a woven, and used woven fabric for the neckline facings.

Dude, I nailed the print placement on this top!

The features of this top that caught my eye were the French darts and back button placket. Oh, that back button placket. I knew I was in for trouble when (with fabric already cut out) I checked the reviews on Pattern Review and saw that fellow sewers had issues with the instructions for the placket. (“Nonexistent” was, I think, the term used.) So it was no surprise when it came time to assemble the placket and I was left scratching my head.

I’ll be honest, I completely botched the placket, and I don’t even know what happened. The end result is shockingly not bad (meaning only not visually horrific), but… there’s no placket. I mean, the fabric just pretty much lined up along the back center seam. It’s not supposed to do that. I decided not fight with it, and just stitched it that way. If I was making this in an elegant fabric and really wanted to highlight that detail, I would’ve overhauled. In an everyday t-shirt, it was not worth a fight. The two sides overlapped enough to accommodate buttons & buttonholes, so boom — done.

Then there were the buttonholes. My machine is in desperate need of maintenance, as the tension is super out of whack, and the basic checks and fixes aren’t correcting the problem. The buttonhole feature is also giving me issues. Two out of the three buttonholes went hincky. Since this neckline fits over the head easily, I didn’t fuss with them. The top buttonhole is functional, and the bottom two are decorative, and I stitched the buttons on through all layers. Sure, I’d rather that the workmanship on this garment was better, but really? It has zero effect on wearability, and no one is ever going to notice or even realize.

But seriously, where did the placket go and why does my seam look so crooked?!

What’s good about this pattern? Um, it’s a nice length. You can leave it out or tuck it in. It has a lovely high neckline. (Though it kind of rides up easily, especially when you’re layering with cardigans and such.) The sleeves are cute, though the armholes are too low. (Seriously, no one needs to see flashes of my ugly nursing bra.)

Low, armholes, but I seem pretty happy about it...

The whole thing comes together pretty easily, and it’s a good better-than-basic tee option that would work in a variety of fabrics (cute cotton, elegant linen and shantung, rayon, novelty knits, etc). I like this garment, but I can’t recommend this pattern. If you have it in your collection and want to try something new, I’d say go for it. (And let me know how to do the back placket if it works for you!) Otherwise, I wouldn’t recommend seeking this one out — at least not for the top.

Tuck that top!

I realize I used to talk about the budget for each project, but stopped doing that somewhere along the way. The fabric for this cost $3, and the buttons were another $3, making this a total of $6. That means it comes in under the $8 I subtract from the cost of any project before calculating cost-per-wear, and my cost-per-wear is already less than my $1 goal. (I discussed my dorky tracking system previously — you can read Sewing Spreadsheet Nerds Unite here.) To top it off, I’ve already worn it twice, and it’s been a comfy (if not easy to coordinate) addition to my it’s-okay-if-Baby-JuJu-spits-up-on-this top collection.

So, finally wrapped up! Welcome to the closet, my Boatnecked Budget-Friendly Top!

Crazy Sweater Party: Simplicity 8089 Batwing Top and Simplicity 1072 Pencil Skirt Reviews

In my newfound postnatal sewing bliss (seriously, it’s been a huge step forward in feeling like myself again), I’ve been sewing completely out of stash. I’ve made a streak of 11 garments (some underthings and selfless sewing, so not all blogged) from fabric I already had on hand — in some cases, for over a decade. Instead of going for an even dozen, I decided to lose my mind and binge on a ton of new fabric.

While there’s some gold in the stash, I didn’t have more than a couple of knit pieces, both of which are not really my style anymore. I am living in knits lately in order to keep up with Baby JuJu. (So much rolling and she is just about ready to crawl!) I could keep sewing wovens and make some great garments, but I want to make the types of pieces I reach for week after week — the types of things that feel comforting when I’m tired and stressed and don’t have energy to want to look good.

I didn’t end up spending a lot since I snagged some great deals, but it was definitely the biggest one-time fabric purchase I’ve ever made. Rather than having some detailed plan, I grabbed mostly fabrics that just caught my attention, which means I ended up with a big stack of prints. The goal is to just have fun sewing it all up, and to go ahead and really sew it all — no sitting on things waiting for the perfect pattern or inspiration. Just sew it up with no regrets, make some questionable choices, make some awesome choices, have fun, and don’t take any of it too seriously.

(Yeah, we’ll see it how goes. Will keep you posted.)

I ordered a couple of hacchi knits to make transitional pieces as we head into spring, and this print just caught my eye. I knew it might turn out to be not-so-great in person, but my what-the-hell buying spree dictated that I order some and find out. I ended up settling on Simplicity 8089, since I’ve been wanting to sew it up for over a year. I love the batwing sleeves and slouchy style! Look at me, being carefree with my fabric! (Picture me pretending to be carefree while actually biting my nails.)

Okay, enough preamble. Here’s the deal: this pattern is hella easy to stitch up. Like, super duper crazy easy. I mean, patterns labeled “easy to sew” should be, but that’s not always the case. There’s a front, a back, a neckband, and a cuff. And that’s it. The sleeves are cut on, so no setting them in, and also no waistband to achieve the look, just a few nicely drafted pattern pieces.

Flying squirrel pose!

A few quick notes:

*The sleeve cuffs are narrow. I have chicken arms, and they’re tight on me. If you have any doubt, measure the pattern piece ahead of time — it’s an easy check, and totally worth it. I like my sleeves to fit closely and almost always have to narrow sleeves, so I actually loved that it was drafted that way out of the gate.

*The neckline is a bit of an in-between size. It’s not quite big enough to feel intentionally off-the-shoulder, but it’s big enough to expose your bra straps when you’re not paying attention. Not really an issue, just worth nothing.

*Uhh… I don’t actually have any more notes. It fits as expected, and the directions offered no curveballs. Win?

Casually staring at the exterior of my apartment, like you do

I ended up having a lot of fabric left over. I cleaned up my stash piles a few days earlier, and realized that a lot of my “stash” is just large leftover pieces. You know, big enough to make something but not big enough to make just any old thing. So, I’m on a no-scraps mission! I considered making a more spring-ish top, but settled on a matching pencil skirt.

This was also a Simplicity “Easy to Sew” pattern and — damn!! — they aren’t kidding! This skirt was so ridiculously easy. Again, it should be, but I’m always surprised when pattern companies don’t find ways to make things overly complicated. The front and back share the same pattern piece, so don’t expect any shaping, but that’s what the stretch is for.

Nary a dart in sight!

I ended up added a lining and attaching the waistband differently than directed, so it could have been even simpler. (I opted to attach the waistband casing so that no seams would show on the inside, in contrast to the directions, which have you just stitch the waistband to the skirt right sides together and call it a day. Good job on keeping it simple, Simplicity, but I don’t want to see those seams!)

I really can’t recommend this skirt enough for beginners. It’s fun to make, the end product is super wearable, fit issues are easy to diagnose and fix, you can finish it quickly, and make it in a ton of different fabrics and lengths and no one would realize it’s the same skirt. No need to make crappy aprons and dodgy t-shirts — make yourself a sexy pencil skirt, and instantly get over any (wildly unnecessary) fear of knits.

My strategy as always: crazy print, simple lines

So, the final outcome of this fabric is: a totally wearable, if slightly wacky, transitional top (I’ve already worn it twice in less than a week — so easy to throw on); a totally wearable and super comfy skirt (which I have yet to wear); and a secret dress!

Flip flops make me smile: California girl forever

I’m not sure if I’ll end up wearing these two together often (or at all), but I like having the option. It’s a good casual weekend lunch look, and again, super comfortable. I also managed to squeeze my first pair of baby leggings out of this cut, but they came out pretty questionable, so no photos, and they probably won’t get more than one or two wears. Fine by me — it was a trial run, and I think I can refine my pants pattern easily after trying these on JuJu.

I didn’t plan on sewing up two super-easy patterns, but I’ve gotta say, it was really fun and satisfying to tear through two hard-to-ruin projects so quickly. Highly recommended as a sewing palette cleanser! I’m still not sure how this print reads (crazy? fugly? cool?), but I’m already following through on my goal of just having a good time with my fabric indulgence.

Welcome to the closet, my Secret Dress of Sweatery Comfort!