Category Archives: McCalls

Sewn: A Sunny Shirtdress

In theory, I don’t mind darkness of winter. That is the darkness caused by the sun staying under the horizon for 17 hours per day at winter solstice (one month later, the sun now stays up 1 hour more!). However, I do mind the dark clouds that lay over our skies, like Sauron’s protective cloud over Mordor, making each day grey, gloomy and dark, even when the sun actually is over the horizon. But that’s the way it is up here in the relative north (I mean I’m still a far distance away from midday darkness) and in the summer time we can enjoy a whopping 17h30m of sunlight. Take that midwinter!

The best cure must surely be to sew something yellow! Something to remind me that the sun is in fact hiding behind the clouds, because it is said that above the clouds, the sky is always blue, but it is difficult to believe it if you cannot see it*. So I added some yellow to my life in lieu of the sunshine I’m missing. A dress, which I then couldn’t photograph for several days, due to the aforementioned lack of daylight. Ah, the irony is not lost upon me.

This type of yellow is not something I usually go for, but it was a colour I was craving last summer after realizing my wardrobe colour choices were very neutral. Let’s add some punch to it! I think it will look better once I get a tan as well. Because I’m hoping I will and that this summer will be kind to dresses of short sleeves and bare legs.

The pattern is McCall’s 7623, a pattern I’ve sewn twice, once as a maxi dress and once as a 90s throwback. The bodice has various cup sizes, which is great, and I added some length to it, as I always do. This time I didn’t use the provided skirt, but added a gathered one, measurements based on the fabric I had left. Also, of course it has pockets!

It has pockets!

The fabric is a viscose/nylon blend from and I do love me a stripe. The waistband, outer yoke and collar were cut against grain to create a nice visual effect. Or, that is a blatant lie and I cut them cross-grain to avoid matching the stripes. In reality, it’s a little from column A and a little from column B.  The drape of the fabric is really nice well-suited for both holding the darts of the bodice, but also for creating swooshiness in the gathered skirt.

*This line comes from Swedish song Tusen Bitar by Björn Afzelius. It’s a beautiful song about friendship, doubt, loneliness and fragility of the heart. The line above is the first line of the song, translated into English.


Refashion: A New Life For A Wonky Dress

Three years ago I went to the lovely Cape Cod for a family wedding. It was 8C and rain when we landed in Boston and for take-off, one week later, it was 35C and sunny. Quite the contrast! (This is me in Cape Cod, BTW)

The wedding was held at the bride’s parents’ house in Chatham and it was a nice affair. We were served lobster, which I avoided due to an allergic reaction the previous year (according to my cousin (MD) lobster contain an allergen that do affect everybody, it’s just the cut-off limit that varies for different people) and danced the night away. Or, rather evening since the kids were only 4 and 7 at the time. I had made a dress for the occasion, a dress with which I struggled immensely. It was a nightmare to fit.

The before. With a safety pin in place. And a dried-out lawn.

I have worn the dress since, but always with a safety pin holding the neckline in place and having such a solution meant I never really felt comfortable in it. Plus the waistline was wonky and I always felt like such a fraud whenever I wore and got compliments. People got fooled by the pretty fabric that this dress looked good. So, I decided a refashion was in order.

The after, front. Everything lays nicely no and I can move without fear of indecent exposure.

I internally debated on whether or not I should make a skirt or a “new” dress. In the end I settled on a dress, since I had enough fabric leftover to make a new bodice*. I used the Belladone bodice from Deer & Doe; I added length and removed the back overlay bodice, extending the underlay bodice to match the front shoulders. This meant I could keep the back v-line, which I like having in dresses. Instead of using bias tape as facing I lined the bodice in a thin voile, with interfacing around the neckline, for comfort and structure.

The back. I like back v-necklines. And I did the zipper better this time. *Win*

Since the dress was finished right before midsummer it accompanied me to a small gathering with friends and it held up fine for all classical midsummer games and dances. I would not have done the “little frog dance” in the previous version, but with this dress I had no worries that my boobs would pop out.

So, refashion success!


*Bodice in Swedish translates to “liv”. As does life. So in Swedish when I say I gave my dress a new “liv” it means both bodice and life. I do appreciate a good word pun!

The Faux Wrap Dress for No One

See this girl? She looks happy in her dress, doesn’t she? Albeit the fabric choices are a bit juvenile, but I looked past the fabric and found a dress with a wrap twist on both the bodice and the skirt. I imagined it for the wedding I was attending in Cape Cod, in something nice and flowy.

McCalls’ 7317. Stay Away!

I bought a quite expensive cotton sateen, along with loads of cheap IKEA cotton, thinking that I am far enough into sewing that I can alter the bodice to make it fit. I happily set off on the journey, at that moment not realizing that ignorance is bliss.

This is what a screenshot of my phone gallery looked liked. In the middle of fitting, I stopped for grilled bananas with chocolate. And blue wine.

I don’t know how many times I made up that bodice. The 3 metres of IKEA cotton I had bought was all gone by the end of it and *spoiler alert* the dress still did not fit properly.  In a toile I sew using basting stitches, in order to easily rip them out. After a while I had pulled out the thread so many times that I got a cut on my finger. Cut by thread.

The problem lies in the neckline is my semi-qualified guess.

One of the major issues with this pattern is that the front neckline is the same for all sizes. Meaning that if you change the size you only change where the side and shoulder seam hit you. After a while my list of modification was long, I ran out of IKEA cotton, and I had a fit that was OK. In this case OK meaning not too much gape, not too low cleavage (or so I thought…) and adequate room in the waist. I cut my pretty fabric. One reviewer at Pattern Review says that she couldn’t get the dress to fit, but that it might be better suited for someone with a larger bust. Since I am that person, doesn’t this speak of really bad drafting?

The bodice was lengthened, bottom curve reshaped, I sewed with a smaller seam allwoanc at some places, pinched out a portion from the neckline and made the pleats longer. Still not enough.

This dress did come with me to Cape Cod and I wore it for my American cousin’s wedding. A year later I wore it to another wedding and this summer it also made an appearance at a party. The goal was to have a dress that would be that one go-to dress for fancy occasions. Sadly this is not that dress.

It needs a belt to be kept in place. And a safety pin in the clevage.

In order to not get an indecent cleavage I need to use a safety pin in a strategic place. I also always wear this dress with a belt to cover up the crocked waistline. Plus, the alterations of the bodice ultimately also lead to that the skirt didn’t line up properly and the overlap is much smaller than intended, leading to wardrobe malfunctions. I always get plenty of compliments, but I feel like such a fraud. Usually I take in the compliments, but when it fits this badly after putting so much effort into it, I feel they aren’t warranted. Plus, I just don’t feel comfortable in it.

I do love the back neckline

The pattern went off to one of my sewing friends, can’t remember who. I gave it to her for free, I couldn’t charge for such a bad pattern, but it did come with caution from me. I don’t know if she’s done anything with it. As for the dress, it will meet the scissors. I still love the fabric and the shape of the skirt. So I will take off that ill-fitting bodice and make a wrap skirt. I’m giving it another chance on life. As Tim Gunn says to Barney “Your [dress’] death could mean another [skirt’s] life”. That’s how I will view it.

Creation: McCall’s 5974 The Paint Splatter Dress

For weekends when we are expected to see people I have one dress that I grab. My Rule Britannia Dress. I made it a year ago and it has been on high spring/fall/winter rotation. For summer I choose my identical Aqua Painted dress instead. Sadly fall, winter and spring make up most of the year around these parts of the world so the Britain dress is seen very often. So often that I figured I’d need to make another dress so that people wouldn’t get sick of it.

Front view. There is a midriff band in there
Front view. There is a midriff band in there

Yet again I pulled out McCall’s “Perfect knit dress” (5974, OOP) and made myself a new dress. This time I made it with long sleeves, otherwise it’s pretty identical to my other dresses. What I like about this pattern is that is it a comfortable knit dress, but it still has some shaping and structure due to the pleats. I like structure in my garments. Stupidly I hadn’t marked the size on my traced pattern pieces at all so before tracing my new sleeve I had to match my old pieces to figure out which size I had. And here I thought I was always very thorough with noting my sizes and alterations.

Side view. I like the sleekness the band creates
Side view. I like the sleekness the band creates

The instructions for this pattern are very detailed. A bit too detailed. They have you sew ease stitches to set the sleeve in (it’s a knit, just stretch the shorter piece to match the longer), double-stitch every seam and add a zipper in the CB seam. I skipped those steps. They also want you to do a narrow hem for the neckline, which I did for the Rule Britannia Dress, which stretches the neckline. For this version (as well as the Aqua version) I did a neckband instead, which much better results. I also added cuffs to the sleeves to bring them in.

Added neckband for the neckline. I'm getting better and better at this technique.
Added neckband for the neckline. I’m getting better and better at this technique.

The fabric is a jersey/elestane blend from Stoff och stil. I had been eyeing it for quite a while, hoping it would go on winter sale. It didn’t, but I couldn’t resist it anyway. It’s dark grey with paint splatter on it, I really like it. I don’t know if the elestane content of this dress was higher (8%) than in my previous dresses, because when I sewed this up I ended up with a lot of excess fabric in my lower back, something I hadn’t seen earlier. The fit from the front was fine and the back was a mess (this is where I would add in progress pictures, but the batteries in the camera were dead). I took in the side seams an additional centimeter and shaped the back in the CB seam. It caused a little bulk in the seam, but the fit is way better.

Cuffs to keep the sleeves up.
Cuffs to keep the sleeves up.

So congrats family and friends! A new dress for you to see.

Do you have TNT patterns (aka clothing your family and friends see constantly)? Have you ever had a TNT pattern behave in a mysterious way?

Första kreationen för 2015 blir en favoritklänning. Två gånger tidigare har jag använt mönstret (Här och här), denna gånga gjorde jag istället med långa ärmar och mudd i ärmslut. Jag gillar kläder med struktur och även om klänningen är en jerseyklänning har den ändå struktur i och med midjebandet och vecken. Tyget kommer från Stoff och Stil och betedde sig inte riktigt som de två tidigare tygerna, men med lite ändring i sömmarna blev det en bra passform till slut.

Klänningen med brittiska flaggan är en av de klänningarna jag använder mest på fritiden under vår, vinter och höst, så de runt omkring mig blir nog glada av att få lite variation på vad de ser mig i.

Creation: Aqua Painted Dress

I am back to work since a couple of weeks following my parental leave. Now, don’t you worry about baby E (who, by the way is outgrowing her baby status soon) she’s at home being taken excellent care of by hubby. There’s a reason I write parental leave and not maternity leave. Besides working I am also trying to find time for my hobbies; sewing and judo (how stupid of me to have two hobbies that require to study and learn and remember more and more techniques). Tuesdays and Thursdays are judo nights. Seeing how Fridays and Saturdays are family nights that leaves three sewing nights; Monday, Wednesday and Sunday. I’ve have found that with limited time I am more efficient and can now present my next make.

I decided to use McCall’s 5974, “the perfect knit dress” and the pattern behind my Rule Britannia dress, yet again. Why ditch a winning concept? And it’s been my plan ever since January when I picked up the two pieces of fabric from the scrap bin.Aqua Painted Dress (3)

As I had already made this pattern once this dress went together rather quickly and only at the cost of one twin needle (although that was my own fault and I can’t put the blame on either the needle, the machine or the fabric). I made the FBA a bit smaller, for the Rule Britannia Dress it was 2”, for this one I narrowed it down to 1.5”. Instead of a narrow hem at the neckline, it bubbles a bit on the other dress, I sewed a banded neckline with a piece of fabric 2 cm wide and 80% of the neckline width. I liked that finish so much better. I also sewed the side and back seams with a 1.5 cm seam allowance as opposed to the suggested 1 cm. And yes, I’m uncontrollably mixing imperial and SI units. It’s how I roll.

Aqua Painted Dress (6)

The biggest challenge for this dress was stripe matching. I had 2 m of fabric, more than enough, so I knew  could do it. I cut the back first, on the fold, this was the easiest piece to match. The front has three pieces; bodice, midriff and skirt so I had to work with getting the lines as correctly as I could. You see, the lines are supposed to look tie-dyed, so they are not regular, the distance between them varies. With this in mind, I think I did a pretty damn good job.


Aqua Painted Dress (4)
Look at that stripe matching


The fabric is a printed cotton jersey, a printed tie-dye as opposed to, you know, a real one. I like the summery feel of the fabric, yet I think it works in the office (at least my office). It’s fun, comfortable, it fits and it’s flattering. I have nothing else to ask for. Although having made two jersey dresses in a rapid fashion I’m now in the mood for some woven fabrics, I have som eprojects lined up.

Do you use the same pattern more than once? Do you make version different from each other or are you fine with “having one in every colour”? How do you find time for all your hobbies?

Creation: Rule Britannia Dress

Can you imagine I’ve sewed something for a sewalong? It currently is #SewBlueFebruary and while I didn’t have that in mind as I bought the fabric, I later realised that I could join in. See, the fabric has blue in it.

The Britannia

Last Spring I saw a documentary on Queen Elizabeth II, BBC had made it in honour of the diamond jubilee. It was very easy to state two things: One, the queen is so much cooler than our king and two, I want to see this documentary on the Swedish king (it was very neutral and a Swedish documentary would be either pro or con monarchy). Another thing that stuck by me was how fondly the queen spoke of her yacht, the Britannia. One of the queen’s grandchildren talked about that the yacht was the only place where the queen could totally be herself, which I can understand as she was out at sea with no risk of paparazzi or journalists stalking her. In 1997 the British government decided that the ship was too expensive and the queen had to give up her beloved ship. It is now a museum in Edinburgh, if I’m ever there I will make sure to visit it.

The Inspiration and Aquisition

Anyway, this fabric came out in 2012 and I thought it was too much. Then I saw Anna’s (of Mormor hade stil) dress in that fabric and as I stumbled across a 1.75 m piece in the scrap bin at the store I bought it since she made the fabric work. Thus, I ended up with a comfortable dress in an abstract British flag dress. (Husband did not see that it was inspired by the British flag, my sister did). The fabric is a Jersey from Stoff och Stil. I didn’t sew it on my overlocker, I wanted to sew and not worry about working the machine, so it is completely sewn on my regular machine.

Rule Britannia Dress (4)

The pattern is McCall’s “Perfect knit dress” (5974, OOP), which I won from Stephanie at Starcross Sewing. I did view A with a U-neckline and short sleeves, it was the only version I could squeeze out from my piece.
This is a Palmer & Pletsch pattern so it has slash lines for alterations printed on the pattern, this prompted me to make my very first FBA. It fits great! So well that even my husband pointed it out. Why haven’t I bothered with these before? Lazy self! I added one inch on the bodice, so two inches in total. It was probably at bit too much, so for my next version I’ll take it down a bit. I also took the dress in at the side seams with 0.5 cm per side, it was also shortened to hit me at the knee. I finished the neckline with twin stitch on a narrow hem, for any upcoming versions I’m thinking I might make a band finish instead as the stitching stretched the neckline a bit.

Rule Britannia Dress (6)

Final Thoughts
I love wearing this dress! It is comforatble and fun, yet appropriate. Does it fit in with my style words? Comfortable, colourful, feminine, put together and structure. I think so! I paid 137 SEK (€15.5) for the fabric and it became a dress that fits beautifully and is fun. I’m expecting heavy rotation on this dress and have already planned another one with the same pattern. That one, however, requires pattern matching (striped fabric).

Have you avoided any techniques out of fear? Do you do patriotic clothing, even if it’s not for your country?