M7547 Sew-Along: Darts and Pockets (steps 1-13)

McCall's M7547 Sew-Along

Welcome to Week 4 of the McCall’s M7547 sew-along. If you’re keeping pace with us you should have made a muslin and cut out your fashion fabric by now. If you aren’t sewing along in real-time, no worries! We’ll leave these posts up indefinitely.

Since so many of you have told us you want more video tutorials, here’s a straightforward video I made that explains how to do all the steps this week, from the darts in the beginning through adding the pockets in step 13. (Excuse the low production values!)

Sewing darts on the back pockets. Making darts on midweight woven fabrics is pretty easy to do. First, mark on the wrong side of your fabric where your dart begins and ends. In wovens that don’t fray I like to make little snips outside the seamline to mark where the dart legs start. These make it easier to line up the dart legs.

Stitch your dart as you normally do. When I get about .5″ away from the dart point, I reduce my stitch length to about 1, stitching right off the fabric. Tie a knot in the threads to secure your stitches. The small stitches near the dart point create a secure dart that holds up to stress.

McCall's M7547 Sew-Along
Back dart in M7547 pants pattern. My fabric is a stretch cotton twill I found in the garment district.

Stitching the pockets. First, pockets are a personal design choice. You can add them or omit them; either way these pants/overalls will still look good. I’m not crazy about back pockets on me, so I only made the cargo-style pockets for the front.

For these cargo pockets you’re going to make a narrow hem at the curved upper edge, where your hand slips in the pocket. Turn under 5/8″ here and press. Then fold under the seam allowance and press so you have a narrow hem. Stitch.

Next, turn under the seam allowance on remaining pocket edges, except for the little part at the top that will be enclosed by the waistband. To guarantee that I’m pressing under exactly 5/8″, I stitch just a hair to the right of the 5/8″ seamline, creating a stitching line that becomes my pressing line. I used to turn and press under using a seam gauge to measure, but that’s time-consuming and harder to maintain a consistent 5/8″ accuracy.

McCall's M7547 Sew-Along
Miter the corners to get a sharp point here. Fold in the corner at the point where the seamlines intersect; press. Then turn in seamlines and press again.

McCall's M7547 Sew-Along

Pin your pockets in place matching the symbols at the upper edge near the waist. In the video I show you how to do this and how to make sure both the left side and the right side of your pants are mirror images.

Edgestitch the pockets in place, then topstitch about 1/4″or less away from the edgestitching. Baste the upper edge of the pocket in place.
McCall's M7547 Sew-Along

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Note: In step 10 we tell you to trim away the right front mock fly extension. Do this if you plan to sew a mock fly. Since I’m omitting the mock fly in my version, after I took the above photo I trimmed the extension on both front pieces.

Next week on the sew-along: My co-host Amanda will walk you through steps 14-24. Don’t forget to join our Facebook Group for the sew-along! And readers, when I tell you that these M7547 pants are one of my most favorite things I’ve sewn recently, it is NO LIE. Love these pants and am already obsessing about making another pair.

Sewing La La Land: Dreamy Dresses, Sewing Tips

La La Land costume
La La Land sketch by Mary Zophres; photo from Lionsgate. (via Hollywood Reporter)

Have you seen the movie La La Land yet? In the movie Emma Stone wears a series of “retro realistic” dresses that look like you could buy them off the rack at Bloomingdale’s. (A deliberate choice, according to costume designer Mary Zophres.) But at the same time, the dresses are memorable—you find yourself thinking about the colors and the way they float as Emma dances in them.

You won’t be able to find these La La Land dresses in stores, but you can make very similar versions yourself! In today’s blog post we pair Emma’s dresses with possible patterns, and give you some sewing tips from Marcy Tilton for working with lightweight fabrics such as chiffon and georgette. Read on!

Blue dress from La La Land: Sew the look with McCall's M7281

To make your version of this party dress, here made up in a brilliant blue, use McCall’s M7281. For the bodice and skirt lining, where you need a more stable fabric, use crepe or a lightweight satin with a soft drape. For the overbodice and skirt use a floaty chiffon that will accentuate your very best dance moves.

La La Land green dress: Sew the look with Butterick B6380

With its sweetheart neckline this emerald green, date-night dress has a slightly retro feel to it. Butterick’s B6380 by Gertie is a pretty good match, especially if you convert the sleeves to a cap or flutter sleeve. Go for lightweight crepe de chines that puddle into soft folds.

La La Land yellow dress: Sew the look with McCall's M7500

This is the yellow dress you’ve probably seen in images for the movie; it’s when Emma and Ryan first dance together. McCall’s pattern (M7500) has the basic shape of the yellow dress, with the square neckline and full skirt. We’d use the tucked bodice from View D, and we’d alter the sleeves from View C or D so they’re cap sleeves. For fabrics, try a silk crepe or georgette with a delicate floral print.

Ready to sew your own La La Land dress? Here are some tips from Marcy Tilton, Vogue Patterns designer and sewing expert, on working with tricky fabrics like chiffon and georgette:Vogue Patterns designer Marcy Tilton

  • Cut sheer fabrics such as crepe and georgette using a smooth paper:
    • Lay down a layer of paper* on the cutting table, and trim the ends so they are straight (at right angles to the opposite edge). This assures that you can line up the grain of the fabric with the edges of the paper.  
    • Tear or pull a thread on the cross grain of your fabric at either cut edge to assure the grain is straight. This is key.
    • Place the fabric on top of the paper, smoothing so the grain is straight. Align the selvedge and cut edges with the paper. This assures that the grain is straight on the pattern pieces.
    • Pin the pattern through all layers and cut through all layers. The bottom paper layer keeps the soft fabric from shifting as you cut and allows you to move and mark the pieces without distorting. 
  • Buy at least a quarter yard extra to allow for shrinkage and so you have extra to test with. 
  • Test fabric scraps for needle size and stitch length. 
    • Use a small (#10/11) sharp needle, fine polyester or silk thread and short stitch length (2.0-1.5 mm).
  • Pre-treat fabric by dipping in lukewarm water and air drying. Roll in a clean towel to remove excess water. Do not put in the dryer. Steam press after pre-shrinking.
  • After sewing, hand launder and air dry. Crepe weave fabrics are created with highly twisted yarns that will shrink, sometimes just with steam, so pre-treating is essential even if you plan to dry clean. In that case, give the yardage a good steam press before cutting. 
  • Use French seams whenever possible, making them as narrow as possible. 
  • If you are going to use a serger you will have to test stitch width, length and thread weight. You want something that is thin, light and nearly invisible. 
  • Cut with a rotary cutter or scissors (in this case override the ‘rule’ about cutting paper with your special fabric tools.)
  • Mark with tailor tacks, or fine dots using a dressmaker pencil.
  • If the fabric looks the same on both sides, mark the wrong sides with stick-on label dots.
  • Plot the order of construction carefully. Leave the fabric pinned flat on the table until you are ready to sew them. Hanging/moving can sometimes cause stretching or distorting.
  • Stay-stitch front and back neck edges first thing.

* Suitable smooth papers are: surgical exam table paper, brown kraft paper or tracing paper.

Velvet: Types of Patterns to Sew for Success

Sewing velvet: patterns. On the McCall Pattern Company blogLast week we talked about how to sew velvet without collapsing into a puddle of sewing misery. This week we’ve got suggestions regarding which patterns are best for velvet first-time sewers. Keeping it simple is key.

But first, let’s take a look at a velvet wrap top I just made. I used an out-of-print Kwik Sew pattern from my stash, but you could get a similar look with Butterick B6176 or McCall’s M7200. As I hadn’t sewn velvet in years, my plan was to choose a pattern on the really simple side. I wanted to concentrate on mastering velvet, and not get hung up on pattern details like fit, collars, darts, extra seams, etc. This Kwik Sew pattern had only shoulder and side seams, and a front/neck facing:

velvet wrap top sewn by Meg Carter. As seen on the McCall Pattern Company blog.

Tip: Before you hem sleeves or other parts, let your velvet garment hang for 24 hours or more. The front lower corners of my wrap top would not drape properly, so I tucked little weights inside the facing and just let the top hang for about 48 hours. This did the trick. For more tips on working with velvet, watch this video we made.

VELVET TOPS

Inspiration:

Sewing inspiration: velvet pants
Hale Bob Amabel top, Lafayette 148 Amara top

Suggested patterns:

Suggested sewing patterns that would work well with velvet. From the McCall Pattern Company blog.
V9204, B6378, K3870

Any of these patterns would work in velvet for first-timers because they have few details. For the Butterick pattern (center) I’d eliminate the elastic casings at the sleeve and bodice hem. I’m personally thinking of making the Vogue pattern (left) in black velvet.

VELVET PANTS

Inspiration:

Sewing inspiration: velvet pants
Vince wide-leg pants, Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini Bow pants

Suggested patterns:

Suggested sewing patterns that would work well with velvet. From the McCall Pattern Company blog.
M7164, V9228

You can’t walk into a store these days without seeing pair after pair of velvet pants. The look is either wide leg or track pants, and these two patterns are well suited. Make things easy on yourself and go for an elastic waist.

VELVET DRESSES

Inspiration:

Sewing inspiration: velvet dresses
Just Female Ware dress, Emerson Fry velvet shirtdress

Suggested patterns:

Suggested sewing patterns that would work well with velvet. From the McCall Pattern Company blog.
B5948, M6885

First-time sewers of velvet should definitely opt for something more like the inspiration dress on the left—just a little shift dress. I’d use B5948 and extend it to make it dress-length. If you want more details and have previously sewn a shirtdress, try M6885, but make the collar and placket out of satin rather than velvet. Satin here will be much easier to work with than velvet.

VELVET JACKETS

Inspiration:

Sewing inspiration: velvet jackets
T by Alexander Wang bomber jacket, velvet Jardin kimono

Suggested patterns:

Suggested sewing patterns that would work well with velvet. From the McCall Pattern Company blog.
M7100, B6176

A velvet kimono is a great layering piece and you can dress it up or down. Plus, it’s easy to sew! Feel free to tackle a velvet bomber jacket if you’ve sewn a bomber jacket before and are up for a little more of a challenge. You may want to size up on the McCall’s pattern as it has a slim fit.

So, have we given you enough ammunition to sew velvet this season? I don’t know about you but I’m hooked on this fabric! What’s next on your must-make list?

 

Velvet: sewing patterns that are perfect for first-time sewers of that tricky fabric, velvet.