Sunday, August 12, 2012

What the Heck, McCalls? A study of M6603

I must be getting feistier, because "What the Heck" seems to be the way I start conversations these days. You should probably be very grateful you don't live with me.

Last night, after a very long day sewing an Etsy item that it basically a wadder, and then a pesky sewing task I would only do for my good friend with cancer, and then some productive, satisfying sewing for ME, I ended the evening, around 2:30am, surfing the BMV website. A fairly standard weekend day for me.

(A little aside: When people ask me how I get so much done, when I have a full time job, here are a few tips:

  • Eject husband/partner.
  • Eject children. (Though a more accurate description might be, "Children grow up and flee the nest.")
  • Work from home, thereby eliminating commute time, shower time, getting dressed time.
  • Reduce cleaning to the minimum: focus primarily on the kitchen and the toilet.
  • Reduce food preparation to the minimum: Can of beans + chopped tomatoes + a few walnuts (purchased pre-chopped) + dressing = salad. You're welcome.
  • Embrace your insomnia. It can be a gift.
You will find you have much more sewing time! Maybe you should be really grateful you don't live with me...)

Anyway, I was looking at patterns on the Butterick, Vogue, McCalls site, when I began to study a pattern I like, though the photos don't inspire: McCalls 6603.

This pattern has two views. The first view is what attracted me to this pattern and is shown above. I see potential here and, interestingly enough, the pose is rather normal for recent Vogue patterns.

The second view is a real head puzzler. Let's take a look, shall we?

Hmm.. Well, this might look like a perfectly reasonable photo of a fairly non-interesting tunic, except wait... Look at the technical drawing (and I always look at the technical drawing):

This second view (which is technically view D, but views A through C are the same pattern draft with tweaks) is very asymmetric, both in the neckline and the hemline. It looks kinda interesting, but kinda weird, too. I feel... dubious about this view.

Look at the photo again. The model's right arm is thrown over her head and the top is torqued in such a way that the neckline opening appears symmetric, as does the hem. I see no signs of asymmetry here. This looks deliberate, and suggests that the top may not be pleasing when worn as designed.

If you look at the photo of the back and you see the asymmetric hem. It is photographed normally. They seem to be ok with the back view.

McCalls does provide a second photo of the front, but they do something I have never seen before. Let's take a looksie. (This is fun, isn't it?)

I notice a couple of things. First, the tunic is still torqued so that the neckline looks fairly symmetric. Second, she is holding a "huge" pleat against her belly. It's almost hidden in the print, but, again, it causes the top to appear more symmetric. Also, she is holding it in such a way that it looks like she might be pregnant. If that weren't suggestive enough, did you notice the text in the upper right? Suitable for maternity. Adjustments may be necessary.


I believe that this is another deliberate attempt to make the top look better when taking the pictures, then when they were choosing the photos for the pattern, they decided to add the "maternity tip" to justify such a suggestive pose. You might wonder, did they intend for this to be a maternity top? The answer is in the pattern description:

And I quote: Oversized, pullover tops (wrong side may show). A: bias collar and sleeve bands. B and C: single layer hood, purchased drawstring. A, B, C: narrow hem. D: topstitched three-piece collar, sleeve and hem bands.

In other words, NO. If they had intended it for maternity from the get-go, they would have made it a maternity top. Are you supposed to do an FBA, as in Full Belly Alteration? If these are the "good" pictures, can you imagine the pictures they didn't use?

In my humble opinion, it seems that McCalls has little faith in this view of the pattern and are trying to make it as appealing as possible. (If anyone has access to a McCalls pattern book, please let me know if this pattern is even listed in the maternity section.)

Often I see sewists say that they won't sew up a pattern if there is no accompanying photograph provided. This is proof that even a photograph can mislead.

Currently there are no reviews of this pattern on Pattern Review. Does anyone want to whip up this view and let me know what they think? I'd love to hear about it and would be happy to share your results on my blog.

(And please don't think I hate the good folks at BMV or their products. I don't. I use, and love, loads of their patterns, but I enjoy noting these little foibles as I meander through their website. I feel like a pattern detective. And if I can save you from a wadder, so much the better.)


I really want to thank you for all the wonderful feedback on yesterday's post, as well as all of my recent posts. I appreciate it more than you know and I love to hear your musings, thoughts, perspectives.

I have created my master list of interview questions, which includes mine and those submitted in the comments section. (Robin, you win for asking the most questions!!) I have sent the list to Marcy and Diane, so you can consider the request for questions to be closed.

In other exciting news, DD2 returns from Sweden today!!! Early on in her trip, we had a few marathon (ie. 2 hour) Skype sessions, but I haven't really heard from her at all, beyond a single Skype text, in the last two weeks. I am eager to hear of her adventures, though she may be focusing on sleep for awhile.

In one of our Skype sessions, she amused me with a fascinating tour through her host's fridge.

The Swedish have so many dairy products! While she enjoyed all the dairy, she experienced much more congestion than usual. The following is their organic 1.5% milk. (I wasn't quick enough to snap a picture of the yogurt, which comes in a similar carton.)

The following is a fermented milk product that she assures me has no equivalent in the U.S. - it's nothing like buttermilk or kefir or anything else I asked her to compare it to.

She was also delighted to discover that she could check books out from their very impressive library using only her California driver's license. That is mighty trusting of them, given her history of forgetting to return books for months here in the U.S. (Kids can get away with this in our area, because they do not levy library fines against minors.)

There is a book she has been wanting. It is a book about the Swedish language, written in Swedish. She was able to check it out and, in this photo, she is explaining Swedish vowels to me. Swedish people hear more vowels than we do. Fascinating stuff. Given that I don't seem to hear all the American language vowels, I would be hopeless at learning Swedish.