Kimono sleeves on McCall’s 6436, times four

I’ve been admiring some of the awesome kimono-sleeved buttoned shirt patterns (like the StyleArc Blair – check out Kelli’s and Meg’s – and Deer & Doe Melilot – check out Katie’s) and became obsessed with Heather Lou’s self-drafted shirt dress, but the idea of fitting a new-to-me shirt pattern was giving me hives. I turned to my my old favorite, McCall’s 6436, and grafted on some kimono sleeves using my Helen Joseph-Armstrong drafting manual.

I made a quick muslin, and I was off to the races, making no less than FOUR variations of this pattern. In all versions, I finished the sleeves with a cuff.

First up was an aloha shirt in palm-print rayon challis. I had recently re-watched Romeo+Juliet and was admiring Leo’s Hawaiian shirt. This fabric was as close as I could
come this time around (as in, not very close at all), but I’ll be on the lookout for that perfect Japanese floral on a blue background from now on.

(I had to attempt the Leo smolder.)

But this shirt makes me really gleeful…

crabandbee.com | McCall's 6436 kimono sleevecrabandbee.com | McCall's 6436 kimono sleeve

Next up was white linen, salvaged from an attempt at McCall’s 7325 that persisted in looking like a baptismal gown. The pattern pieces were large and rectangular, so the only adjustment I had to make was putting in a CB seam.

crabandbee.com | McCall's 6436 kimono sleeve

crabandbee.com | McCall's 6436 kimono sleeve

Bonus project: these are my denim Morgan jeans converted into trousers!

crabandbee.com | McCall's 6436 kimono sleeves and Closet Case Patterns Morgan jeans altered into trousers

I changed the welt pocket placement a bit this time around.

crabandbee.com | Closet Case patterns Morgan jeans altered into trousers

Back to the shirts; after the first two versions, I was ready to lengthen the pattern into a shirt dress sewn in that magical thick silk rayon you saw in my jumper dress post! In order to add more ease to the hips, I added a back yoke and a CB pleat, adding 3″ total to the back width. Uncharacteristically for me, I didn’t end up liking the loose waist, so I added a drawstring.

crabandbee.com | McCall's 6436 kimono sleeve dress

crabandbee.com | McCall's 6436 kimono sleeve dress

I found myself wishing I also had a collared shirt version in the same fabric, and had juuuust enough fabric to make it happen. I finished this one shortly after my sis and I took pictures, but I thought I’d include it for the sake of thoroughness.

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These shirts are simple, but a wardrobe dream come true for me. They’ll be the backbone of my 2017 wardrobe. The sleeves are a little breezy for winter temps, but I’ve still been wearing them – the dress, especially – quite a bit. They also layer nicely under my jumper dresses!

These shirts have also proved to me how much I enjoy sewing iteratively. Once I have success with a pattern, I love to make slight variations in length and design details to max it out. Being immersed in the construction helped me sew these rather quickly (which isn’t always my goal but nice in this case.)

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Morgan variations

Thank you for all your thoughtful and interesting comments on my last posts here and here about deciding not to sew everything. Marilla made a comment on my Instagram post that I loved too much not to share:

“I actually think that sewing is a journey to more conscious thinking! There is no need in the end to sew all the things, but learning the process helps you have a better understanding of the work involved and in turn makes you a more conscious consumer. I’m all for trying to make all the things, but not because I never ever want to buy things that have been made by someone else, I just hope it gives me greater respect for the resources and skills required!”

Isn’t that wonderful? It summarized what I was trying to convey in my post but didn’t quite know how to say. I have gained so much in my efforts to sew everything, including the knowledge of just how much it takes. It’s humbling.

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been really enjoying sewing jeans and trousers. The ones I can make far exceed what I could buy, in fit and quality. I’ve made a couple of variations based on the Closet Case Patterns Morgan jeans, since sewing them as designed. The first is a slimmer stretch jean, made in Cone Mills S-Gene from Threadbare Fabrics.

crabandbee.com | Closet Case Patterns Morgan jeans in stretch denim

I decided to alter the Morgan pattern instead of use a proper stretch jean pattern was because of how much I loved the back yoke fit and the pocket placement.

crabandbee.com | Closet Case Patterns Morgan jeans in stretch denim

I’m also not really a true skinny jeans person – I’m not looking for a really skintight smooth look, just some extra give when I sit down or bend my knees. I also like to interface my jeans waistbands and use front pocket stays, so a non-stretch pattern was a very decent starting point.

I fitted these jeans as I went, removing some depth from the crotch curve and pinning out the outseams to make them more leg-shaped.

crabandbee.com | Closet Case Patterns Morgan jeans in stretch denim

I loved dressy the dark-on-dark top-stitching made Sophie’s jeans, so I gave it a try on these.

For the second version, I decided to alter the pattern into a trouser pattern. I converted the back yoke into a dart and some width taken from the side seams, converted the jeans pockets to slanted pockets, and added back welt pockets.

crabandbee.com | Closet Case Patterns Morgan jeans converted to trousers

I used a cotton sateen with a little stretch from Emma One Sock. Sewing black basics can be terribly boring, but all the pattern changes made it fun. And they’re my dream trousers! I’m wearing them with a True Bias Ogden cami and some workday wrinkles.

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I loved them so much that I immediately cut out a second pair in stretch denim I had on hand. I’ve also begun the hunt for loud jacquard fabric with which to make a pair for holidays and other festive occasions. I’ve had a real hankering for crazy pants lately.

I’ve also still got a few extra yards of denim, both stretch and non-stretch – any suggestions for denim projects that aren’t jeans or pants?

Canada Pants

crabandbee.com | Closet Case Patterns Morgan jeans

I’m excited to share my Morgan jeans today! Since it would be weird to call your own jeans by your first name, I call them my Canada Pants. Not only were they are designed by Canadian Heather Lou, but I also found the fabric for them on a trip to Victoria, BC.

When Heather first approached me about this pattern, I was trepidatious about fitting without the aid of stretch. (I made a pair of non-stretch flares last year and while they’re comfortable enough, I just don’t like how they look.) I decided my strategy would be sizing up and sewing in a fabric with drape like a linen. Doesn’t it sound pleasant to billow around in roomy linen jeans?

But fate had other plans and I fell under the spell of a thick 50/50 hemp cotton denim in Victoria’s Gala Fabrics. (Incidentally, when I went up to the cutting counter, the owner immediately asked me if I was from Salt Springs Island. I said no and asked why, and he said that hemp and linen are very popular with the inhabitants there. If we were going on fibers alone, I’d say I’d found my people…)

crabandbee.com | Closet Case Patterns Morgan jeans

So with my drapey linen plans delayed (but not abandoned!), I made a very traditional pair of blue jeans. And, in spite of my hesitance, they’re easily the best jeans, nay, pants in my wardrobe. For a few years now, the only jeans pattern I’d used was what I’d adapted from a Burda pleated pants pattern. I’m still proud of what I accomplished with that pattern, but these are better. The pocket design and placement is better. The balance between front and back is better. The booty curve is better. The overall fit is better.

crabandbee.com | Closet Case Patterns Morgan jeans

Let’s talk fit for a bit. I took the pattern’s suggestion to size up for thick fabric (I made a 10 waist / 12 hips instead of an 8 waist /10 hips) and made a muslin. Lo and behold, my muslin was already looking and feeling better than any other pair of pants I owned. I had a bit of excess fabric in the front thighs and under ye olde rump, as well as some smile lines in the back. After some research, I made the following fit tweaks:

  • scooped and lowered the rear curve (which removed the extra back volume)
  • scooped the front curve into more of a rectangle (which also removed volume)
  • removed excess from the back side seam starting under the widest part of my hips
  • removed excess from the back inner thighs
  • removed excess from the front inner thighs
  • moved the knee point up by 1″
  • took out 1/4″ total from the calves starting at the knee

I’m a tall person with short-person legs, so the ankle length was perfect on me.

Aside from my plan to make the jeans in linen, my other design idea was to expose the buttons on the button fly. I’m way into series of gold buttons right now. I omitted the fly shield and sewed my buttonholes directly into the jeans front.

crabandbee.com | Closet Case Patterns Morgan jeans

I also really wanted keyhole buttons. I remembered Kelly from Cut Cut Sew had hand-sewed hers and how lovely it looked. One evening when my husband was out, I turned on some music and got to stitching.

crabandbee.com | Closet Case Patterns Morgan jeans

Hand-sewn buttonholes are still not my forte, but these are infinitely more practical and beautiful than my machined ones! Consider me a convert.

crabandbee.com | Closet Case Patterns Morgan jeans

I also changed the pocket construction in favor of pocket-stays, instructions for which are included in the Ginger sew-along.

crabandbee.com | Closet Case Patterns Morgan jeans

Given how well these fit, I’m chomping at the bit to make a second pair. My love of jeans sewing has been re-ignited! I’m going to see how these wear before sewing another pair – the true test of any pair of jeans -and see if I need to adjust the fit or sizing.

Thank you for reading, and thank you, Heather, for both the compliment of a namesake pattern and for drafting that booty curve.