I’ve been on the hunt for a slouchy button-up shirt pattern, so I decided to give McCall’s M8001 a shot. Here’s my review.
M8001 is a kimono sleeve-style button-up featuring a yoke, a pleated back, and a wide hem band. No need to deal with any sleeve insertion here, or any buttons at the cuffs.
Views A & B have regular cuffs, while View C has a cute flounce cuff. View B has breast pockets, which as a concept for femme-presenting folks, has always confused me. (What am I going to put in there? Gum?) I briefly considered it though for appearances sake, but the pocket was the size of my whole boob so I decided “nah.”
It’s meant to be sewn in drapier fabrics, such as rayon or tencel. I decided to try my hand at double gauze because I wanted to add to the slouchy effect.
I used double gauze fabric from Blackbird Fabrics in merlot. I own a winter RTW knit top in this shade, but I wanted one for the warmer months. It’s really unfortunate I look best in fall colors because spring and summer is nightmare and the palettes make me look like death. But I can always count on Blackbird for having a lot of fall-esque colors in stock.
Now, I should say this was my first time working with double gauze. I cut it real close with this order, because I had to do some pattern Tetris to make everything fit on the fabric—including turning the sleeve cuff pattern piece into two pieces. Would I recommend chancing it with the cross-grain with double gauze if it’s your first go? No.
The adjustments were pretty much standard for any Big 4 pattern I make. This pattern especially had a lot of style ease, so more busty types may appreciate this. I like having a bit of ease myself, so for this round, it was a match.
A brief rundown of my adjustments:
- High and low back adjustment
- Forward and sloping shoulders
- Shortened waist length by 1”
- Sliced about 1 or 2” from the sleeve length
- Lowered the neckline by about 1” so I wouldn’t choke
- Adjusted the sleeve cuffs to match the new shape of the sloped shoulders
- Added a side vent to the hem bend for French tucking
- Add a 1/2” flare to the hem band because #pearlife
- Lengthened and curved the collar and stand to match the shoulder and neckline adjustments because I’m a turtle.
I combined tissue-fitting techniques with the seam method from Fitting & Pattern Alteration: A Multi-Method Approach. It took some trial and error, but I found that this was the best approach to preserve the shape of the pattern while still fitting my turtle back. If I make the flounce version next time, I’ll probably reduce the ease a little and lengthen the sleeve.
The last time I sewed a button-up shirt, I didn’t make a muslin and I regretted it. I made a muslin this time, and I regret it.
It just took way too long to get to actually seeing with my fashion fabric, so near the end, I was just over it. I think from start to finish, from tissue-fitting to muslin to sewing, this took me over a month. I tend to over-research and over-prepare when I try something new, whether it’s a type of pattern or fabric, and this was the perfect example of perfectionist tendencies coming to ruin my life.
Double gauze, you confuse me
I consulted my trusty Fabric Savvy book for double gauze tips, and Sandra Betzina recommended against topstitching. I was like, “you sure girl?” I went ahead and did it and I’m happy with the result. I used the blind hem foot that came with my machine and used a 3 mm straight stitch. We’ll see whether Sandra was right after a wash. For the rest of the construction, I used the lightning stitch, usually reserved for knits.
In all the articles that I’ve read about double gauze, none seem to mention that it can sometimes behave like rayon. What I mean by that is that after you cut your pieces, you should compare it against the pattern to see if it shifted. I did not do this and had to make adjustments later, straightening out the button plackets and balancing hems. This may have been due to the fact that I had to cut some pattern pieces on the cross grain out of necessity. (Blackbird ran out of this color way, and if I went by the original cutting layout, I would’ve had one cuff.)
Still, I had to fix some interfaced pieces and I’m pretty sure the collar and stand pieces changed slightly, because the collar lay the same way as the muslin. Oh, and even when you true the grain line in your fabric, with double gauze it’s going to go all over the place. So prepare for the horrifying moment when it gets slightly off while sewing. Again, my theory is that pattern Tetris may have caused this.
Stay stitching was crucial here, and I added wonder tape to the shoulder seams to stabilize it further.
You should definitely grade your seams with this pattern, especially if you’re using double gauze. I know some folks skip this, but I’m a by-the-book kind of person. And since double gauze is technically two pieces of fabric stitched together, I had double the bulk. Unfortunately, I graded the hem band seams the wrong way so the bulk is visible in some places.
I should also warn folks that there’s quite a bit of hand sewing involved. I hand-stitched the collar band, the hem band, and the yoke pieces. You could probably get away with stitching in the ditch, but I’ve never had much success with that. Hand sewing is a given with button-ups, but that definitely added to the time it took for me to complete this top.
Instruction Grade: A –
The instructions were clear enough. I’ve come to notice with some Big 4 patterns that they never instruct sewers to topstitch the collar pieces or yokes. I…find that really odd. Maybe it’s because they assume it’s common knowledge, but I had to go into our closet and examine JR’s button-ups several times to see if I was crazy or not. (I am, but not about this.)
I don’t want to see another button for a while. I’m going to sew up some knit tees for a palette cleanser, and then get on with sewing ~CULOTTES~ The weather is starting to cool off here, kind of, so this is transitional fall sewing time!