McCalls 6512

*Update re the wearability of this pattern. I had to undo the sleeve tabs on the short sleeve version.  They are cute as the dickens but totally uncomfortable.  I spent most of one day picking at them, hiking my blouse and in general being uncomfortable.  I unbutton one, just to see if it was the problem.  Within 5 minutes I unbottoned the second and after the wash removed both tabs and buttons.  Unlike some, I won’t say I’m all about comfort.  I do like good looking clothes. My preference is for good looking and comfortable.  Unfortunately, without the tabs, I’m getting a bit of neckline gaposis in front. It may be that a little more ease was drafted into the bodice front to accommodate the tabs.

Whew! The temps dropped 30 degrees over night. Normally 73 would be considered balmy. Having just gotten used to 105, 106, it feels cold, kinda.  I suddenly feel like I need a little more coverage and my sewing has taken a turn too.  My next choice, with fitting in mind is McCalls 6512:
I think I actually purchased this pattern this year but I’m not sure it’s this year’s release.  I have to say I’m initially really impressed and would recommend this pattern to someone trying to figure out fitting issues.  This pattern is clearly marked and the guide pages contain  instructions for the most common alterations we make: the FBA, the BWL and the Sway Back.  Add to the interesting shoulder lines, the trendy pussy bow and other details, it appears to be a real winner.  One downside.  This is a loosely fitted garment. For me that meant, I really didn’t need to do fitting alterations which is what I wanted to do.  I cut a size 12 across the shoulder; 14 from bust to waist and 16 across the hip.  I really debated on cutting a straight 14 across the sides.  There is that much ease and remember the last two garments I needed 3 sizes larger across the hips.

I’m looking for a simple fitting procedure for my personal fitting issues. This pattern didn’t help me.  First off, I spent almost two hours working with the tissue. I’m wanting a quick slash and spread by known amounts. Instead I roughly trimmed the tissue and  tissue fit Mimie 3 times. First trimming the shoulder, then the sides and finally tweaking over the bust area.  I could pinch out a good inch front and back  across the hips.  But I had concerns with taking out any more.  For starters, Mimie’s stuffing no longer matches my own.  She’s still valuable for the placement lines (shoulders, bust, necklines etc) so I keep using her.  I can’t depend upon tissue acting the same as fabric or the ease factor.  So I’m looking at the tissue and decide to recheck the pattern description.  I thought this was Semi-Fitted. Not body hugging (close-fitting), certainly but I expected that this blouse would skim all the curves without revealing the rolls of fat.  The description clearly states that this is a loosely fitted garment.  Definitely my bad for not reading the description before actually using the pattern. IMO loosely fitting garments are supposed to hang from the shoulders revealing nothing below ergo no shaping/fitting required.

If I wanted quick, I really should have made a different fabric choice.  I chose a voile purchased from Fabricmart. I love it’s print and frankly I’m running out of 1.5 yard pieces for making sleeveless and short sleeve garments.  I really hate to cut into a 2 or 2.5 yard length of fabric.  If I do that I know I’ll end up with 3/4 of a yard left over.  As it is I cringe when I toss the big ol’ 14″ squares of left over fabric.  My thrifty side can’t bear the thought of tossing a  full half yard. Yet I don’t want to accumulate those half  yard pieces. So voile it was.  This voile was almost opaque enough –but not quite.  I know I bought it with the idea it would be a overblouse, a third layer, for summer. It would have been great in that role.  Trouble is I have more of these sheer fabrics in my stash than I will ever use.  At one time I was thinking of using them as layers and accumulated quite a few.  Like the 3.5 yard cut of aqua silk that I used for underlining.  This silk was horrible to sew with.  It not only slithered around but it exploded in length along the cut edge.  I kept thinking I would need to trim inches off but as I pinned and eased it to the outlines of the voile, the silk settled in.  It was just a fight with every seam.  I pinned then basted at the machine and then stitched the garment sections together. Every seam required at least 3 rows of stitching! Not fast, no.

In a way, I’m glad I tissue fit so many times because I eventually realized that I needed to pin the back sleeve to the back first and then that unit to the back yoke/shoulder. Possibly if I’d fully read instructions I would have learned that earlier.  I often skip instructions because of past experiences.  In the past guide sheets were famous for making instructions that would fit the page.  The Big 4 weren’t interested in sharing industry, couture or even the simplest ways of sewing.  They often would skip important directions and what they published was what was easiest to publish not the easiest way to do things.  I have no idea how this guide sheet instructed inserting that squared front shoulder.  I stay stitched the inside corner exactly on what would be the finished stitching line. Then I put a drop of frey check in the corner. Next I stay stitched the outside corner exactly on the stitching line. By this time the Frey check is dry or nearly and I clipped into the corner but not through the stitching. Next I used a pin to nail those corners together exactly on the stay stitching. Then pin the seam to the free ends. I sew the corner by dropping the machine needle right into the corner and stitching outward to a free end. Trim the threads and drop the machine needle into the corner a second time but now stitching to the other free edge. (If you ask, I’ll take and share pics.) I know this is not like the beautiful 1 complete line of stitching with perfectly pivoted corner that you will see in the instructions.  I could never make that work for me. I would stitch and rip, stitch and rip; swear, stitch and rip. Finally I’d either toss the garment or declare it good enough.  A few times I even stitched by hand (using tiny stitches.)  My procedure just sort of evolved for me.  I was using LaFred’s  Athena Blouse, (my all time favorite pattern) which has the square set in sleeves. At first I started marking the corners with chalk, then went directly to stay stitching. One day out of the blue, I stitched from corner to free edge. Don’t know why. Must not have been in my right mind. I use the same procedure for shawl collars.  Someone else has probably thought of doing square corners this way. I really don’t know.  I only know that since I started the 4 lines of stitching, I never have to rip or swear-at square-corners.  Now someone’s going to notice that I haven’t mentioned back stitching or securing any of the threads.  That’s because I serge finish the seams.  Serging trims all my thread tails and gives extra reinforcement where it is needed. If you don’t have a serger, you could use the zig zag or overlock stitch available on most machines.  If you have a straight stitch machine, well do what you normally do to finish seams.

How did it fit?
Not bad. I would consider this a “blousy” look. I don’t know why but I associate a loose-fitting woven top with the term “blouse” and if its fitted with real darts then it is a “shirt” to me. This is a blouse. I didn’t need to use the size 16 cutting line across the hips. There is more than enough blousing (ease) to make it over my hips. I don’t like the buttons I used. There are so many circular objects in the print that I wanted to repeat that in my button selection. The issue then was finding a complementary button of the right size for the button band. I think in the future I may trim the button band width by 1/4″ or so. These buttons still look small in comparison but I think a larger button and buttonhole would be difficult in this fabric.
I skipped the pockets. They were cute but I can never decide if the “breast” pocket is drawing attention to the bust or trying to cover it up. I did add the sleeve tab. I followed the instruction and attached the tab to the back side where the shoulder corner is and then the button on the front. The tab is then pulled through the sleeve up and over the front and buttoned. I have to say this feels awkward when worn. It pulls and restricts movement. During the short photo session I kept shifting the top of the blouse around trying to find a point where the tab would sit unnoticed by me. Because of the underlining you see the blouse hem flipping upward. The silk was a good idea. It provided opacity and some extra weight. I’ve had blouses/tops made of voile alone. They were not entirely satisfactory. Overall this blouse hangs nicely and feels substantial. I trimmed the silk underlining just before doing a double 1/4″ fold hem. What looked perfect lying on a flat surface is just not right when on my body. I rather doubt that anyone except me notices so I’m not ripping it out. BTW, that’s not a drag line around the shoulder. What you are seeing is an optical illusion produced by the print and how it sits on my body.
I didn’t stay stitch or stabilize the neck back and that may have been a mistake. I ended up gathering, yes absolutely gathering, the back neck to fit the facing. I was dreading trying it on after that, but the blouse fits nicely across my neck and back.

Will I make it again? yes I’m planning to make the long sleeve version for cool weather (autumn and winter). That will eliminate the tab issue.  Also cool weather fabrics are never sheer or semi-sheer which will also eliminate using the underlining and all the headaches that gave me.  I will be paying particular attention to the back neck. I want to know if it was my fault or if the pattern was incorrectly drafted.  I suspect that instead of redrafting some things, like facings, someone at the Big4 just imports a previous draft. I find the default length good for my body and personal taste.  I do like the shirt-tail hem – even on a blouse- because I think it is a slimming element.  I can use all the slimming I can get across my strong hips. Also I had initially thought this was a pretty distinctive pattern.  But looking at it now, I see fairly simple lines dressed up with a few details.  I think it would be easy to mix and match given details or borrow the details of another pattern to keep this pattern looking different. I won’t make 10 of these in a years time. But I might make one for each season, with detail changes, and keep the style in my wardrobe for years to come.


4 thoughts on “McCalls 6512

  1. You have been sewing some great items . This particular top is so flattering especially – looks like it balances your narrower shoulders which you mention alot in your alterations. I love all the fabric you have picked out for your swap – I want to come and take it ! ( Dont worry I live in the opposite hemisphere ) I am glad the temps have dropped – persistent high temps are so unpleasant – I am hoping the American heatwave wont be repeated in Australia since we already have such hot dry summers normally.

  2. This top looks great on you, Bev. The print design, the colors and the pattern that you chose to use all work flatteringly for you. Congrats on a job well done.

  3. Bev, you look beautiful in your new top. I love the print and the fit is just perfect. With the shorts on, you look so young.


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