Friday, April 21, 2017

McCalls 7538 knit top with diagonal seaming

When I buy new patterns for knit tops or t-shirts the number one criterion for the purchase is that the pattern has to have something distinctive. It needs some detail that makes me want to sew it and wear it. A plain tee is just not going to catch my interest or my pattern dollars. I am kind of amazed at how many knit tee shirt patterns are circulating around the sewing world lately - that all look the same to me. How do you decide which one to buy and sew? and why make such a plain item? But of course that is the beauty of sewing - you can make exactly what you want and what appeals to your personal taste.

So when this pattern came out I bought it right away, I think the example dress on the pattern envelope looked so good to me - it has a lot of energy, if you could say that about a dress. So I sewed up the top to try out this pattern and it's pattern love on this one.

Mc7538 on me2

Although the details don't really pop with this fabric. Which I had in my stash and seemed like a good  bet for a first version, to work out the details and see if I liked the neckline and fit.

So far so good for this first version!

Mc7538 front view on form

I really like the shape of this top - fitted but not too much so. And the neckline, shoulders and sleeves fit really well. Lately the fit of the size 12 of Vogue and McCalls has been spot on for that crucial area. Not too wide in the neckline - something that drives me crazy (usually I find that in Simplicity patterns designed for wovens).
In any case - I did do some pattern fitting before I even cut out the top. Because I looked around the web at other versions sewn up and I think that on most women the seamline crosses the bust at not quite the right spot. (too high, bisecting the apex of the bust).

So I added some length to the upper pattern piece - which is cut on the fold. I added 3/4" at the bottom edge. That doesn't change at all how it attaches to the rest of the pieces, just makes the front longer than the back. Which I will deal with later :)

Top yellow arrow, showing the extra 3/4" added to bottom edge of Pattern Piece # 2.
Bottom yellow arrow, showing that I added 1/2" to the hip area (also on back pattern pieces not shown).  I always add a bit in the hip and then can take away later if need be.

Mc7538 pattern pieces

One thing to note about this pattern is to sew the segments in the order that they instruct. I wasn't paying attention, just started attaching them together and thought how can I sew that corner of piece number 8 into the triangle created by 6 and 7? But no - if you follow the directions you actually end with straight seams to connect - which is much better! So even though I say that I never look at the instructions that is not completely true. Usually when I am zipping along and then hit a point where I think "oh this is stupid'. So I read the instructions and find that it's me that is being a bit dense and they have worked it out much better!

We might as well get to the next question - how to deal with the difference in length front vs. back now created by my pattern adjustment. This is where knits are so nice. I just stretched the back a bit to make it meet up with the front. 3/4" is a very small difference in most knits, you could probably add up to 1.5" and get away with it. Alternatively you could gather the front piece a bit to ease it into the back. Arielle on Instagram tagged me recently that she tried this method which I guess I wrote about long ago? and that it worked well which I'm glad to hear :)

MC7538 side seam

Here's the pattern envelope. McCalls 7538. I really like the dress version and have some striped knit that might be just perfect for that. I was thinking about doing the V-neck version in a variety of scraps of striped fabric - which may look like a clown outfit or could be very cool. Time will tell.

McCall env template rev2

Here's another place where I decided to follow the directions and am pleasantly surprised. I do NOT like knits where the neckline is turned and stitched. For some reason that seems to me.
Like I'm sewing my own clothes but I will make the minimal effort. Harsh? Hey everyone has a details or two that they can't abide and that is one of mine. But for this semi-tester version I gave it a try (meaning I wasn't going to be heartbroken if this top didn't look great since the fabric was one of my $2 sale bargains).  And it came out nicely. I think this technique doesn't work on all knits - they have to have enough stretch to turn the round edge but not too much that they stretch out. If that makes sense!

Mc7538 neckline

Mc7538 back

Am I shrinking or are patterns getting longer? I think the trend is for longer tops, even in t-shirts. I hemmed it and then decided it was too long so very lazily turned up the hem again and stitched to shorten it another 1.25".  So the hem is a bit bulky. But now I know for the next version.

You can see on the dress form that adding the 3/4" of length on the top piece means that the seam does go under the bust point which I think looks optimal. Plus the diagonal seaming/stripes create kind of a slimming effect, which is fine with me!

Mc7538 close up diagonal

So that's the scoop on this cute t-shirt pattern, definitely a winner in my view. And it matches my new royal blue jeans (which I ordered from Lands End - a lot of their pants/jeans fit me perfectly so I am on the lookout for when they put them on clearance price). Expect to see these jeans a lot - they are such a great color for my wardrobe :)

Mc7538 on me

And don't you miss the pink jasmine on the back fence, I'm so sad to lose it however today is a plant sale at the local junior college horticultural department. So I plant to stock up on lots of new stuff that I will then have to find a home for in my yard.

Hello Stitch Studio in Berkeley where I will be teaching sewing classes is now open!  Some lovely photos on the space now online to view. You can register on their website for memberships and sewing classes. You don't have to be a member to take the sewing classes so I hope to meet some of you there. My first classes: Sew a Tunic top (morning) and Sew a Skirt (afternoon) start on May 13 and there are a few spaces still available.

Up next, I'm sewing a couple of items for myself in some beautiful cotton voile. Love that fabric! And working on various projects for sewing clients - with some interesting features that I will blog about.

Happy spring sewing,

Today's garden photo - you can see the gorgeous yellow rose in the pictures above that is at its best this time of year, but the star this week is the orange tree. In full blossom, covered in bees doing their job of pollination and the orange blossom scent is intoxicating!

orange blossoms


  1. Nice review, Beth. I'm at the point where I don't buy plain ole t-shirt patterns. I look for something interesting or unique before making a purchase. I saw this one but didn't get it because I was concerned with making a FBA work. Your instructions for lengthen the front (#2) may be the perfect solution for making the FBA with a slight variation of what you illustrated here. On the neckline, I like adding a neckband as well. Thanks again for the review.

  2. I've see that pattern pop up a few times and it looks better each time I see it. You've done a great job and that length alteration looks really good. I have trouble sourcing good stripey knits in my colours in the UK, I'm probably too picky, but I when I do it'll be first in my list

  3. Oh... love that! And actually quite glad to find out you had to shorten it.. just maybe... maybe it will be long enough for my daughter and I (5'9" and 5' 11"). So rarely do I not lengthen a pattern. My daughter would LOVE this pattern - some great color blocking possibilities.

  4. Cute, Beth! I'm getting this pattern and will follow your adjustment. Let us know when you get the back resolved ;)
    Look forward to seeing the next one.

  5. Nice top! and I hope you do the dress - it looks so interesting!

  6. Very nice, as usual!! I love that dress and can't wait to see what you come up with!!

  7. Adding the extra length to the front didn't seem like a whole lot of work. Why don't you just add that same amount, in the same manner to the back? Everything would line up on the side seams and it would look more professional.

  8. Thank you so much for this review Beth. I have this pattern and plan to make it soon. I so agree about adding the extra length to the upper front piece.I will definitely do that to mine. Do you see any reason to not add the extra to the upper back piece so it meets up at the angle on the side seam ? I deal with sway back and this would move the waistline. I know , but ??? I also agree so much with the neckline treatment. A neckband looks so much nicer on knit garments. Thank you again . I reakky like your top.

  9. I resonated so profoundly with this post - I just kept saying to myself, "yes! yes! I agree!" :) I too find just turning down the neck band unacceptable - it must have a band! and I have a couple of T patterns (you might want to look at J. Stern's women's t though - I just love this pattern and it's unusual with loads of opportunity for great fit - don't let the photo deter you - it doesn't do it justice at ALL - and I honestly don't have any reason to pump this pattern other than I just loved it) I love this one you've made too - it reminded me of Sandra Betzina's puzzle pants which are my favourite pants in the world by the way where you do have to pay attention to the order of construction or you could find yourself unpicking more than sewing.

  10. It's very cute. I think the stripe is the perfect fabric choice for the pattern.

  11. Oh, the orange blossoms must smell so wonderful!! This shirt is fantastic, the seaming is so flattering.

  12. Love it! Such a great color too! I always get confused about which knits to buy because some are so terrible, they pill

  13. This looks so great! Very flattering design

  14. Love this top on you - thanks for the review, and the comments about McCall's fit vs Simplicity. I've been noticing the same thing, as I fit both myself and clients. I like your length adjustment on this top for the below the bust seam - it's exactly what I did for my version of the draped top by Paco Peralta, which has the V seamed front panel that extends down to the navel. Can't wait to see the dress you make from this!

  15. Excellent job on this review, clear explanations that would allow me to make the same changes and they would be necessary as I am quite busty. Thanks so much for the post. Also you look great in the T.

  16. LOL! I think the same thing about the proliferation of tee shirt patterns these days. Why on earth people keep buying and trying different tees that look the same I have yet to figure out. I often wonder if they are looking for the Holy Grail without having to actually fit a tee.
    I really like this tee and I like the variety they've included for your pattern money. I hacked the similar Style Arc tee, in fact I am wearing it right now. The McCalls different enough that I'll put it on my to buy list. It looks really good on you, but you can really see the lines close up on the form.
    I want to thank you for showing that Vogue pattern with the darts sewn to the outside. I hacked that one with my tnt tee and it is one of my favorites. I rotated my very large dart into the three neckline darts making a very elegant design out of my bust dart. My 31 year old dd wants one just like it.

  17. What a fantastic fabric choice! I love the top. It looks great on you.

  18. What a fantastic fabric choice! I love the top. It looks great on you.

  19. I really like this on you and wish I could make it work for my plus size body! I do think they are looking for the Holy Grail of t-shirts and why they try so many patterns. I like your lowered seaming too!

  20. As usual you do beautiful work! This detailed review has made me want to get this pattern, so thank you!!