Shorts and Shirts Summer Wardrobe: Vintage 70s McCalls 5526

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I just got back from visiting family. My boyfriend’s sister just moved into a new house. Their neighbor has this cool weeping willow tree that extends over to their backyard.

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The Goal: This is one of the shirts I panned to make (only one more shirt left!) for my Shorts and Shirts Summer Wardrobe. I had been putting it off because I couldn’t find just the right fabric and I also didn’t want to deal with the hassle of grading.

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The Pattern: It’s an old McCalls from 1977. Part of the Marlo’s Corner collection. Marlo Thomas was the star of the late 60s sitcom, That Girl. And no, I’ve never seen it, but the theme song is pretty cute. It was sort of a more fun version of the Mary Tyler Moore show, you know, less work, more shenanigans. She sort of reminds me of a 60s Zooey Dechanel.

Marlo joined forces with McCalls in the 70s to produce something like 30 patterns. This pattern is a sportswear set with two top versions, shorts, culottes (how 70s!) and wide leg pants with side pockets. I reeeaaaaalllllllyyy liked version C of the top and was on the hunt for this pattern for months.

Unfortunately the pattern was in a size 8 and I needed a 12. I used the slash and spread method (Elegant Musings has a tutorial) because I figured that would be the easiest way to work with the yokes and I wanted to keep the center front piece unchanged. One thing I forgot, though, was to lengthen it. I only needed to lengthen the yokes because the sleeve openings are a little tight. I narrowed my seam allowances and it worked out ok.

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The Fabric: Some unknown (possibly poly/rayon) twill I got in Dallas. One thing that’s bad about this fabric is that it wrinkles easily but it holds its shape well.

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The Changes: Other than sizing, not much. I twin needle top stitched almost ever seam. Also the front slit was a little low so I slip stitched the slit back up a couple inches.

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The Results: It’s cute! I got lots of compliments on it already and best of all – it’s useful! It’s off-white so it goes with most everything which is something I really need with shirts. And I’m almost done with my main goals in my Shorts and Shirts Summer Wardrobe – just in time for fa–more summer. It’s 93 degrees today.

Shorts and Shirts Summer Wardrobe: Pattern Runway Sweet Shorts

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These shorts were much more difficult to make than expected – not because the Pattern Runway Sweet Shorts are a difficult pattern, they’re not, rather I made many dumb mistakes that resulted in unnecessary effort. I couldn’t even get the photos of them right the first time! The pics turned out all blurry. These are Sweet Shorts Pictures 2.0.

Even for all the pitfalls and confusion I can say that I really like these shorts. They fit like a glove and are comfy and cute. A triple threat when it comes to clothes sewing!

The Goal: These are the last pair of shorts for my Shorts and Shirts Summer Wardrobe and seeing as they’re plain black they’ll probably get the most wear.

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The Pattern: Pattern Runway’s Sweet Shorts with the scalloped hem in front. I like that it’s not too scalloped like something a five year old would draw when making a picture of a boat on the ocean. It’s a classy scallop! I was between sizes so I made the executive decision to slice right down the middle between a small and a medium. Perfect fit!

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The Fabric: Black cotton bottomweight from Joann. Nothing fancy but it gets the job done and it’s not too drape-y nor too stiff. The pockets are leftover yellow batiste, nice and lightweight for the pockets.

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The Changes: I didn’t make a muslin, instead I added extra seam allowance space in the crotch area because I knew I’d most likely have to make changes there. Luckily the back was fine but in the front I had to make a common adjustment for me – moving the crotch line farther outward at the lower curve. Amy at Cloth Habit has a great visual tutorial of the change I made.

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The other change was to the side seams. My thighs aren’t sticks but for some reason most of the shorts patterns I use make my thighs look stickly. I trimmed only the back leg pieces at the side edges and kept the front shape the same. This tucks in the back leg area nicely while leaving the front in its original size.

But – mistake #1 The bottom of the legs use a facing rather than a hem which is good because trying to hem that front curve would be impossible. Unfortunately when I altered the back leg sides I needed to alter the facing, too. Well, oops, I cut the facing too short. I tried to make it work but alas – no luck. So I had to re-do the facings.

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Also, I love the idea of the welt pockets in back and I was determined to follow the instructions given in the pattern. I know that in early editions of this pattern there was some typo or mistake in the pocket directions but I believe I have the fixed version. I really did try to follow along and I got to the point where I was about to add the pocket bag when I gave up.

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I’ve made welt pockets before but his time the directions and I just didn’t get along. I didn’t always understand the illustrations (everything just looks like a rectangle to me!) nor did I really know what the pocket was supposed to look like in the end. I even went to Pattern Runway’s blog to read the tutorial on welt pockets there. The tute made more sense than the pattern directions for me.

I understand why she wants you to make these pockets in a certain way. The pocket should extends all way to the waistband seam for extra support and she has a clever way of making sure the pocket lining fabric doesn’t show through in case the pocket gapes slightly. But there seriously has to be an easier way of explaining it.

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(yeah, I should really finish those edges, or at least pink them…)

In the end I reverted¬† to my fave way of doing welts – what I call the “one piece welt” because the window backing and welt flap are the same piece. Poppykettle has an awesome tutorial for this technique with clear pics and easy to follow instructions. The only thing I did differently was to incorporate Pattern Runway’s welt backing so you can’t see the yellow lining at all from the outside.

I made another mistake by attaching the waistband back facing first rather then the front piece which caused problems trying to add the invisible zipper. Lots of unpicking. Ugh…

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And then I had to decide whether or not to take time to fix a sway-back issue under the waistband. Because I wanted to fight my compulsive laziness, I had this great idea that if I went ahead and unpicked part of the back waistband then that would force myself to fix it because the stitching would already be un-done. Only later did I realize I had accidentally unpicked the front waistband! Ugh. Lots of re-stitching. Even after fixing the back the issue is only partially resolved. There’s still some extra fabric folded at the upper back but it is better than before.

The Results: These are great shorts! I love the styling, the high waist, the top stitching in front and I even love those pesky welt pockets. Perhaps I’ll make them again in the future and change the pattern up a little bit. I love Lizz’s version with gathers and a belt tie.

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Oh, and Justin took these pictures while we were out today. He figured out how to do the fast-frame picture taking and wanted to use it so to appease him (gotta keep my important photographer happy!) I did some dancing. We can call this the “happy shorts” dance.

Shorts and Shirts Summer Wardrobe: Bow Blouse

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Fact: When making a shirt with long neck ties you will inevitably stitch those ties to other parts of the blouse by accident.

The tie bow was the last piece that I added to this shirt and I still stitched the ties to the facing twice.

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This blouse took a while to finish for two reasons: firstly I self drafted it and that took a lot of tweaking, and secondly I’ve been distracted by video games – namely Elder Scrolls Skyrim. Yes, I admit it. I play video games. Ok, well, not always, just lately. And that game is the longest game in the history of game-kind. I could read the entire Game of Thrones book series before I finish this game! I’m glad sewing doesn’t take as long as this game.

Anyway, on to the shirt.

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Karel, a sewing maven from my sewing group was kind enough to lend me a big fat pattern drafting textbook. I was like a kid in a candy store with that thing. I know a lot about drafting but certainly not everything and it was nice to learn the “why” of what I was doing.

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I began with a basic bodice block (the same I used for this dress). I rotated the darts to the shoulder and turned them into gathers. Next I made a yoke from front to back that I made into one piece so I don’t have a shoulder seam. Then I turned the back darts into tiny pleats (hard to see with this print). I made gathered, semi-flutter sleeves, lengthened the shirt by doing a rough body measurement of how long I wanted it to be, and finally I two 33″ long strips that I stitched together and used as the tie. There’s also a neck facing holding the tie in place. The sleeve and bottom have baby hems which I like with this fabric.

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I put some scrap bias tape to good use by making flat piping between the yoke and shirt pieces in the front and back.

The fabric is a rayon I bought from Fabric.com (I love rayon lately!). Justin said he liked it but the print reminded him of his grandmother, to which I said “Your Grandmother is one classy lady.”

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Since I made the neckline and tie from scratch at the end it’s not quite the most accurate portion of the blouse. The front V isn’t really pointy even though the facing is nice and pointy. Not exactly sure how that happened. Also I cut the facing too big and had to fix that while I was sewing. What I did here was just cut a neck hole in the fabric that I could stick my head through then cut the V shape later. Next time I’ll make my v-neck into the original pattern.

Well, now I’m more than halfway through my Shorts and Shirts Summer Wardrobe. I’ve made two shorts (one was already made) and two tops. Only one pair of shorts and two shirts left to go! Not bad, I figured it would take me a lot longer to sew this mini-wardrobe.

Shorts and Shirts Summer Wardrobe: Chambray Shorts

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Shorts! With buttons! Justin called these the Sergent Pepper shorts when he first saw them. Must be all the buttons… Anyway, this marks three out of four of my shorts I’m making for my Shorts and Shirts Summer Wardrobe. I’m nearly finished with my next shirt for SSSW but I’m self drafting it so it’s taking awhile.

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These shorts were also self drafted by combining the best bits of crotch curves from a few patterns and pants I owned to create a franken-crotch that I think works pretty well.

These shorts sit lower on the hips with a waistband and has bound edges rather than a hem. I used my handy-dandy bias tape maker (thanks Polly!) and some old navy linen blend scraps that I had to create the binding. It makes a nice contrast to the cotton chambray I think.

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The shorts close at both sides and have a little curve at the bottom where they meet. I used twelve metal buttons total. The design on the buttons are little flowers which I like because I think it makes them look less military.

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I got the idea for the buttons down the side design when I put on my other shorts for the first time this season and realized they were too big. With these shorts if I lose or gain weight I can just move the buttons over and resize the shorts easily. No having to undo hems and waist bands and re-sew side seams. The buttons are both decorative and practical!

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(this was the only shot of the back that was in focus which is weird because my camera ought to have been on auto focus. and this pic has that darn tucked-in-shirt line, too. ugh)
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If I make these shorts again I’ll use a fabric with more substantial hand and less body. That’s just a personal preference. This chambray folds and wrinkles pretty bad and doesn’t always like to sit flat. But on the other hand, they are very light weight for summer!

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The shorts have curved pockets in front and small darts in back.

I’m planning on making a pattern for these because with the binding and button sides they’re really easy to make and fit. But that’s going to have to wait for a couple months because I’m going on vacation in June and I have to whip up a bunch of clothes for my trip – including swimsuits! So much sewing, not enough time!!