Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Finished Object (Sort of): McCall's 6826 Swiss Dot Blouse

My girl Marylin thinks I'm lookin' hot.

I've sort of been hinting at a blouse that I've been working on for a couple weeks now. It's McCall's 6286, version B with the 3/4 length sleeves. The only alterations I did to this top was omit the interfacing in the collar, facings, and cuffs. I wrote up a tutorial for dealing with buttonholes on thin, unstabilized fabric, in a blog post here and at PR here.

It's been a gradual project that I've taken my time with (a novel concept, for me). Well, I sort of finished it the other night, and I'm quite disappointed.

Cropped my face due to the stupidest expression ever. Durrpp.

NOTE: This is the true colour of the shirt. Because of lighting issues and some adjusting, the colour in the pictures range all over the place.

You might notice the lack of buttons on the front. That's because I can't be bothered to put the time and trouble into making them right now. Once I had the entire thing together, I tried it on and discovered a few things:

1) The sleeves are too long!

Marilyn is laughing at my despair, the wench.

I'm pretty certain I don't have stubby arms (chubby, maybe, but they're not short), so I don't get why these supposedly 3/4 length sleeves are actually about 1.5 inches short of being full length. There is a tab sewn on the inside of the sleeve (not shown) that allows you to roll up the sleeves, but I'm sort of disappointed in this. If I were to make this blouse again (questionable, right now), then I'd definitely shorten the sleeve about 2 inches.

2) Uh...Hello there belly, you're not supposed to be showing:

Yeah, I'm not a fan. This may be the biggest deal breaker for me. Maybe having a touch of belly showing might be appropriate if I were 18, but at 30, I'm just not crazy about this. And those pants are about 1 inch below my belly button, too. I guess I could wear a cami underneath, but the whole point to this project was to make a light, airy blouse for summer. I don't want to wear a hot cami underneath! Granted, when the belt is tied up at the front, you can't see it, but that's not the point.

3) Speaking of the belly area, the 'v' shaping at the bottom is really unflattering!

I've tried this top with various jeans and skirts, and I can't find any combination that makes that front inverted 'v' look flattering. It looks like my hips were too big to keep the front at the bottom closed! Maybe I'm being overly critical, but it reminds me of too many tops that don't account for hips on a woman, and pull open as a result (sorry for the not-helpful picture). I think this part is a miss for anyone who is a little more curvy than average on the bottom.

4) Major fabric pooling at the upper back region

The collar looks weirdly high here, but that's because I've pulled down on the front a bit. Usually the collar sits a bit lower on my neck.

There are 4 vertical darts in the back, and they cause some fabric pooling across the upper back. If I pull the front of the top down a lot, it sort of goes away, but not completely, and then the front of the shirt hangs weird. Maybe the darts need to be extended upwards, or maybe even let out a little bit? No idea.

It's really hard to take a picture of your own back.

5) Slightly too small

Okay, so I admit, I've put on a bit of weight the last couple weeks (I blame thesis stress), so the whole thing is a little snug. That's my own fault, and maybe I'll dislike this less when (yes when!) I shed a few pounds again. I cut a size 16 according to my measurements (at the time), and it seemed to hold true to size. I'm...just not the same size anymore. Ooops!

Despite all this, there are things I do love about this shirt. I adore this fabric. It's a lovely turquoise swiss dot with an interesting texture to the fabric. The neckline is just lovely, and I'm pleased not to have major cleave problems. It screams for a pretty pendant or something, eh? Maybe a lacy necklace like this one by Disney at Ruffles and Stuff.

I'm not normally this red, at least not before summer time and the sun and I have battled it out (I usually lose).

I'm also kind of stupidly proud of these cuffs. Even without interfacing to stiffen them up, they turned out really lovely. Look at that placket! (Please excuse the different buttons. I was trying out different button styles. If I ever finish this, I'll be using the white glass ones shown here.)

I finished all inside seams except for the dart at the top of the sleeve at the shoulder. Everything was done by french seams, including where the raglan arm attached to the bodice. French seams are remarkably easy to do and looks quite nice. Especially if you use matching thread (which I only did for half the project because I was too lazy to go buy turquoise thread).

French seams everywhere! Note how I (totally unintentionally) arranged it so that the side seam and sleeve seam flipped on opposite sites to reduce bulk? I need to remember that for next time. Also note the ugly contrasting white thread? Ooops.

A heads up, though. If you're not a fan of handsewing, you're going to hate this. You're supposed to slipstitch the front facings and the collar down. I actually enjoy it, and worked on it while watching a tv show (or two).

Look at all those darts! Eight vertical darts in all! Here's a tutorial for lining up the seam lines.

While I found the instructions to be decent, overall, the collar was a bit of a headache. All I can say is make sure you draw on and line up the markings perfectly. Mine went on alright (after a small but curse-filled battle), but there's some mistakes. Like a seam showing on the collar below (that, while visible, thankfully blends in).

My dear lovely readers, I'm walking away from this blouse. For now, anyways. Maybe I'll come back to it later on and shorten the sleeves, add buttonholes and buttons (I have the buttons already in a baggy and pinned to the shirt - yay organization!), and play around with the back darts.

For now, I'm moving on to a couple, much more simple projects. Keep an eye out for more summery garments!

Happy sewing all!


  1. What a pain! The collar looks lovely, though!

    I think the whole back looks too tight from the armpits down :( maybe letting out the darts would help a bit but the hem would still be too narrow around. Blargh! Cue to grade to a larger pattern size lower down? I dunno.

    Well, at least it was great technique practice, right? ;) and who knows, maybe it'll fit right(er) once the thesis stress is done. (it can't really last forever, right?)

  2. Oh no! At least you got to practice all of your techniques, right?

    Hopefully it will fit much nicer when all that stress is over. :]

  3. I'm sorry that you have those fit issues with the blouse, it's such a cute number and you have put so much effort in it :( However don't get discouraged, I agree with the other commenters who said your weight will probably drop after the thesis stress is over!

  4. I'm so sorry this one didn't work out. I think it is a cute shirt anyway. I say the next one got for an easy win, that hepled me get over my Sencha disaster!

  5. This is a great blouse. Great fabric,great color on you,and I think ,nice bracelet length sleeves. Beautifully sewn collar and cuffs. Here's some quick fixes: completely remove the darts in the back. Make slits below the waist on the side seams. Open up the seams,then turn and roll 1/8" and topstitch. Do you have extra fabric? If so, cut wider and longer belt and wrap it around twice and tie like an obi. Or, forget sewing and go around the problem. Buy support top hose. If you don't like nylons,cut the legs off and just wear the top over panties. Or buy camisole with spandex and wear shirt open. Put on a necklace, and a smile, and be happy. :)

  6. Not much else I can say that others haven't, and I don't have the experience to offer advice. But I will say that the fabric is so pretty and the colour looks gorgeous on you! Got to have a pain-in-the-neck project sometimes eh?

  7. @Tanit-Isis: Yeah, I knew it was a little too tight from the armpits down, and sort of attributed that to the recent weight gain. I'm leery to fart with the darts (heh) since I'm pretty sure that'll come off once I'm no longer sitting in front of a computer and stressing out.

    @Robert: Thanks for the suggestions! I don't know if I'd want a wider belt since I'm a little short waisted and really curvy, so wide belts look wrong (although I do wish I'd cut it longer).

    Thanks, everyone else. I still like this blouse, but it's a little to fitted to deal with with my fluctuating weight right now, so I'll come back to it later on when things settle down a bit more. :) I definitely learned a lot with it, so it wasn't a waste of time at all. :)

  8. I think it's a cute blouse, but isn't it disappointing when you get all those issues crop up that just don't make it work. I really love the style and color though!

    And hand sewing, I must say, I'm actually starting to enjoy it now. I just sit down and watch tv and do it too! LOL

  9. If you can release the darts without it showing, do so to try to eliminate the bottom front spread if possible. If that does the job you can go back & add some smaller darts from the waistline up to put some shape back in to follow the curve of you lovely waist & back. Alternative to that perhaps use the top as an over-layer leaving it unbuttoned at the front (you'll have to let go of your goal for a single cool layer on this one at least until you can shed your stress pounds). Both these opts should eliminate the back "pooling." If you're still feeling adventurous, though, you could instead add godets along the side seams to release the hip area. Godets are fabulous. I am pear shaped so when I sew a blouse I cut the top part for my bust measurement but below the armholes at the side seams I cut it at least a size bigger. That way when I put it on I can take it in where needed for shape but have enough wearing ease where I go curvy. Hope this helps & happy sewing.


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