Sunday, July 18, 2010

McCalls 6165 - Layered Tunics

I am a fan of the funky swing tunic with non-linear hem that has been available in upscale boutiques for some time now, but the style is now appearing on teens. For example, my daughter recently brought one of these home and she would not have worn this style even a few months ago. Of course, hers is more youthful with its cropped hemline and giant trompe de l'oeil bow, but don't fashion trends typically migrate in the other direction?

Twice I have made Very Easy Vogue 8542. Though I made the grey top only last August, it has seen serious duty and has become quite pilled and worn – I find myself thinking I should toss it, but then I wash it and put it right back into rotation. I haven't worn the red rayon version as much – it's a bit more formal.

I made another, somewhat similar, tunic by Marcy Tilton – Vogue 8582. I have worn it more than the red top, but less than the gray top. This one was made from a slinky fabric and I find I don't wear slinky fabrics as much.

McCalls recently threw their hat into the ring and offered their version of this style – McCalls 6165. This pattern has some interesting features.

  • It is designed to be layered.
  • There are three under tunics (views A, B, and C) with different necklines and sleeve lengths.
  • The over tunic (view D) is a tank style with an open neckline and a wider armscye to accommodate the sleeve on the under tunic.
  • The under tunics are similar in design to Vogue 8542, except they have no side seam – there is a side panel instead, but the overall silhouette is similar.
  • The Very Easy Vogue tunic has dropped sleeves and the McCalls pattern has set in sleeves - a design line I find to be far more flattering.
  • The over tunic is similar to Vogue 8582, except the side drape is on both sides and the drape is shorter and wider than the drape in 8582.

I decided I wanted to use this pattern for an expensive, sheer, cotton, single knit jersey I bought at Britex. However, I wanted to make a few changes:

  • I wanted to make the under layer using a black mesh knit I purchased as Fabrix and I wanted it to be sleeveless.
  • I wanted the over tunic to have the sleeves. This way I could showcase the pretty Britex fabric and use the mesh tunic strictly for modesty in the main body of the garment.

The sizing of the pattern seems to be off. It is labeled as a "close-fitting" design. The bust for a large is 38-40" and an XL is 42-44". My bust is 43" (high bust) and 48" (full bust). The finished bust measurement printed on the pattern for the over tunic was 41" (L) and 45" (XL). The bust measurement for the under tunic was 37-1/2 (16), 39-1/2 (18), 41-1/2" (20) and 43-1/2" (22). (Yes, the over tunic is sized XS-XL and the under tunics are sized 4-22.) However, when I pin fit the pattern tissue for the under tunic, it was clear that the size XL would fit me without adding an FBA, and my full bust measurement is 48". The over tunic is much larger than the number on the pattern tissue as well. At the bottom of the armscye, the pattern piece immediately veers away from the bust line, so it is very loose fitting, not close fitting at all.

To summarize, check the measurements before cutting! You may want to go down a size, especially for the over tunic (views A, B, or C). But even the under tunic (view D) was not that close fitting, or it wouldn't have fit me without an FBA.

I made the under tunic first. As I mentioned, I cut out the size 22 and made it without any alterations – no FBA for Shams! The seams are relatively straight and the fabric is quite sheer, so I used French seams. I omitted the sleeves and left the neckline and hem edges raw. It fit me nicely, especially over the bust. The armscye was nice and high. Wow, this is the second McCalls in a row that I have made and both have been drafted with nice, high armholes. Very impressive.

Just for fun, put this top on over a bra and pants. Wander into teenage daughter's room and ask, in all seriousness, if she thinks it will work for your upcoming vacation to warmer climes. You know, the vacation where you are also taking her guy friend? ;)

Here you can see the front and back French seams for the side panel.

Before I cut out the over tunic (in an XL), I made several changes to the pattern. Because I like the fit of my Marcy Tilton tunic, and I wanted the over tunic to have sleeves, I transferred the armscye from the Marcy Tilton tunic to the McCalls pattern. I then used the Marcy Tilton sleeve (I have used this sleeve many times now - I really like the fit of it). I also raised the neckline a bit.

The over tunic was fairly quick to sew up, but the fabric was a bit of a pain. This is one of those very fragile cotton jerseys that sticks to itself, and loves to curl, or snag, at the drop of a hat. It was difficult to lay out, because of the "sticking." Because the seams are curved, I serged them rather than bothering with French seams. To hem it, I serged the raw edge and then used yards of Steam a Seam 2 Lite. For the neckline, I used a reverse binding, so the raw edge of the binding curls on the outside of the tunic. (There is a picture of this below.) So, it wasn't hard to construct, but the fabric required special handling.

In the end, I still made a novice mistake. I neglected to pay attention to the giant, lacy floral motifs. I cut the fabric on the fold and, of course, one of the motifs ended up right on my left bust. I decided I don't mind too much. ;)

Instead of a giant bow, I have a giant flower on my left breast. Thank goodness it's lacy!

"Close-fitting," McCalls? Really?

Close-up of the reverse binding and of my 26-year-old thyroid surgery scar. To make the binding: I cut a strip 1-1/2" wide and sewed it to the inside (right side of binding to the wrong side of the neckline), with a 1/4" seam. The binding was then folded to the outside, and stitched in the ditch, from the inside, making sure not to catch the roly poly raw edge on the front. The remaining raw edge curls up decoratively.