Sewing Beyond the Pattern Envelope—McCall’s 6750 Blouse

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You met Helen Bartley in our previous blog, The Magical Blouse. She is one of our workshop instructors and also teaches sewing at her home studio Seam Divas Sewing Lounge.  Now I’ll let her tell us more about what else she’s doing with the pattern M6750—our “Three-hour Perfect Shirt.” ~ Pati

 

FEATURING GUEST BLOGGER
HELEN BARTLEY

 

I choose many of my patterns based on one key design element and their potential for variation. Once I’ve put the time and effort into tissue-fitting and altering a pattern, I want to be able to use it several times, in different incarnations.  McCall’s blouse M6750 was created to use in the Palmer/Pletsch 2-day intensive pattern-fitting workshops. It serves as a great fit tool because it has 12 potential darts while still being a simple-to-sew design. The collar is unique and is fun to use in unexpected ways.

Don’t be caged in by the photo on the pattern envelope. Flip that baby over and look at the line drawings to see its design potential. Consider the words of Pati Palmer, designer of this versatile pattern, “The pattern is your manuscript.  You are the editor.” My friends, you have permission to hack!

For all alterations, I used the Palmer/Pletsch Tissue Fitting Method, referring to The Palmer/Pletsch Complete Guide to Fitting. Perfect Pattern Paper matches the weight of the McCall’s pattern tissue and makes altering easy with its gridded lines. Both are available at palmerpletsch.com.

 

THE BASIC BLOUSE

Right out of the envelope, this blouse has good shape and design. Here is View B, as it was designed, with all twelve darts and ¾ sleeves, sewn in a soft cotton lawn print. Most Palmer/Pletsch for McCall’s blouse patterns feature a two-piece sleeve to enable sewing the cuff on flat, using the Painless Placket Method.  I do it even faster and tidier using a serger. It’s really a 5-minute sleeve! Keep in mind that I’ve done my standard alterations for fit: a full bust adjustment and I lengthened both the bodice and the sleeves.

 

M6750 The Basic Blouse

M6750 lineart

 

M6750 Leopard Print Jacket

 

BLOUSE OR JACKET?

I wear this version of M6750 open as a jacket over a tank or as a long blouse atop leggings. It’s made of a firm stretch cotton. Using view C, I kept the shoulder and bust darts and used only four of the vertical darts, extending the front darts down to the hem for a smoother front.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SWING TOP

For this casual look I started with the sleeveless view A. I did a 1” full bust adjustment and rotated the dart to the hem. I then removed 2” from the front side seam starting at the hem to nothing at the underarm. I added to the back side seam 2” at the bottom to nothing at the underarm. I shortened the top by 4”. When sewing, I omitted all vertical darts and finished the armholes with a bias binding. The rayon batik fabric affords this top all the drape and swing it needs. (See Pati’s version of this same blouse in the previous blog post.)

M6750 Sleeveless Blouse

 

COOL COTTON DRESS

Convert this pattern from blouse to dress by simply adding some length (you choose the amount), flaring the width out 2” at the hemline. I sewed all the darts, as designed, and used Marta Alto’s serger bias binding for the armholes. Easy peasy. Make it a true luxury in Liberty of London cotton lawn.

M6750 as a dress

M6750 Knit Cardigan

 

 

 

 

KNIT CARDIGAN

Sew a pattern designed for a woven from a knit? Yes, please! For this cardigan I used view C and converted the two-piece sleeve to one-piece as I did for the Mod Squad Jacket. I sewed shoulder darts only, rotating out the bust dart to the hem and then straightening out the side seam on the front before sewing it to the back.  I used PerfectFuse Light interfacing in the collar and facing. The facing wanted to pull away and “droop” open, so I tacked it to the front with Lite Steam-a Seam  2.  A vintage half-sphere button finishes it off. I made a little matching dress, McCall’s 7574, ‘cuz twin sets will be coming back any day now.

 

 

 

MOD SQUAD JACKET

This unlined jacket sewn from a wavy corduroy upholstery fabric is my favorite make of M6750. I omitted the vertical darts, lengthened it and added patch pockets. For this jacket I wanted a one-piece sleeve, so I converted the pattern’s 2-piece sleeve by overlapping the seams and lengthening it to include a hem, losing the cuff. The fabric had enough body to skip interfacing, making this a truly quick and easy project.

M6750 gold jacket and pattern alterations

 

SHEER CARDIGAN

This version of M6750 has the most dramatic changes. It was sewn in a poly chiffon border print, cut on the crossgrain to maximize the ombre effect of the print. The sleeves were cut at two different places on the print highlighting dark on one side and light on the other. I did a 1” full bust adjustment and rotated the dart into the hem, narrowed the sides to fit on the fabric and lengthened the front and back to ankle length. I converted the sleeves to bishop sleeves by making several slashes in the sleeve from cap to cuff and spreading the pattern and gathering the bottom edge to the cuff. I used PerfectFuse Sheer interfacing in the cuffs. Instead of interfacing in the front facing I narrowed the width of the facing just below the fold of the collar and used spray starch to add some body to the facing piece.  I left two ¾” openings in the side seams at waist level and threaded two long ¼” turned straps for some back interest.

M6650 sheer jacket

 

M670 details

 

bishop sleeve alteration

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36 Responses
  • Pati Palmer
    June 19, 2019

    Thank you Helen for your guest blog. A lot of work went into this. It is so fun to see the different personalities of any pattern. FYI, Helen teaches our 2-day Upper Body Fit workshop using this pattern. It’s a great introduction to learning to tissue-fit and how to make a pattern fit YOUR BODY. She also teaches a fabulous Beginning Sewing course in her adorable studio in Vancouver, WA. If you know people who want to learn to sew, this is a fabulous place to do it! Her studio is very modern and so is her approach to learning to sew!

  • maggie deegan
    June 19, 2019

    Helen, your creativity knows no bounds, the Mod Squad jacket is the pattern I’ve been looking for and couldn’t find…it took your blog to show me what was right under my nose!! Thanks for sharing these invigorating ideas, Maggie.

    • Helen Bartley
      June 26, 2019

      Thanks, Maggie! High praise coming from you, THE creative! See you soon.

  • Katrina Walker
    June 19, 2019

    So fabulous, Helen! It truly is a perfect pattern for creating a variety of beautiful looks that fit wonderfully.

  • Nancy Seifert
    June 19, 2019

    Helen! I love your ideas! Now I have to get busy making some of these. I especially love the cardigan and cool cotton dress, exactly what I have been looking for.
    You look so beautiful in all your creations! Thanks for sharing.

    • Helen Bartley
      June 26, 2019

      Thanks, Nancy. I like the dress, too. I feel like a Southern belle, before I’m actually dressed for the day, of course. Hehe. Nothing like Liberty cotton.

  • Jan Krentz
    June 19, 2019

    What a terrific blog post! You truly showed how to vary a good quality basic pattern – and I love your terms of “hacking” a pattern, and sewing away from the cover images. Great inspiration. Thank you!

  • Carol Odekirk
    June 19, 2019

    I really enjoyed reading this post and seeing all the different ways you can sew one pattern. My question is how do you know when to eliminate horizontal darts or lengthen vertical darts or use all the darts? What’s the thought process in doing this?

    • Helen Bartley
      June 24, 2019

      Hi Carol,

      I only eliminate a horizontal bust dart if I rotate it into the hem or somewhere else that will give me the shape I need.

      I lengthen vertical darts when the end of the dart seems to land in the wrong place on my body. It should point to the bump or curve for which it’s providing shape. On the leopard print jacket, the front vertical dart ended and left a little pucker because I’m pretty flat there. The fabric is firm and has stretch and wouldn’t press out nicely. Extending the dart to the hem was an easy solution.

      I usually let the fabric-at the point of the fabric fitting-tell me when to use any or all of the vertical darts. In the sheer and the knit cardis , I knew I just wanted them to flow and show off the fabric without the interruption of darts. With the jacket, I didn’t know until I did my first fabric fitting. I loved the way it hung and opted out of those vertical darts. Sometimes in a drapey rayon or silk, the darts don’t seem necessary. In a firmer fabric, the shaping of the darts can be great. You get to be the designer!

      Helen

      • Carol Odekirk
        June 27, 2019

        Thank you so much for the explanation, Helen. Appreciate it.

  • csm
    June 19, 2019

    WOW, WOW, WOW! So glad I own this pattern! Great inspirations! Thank You!

  • Judy Simper
    June 19, 2019

    Loved reading this blog. It inspired several ideas using same pattern.

  • Theresa in Tucson
    June 19, 2019

    I made up a muslin of this a few months ago and thought to myself that it would make a nice jacket in a larger size and here you come with just that! I’m going to keep this post in mind.

  • Elizabeth Vana Bryant
    June 19, 2019

    Wonderful variations, Helen! The cool cotton dress is a great idea for summer. And the dress/knit cardigan combination looks ready for a royal wedding — matching coat/dress combinations continue to be a staple at morning weddings — all you need is a spectacular hat! Thank you for all your beautiful work.

  • Mary
    June 19, 2019

    Love this blog post!!! Thank you.

  • Kimber
    June 19, 2019

    Thanks for making all these lovely garments, and sharing them in this post. Can’t wait to pull my M6750 pattern out and have a go at all the great options!

    Cheers,

  • Deb Canham
    June 19, 2019

    Great job Helen. Love the Bishop sleeve. You were o. My PP Fit class some years ago. Dust bart Deb

  • Sandy Perry
    June 19, 2019

    Wonderful blog Helen! It really sparked my imagination for other original creations I want to make.

  • Marilyn Elliott
    June 19, 2019

    I love this pattern and for some reason had not thought of using it for a dress. Thank you for showing all the ways you have used it.

  • Pamela Leggett
    June 19, 2019

    Can’t wait to share this with my Palmer/Pletsch Fit Classes in Connecticut and Philly! Love them all!
    -Pamela Leggett, Pamela’s Patterns and East Coast Palmer/Pletsch

  • Kathy King
    June 19, 2019

    Thank you Helen! Fabulous inspiration to think about how to amp up the patterns we have already fit in tissue. It’s very empowering (and fun) to design a look beyond the given pattern.

  • Jacqueline
    June 19, 2019

    What a fascinating post – thank you so much for sharing these variations!! I love the pattern in its original form, and purchased it on the basis of the envelope cover image (oops…) but it has been ‘marinating’ in the pattern queue since… (procrastination, time constraints etc. etc.)…. It has now been promoted right to the top!

  • Kathleen
    June 20, 2019

    Great inspiration. Love the Mod Squad jacket.

  • Carol Stalvey
    June 20, 2019

    I just love seeing what you will do next with this pattern! You are a true inspiration!

  • Colleen Baerg
    June 20, 2019

    You are intrepid!!! So fun to see all these beautiful garments showcased. It inspires me to be more adventurous with my patterns.

  • Carolyn Deverin
    June 20, 2019

    Fantastic ideas to total remodel the basic blouse that we all love and sew

  • Joan KAPINIAK
    June 20, 2019

    Wow!! Creativity is an open door to expanding ones horizons, A Great Blog, so many possibilities!!
    I have been far too limited in my vision, you have opened a huge window for me.

  • Joan KAPINIAK
    June 20, 2019

    Thank you Melissa for taking the time to share this!

  • Jenn Shaw
    June 20, 2019

    Wow! You are so inspiring!! I love all of the many versions of the same pattern. Thank you for sharing all of the great, fab photos.

  • Janet Malwitz
    June 20, 2019

    Great blog, Helen. Thanks for the inspiration & ideas for this great pattern.

  • Joan
    June 21, 2019

    Helen,
    Thanks for an excellent tutorial on selecting a useful pattern, and ways to create different looks from your base pattern.

    Can you please clarify how you widened the hem of your cotton dress? Did you start at the hip and add just 1/2″ to each of 4 side seams?

    And regarding your swing top: did you remove the 2″ from the front side seam and add it to the back side seam based on what was required to straighten your side seam per your paper pattern fitting after rotating the bust dart to the hem (and adding your full bust alteration)?

    Thanks again!

    Joan

    • Helen Bartley
      June 24, 2019

      Joan,

      Q1: I added 11″ from the bottom edge of the blouse as it drafted. At the new hemline it is 2.5″ wider than the original pattern. Multiplied by 4, it adds 10 around at the hemline.

      Q2: Yes, I started at the hem and removed 2” from the front side seam to nothing at the underarm. I added to the back side seam 2” at the bottom to nothing at the underarm You could just leave the width the front and have a “swingier” top.

      Helen

  • Linda
    June 25, 2019

    Helen, you are an inspiration!!!

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