The jury is still out on this one.
I saw this pattern on Instagram a few weeks ago now and I thought how pretty it looked. I am really interested in learning to smock (although pleating machines are way out of my budget)! and this faux ‘honeycomb’ type of detail completely bowled me over, and seemed a good compromise.
Not sure if it is wise to admit that I often spot children’s dresses (usually with smocking) and wish that there were similar patterns available for adults.
So, here are the details of McCalls M8325..
It is a pull-on pleated top with a keyhole back neck opening. There is a choice of short, ruffle or puff sleeves, and a hem frill on view C. I made view C (although I sewed the pleating in alternating directions as described for view A), and decided to omit the hem frill.
Alterations that I made were to use two rows of shirring to gather the sleeves rather than use regular elastic inserted into a casing. It’s much more comfortable to wear I think, and quicker to sew this way too! As mentioned I also chose to leave off the hem frill so that the length was short. For the key hole fastening I used a button and (thin elastic) loop rather than a hook and eye as I find hooks and eyes so fiddly to fasten/unfasten.
The sizing was a challenge. There is a massive amount of ease in this pattern. My bust size put me as a size medium (34″-36″) in the ‘body measurements’ chart. In the ‘finished garment measurements’ this gives me a finished bust measurement of 55.5″!! It was at this point that I decided to use an inexpensive fabric as this was definitely one to toile before cutting into anything expensive. My head was telling me to size down (as I probably normally would with a McCall pattern), but I was then concerned about it not fitting across the shoulders. I stuck with the side M and it was actually ok, although there would have been no problem with sizing down too.
My fabric is a bargain cotton lawn from eBay, which is so pretty but had a couple of flaws in it (hence the price I guess), so it was perfect to use to try out this pattern. I love the fact that the pleating is pretty much the first thing that you start with when you start sewing it up – straight into the exciting bit! A word of warning though – be careful about which marking tools you use to mark those pleats. Guess who used a Frixion (heat erasing) pen, and then realised that this would disappear straight away with the iron. Doh. After trying other fabric marking techniques including chalk and dressmakers carbon paper on fabric scraps, I eventually went with a water soluble pen and found this was the best option for me. So after marking it all up again it was time to get sewing. I found the instructions to be very good, and really loved the satisfaction of creating the pleating.
The neckline is finished with a facing, but you could easily use binding if that is your preferred method.
There are side panels in this top which I was not expecting, and the sleeve went in easily – it really is quite ‘puffy’ which I love. I’m glad that I used shirring elastic to gather in these sleeves as it gives such a pretty finish, is more comfortable on your arms, and is good fun to sew. Also much quicker than fitting a casing and threading regular elastic through it.
I used a pretty vintage looking button and some thin round elastic to make a button/loop fastening at the back.
So the problem with this pattern is how it looks on me. It just doesn’t suit me. As someone with a large bust I should have known better. The pleating sits above your bust on the flat part of your chest and then the fullness of the fabric below it emphases your size (Maybe this is why all those cute girls dresses with smocking aren’t available in adult sizes – ha ha). I’m sad to say that I don’t think it suits me as I think it emphasizes part of my body that I like to hide.
I wonder if the fact that I chose to shorten the length by taking off the ruffle exaggerates the fullness in the blouse front it even more. I perhaps should have cut it the same length as view A.
Or perhaps I should have styled it with a tighter fitting trouser. Yes I think that might have been better. I must try it on with a slim fitting jean.
So, although I don’t think this pattern suits my shape, it’s a really pretty design and will for sure look lovely on others. I’m sure that it would also look cute as a loose dress if you chose to extend the length.
Take care, and I’ll be back soon,
@sew_dainty on Instagram