McCalls 5884 Tie Front Top:Pattern Review

McCalls 5884 Tie Front Top

Over the summer I kept seeing this style in a lot of fashion magazines.  It caught my eye because I remember the day when I wouldn’t be caught dead in it. In the early 80’s poly blouses with big floppy bows under the chin were part of the corporate wardrobe for women whom I considered much older and much less cool and in the know fashion-wise than myself. (As if what I was wearing was incredibly hip at the time.  Alas the arrogance of adolescence!)

Today’s rendition is not quite the same, lacking the button front and tying the bow at the end of a more flattering V-neckline.  I like it a lot more and knew it would be easy to make.  I thought there would be a ton showing up in pattern books but I found only one, McCalls 5884.  Being the only pattern available I went ahead and bought it though I could foresee some frumpy factors built into the design.

  • It looked frumpy on the model. 
  • Currently fashionable tops have bow ends that are light and narrow, and this one was large and blowsy.
  • The gathers at the bustline could go either way; frumpy or flattering. 
  • The V-neckline was very deep, much too low for this top to be a basic work blouse.
  • It appeared a tad boxy and the fabric seemed stiff.

I cut and sewed a practice muslin which confirmed my fears.  The look was frumpy

McCalls 5884 Practice Muslin. You can see that it does indeed come out looking like the photo on the pattern envelope, but this time that isn't a good thing!

But to my surprise the fit was quite nice.  I only had two problems:

  1. Frumpy design features,
  2. And, the neckline was too low.

In a future post I am going to go step by step into the changes I made to the pattern as the explanation is lengthy but worth it

Because this is going to be one of my TNT patterns at least for the duration of the early 80’s revival. 

Turns out it is easier, cuter and quicker than I foresaw!


  • Easy to construct if you don’t follow the pattern instructions. 
  • There are a lot of sleeve length options which means you can make a tank with a spare remnant or go out and buy a special print for the full long-sleeved version.
  • It is quick to sew.  I made the body in one sitting of around an hour and then finished up the arm binding and hemline the next morning.



  • Several changes are required to de-dork this design.
  1. Raise the neckline unless you want your bra to show.
  2. Narrow the tie band.
  3. Shorten the tie band.
  4. Shorten the front placket.
  5. Curve the hemline if you are going to be wearing it as a tunic, not tucked into your trousers.
  6. To match the current fashions trapeze the hemline just a wee bit for extra flow since I most often see thi design worn with a bit of length in a tunic style.
  • Additionally, the pattern instructions give a more involved method of applying the tie band that isn’t fast or particularly pretty.   


McCalls 5884 Practice Muslin: The too low neckline. I won't even show you what it looked like when I bent over! Definintely not suitable for the sober occassions when I would be wearing such a top.

Some Assembly Required:

Keep to flat assembly as much as possible completing the neckline entirely before sewing on arms or stitching side seams.


I often have a hard time finding nice polyester in fabric stores.  It is out of fashion as a material in sewing circles I believe, so the stores carry some but the prints are limited currently to VERY large motifs.  Also much of it lacks the correct hand for blousing or is for some reason, sheer as if I want my dress blouses to be see-through.  So I was pleased when I found this material because it was a medium size print, had a good hand and was opaque matte polyester.  I found it at Hancock’s in their “Value Fabrics” section. I don’t believe they had a full two yards on the bolts so the blouse cost me a little less than $8.00 in material.  Polyesters have a negative reputation for being hard to sew, but this one was a joy.  It stitched evenly without shifting. 


McCalls 5884 Finished Top Option A

Over the next week or so I will post on the changes I made to the pattern.  The changes are not difficult though they can be lengthy to put into writing and I want to be clear in order to encourage other sewers to customize this pattern because it is potentially such a useful and flattering blouse to stitch up in just a few hours.

Will I Sew it Again:

Yes, I have another fabric cut out right now.  This time I am making the long sleeve.

Advice to Others:

Buy this one at a pattern sale.  Don’t dismiss it because at first glance it appears a bit dorky.  Don’t be afraid to customize it.  Essentially, de-dork it.

The most important change to bring it up to date:

The tie band.

The tie band in front essentially functions like a necklace, so think about what size necklace you wear.  Super skinny or do you like huge and chunky?   Customize the size of the tie band using that as a guideline and you should get it just right for your frame.

McCalls 5884 Option A:From super-skinny to ultra-chunky, you can alter the tie band to suit your frame.

Also, if you don’t want to make a huge floppy bow shorten the tie band, or lengthen the garment into a tunic.  Because without the bow you will have excess band hanging way down your legs. 

Overall Style Grade:  A, I am seeing versions of it more and more in magazines like Lucky and in catalogs.

Results Grade: A, if you alter it; C, if you don’t.

Next Post:Usually over a holiday weekend I take time off of fashion sewing and do some easy quilting but this time I am moving forward on some of the projects I have cut.  Tuesday, September 7, 2010 I will post whatever I get done this weekend no matter if it is complete. Then I will concentrate on explaining the necessary alterations to this top to turn it into a TNT.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Gwen
    Sep 04, 2010 @ 07:19:02

    Your changes made a big difference in the look of this blouse. The tie-neckline is reminicent of the 70s. I think HotPatterns has a version, also. Nice work.


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