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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Inside Peek: Vogue Patterns Designer Kimono Jacket

Vogue Patterns V1493 kimono jacket sewing pattern by Koos van den Akker. As seen on the McCall Pattern Company blog.

Vogue Patterns V1493 kimono jacket by Koos van den Akker is one of our bestselling patterns right now. With so many of you planning to make this pattern, we thought it might be helpful to share some tips and photos of the actual designer garment.

Tip #1: Choose your pattern size based on how much ease you want in your kimono jacket. If you want a decent amount of ease and a roomy fit, then I’d recommend going with your normal Vogue Patterns size. I wanted less ease in my kimono jacket (I’m sewing this too!) so I chose to cut a smaller size in this pattern than I normally sew. I’m very happy with the fit. But ease is a personal thing, so do what’s right for you.

Tip #2: This kimono jacket also looks great as is, without the floral appliqués and crisscrossing ribbons. My fabric is some kind of rayon blend jacquard in seafoam, with a tone-on-tone raised japonaise motif. I consulted with our design team here and was advised to keep it simple. (Translation: I walked into Carlos’s office, showed him my fabric swatch, and asked “yes or no to the ribbons and appliqués.” He took one look and said no, and I thanked him for saving me a lot of time.)

Tip #3: The original designer jacket is made of a textured, medium-weight rayon fabric—it’s more substantial than you might suspect. The design works in lighter fabrics too, but I think those tulip-banded sleeves will hang just a tad better in medium-weight, drapey fabrics.

Ok, now let’s take a closer look at the original designer jacket:

Vogue Patterns V1493 kimono jacket sewing pattern by Koos van den Akker. As seen on the McCall Pattern Company blog.
The pocket and the side vents. You can choose to finish the seams however you like, but don’t they look chic as Hong Kong seams?
Vogue Patterns V1493 kimono jacket sewing pattern by Koos van den Akker. As seen on the McCall Pattern Company blog.
The shoulder and sleeve area, inside jacket view.
Vogue Patterns V1493 kimono jacket sewing pattern by Koos van den Akker. As seen on the McCall Pattern Company blog.
Front band showing the stitched-on bias bands.

Visit our Pinterest board to see more detail photos of V1493. (Click on the widget below.)
       Follow The McCall Pattern Company’s board Detail Photos: Vogue Patterns on Pinterest.

Are you sewing this jacket? How’s it going? I’ve sewn everything up to the sleeves, but have to put it aside this weekend to make a quick baby quilt. More to come!

Finished: A New Coat for 2016

V9123 wool plaid coat. As seen on the McCall Pattern Company Blog.

First project of the new year: another coat! This is now the 15th? 16th? coat I’ve made in the last eight years. Clearly I have an addiction, but my handmade coats give me so much pleasure I don’t see myself quitting anytime soon.

Ok, so you’ll recall I made this quilted coat recently from Vogue Patterns V9123. Which I love, love, love because it’s just so cozy to wear. My plan was to immediately make another quilted coat just like it, though in a solid color. But when I saw this Linton tweed at Paron Fabrics in the garment district, I was like, game over, this fabric is coming home with me. (Linton Tweeds, as you may know, supplies Chanel and other top designers with stunning tweed fabrics.)

Because the plaid is on the bold side, I needed a coat pattern with very simple lines, and this meant I could reuse V9123—no collar to worry about, one-piece sleeves, and just two seams on the sides. Matching of plaids at seams would be minimal. Take a look at my finished coat:

V9123 wool plaid coat. As seen on the McCall Pattern Company Blog.

For the wow factor, I’m showing it first with the faux fur scarf I bought to go with it.

Here it is without:

V9123 wool plaid coat. As seen on the McCall Pattern Company Blog.

(A professional pressing from the drycleaner’s will help give this coat a more polished look. It looks a little lumpy on the dressform to me.)

The lining is a copper silk charmeuse, also from Paron’s:

V9123 wool plaid coat. As seen on the McCall Pattern Company Blog.

v9123-coat-back-lining-a

Pattern notes:

  • I like a snug sleeve cap at the shoulder, so I trimmed about a half inch from both the sleeve cap (top of sleeve) and the armscye (by the shoulder seam).
  • Carlos Correa, Vogue Patterns designer, created this pattern as a coat-and-dress ensemble meant for lighter-weight fabrics, like jacquards and damasks. It’s also designed to be belted, so it’s a little roomy, but not too much. Because my tweed fabric is heavy, and I didn’t want to belt this coat, I ended up sizing down one size.
  • I like the way we instruct you to insert the lining. In a nutshell, the lining goes all the way to the coat’s front edges and neck edges. Then you stitch the facing on top of the lining. I finished my facing with black satin bias trim, then hand-stitched it to the lining:

V9123 wool plaid coat. As seen on the McCall Pattern Company Blog.

I think V9123 is a good pattern for advanced beginner sewers who want to try making their first coat. Plus, you get a cute dress pattern to go with it! This Dolce & Gabbana coat served as inspiration for the pattern, by the way:

Dolce & Gabbana coat, previously available at Net-a-Porter
Previously available at Net-a-Porter

I’m so pleased with this coat, and I feel like it’s a harbinger of good sewing projects ahead for 2016. My next project is a shirt made from four-ply silk panels in a dramatic print, and so far it’s going well.

What do you have in the works for 2016? I want to know what everybody’s working on these days!

V9123 wool plaid coat. As seen on the McCall Pattern Company Blog.