Last-Minute Gifts to Sew; Plus, Holiday Giveaway!

Elna sewing machine ad from the 1960s. Printed in Vogue Patterns Magazine
Elna sewing machine ad from the 1960s. From Vogue Patterns Magazine

There’s still time to whip up some handmade gifts for friends and family. After all, handmade beats store-bought, right? Here are six patterns that are fast and easy to make:

Last-minute gifts to sew. On the McCall Pattern Company blog.

With this simple Vogue pattern (V9038) you could make a cape very similar to those by Burberry that sell for several hundred dollars. Look for soft, blanket-like wools and fleeces in large-scale plaids.

Last-minute gifts to sew. On the McCall Pattern Company blog.

Robes are fast to sew and involve no fitting, which makes them the perfect gift to make. We’d sew this Butterick pattern (B6428) in the softest sweater knit fabric we could find. It also sews up well in French terry or sweatshirt fleece.

Last-minute gifts to sew. On the McCall Pattern Company blog.

Your dog-owner friend will be so touched with the custom coat you make for her precious pooch. Customize this to your friend’s taste with fabrics and trims. Love the pompom on the hood! Butterick B6432.

Last-minute gifts to sew. On the McCall Pattern Company blog.

Kimonos also sew up quickly because there’s really no fitting involved. For this Kwik Sew pattern (K4176), we’d choose lightweight crepes, chiffons or burnout velvets in dramatic prints and colors.

Last-minute gifts to sew. On the McCall Pattern Company blog.

We’re seeing fuzzy jackets like this one from McCall’s (M7511) on lots of teens and 20-somethings. Look for the cuddliest faux fur available, and make the lining in velour to amp up the cozy factor.

Last-minute gifts to sew. On the McCall Pattern Company blog.

Have a family member who likes to cook? She’ll appreciate an apron made especially for her. Quilting cottons in fun prints make great aprons. McCall’s M7448.

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McCall Pattern Company

You could win all sorts of fabulous sewing-related prizes—including a new sewing machine!—by entering our annual holiday giveaway. Click here for all the details. Hurry, entries are due by December 13th. Good luck!



Behind the Scenes: How We Choose the Fabrics for Photo Garments

Behind the scenes: How the McCall Pattern Company chooses fabric for its photo garmentsChoosing the fabric for photo garments—industry speak for the finished pattern that is made up and then worn by a model on our pattern envelopes—is a team effort here at the McCall Pattern Company. We recently met first with McCall’s designer Jacqueline Polikoff, and then with fabric editor Penny Payne, so we could share with blog readers our fabric selection process.

Meg Carter: When you’re working on a pattern design, at what point do you think about which fabrics to use?

Jacqueline Polikoff: I’ve usually collected lots of fabric inspiration before I sit down to design a seasonal collection. I’ve got tearsheets from fashion magazines and catalogs, and often our merchandising team has examples of styles they think will work well as patterns. So I tend to already have something in mind when it comes to the fabrics I want for each pattern design.

Meg: What about the licensed designers, like Anne Klein or Rachel Comey? Do they give us fabric options for their patterns?

Jackie: No. When you see the model wearing a photo garment by a licensed designer, she is wearing the real thing—an actual designer garment that we acquired from the designer at their showroom. We don’t alter or change their design in any way, including the fabric that was used.

Meg: With so many fabric options out there, how do you even begin to choose something? I think many of us home sewers, myself included, spend way too much time obsessing about which fabric will be absolutely perfect for the pattern we want to sew.

Penny and Jackie reviewing fabric possibilities for Spring '17 McCall's.
Penny and Jackie reviewing fabric possibilities for Spring ’17 McCall’s.

Jackie: Choosing fabrics is about where I want to take the silhouette—or “body” as it’s known in the industry—and what’s the story I want to tell the consumer. Designers have their preferred fabrics, and I’m no exception. I love crepe de chine, poplin and chambray. But I also need to think about what’s going to really show the seaming and the lines of the pattern I’m designing.

Lighter colors tend to show this better than dark ones do, for example. Prints, and how a person responds to them, is an extremely personal thing. You can either love a print or hate it. And I also need to show fabrics that are readily available to home sewers. I can pick the most beautiful fabric for a photo garment, but if it’s something people won’t be able to find, I’m not helping our consumers.

Meg: What about the illustrations we show on our pattern envelopes? Do you choose fabric for those as well, even though those views aren’t being made up into photo garments?

Jackie: Yes, the illustrations are just as important as the photo garment. If a particular pattern’s photo garment doesn’t speak to you, then I have three other chances to reach you. I, and the other designers here, select fabric for each illustration and we provide our in-house illustrators with swatches. So even though those views are illustrations, you are seeing real fabric that we think would work well in a finished garment.

Penny (r) shows Jackie some of the newest fabrics added to the McCall Pattern Company fabric library.
Penny (r) shows Jackie some of the newest fabrics added to the McCall Pattern Company fabric library.

Meg: Now it’s Penny’s turn. Penny, tell us about how our pattern designers work with you and use the fabric library.

Penny: After they’ve completed their designs for each collection, I’ll meet with our designers and they’ll share their inspiration for each pattern with me and talk about what kind of fabrics they have in mind.

We’ll get into specifics: What kind of drape, quality, sheer vs. opaque, knit or woven, and so on. Together we’ll look through the fabric panels in the fabric library. This is where I organize, display and maintain swatches of the newest fabrics available from textile manufacturers and fabric stores. The fabric library serves as a resource for our designers and our entire company.

As Jackie said, it’s important to show our patterns in fabrics that are available to home sewers. Whether or not the fabrics, notions and trimmings we show can be found online is important, because many home sewers don’t live near brick-and-mortar fabric stores and shopping online is their only option.

People email us all the time asking where they can get the fabrics we used in our photo garments. I’ll source our fabrics from stores like Jo-Ann Fabrics, I’ll work directly with fabric manufacturers like Robert Kaufman and Telio. I’ll also shop for fabric locally in the New York garment district, and I rely on online fabric retailers too.

Meg: Wow, shopping for fabric as a profession?! That sounds like a dream job!

Penny: It is!

When someone asks if we want to go fabric shopping


Index of Posts for Bomber Jacket Sew-Along

Index of posts to the McCall Pattern Company Bomber Jacket Sew-Along

Thanks to everyone who participated, or is still participating, in our Bomber Jacket Sew-Along. We have been absolutely blown away by the jackets you made. Your creativity in choice of fabric and ribbing is, well, better than most ready-to-wear. Below are just a few of the many jackets in the sew-along that caught our eye:

Bomber jackets made in the McCall Pattern Company Bomber Jacket Sew-Along

Even though the sew-along is officially over, we will keep up all the posts we wrote about how to sew a bomber jacket. Here’s an index of them:

Bomber Jacket Sew-Along: Fabrics, Ribbing & Zippers
McCall’s M7100 Bomber Jacket: Pattern Adjustment for Sizes L-XXL
Bomber Jacket Sew-along: Fitting the Raglan Sleeves
Bomber Jacket Sew-Along: Making the Inside of Your Jacket Look Pretty
Bomber Jacket Sew-Along: Adding Ribbing To Your Jacket
Bomber Jacket Sew-Along: Inserting the Zipper
Bomber Jacket Sew-Along: Adding a Lining
Bomber Jacket Sew-Along: We’re Finished!

Our next sew-along will be in the spring. Fall sew-alongs tend to focus on one specific pattern, and spring sew-alongs are more broad in nature. For example, last spring we all sewed shirtdresses. What should we sew next?! If you have any suggestions, please leave them in the comments section.

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Happy Thanksgiving to our U.S. friends! Hope you have a wonderful day with family and friends, and that you get in lots of quality time with your sewing machine. Those are our plans!

Butterick 1940s apron pattern
Butterick apron pattern from the 1940s

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The steps to making a fabulous bomber jacket. On the McCall Pattern Company Blog.