McCalls 5633:Pattern Review

Today is my daughter’s preschool graduation and I am in a “sunrise-sunset” kind of funk as my husband calls it, referring to that maudlin melody often heard at weddings. 

Preoccupied that my baby isn’t a baby anymore I forgot it is Thursday and I promised a pattern review.  I have been working on these shorts for a few weeks and must make a decision.

McCalls 5633

Should I Forge Ahead or End the Pain?

 Here is the first incarnation.

McCalls 5633 First Practice Muslin

Here is the fourth incarnation.

McCalls 5633 Fourth Practice Muslin

The second and third are cut to shreds as I used them for pattern pieces.

The thing is – these shorts aren’t getting any better. 


  • As the pattern  is not complex, after one run-through you can probably churn a bunch out because the procedure is easy to memorize.


  • You will have to practice zipper insertion on a muslin if you are not familiar with front fly zips.  Learning a new technique is not exactly a con, but when you are impatient for the finished product and it can feel like one.
  • The length was ughhh-ly!  Proper Bermudas fit somewhat slim.  These looked like docker-style shorts with extra long legs.  Dorky.  Shortening the hemline is not difficult but I was surprised that the pattern maker included so much extra length.
  • That there was no waistband did not simplify fit as you might imagine.  On these the darts must work as both waist cincher on top, and then fitting agent on bottom.  I think it would be easier to fit the shorts up to the waist and then add a band. 
  • The pockets.  When I was forced to alter the fit the pockets moved and I was unable to get them back into a flattering place. 

Some Assembly Required:

The pattern instructions are sufficient.  After the darts, you must tackle the zipper which means sewing up the front crotch to the zipper point.  Completing zipper, then going on to pockets, back crotch, side seams and inside leg seams. 

If you practice the zipper until it looks good, the rest of the shorts go pretty fast. 


I never got so far as to select fashion fabric.  On the first muslin I used poly-flannel that all of us who were kids in the seventies grew to hate as it made for some itchy, clammy pajamas.   The other three muslins are made of old sheets.


I cannot imagine finetuning these shorts because they fit so grossly awful, far beyond what a bit of tinkering can fix.

Will I Sew it Again:

As I write this post I’ve decided to dump this pattern.  After four muslins I think the fit should get better.  Maybe not perfect, but improved.  I do not know how to improve the fit on these shorts so I am going to select another pattern, this one without a pocket, and with a waistband.

I am beginning to wonder if I should make a trouser sloper and use that for all of my patterns.  I also got a pattern drafting book from the library and have taken all of my measurements.  This summer I hope to play around drafting my own pants pattern.

Advice to Others:

If you have a knack with pants fitting these may work for you.  If you are new to sewing pants I would avoid this pattern as the apparent simplicity is deceptive.

Overall Style Grade:  C, a basic appearing style, but you will be better served by other basic patterns that include a waistband.

Results Grade; F, awful to fit and never got any better.

Next Post: Tuesday, June 1, 2010: Whatever I Sew Over Memorial Day Weekend I Will Post


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Sister
    May 28, 2010 @ 15:46:52

    Oh, this breaks my heart, as I bought this pattern with the hopes that these shorts would work. I made another pair of Simplicity shorts last year (see blog post about “Cruel Shorts”). Similar issue – huge legs, no waistband and very loose waist, etc. I wear them at the beach but nowhere else. Why can’t somebody make a nicely fitting shorts pattern? Let me know if you ever find one…


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