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

By | April 25, 2018

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!

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