Saturday, March 7, 2015

A Good First Effort

Every since I saw this version of McCall's 6844, I knew I'd have to make it. Not that I made the same version...

Here are the options:

Allison made view B. I opted for view A cuz I'm petite and I thought the proportions would suit me better. I think that's true, but Lord, what a sizing stupidity this pattern is...

For starters, here's what mine DOESN'T look like, in real life:

Yeah, it photographs like crap. It would appear that there's no waist shaping (and admittedly, there needs to be more), but when worn, it does provide an hourglass silhouette, I swear.

It's the stupid dress form that's uneven - not my work!!
Here's a side view of the subtle high-low thing it's got going on:

And here's a shot of the shawl collar from the back (I seem to have cut every other shot at the neck):

It does seem very shapeless here, no? Partly, that's cuz I cut the size the instructions advised I should make (from finished measurements provided) - the medium - and it was ridiculously large. I mean, the finished bust measurement is NOT 36.5". I can wrap it 3 inches at the boobs (unheard of for me) and it's just supposed to touch at the placket. Hilariously, the instructions indicate I should actually have cut the large. WTF?!

In the end, I reworked this in pre-muslin alterations, and then again thereafter, so that my next version will be between an XS and an S.

Be warned, narrow people (and quite independent of the vanity sizing), this is designed for a broad-shouldered broad. I had to totally rescale it at the shoulder - like removed 2 inches plus from each outer shoulder?! My next version will be cut smaller than the XS at the shoulders. But make no mistake, if you don't get the fit in the shoulders this jacket will look totally amateur. Its strength is all in fit and fabric choice.

What you can't see in my photos is that, at the sleeve head where it meets the shoulder, there's a lip of 1/2 inch of fabric stuck between the original serged seam and my "ensmallening" seam, because that's how much more fabric I had to shave off the sleeve head and shoulder. After removing inches of width before cutting?!

But just for a change, I used the (appreciated) petite fold lines (there are 2 - one below the waist and one above) and my finished product is on the edge of being too short?! When has that ever happened?! The next version will be an inch longer because I've reverted the "below-waist shorten" to its original length.

I used a gorgeous denim ponte that looks grey in every photo but is actually a stone-washed blue. Trust me, it's elegant. The fabric is the perfect weight so that the jacket hangs like a blazer, not a cardigan. Mind you, if you were to use a sweater knit or a drapey rayon, it would look totally cardigan - and I don't think that's its best iteration. FWIW, I think this piece gains from a structured fit in a structured fabric.

Kristin Alterations (Based on Medium):
  • Removed 2 inches from shoulder-width of the original medium size. This brings the shoulder width to smaller than the XS size provided.
  • Shortened vertically using the petite shorten-lines (nice addition to the pattern). Will end up lengthening the lower one in next version. That means this thing is pretty darned short if you make the petite version of view A. If you're 5'3" or taller, I recommend that you don't shorten both lines.
  • Took width out of the side-seams (to between a medium and small). I expect to remove width from the centre back, in a third version, if this isn't adequate - which would take the side seams down to a full small. Note - the version I've photographed is smaller than the medium in the side seams but, after making the muslin, I went back and took some more width from the side seams .
  • Altered the sleeve head to suit a) my general sloper and b) to get the sleeve to fit the armscye (which I'd substantively altered in curve and width - to narrow the shoulders). Had to do this yet again after making the muslin because the sleeve head was still too tall (half the reason I had to do muslin surgery to narrow the shoulders after the fact).
Eventually, I might even narrow the shawl collar band - it's quite wide - but I'm going to try to perfect the width through other means as I do think the band is what gives this thing its oomph.

One other thing I did - cuz I was short on fabric:

I had to cut the band at the waist and piece it together. Those bands are long and you need 4 of them? I do think it's best to work with 2 yards of 60 wide fabric for this piece, which is actually more than the pattern calls for. That NEVER happens. (Update: In retrospect, I believe this happened because I had a wonky yardage of this fabric - as I'd already cut from it once. On my next version, I used a clean, 60" wide piece and it only took 1.3 metres (1.5 yards).)  I was actually able to cut 2 pieces full-length and the other two were intended for the facing (which wouldn't show from the front). But as is my usual way, I confused inside and outside. I suspected this would happen so I aimed to make the work-around as pretty as possible with top-stitching. It's actually an interesting, if subtle, design feature and it was more relaxing than worrying about which side was up.

Now off to the new FabricLand that opened in the Honest Ed's building (till they close it and demolish it for condos next year. Fucking condos.)

Thoughts on this piece? I realize that the photos are bad, and you can't see it on, so the best you can do is talk about how it might look better in real life. But I'm intrigued to know, if you've made this, if you found it ridiculously large-fitting. But short. Did you make it using a structured fabric? Did you do the peplum version? I might actually make that one once I get the dimensions of this, truly practical, wardrobe basic down.


  1. Yours is a nice make! I've made the peplum version 4 times. 2 for me and 2 for gifts.

  2. Looks great!
    Makes me wonder - I've got 2m of really nice, thick ponte with some stretch and excellent recovery that I bought on Ottawa st - actually, I think Sara bought some in blue at a meetup? I can't figure out what to make with it, because I've decided I don't like ponte pants, but it needs a structured pattern. What should I make, o wise one?

    1. Oooh, you could gift it to me! :-) You could totally make this pattern (or a structured knit jacket). They really are all the rage. I have some ideas about how to tailor this to provide a more flattering silhouette so wait for my next post on the topic...

  3. I'm really relieved to read your review. After reading seemingly hundreds of fab reviews of this pattern, I enthusiastically set to making my own. No matter the careful work I put into making alterations, and learning from the first version to improve the second, I just couldn't get it to work. Unsurprisingly, I have narrow shoulders. Wen I went back to photos after my own difficulties, I did notice that the models always had their hands on their hips or some other strategy which nipped it in at the waist. I think you are right about the need for structured fabric, but I found that out the long hard way!

    1. Sandra - wait for my next post on the topic. In addition to the shoulder situation, there's another flaw in the drafting, IMO. I think I've found a solution that will make this more flattering for most.

  4. Even though it sounds like it was a challenge, the end result looks pretty awesome, so at least you get a win in the end. :-) I do feel you though, I've got a project that's nearly done (just needs buttons!) that I had to alter til it was nearly unrecognizable to get it to work for me.

    1. So kind! It's not there yet but I feel this pattern has potential. I think we've all got to start thinking of patterns as starting off points. It makes the whole process less painful (or at least it calls a spade a spade).

  5. Gorgeous K! Absolutely gorgeous. This is stunning. I am going to have to make this pattern -- and this type of seaming works for me but I could see that the fitting would be difficult!

    1. Thanks Pam - you totally have to make it! Stay tuned for more on fitting it...

  6. Replies
    1. Thanks Evie! I know I always say this to you, but I really think this would be quite flattering on you!

  7. Particularly with the Big 4 - it's out of control!

  8. fitforaqueen had someone send pictures of their attempt at this pattern in as one of the Sew Bad Saturday posts. She had a similar problem - it was just comically huge - the peplum back looked more like a trapeeze coat!
    I always wonder what's going on when a bunch of people seem to have no problem with a pattern, but a bunch of others (who I trust) have significan issues. On one hand, it could be that some people are so used to sizing way down, making certain major pattern adjustments, etc. that they don't even think to mention it (which isn't super helpful in a blog post, IMHO). Or maybe it's the 'if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all' mentality? All I know is that I find as time goes by, I've been dropping more and more blogs that never seem to have any fitting issues, or any wadders...

    1. I know - it's so strange. I just assume that everyone has to make a reasonable number of changes to ensure good fit - unless one is very curve free and shares the shoulder and vertical proportions of the Big 4...