Pattern Review: McCall’s 6164 Eighties Tees

Much of the 70’s revival left me blah.  I was a young child in the original flower child era.  Probably a result of my personal history but I don’t remember folks being as light-hearted as the fashions seemed to suggest.  Somehow my young mind saw the lack of congruence and was displeased.  (Also, ginormous orange and green flower prints made me shudder! Still do. )

Then came the 80’s.  Still not the easiest decade of my life, but I was a teenager, possessed of a more mature understanding, and of course, got to experience all the highs and lows of high school and adolescent friendships.   Yes, fashion flaunted a certain cheesiness, but then cheesiness was something I could understand.  (And the prints – thankfully so much more restrained.  Better to have ginormous hair, anyway. ; )  )

And who doesn’t have a secret fondness for a bit of cheesiness?  

Your first impression of this pattern might be, OH NO.  No. No.

McCall’s 6164

Look again.  These tops are cute!  Be done with the seventies revival. 

Embrace the eighties!


  • The designs are cute and different.  If you are bored with making plain t-shirts these are a refreshing change.
  • They can be zig-zagged or overcast by serger making them approachable for beginners and intermediates.
  • It fit my size 20 midsection comfortably without being oversized.  The seams are nicely contoured to provide some structure.
  • The hemline fell in a flattering part of the hip unlike some tee patterns which are often tunic-length.
  • If you are narrow-shouldered here is a design for you.  These designs emphasize the shoulders, collarbone, and  face.  For those who look for top-interest to balance their bottom half, these are  terrific styles.


  • The neckline was much too large.  I bought a large/x-large.  I took about 4 inches off of the front neckline and 2 off of the back.  My shoulders are narrow but I thought that the deep scoop of the neckline would show the bra on most figures.
  • Fabric choice is key.  This pattern is not suitable for thicker knits
  • Option D made in a thick rib knit made me look like a linebacker.
  • Option E made in turquoise gives me a self-conscious feeling that I only need the Starfleet brass chest button and with just a touch, Scotty might beam me up to boldly go where no other home-sewer has gone before.
  • McCall's 6164 Option E: It is very comfortable and easy to sew but I feel a bit self-conscious as it bears a passing resemblance to fashions on futuristic sci-fi shows.

  • You must used medium to thin knits.  The practice muslins I made in thin sheeting looked much better than my tees done in thicker rib tee knit.
  • Other big con: These styles are in the fashion magazines but may not be worn in your area yet.  Every locale has a certain speed in which they accept new fashions.  I have not seen anyone in my area wearing this kind of shirt.  If you are self-conscious, beware, you may generate a few polite stares.  You need to time this design to when in the fashion cycle you will be comfortable adopting this mode.

McCall's 6164 Option D

McCall's 6164 Leg o'Mutton Sleeve side view: You can see that the thicker knit caused the sleeve to stand full away from the arm. It overwhelmed my figure.

Some Assembly Required:

I didn’t even fold open the instructions.  It is basically a knit tee with fancy sleeves.  If you are familiar with gathers and sleeve insertion you will be fine. 


Per my comments in the Cons section: Use thin knit fabric as long as it is not see-through.  I used winter t-shirt material in a narrow rib knit.  I am going to take the sleeves off of my two tees and make them into tanks for summer.


Look at the pattern photo at the lady in pink with the deep scoop, Option A.  She does not appear to be wearing a brassiere.  I thought that was kind of sneaky of the patternmaker.  This neckline will show your underwear, a key fitting detail for most women.  The scoop needs to be raised. The maker did not have to leave that alteration to the home-sewer, but they have.  A small disappointment but one I wanted to mention.

McCall's 6164 Practice Muslin:The practice muslin is in a much thinner knit and you can see that the sleeves are much softer.

Will I Sew it Again:

Yes!  In lighter-weight fabric. 

Advice to Others:

This is how much I took out of Option D’s neckline. I did nearly the same to the back. The scoop neck requires raising.
Make your first tee in cheap knit to get that scoop neckline corrected.  Even for those larger-breasted than myself, I imagine that for everyday wear, they are not wanting that much boobery exposed for all to see. 
Overall Style Grade:  A, fashion-forward but not extreme.  A little bit of fun.
Results Grade: A, no reason you can’t get a good result.  Beginners may be intimidated by the sleeves at first, but that is really the only part that has any detail to fuss over. 
Next Post: Thursday, February 3, 2011:A Dog Bed Made Out of a Pair of Leggings and an Old Pillowcase.

P.S. WordPress is losing it’s mind again and has re-fonted the entire bottom portion of this post.  It would not change back, no matter what I did. Sorry!!!


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Steph
    Feb 01, 2011 @ 07:39:28

    Since I was in diapers in the 80’s, I don’t look at these and think 80’s revival. I see the gathered sleeve heads and think 40’s translated into knits… I see trendy pretty young things wearing tops like these all over the place and have for a while. And here I thought Brisbane was the place where American trends came to die a slow and painful death. Hmmmm… All very interesting, though I’ll admire from afar and stick to my button down shirts. 🙂


  2. Tanit-Isis
    Feb 01, 2011 @ 09:47:55

    I’m so torn on this top. I feel about the eighties the way you do about the 70s ;), plus my shoulders are broad enough on their own. That being said, I love the first two sleeve versions, and actually have a RTW (hand me down) with the exact sleeves of the second (middle, top row) version. I like it but intermittently feel like a linebacker.

    Thanks for the review! I shall continue to mull it…. 🙂


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