McCalls 5884 De-Dorked:Pattern Alterations

As I posted in a previous pattern review McCalls 5884 was in need of some serious de-dorking.

The Neckline

Sometimes a neckline is very low cut so you can get a woven over your head.  I looked for a placket in the back,finding none I assumed that the neckline had to be low to take the blouse on and off. I was wrong.  There is a placket.  It is in front, hidden by the tie band at the bottom of the V-neck.

I know experienced sewers may roll their eyes with an "of course", but this is an easy mistake for beginners, especially since they aren't expecting the placket in front. Be aware of your corner and only sew up to the corner leaving the placket open.

When I raised the neckline I worried that I couldn’t get the top over my head but the placket takes care of that.  But then the placket is too long too.  If it bulged out during wearing people could see your brassiere.  I shortened the placket also.

Shortened placket. The bottom can be cut off a bit too.

The Tie Band

I cut off about 1 ½ inches off each side to narrow the band.

Decide if you want to make a bow or not.  I do not bow so I shortened the band by a good six inches.  The tie ends should reach your hemline or hang a little below for this design. 

The tie band is in two pieces and has a center back seam. The red lines show my shortening and narrowing of the band.

I cut on the straight grain, not the bias as the pattern piece is marked.  The bias will cost you a lot of material and it makes no difference to the lay of the band on the neckline.  If you cut on the straight you can get away with using a remnant.

Applying the Tie Band

I sewed the band together completely and then attached it to the neckline. I left about 10 inches open in the middle, sewed the strips and then pulled them through the opening.  Then I topstitched down the opening.  There was no raw edge on the band.  It was complete.

McCalls 5884: The completed tie band and the raw edge neckline. (Here it is clear that graphic arts was not my college major!)

I laid the band on the neckline so the seam of the band extended a bit farther out than the edge of the neckline.  Sewed it on, touched it up with the iron on the pressing ham. 

McCalls 5884:Apply the finished band to the neckline with the band edge going past the neckline just a bit.

Then I turned the band into the neckline so it hid the rough edge and topstitched in place from the right side.

McCalls 5884:The tie band now fully encloses the neckline raw edge when you fold it back. Topstitch down from the right side of the blouse.

McCalls 5884:Here is a photo of the actual band and shortened placket. It is very hard to see though.

The Hemline

I curved the hemline with my French curve.  The squared off hem in this style of blouse said “homemade” to me.  Traditionally I know one does a rolled hem but I cheated by serging.  After serging I turned under just a ¼ inch as I topstitched.  Since I put the wrong side down the feed dogs ate the extra fabric in the curves so the hem laid flat.  

McCalls 5884:The purple line is my curve to the hemline. Make sure the curve is gentle enough not to cause problems come hemming time.

Trapeze the hemline

Not everyone likes this but I do.  A lot of blouses are being worn as tunics and have some extra fabric at the hem so it doesn’t cling to the trouser.  Most of the time my narrow shoulders call me to pinch out a little at the top of a neckline.  I did that with a pivot and didn’t bother to shave off the side seams since I wanted a little swing.

McCalls 5884:When I pivoted the upper back it made the side seam stick out a bit. I left it in to trapeze the hemline slightly. If you don't like it what you do is measure the amount that the bottom is away from the fold, and then cut that amount from the side seam, retrueing the side seam from the underarm down. I think this method is called a pivot and slide.

It took a lot to de-dork this pattern and I might not have bothered if I had seen more patterns like this one and if they had been as cheap.  I wasn’t willing to buy another pattern and I did not find the alterations cumbersome.  However I have been sewing a few years. 

McCalls 5884:The finished garment after the above alterations.

What really annoyed me about this pattern was not the changes but that is was one of those simple designs that new sewers are often encouraged to try which then turn out dorky looking.  The new sewer does not know it isn’t her fault and after a few of these kinds of hits to her sewing self-esteem, she gives up. Though I like the pattern and will continue sewing it, I can see that McCalls did a bit of a slapdash job on this one.

Next Post: Saturday, September 11, 2010:Tip When Making Those Pattern Tissue Alteration Cuts in a Hurry


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Rose in SV
    Sep 09, 2010 @ 10:48:54

    Wow! thank you for these tips. I think they are very helpful!


  2. Steph
    Sep 10, 2010 @ 08:22:11

    Great tips for newbs- that’s one of the biggest issues with learning to sew, I think. Thanks for taking the time to comment on my own de-dorking… After wearing it all day, I very firmly don’t like it purely because it makes me feel like a whale. One day I’ll find that happy medium between utilitarian comfort and feeling pretty. I’ll still keep the thing, it’ll be my “humble” house dress. 🙂


  3. Echo
    Sep 10, 2010 @ 22:23:45

    Hiya – I have been thinking about making this top for a while but wasn’t sure cos of the volume in the drawings. Now I won’t because if its lazily designed I won’t bother. Thanks a bunch for the tips too as I will use them again – I’m definitely a newb for sewing for grownies.


  4. Sister
    Sep 11, 2010 @ 17:59:24

    Wow – lots of helpful hints – thanks!


  5. Robin
    Jan 14, 2011 @ 12:59:48

    Hiya Sewista Fashionista!
    I just found your blog and I am enjoying reading through your posts. So much great info and clearly explained. I can really relate to your feelings about trying to get a good fit.

    I was curious about the alteration where you pivot the front bodice pattern – at the center front neckline, you move it off the edge of the fold. I am assuming you true the seam after that? I have done something very similar. I kept the hemline of center front bodice on the fold, and shifted the center front neckline off the edge. Then, if necessary, add to the side seams for wearing ease.

    I guess it sounds like we are doing the same thing, eh?
    great blog, I love reading it.
    And I totally admire that you keep up your sewing while raising young kids.
    I had to let my sewing go while I mine was young and I worked full time.
    I sure am happier now that I have my creative outlet back!


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