Sewing Patterns As Just The Starting Point

Do you ever buy a sewing pattern knowing full well what you’re going to make won’t look much like the pattern photo or illustration? If so, congratulations, you’re thinking like a designer.

We actually love seeing our customers put their own spin on our patterns. We’re really impressed when you think beyond the pattern photo or illustration and make something that’s your own design. Look at Nikki of Beauté J’Adore, for example. When we saw how she was able to take a sewing pattern as a starting point and then turn it into a garment that looked like it came straight from the runway, we thought “gotta have her as a pattern designer!” And we’re pleased to say that her first patterns for McCall’s will be available in the Early Fall collection (coming soon).

Most of the time I’m happy to sew the pattern as is. But every so often I get the urge to play designer. That urge struck me this season when I saw this Céline resort ’16 collection in a store window on Fifth Avenue. I fell in love with the idea of combining cotton shirting with a minimalist design.

Céline sewing inspiration: On the McCall Pattern Company blog

So I took this Vogue® Pattern and let it be my starting point:
Vogue Patterns V9185With some cotton shirting I bought at Metro Textiles and Beckenstein’s in the Garment District, and V9185, I made this tunic:

Vogue Pattern V9185 as made by Meg Carter. On the McCall Pattern Company blog.
Vogue Pattern V9185 as made by Meg Carter. On the McCall Pattern Company blog.
And I’m so pleased with how this top came out. I wore it to work this week and got more compliments on it than anything else I’ve made recently. Carlos Correa, the designer for Vogue Patterns, told me I did a better job “designing” this pattern than he did. Tatyana, our head dressmaker and a fabulous designer in her own right, asked if I minded if she made a top just like mine with her own fabric. Be my guest!

If you want to make a top like this using V9185, here are the modifications I made:

  • Omit the back overlay (piece 4) entirely
  • Cut a single layer of fabric for the front overlay (piece 5)
  • Omit the lining
  • Omit the center-back seam (place the CB seam on the fold)
  • On the front overlay, stitch a narrow hem around the top (shoulder), the outer edge, and the bottom. Don’t finish the neck edge or the part that is sewn into the front seam
  • Add sleeves if desired (mine are bracelet-length)
  • Finish the neckline using your preferred method. I bias-bound mine
  • To make an opening for your head, you can make a decorative facing like I did. Cut a rectangular piece of contrast fabric and press the side and bottom edges under 1/4-inch. Pin the right side of the facing to the wrong side of your top, at the center back neck. Stitch a narrow opening, slash between the stitch line, and turn the facing out. Press and stitch in place on the right side of your top

Follow all other directions as is. Here’s a closeup of the neckline:

Vogue Pattern V9185 as made by Meg Carter. On the McCall Pattern Company blog.

What about you, readers? Do you stick to the pattern as is most of the time? Or do you feel like a pattern is just the opening chapter for you. Discuss!

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Must-Sew Fabric for S/S 2016: Cotton Shirting

Must-sew fabric for S/S 2016: cotton shirting and poplin. As seen on the McCall Pattern Company blog.
l-r: COS; Brie Larsen in Celine (Getty Images); Diesel Black Gold Spring 2016 (Indigital Images)

We are so in luck this season. One of the easiest fabrics to find and sew is on-trend, big time. We’re talking about cotton shirting, a lightweight, tightly woven all-cotton or cotton-blended fabric that gives soft or crisp folds, depending on the fabric’s finish. It’s pleasant (friendly, actually!) to stitch and press, and you can find it in-store and online generally for less than $15/yard. Above and below check out how designers and stores are using cotton shirting for all kinds of chic looks:

Must-sew fabric for S/S 2016: cotton shirting and poplin. As seen on the McCall Pattern Company blog.
l-r: McQ Alexander McQueen shirtdress available at Net-a-Porter; dress from Ralph Lauren’s Spring 2016 line; and an off-the-shoulder blouse available at Stylenanda.com.

 

For patterns and fabrics, we just happen to have a few suggestions:

Must-sew fabric for S/S 2016: cotton shirting and poplin. As seen on the McCall Pattern Company blog.
McCall’s M6558 off-the-shoulder dress pattern paired with Italian Blue White Bar Code Striped Cotton from Mood Fabrics.

This McCall’s maxi dress, with big ruffles at the shoulders and hem, works well for a beach wedding or backyard party. We’ve seen cute RTW versions of this style, like this one from Shopbop. You could easily sew this pattern in a weekend.

Must-sew fabric for S/S 2016: cotton shirting and poplin. As seen on the McCall Pattern Company blog.
Vogue Patterns V9174 paired with White Mercerized Twill Cotton Shirting from Mood.

Have you been to a COS store yet? They’re filled with minimalist, refined and “architectural” clothes. Make Marcy Tilton’s Vogue Patterns V9174 pattern in solid white cotton shirting and people will think you bought it at COS.

Must-sew fabric for S/S 2016: cotton shirting and poplin. As seen on the McCall Pattern Company blog.
Pair Vogue Patterns V9185 with Gorgeous Fabrics’ Wicked Fine Medium Stripe Italian Cotton Shirting.

This Vogue Patterns top, which has a long-sleeve version, also looks like something from COS. We’d cut the overlay as a single layer on the crossgrain or bias (narrow-hem the edge) to have the stripes run perpendicular to the bodice, and we’d skip the lining and add a facing at the neck; bias-bind the armscyes if you’re going sleeveless.

Must-sew fabric for S/S 2016: cotton shirting and poplin. As seen on the McCall Pattern Company blog.
Pair this Butterick shirtdress pattern with this “Snazzy Stripes” shirting from The Smuggler’s Daughter.

We already extolled the virtues of shirtdresses this season, so hopefully we’ve convinced you to make one and soon. Here’s your perfect fabric, a perky blue striped cotton shirting that has wardrobe staying power, paired with a new shirtdress pattern from Butterick.

Must-sew fabric for S/S 2016: cotton shirting and poplin. As seen on the McCall Pattern Company blog.
Pair McCall’s M7285 with this stretch cotton poplin from Gorgeous Fabrics.

We took a second look at this McCall’s top pattern after we saw Maya’s version of it on Instagram. Sleeves with interest are the Big Thing, right up there with cold shoulders. We suggest adding a little bit of fullness at the side seams below the bustline, to give this pattern more of a contemporary, boxy fit. This pattern will look so cute in striped or solid cotton shirtings.

Must-sew fabric for S/S 2016: cotton shirting and poplin. As seen on the McCall Pattern Company blog.
Pair Butterick B6324 with this striped cotton shirting from Fabrics & Fabrics.

Last, everyone can use a little camp shirt in their summer wardrobe, because they’re exactly what you want to put on when it’s hot and miserable outside. Sew this Butterick pattern up in cotton shirtings and you’ll be cool and comfortable all summer long.

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Have a great weekend of sewing! I’m moving full-speed ahead with my spring and summer sewing. Lots of cottons and silks on the horizon….