M7547 Sew-Along: Seams and Zipper

McCall's M7547 Sew-Along

This week on the M7547 Sew-Along Amanda gets really detailed about the seams and zipper (steps 14-24). Hop over to her blog to read her full post.

McCall's M7547 Sew-Along
Amanda has lots of detail photos in her post this week.

I’m nearly finished with my pants! Here’s a preview:

McCall's M7547 Sew-Along

Next week on the sew-along, Amanda and I will both be posting on our respective blogs about the waistband. I’ll share how I added a facing to the waist of my pants, and Amanda will talk about her overalls (which are looking really cute, btw). Stay tuned!

Spring Sew-Along: M7547 Inspiration and Fabrics

McCall's M7547 Sew-AlongThis week in the sew-along we’re talking about style inspiration and suitable fabrics for M7547. I know many of you were thinking “Hmm, I’m not so sure the high-waist pants or overalls look is for me.” And I have to admit initially I had the same thought. But then I made a muslin of the flare pants, and readers, I like them on me!

McCall's M7547 Sew-Along
My muslin before adding the waistband. I may omit the waistband because I do like them as is here. If I do, I’ll provide instructions on how to sew a waistband facing instead.

Let’s talk about suitable fabrics first. I made my muslin (View A, above) out of a lightweight cotton sateen with Lycra, and I was hoping this version would turn into a wearable muslin. While I do think they’re cute, I felt the fabric was too lightweight and would probably crease more than I like. So I’m making my “real” version from a floral stretch cotton twill I bought at the former Chic Fabrics in the garment district. It’s a little more substantial than the cotton sateen but lighter in weight than a denim.

Because this pattern is designed to have a close fit in the hip area, I strongly recommend you choose a woven fabric with Lycra in it. That bit of stretch will make wearing these pants more comfortable, I promise. Fabrics that work well for either the overalls or the pants include:

  • Stretch denim
  • Stretch twill
  • Jacquards with Lycra
  • bottomweight fabrics with Lycra
  • suitings with Lyrca
McCall's M7547 Sew-Along
Clockwise from top left: Jo-Ann Fabrics bottomweight stretch white denim; Fabric.com Telio Stretch Printed Denim Paisley Floral Dark Blue; Promenade Fabrics Cotton Pique Floral and Bird Print with Stretch; FabricMart Slate Blue/Black/White Cotton/Lycra Stripe Denim.

For your sewing inspiration we’ve created a Pinterest board filled with RTW styles to borrow:

More RTW style inspiration:

McCall's M7547 Sew-Along
l-r: J Crew pants (nordstrom), French Connection overalls (Yoox.com), Fausto Puglisi pants (Frwd.com); Patrizia Pepe overalls (Yoox.com).


• • • • •

A couple of sew-along notes: One, if you are ready to cut out your pattern, cut the waistband piece 1-2 inches longer than the pattern piece. This is not a mistake in the pattern—this is just a personal suggestion from me to make your sewing easier. When the instructions have you attach the waistband to the pants, we specify easing the pants to fit the waistband. If you make your waistband longer you don’t need to bother with easing and this step will be a lot faster and easier.

Two, we just created a Sew-Along group on Facebook for this. Joining the Facebook group is not necessary to participate in the sew-along, but I think the people who do join find it makes sewing together a lot more fun and personable. It’s a great way to make new sewing friends.

Next week: Amanda will be talking about sewing a muslin to assess fit. Stay tuned!

Shirtdress Sew-Along: Buttons and Buttonholes

McCall Pattern Company Shirtdress Sew-Along

If you’ve been following along with us, your shirtdress is probably looking like a shirtdress! The next step is buttons and buttonholes, which are one of the most distinctive features of this style. Read on for our very best tips on picking the right buttons, sewing professional-looking buttonholes, and cutting them open cleanly and accurately.

Picking your buttons

Shirtdresses generally look best with buttons that are no larger than 3/8″ to 1/2″ wide. Take a look at the shirts in your closet: You’ll probably find that the buttons are on the plain side, most likely some shade of white or pearly gray. And that’s ok. With a placket and collars and sleeves and pockets, your shirtdress already has a lot going. Keep your buttons simple to focus attention on your dress.

McCall Pattern Company Shirtdress Sew-Along
Small, simple buttons on this Lisa Marie Fernandez shirtdress (Net-a-Porter)

Placement and Marking

When you’re ready to go, mark the buttonholes on the overlap side of your placket using chalk or a washable marker. You don’t have to follow the placement guide in the pattern exactly—if you have an existing shirt or shirtdress that you like, go ahead and copy the buttonhole spacing onto your new shirtdress. Or, you can place buttons at stress points like the waist and fullest part of your bust first, then space the remaining buttonholes at even intervals on either side of them.

For the most accurate placement, you’ll want to mark both ends of each buttonhole and along the center line. The buttonholes should be a bit longer than the button’s length plus its thickness, so the buttons will fit through smoothly but securely.

standard machine buttonhole. McCall Pattern Company Shirtdress Sew-Along

Tips for Machine Buttonholes

Different machines have different procedures for sewing buttonholes, so if you haven’t done one in a while you might want to flip through your machine’s manual to refresh your memory. Mark and sew a test buttonhole on an interfaced scrap of fabric first to make sure you’re able to accurately hit your marks, and that you’re happy with the size, width, and stitch density. Cut it open to make sure your buttons fit through nicely. When you’ve made a successful test buttonhole, you’re ready to move on to the real thing.

When sewing the buttonholes, start at the bottom or on a sleeve and work your way up to the more visible areas. If you’re going to botch one or two, make it in an inconspicuous area! By the time you’ve reached the front-and-center locations, you’ll be a pro.

If you do mess up, take a deep breath! Get out your seam ripper and carefully cut the buttonhole stitches from the back side, to reduce the chance of cutting into the visible face of your fabric. Once you’ve cut enough stitches, you should be able to pull gently on the top thread and remove it in one piece. Hit the spot with some steam and rub it with your finger to minimize the stitching marks, then touch up your markings if necessary and try again.

Alternative Buttonhole Methods

Not all sewing machines make great buttonholes. If you’re not happy with yours, here are a few other options you can try:

zigzag buttonhole. McCall Pattern Company blog Shirtdress Sew-Along
Buttonhole made using only the zigzag stitch.

As long as your machine has a zigzag stitch, you can make a buttonhole by adjusting the settings manually. Set a very short stitch length – about 0.5mm – and a 1.5mm stitch width for the sides of the buttonhole, then turn the length down to zero and the width up to 5mm for the ends.

If you have an embroidery machine, you can download plain and fancy buttonholes in all different shapes and sizes. For a shirtdress you probably want to stick with the plain ones, but you may find that the embroidery machine produces more consistent and attractive buttonholes than the standard buttonhole function.

Vintage Greist buttonholer and template. McCall Pattern Company Shirtdress Sew-Along
Vintage Greist buttonholer and template

I like to make my buttonholes using a vintage buttonhole attachment. It was originally invented for use with straight stitch machines that didn’t have their own buttonhole function, but you can find versions to fit most modern sewing machines (Greist and Singer both made these for many years, and you can get them inexpensively on eBay and Etsy. Or, you might luck into one at your local thrift store). The attachment should come with several templates for different size buttonholes. Just insert the correct size for your buttons, screw the attachment on in place of the presser foot,  drop or cover the feed dogs, and go. Because the attachment moves the fabric in place of the feed dogs, I find that I get the best results with the presser foot pressure turned all the way up.

Cutting your buttonholes

buttonhole cutting tools. McCall Pattern Company Shirtdress Sew-Along
You can cut buttonholes with a seam ripper, sharp-pointed scissors, or a buttonhole chisel.

There are several different ways to cut buttonholes. Before I cut, I like to run a line of fray-check along the inside of the buttonhole to prevent fraying and unraveling. Allow to dry completely before cutting.

A buttonhole chisel is a great tool for getting a quick, accurate cut. It’s usually sold with a little mat or block of wood that you place under the buttonhole so you don’t mark up the table underneath. The blade is used perpendicular to the fabric, and gives a perfectly straight, clean edge. You’re unlikely to cut too far with this method, but be careful to align the chisel correctly so you don’t cut your stitching by accident.

Small, sharp-pointed scissors are another option; you can use them to cut the entire buttonhole or just to neaten up the loose threads after cutting with a seam ripper.

Use a pin as a safety stop when cutting buttonholes open. McCall Pattern Company Shirtdress Sew-Along
Use a pin as a safety stop

To cut buttonholes with a seam ripper, first place a pin across the end of the buttonhole to prevent you from slipping and cutting too far. Insert the point of the seam ripper at each end of the buttonhole and cut toward the center as an extra precaution.

Sewing on Buttons

Once you’ve sewed your buttonholes and cut them open, line the overlap up on top of the underlap and mark the positions of your buttons. Position the buttons slightly above the midpoint of the buttonhole, as this will help to prevent the buttonhole from gaping open under strain or coming unbuttoned by accident.

Sewing a button on by machine. McCall Pattern Company Shirtdress Sew-Along
Sewing a button on by machine

The most secure way to attach buttons is by hand sewing, but if you’re in a rush or just hate this part you can do it by machine. First, set your machine to a zigzag stitch and drop your feed dogs or set the stitch length to zero. If you have a button foot use it, or if your machine uses snap-on feet you can remove the foot. Position the button under the needle and balance a pin between the holes to serve as a spacer. Then, adjust the stitch width to match the spacing between the holes on the button. Manually crank the machine through a complete stitch to make sure the needle won’t hit the button, then sew back and forth a few more times for a secure hold. After sewing all your buttons, clip your threads and dab a bit of fray-check on the back to prevent unravelling. You’re all set!

Next week: Hems and finishing. The end is almost in sight! You can still join our Shirtdress Sew-Along Facebook Group; plus, don’t forget we’re having a random drawing for an Oliso iron and other sewing goodies. Details here (scroll down to the end of the post). Have a great weekend! #shirtdresssewalong [8/22/16 update: This group is now closed as the sew-along is officially over. All shirtdress construction information and tips are located on this blog.]