DIY · Fashion · Sewing

Review of McCalls 7995

I can’t believe everyone is sleeping on this pattern, it was so easy! I think because it was a winter release it got pushed aside in everyone’s brain but it really is great!

I feel like this dress is something I really would have paid a lot of money for. This dress makes me feel fabulous. I originally made it to wear to our cousins wedding this summer so not sure if I will make anything that will beat it before then but I am happy to have this in my closet because it’s gorgeous. I can see myself wearing this out to date night or dressing it up with a vintage vibe to wear at something fancier like a graduation or wedding.

The fabric was gifted by Minerva and it was a dream to sew. As always I just feel like their fabrics really are top notch. My biggest reason for saying this is because the fabric is high quality so it has the ability to have amazing drape and flow without being see through. I can’t tell you how many times I have been in a store or ordered fabric and it was beautiful on the print but when it came time to sew, it was see through I had to add a lining or a slip. Let me tell say, I don’t know about you but I am never trying to add extra steps to projects!

The fabric washed and dried beautifully and was very forgiving when I had to seam rip a few times. I also thought it had wonderful twirl action when I spun around in this one. It had that flow when you walk that makes you feel like you are in a movie, I just love this one so much. My mother in law said this was by far her favorite dress I have ever done, I think I agree!

The pattern itself has also become a favorite. It really was easy! I would just pay attention on the collar where you are attaching it to the bodice so you leave open the parts you are supposed to leave open and close the parts you need to close. If you get that wrong you will have to do that again, which I read in reviews was something that happened to some people. Overall though I think this pattern is highly underrated! It was really quick to sew up; it took me an afternoon after having it cut out. I strongly recommend giving it a try. It is beginner friendly as well.

As far as modifications for the dress, I omitted the fusible interfacing which I’m now seeing why it was included so maybe next time I will add that in. I also didn’t add interfacing on the neck facing part because I was afraid it would make the dress too heavy or show through. I don’t regret that but I did have to add some tacks into the facing now as a result. I also had to finish the facing as opposed to being able to turn it inside out so I think I just made the project take longer. Next time I make this dress I also would probably raise that lower armpit area; it shows the bra a bit. I also shortened this pattern by about an inch on the front and back bodice before cutting it out being a petite, I hope all that helps!

Pattern: Mccalls Version A M7995

Fabric: Lady McElroy Cyril Bubble Crepe Fabric Multicoloured 1230285-

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McCalls 8021 Review

I can now mark a sequin dress off my sewing bucket list! I have never sewn with sequins before, and as my very first one I have to say I am proud of myself. I don’t know why the idea of sequins always scared me so much, maybe it was because a lot of people mentioned how needles would break when doing sequins. I might have this irrational fear that a needle will break on my machine and into my eye one day, comical right? I will say though it didn’t happen with this dress, so this game of “chicken” with the needles continue.

I did do a lot of prepping on this dress and I feel like that is maybe what took the longest. When I went to cut out the pattern I used kitchen scissors so that I would not ruin my nice sewing scissors on sequins. It was really hard to do this because the kitchen scissors did not want to cut right and weren’t really sharp enough for this. I remedied this later when I was at an antique shop and bought a vintage sharp set of scissors that will now be my “dull” cutting scissors. I ended up cutting everything a little bigger than the pattern and then went back and slimmed down the fabric to the size of the pattern with my nice scissors, while being careful around sequins.

Then I went around all the dress pieces and belt to take off sequins in the seam allowance. I actually asked a poll on this and 60% of people said they just run right over them with their sewing machine, I was not expecting to hear that! Since these sequins were dangly I just had to make sure I removed only the ones sewn in the seam allowance. To get the dangly effect on the bottom of the dress I knew I would have to leave the dangle over the edge on the seam allowances there.
Sewing it actually went way better than I thought it would. I used a slightly longer stitch since it was mesh and I never had a problem with it getting stuck in the machine, jammed, or bunched up. I was prepared to use a walking foot but the fabric did just fine, I was so pleased!

The pattern itself was actually really easy as well, which I was happy with since I was using a more complicated fabric that required more prep than usual. The pattern was very straight forward though and it was really easy to complete, even with these sequins! The only thing that was a little difficult was under stitching the outer edge through the armhole of the dress before slipstitching and finishing those.

The pattern also would have taken little time to complete had I not been using sequins so I would definitely like to try it again later with a different fabric. I did omit the pockets because I figured an evening dress doesn’t usually have pockets anyway and I didn’t want to add bulk to that area. I also shortened the dress by 1 inch and was very glad doing so being 5”3 it hit me perfect on the legs.
Fabric: Gifted by Minerva, Sumatra Gold Sequin Mesh
Pattern: Mccalls: #M8021

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McCalls 7756

Fellow sewists, meet the pattern that almost broke me. Have you ever had a pattern that just drove you insane? This was mine. I think I went through all the 5 stages of grief before figuring it out, haha! I have never became so frustrated over a pattern but I suppose there is a first time for everything. It really is so hard trying to learn a dying art with no one to ask advice to. I suppose that’s part of our charm right? We are literally expert level puzzle masters and play advanced Tetris everyday with little to no help from anyone usually. It is this advanced game of solitaire every time we hit the sewing machine, by ourselves.

Where I went wrong on the pattern was that I didn’t understand the top consisted of 4 pieces and that you sew two together at a time and then all 4 together at the end. I was getting so frustrated that the right side and wrong sides weren’t matching up, at one point I said I just don’t know if I should give up or try harder. I ended up grabbing a margarita and I decided to put it to bed for the night. The next day I stared at it for 2 hours, even thinking at one point of just trying to put it together based on how I thought it could go together, but I had all the seams on the wrong side. In the middle of a breakdown it finally hit me, they wanted me to split up the 4 pieces as pairs then sew them together.

I can’t believe it took me so long to figure out my mistake, but victory is mine. It feels so good having figured it out by myself too. This community of sewists on the interwebs is so great, the moment I asked for help I got so many suggestions. Sewists really are genuinely nice people and so smart, I love being part of this community.

The fabric is a gorgeous mixture pink and purple lawn by Storrs London. It is Egyptian cotton and my goodness is it ever, I could seriously sleep on this stuff forever. This is my second or third time sewing lawn from Minerva and it never disappoints. It is 100% woven cotton and it sews so beautifully. If you are a beginner or just wanted some fabric that doesn’t slip or maybe even some that you just don’t have to fight the whole time I strongly recommend lawn. I feel like it’s very forgiving in terms of accidents as well, I had to rip seam quite often and the fabric really stood up to all the mistakes I made. It also washed and dried beautifully. I really am a big fan of the lawns and will continue to be based on their performance. I also really love how soft it becomes after pre washing and drying.

So all that to say go conquer something today! If you get frustrated sometimes the best thing to do is just get a margarita and sleep on it. It worked for me atleast! haha

P.S. We went to a bachelorette brunch on Saturday in VA and next door was this vintage fabric and silk trading post. I wished so bad it was open, I would have had to buy something!
Fabric: gifted by Minerva, Storrs London Egyptian Cotton Lawn in Pink
Pattern: Mccalls 7756 #m7756

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Simplicity 8932 (Vintage 1970)

You can take the girl out of Texas, but you can’t take Texas out of the girl! This weekend the warmer temps and smoking ribs made me homesick for Texas. I was able to whip this poncho up in about an hour; it might be the fastest thing I have ever made. I used a vintage pattern gifted to me by my grandmother and it was surprisingly easy to make! Does anyone else feel that way about vintage patterns? More often than not I find that they are easier and with less pieces and I appreciate that!
The pattern itself is a vintage Simplicity pattern printed in 1970. It was very straight forward and I did version 1 without the liner in it. I also omitted the scarf, collar, and pants option but that also looks fun to make. It was printed as a size 12 so I added a little onto the seam allowance just to give myself some wiggle room and I’m so glad I did because the neckline was still pretty small. If you buy vintage patterns you will find out that most were just printed as one size and that was the size you bought so if you are a bigger size you will need to add onto the seam allowance. I also find that vintage patterns run slightly small so I ended up adding a button clasp on the back neck so I could get the poncho over my head. I did end up omitting the liner since I did alter the pattern but I also really liked the feel of the inside of this flannel. I also figured for a spring poncho that might be quite hot and I just wanted one cool breezy layer.

I was gifted 2 and a half yards of this cotton flannel by Minerva and it did not disappoint. This medium weight flannel was perfect for a spring poncho and it washed and dried beautifully. This Robert Kaufman Taos cotton is non stretch which I also think gives it more structure. I also really love the Aztec pattern as the print. The blue, brown, and white really made me think of dancing in the desert. I also really think this blue is more striking in person and is definitely what drew me initially to this fabric. I ended up using the salvage as the poncho’s edge and I really like that it frayed just a little.

As an alternative I think I might end up fraying the edge some more, or maybe adding some fringe trim. If I do end up fraying it more I will eventually add a thin line of fray check or even a loose line of stitching so that the fray does not creep up the poncho. In the future I would maybe order just a tad bit more fabric as well. I double checked the amount of fabric the pattern suggested and the amount I received and both were correct but I was short when cutting out this pattern. I think I may have slightly had some shrinkage but I was able to just use the other side when cutting. The poncho was basically just two really big triangles.

Overall I am very happy with my poncho and how it turned out and I would do this version again with the same fabric.
Also, I really think my chicken liked her new poncho, so stylish.
Pattern: Simplicity 8932 (vintage 1970 copyright)
Modifications: omitted liner, collar, and pants
Fabric: gifted by Minerva, 2.5yds 1236763
Chicken poncho: Same fabric used, none were hurt in the making

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Simplicity 8606 Review

How do I love thee, let me count the ways. This silk skirt just rose to the top for my favorite make ever. First of all the material is 100%silk and it’s a liberty London Kensington silk crepe de chine fabric. It is absolutely gorgeous. I knew by looking at it online that it was going to have fabulous drape and was screaming to me that it wanted to have a flounce of some kind. It hit me that I had the most perfect pattern for it, Simplicity 8606. It’s a really simple skirt pattern with beautiful drape and a long flounce across the front; I knew it would be perfect for this silk make.

From the beginning I had to take special care of this silk and did tons of research for it before cutting into it. I also consulted with Minerva who encouraged me to launder it because it still has a 10% shrinkage sometimes. So I used special silk delicate detergent by Tide and it worked great. I started by getting lukewarm water and then swishing a small amount of the detergent in there. Then I soaked the silk and gently agitated it for about 3 minutes. Then I rinsed the silk and placed it on a towel. I rolled the towel up slowly, squeezing as I went to get the excess water out and then immediately unrolled it. I hung it to dry away from sunlight and on a clean shower rack. It dried very fast but I let it continue to dry overnight.

The next day when I cut into it I realized I needed silk pins and by luck I had those. I went through a lot of trouble to cover the table in tissue paper and tape it down so that when I laid the silk on top it would not move. The advice I had received was to sandwich the silk in between 2 layers of tissue paper then lay the pattern on top and cut, I did not do this. I only laid tissue paper down on the bottom, then laid silk on top of it, then laid the pattern on top of that. I also used minimal pins and only in the parts I knew would be seam allowance. The rest of the time cutting I used pattern weights and a combination of the rotary cuter and scissors. I had absolutely no problems and I do think the bottom layer of tissue paper really helped, highly recommend.

The pattern itself was very straight forward and went together really quickly. The only thing I omitted was the button hole you are supposed to make in the waist so that it hooks through there, I decided to leave this out. I did a test run on some silk fabric I had leftover when cutting and the buttonhole went disastrous on the test run. I decided that it wasn’t worth ruining this beautiful piece of fabric for a possible buttonhole so I decided I will just tie it around instead. I had no problems with it staying up or any wardrobe malfunctions.
Fabric: gifted by Minerva: LL-02349003B Liberty London Kensington Silk in Pink
I ordered 2.5yards for this project and sized up on sizing for this, made a size 14 per recommendations
Pattern: Simplicity 8606 modifications: omitted buttonhole

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McCalls 8108 Review

Some moms make mommy and me outfits, and here I am making chicken outfits. Yes, we are at this point in quarantine. Exactly a year ago this week I bought chicks so I decided we needed to celebrate their birthday’s with a cute spring dress, happy Birthday Chickens!
I actually finished this dress about 2 weeks ago and even shot the pictures for it but then decided the day I shot pictures for it that I needed one for my favorite chicken. I had some leftover scrap pieces and I decided this was a really good way to use it up. How’s that for a scrap buster? I think she even liked it, she wore it around for about 10 minutes before she decided she was done with it. Not only is it pretty but it is also functional. Our rooster has been tearing up her back so this dress acts as an apron when I turn it around to protect her back from him. She will be the most stylish one on our little homestead.

I was gifted this beautiful liberty London cotton lawn by Minerva and knew I needed to make McCalls #m8108 to go with it. The pattern itself was very straight forward, I had heard reviews of it being a size or two too big on some but I made my normal size and had no problems. Although I do see that maybe there is a little more ease in the bust area but I am not complaining there. The thing I loved the most about this pattern is hands down the sleeves. I had to use some bias tape on the inside for the ruffle that was a completely different color than the dress and was so surprised that you couldn’t see it through the fabric. I did test it beforehand by bringing the bias tape and dress into the sun for a light test and it passed.

I did have to adjust the hem of the dress, I am 5”3 and this dress came to my knees. In the picture the model has it hitting at her knees so I took up the hem of the dress approximately 1.5” before placing the ruffle on. I actually could have taken it up to 2” or 2.5” though. Or if I had omitted the ruffle the middle part of the dress would have been on the shorter side but still wearable as a dress. The invisible zipper was a breeze to put in and I was relieved that there was some overall ease of the dress so the zipper was not skin tight.

The fabric itself is so vibrant in person, the yellow really pops and the flowers on it really give it a charming feel. The fabric itself is nonstretch cotton that is soft to the touch and really allows it to have some great structure when creating pieces like this that have puffed sleeves. It also it lightweight in weight but not see through, which I really appreciate in a summer dress. I did line it on the bust area although I don’t think it needed it since it was not see through. Ultimately I decided to because I was worried if I didn’t the zipper would be too heavy on the fabric and I am not sure if I am right or wrong there but I am happy with what I did. This lawn by liberty London is 100% cotton and I had no problems washing or drying it at all. I think it washed beautifully and was very soft to the touch. I definitely really like this lawn and would get it again!
Pattern: McCalls 8108
Fabric: gifted by Minerva Liberty London Lawn 1246366 in “Golden”

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Simplicity 8013 Review

Hello again, it’s that 70’s girl. You know the one, stuck in the past looking through her mom’s closet for vintage pieces and trying to take them in for herself. Well dear ole mom caught on and said I should sew some so I did! I found all these vintage patterns and this one Simplicity relaunched from their vintage selection. When I saw this pattern I had to make it, it looked like something right out of my memories that my mom wore.
I had heard stories this pattern would have to be cut out completely on the ground and they weren’t kidding. It was a lot of fabric and it took a lot of space on the floor to cut. The pattern itself seemed to run slightly small in the rib cage so next time I would size up there. The rest of the pattern turned out as expected with the dress as flowy and as carefree as advertised. The sleeves were my absolute favorite part, they were easy and turned out great! I did have to put in an invisible zipper and was really nervous to do that, but after staring at the dress for days I just went for it and got it in there. I kept worrying that crinkle chiffon would get caught in the zipper but that never happened either.

It was my first time inserting an invisible zipper and I actually think they might be easier than regular zippers. I don’t know what I was so worried about but now I am a covert!
The fabric was this gorgeous multi-coloured crinkled chiffon by Minerva. It is a very lightweight woven non-stretch polyester fabric that has amazing anti wrinkle power. There were times I had to tend to the kids and didn’t have time to hang it up and never once did it crease from sitting there. I was so impressed on it’s ability to bounce back no matter how long. It also is dead stock so that makes it quite earth friendly as well. Since our landfills are having quite a time with fabrics taking so long to decompose there, anywhere between 20 and 200 years, I try to head for deadstock when I can to rescue the fabric and make one less problem for Earth.

Washing this fabric was really easy to do, I also hung it to dry and that seemed to work well. The fabric dried very fast as well. It did fray slightly as most chiffon will do but you can just add from fray stop to the bottom of wherever you cut before sewing and it will stop it in its tracks. Overall the fabric sewed very well also, the only think I had to do was shorten my stitch length just slightly so I didn’t get a gathered effect. Other than that it was very easy to stitch, which I had no idea what to expect so I was pleasantly surprised.
Overall I would definitely sew with this fabric again, I need to make some adjustments the next time on the bodice of this pattern though. I would make it just a tad wider for me in the ribs and maybe give myself just a little more under the arms. I am very happy on how this project turned out though and am excited to wear it once we actually can attend events again!

Fabric: gifted by Minerva. MF-160819-44
Pattern: Simplicity 8013 #s8013

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Upcycled Goodwill Dress with McCalls 8505

I participated in the makerist #memadevalentine2021 and was able to repurpose and refashion an entire outfit! The top blouse was repurposed from the lining from my grey vintage coat. The skirt was a thrifted dress that I cut down into a #tilliemccalls pattern. For the bib cutout I also used a vintage Butterick pattern and used scraps from some Minerva Lady McElroy fabric. The buttons were even repurposed when I friend was purging tons of sewing stuff and asked if I wanted them. Turns out they were perfect for this project!

Blouse: Repurposed deadstock
Skirt: Thrifted dress that I made into a skirt from mccalls pattern #m8505
Bib collar: lady McElroy camellia Embers 1181442
Buttons: inherited

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Butterick 6528 (circa 1971)

Am I the only one not looking at spring fashion just yet? I am definitely not done with all my winter sewing and I just can’t call it quits on all the cozy fabrics and patterns that I could still be using through March here. You see, I live in NC and it just doesn’t seem to warm up until late May and sometimes not even until June around here. I see coats as a necessity half the year since I am pretty much a summer person. I figure having some warm items might make me more likely to venture into things like snow though. It’s worth a shot, right?

First of all, this wool blend coating fabric gifted by Minerva is just gorgeous. Something that I didn’t know when I ordered it is that it has the most beautiful little gold specs in it that simmer in the sunlight. It has so much depth as a fabric, and I was quite pleased to see it glimmer ever so slightly in the sunlight. It has the components that wool typically does, wool is just the slightest bit scratchy but with a good liner I don’t think you would notice. It actually got a little softer after I washed it on delicate and air dried. Its composition is wool and acrylic and it is non-stretch heavyweight dead stock fabric. I would agree with all of the above on how it sounds is comparable to what you would expect it to feel like.

I do love that it is a deadstock fabric, which makes it earth friendly. Deadstock is fabric that has been ordered in excess, is damaged, or it may just have been unable to sell. However, instead of large companies sending it to the landfill, it is able to be recycled or sold as deadstock for those of us looking for these types of fabrics instead of polluting the landfill. Fabrics take between 20 to 200 years to decompose so by using deadstock you are also rescuing fabric that would have ended up in the landfill. You can always do searches for deadstock and find zero waste patterns to really optimize this effort!

Now to the pattern, this is a vintage 1971 Butterick pattern (6528) that was gifted to me by my grandmother and it was very straight forward. I got slightly confused at the end piecing it all together but then I eventually figured it out. I was worried about this fabric being too thick in tight spaces like the armpit or back but sewing it was not bad at all. The only problem is that it is one size too small for my shoulders and biceps due to all those pull up muscles from the Marine Corps. Next time making it I will give myself double the seam allowance to accommodate that. My favorite part of this pattern was probably the open v neck with the 2 fabric pieces folding open around the collar bone. I also really loved how the belt really accentuated the waist.
Overall I would definitely make this pattern again I would just make it have wider seam allowances and lines. I would do the same for the lining as well and find one slightly thicker since the one I chose didn’t quite work out.

Pattern: Butterick 6528 (circa 1971)
Fabric: Gifted by Minerva 1183885

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McCalls 7973 Review

When I originally saw this fabric called flowers and embers by Lady McElroy I knew I just had to have it. Something about it screamed old world to me and classic so I needed a dress I thought could go along with that. It’s still winter and cooler weather here in North Carolina so I knew it needed to be a dress with long sleeves so in comes McCalls Pattern 7973. I think this really went together perfectly because there is something about the fabric colors that scream winter and pearls. Also, the pattern just seems to go so well with the fabric in general.

The fabric itself is a gorgeous Challis that washed and air dried beautifully. I ordered 3 and 3/4yards and that seemed to be perfect for doing version B on the cover of the pattern. The fabric is so soft and has a wonderful drape. It also held up great to all the ruffles this pattern asks for and even has some structure to it to really flaunt those ruffles and cinching as well. Ultimately, this fabric was begging me to make it into something more than just a simple dress. It really wanted to show off, but in a low key glam way.

The fabric also had a lot of desirable features, it did not wrinkle easily when I had to set it down like normally challis does sometimes. It also did not fray easily so that made it better sewing some of these narrow hems knowing I wasn’t going to get a lot of frays sticking out. I also was able to manipulate it easily with an iron on low heat so that was very beneficial when sewing this piece together.

This fabric has the best detail in flowers printed on it as well. It might even be one of my favorites so far by Lady McElroy which by the way, if you have not heard of her fabric you need to check it out because I seem to love everything she makes. It has this old school glamour with a touch of class. Looking at this dress after finishing it reminded me of my grandmother and her stylish vintage style. I could see myself pairing this fabric and dress with pearls and heels for a wedding or a fedora and modern booties for a day of shopping. The fabric seems very versatile which is what I am usually looking for these days in a wardrobe.
The pattern itself was actually quite difficult. I found a couple of discrepancies within the pattern where it has been misprinted and contacted McCalls to correct those mistakes. The mistakes in the pattern were enough that it was very confusing doing the sleeves and I had to rip seam them apart twice for two separate reasons based on the directions. I have done quite a bit of pattern testing last year so I immediately caught this and made it confusing to complete the project until the third time. It was mostly within the pattern markings and what it has them listed as but just know if you did this pattern what to expect. It is not impossible to complete as I obviously completed this project but I wouldn’t recommend it for a beginner.
Overall I really loved the fabric by Minerva, but did not totally love the pattern. Maybe someday I will give the pattern another chance but not at the moment. However, I would definitely get this fabric again or look for a similar one by the lovely Lady McElroy.

Fabric: Gifted by Minerva, Lady McElroy Loretta stretch viscose fabric

Pattern: McCalls 7973