February 16, 2016

Finished project: McCall's 7053, "An Homage To Two Eras -- Now With Salmon"

Oh, look! McCall's resurrected this loose-fitting retro blouse pattern from their archives.

And it's amazing how the line drawings are nearly timeless. In different fabrics, one or both of these blouses could fit into nearly any modern decade, no?

The original McCall's 7053 dates back to 1933. I could easily see it sliding into an early 1980s office ensemble, though. One example: Jane Fonda would totally wear a pastel version of this blouse in the era-defining movie 9 to 5.

Jane Fonda (middle) in 9 to 5 channels the 1930s in 1980, and we're also channeling it with today's pattern review.
The ruffled details at the neck and cuffs, the lightweight silky fabric (possibly actual silk, but more likely polyester for the average office woman), the blousy top tucked into a plaid or tweed "preppy" skirt: this was one of the uniforms worn by professionals during the early '80s.

9 to 5 came out during the last years of second-wave feminism, when women were actively participating in venues previously unavailable to them, yet were still rare in leadership positions. Go watch the movie to see a humorous take on the situation. The notion of a "glass ceiling" was beginning to make its way into popular culture, and nasty attitudes about woman leaders remained. While some workers conformed to an ethos of "power dressing" through conservative menswear-tailored suits in serious dark colors, others wore traditionally feminine style lines and fabrics, some of them questioning why a woman must dress "like a man" in order to succeed in the workplace. And of course, those who dressed "too much" like a man encountered other prejudices. Fashion, especially in relatively conformist venues like corporate offices, can be a perilous trek across a tightrope. Gender expression is complicated, yo.

But we were talking about the 1930s, weren't we? And how the 1970s/80s were quoting the 1930s?

Actually, we weren't. We were talking about a sewing pattern. And about how this 1930s design is perfectly at home in 2016, as the fashion world clearly has developed a yen for blousy silhouettes. The 1980s detour was a red herring. Pow!


At this moment, we're in the midst of New York Fashion Week (NYFW) 2016. So let's take a look at the evidence, hot off the press. I love these designers' fresh notions of a silky office-appropriate blouse.

Silky blouse! Jane Fonda's character would approve, although she would be a little scandalized by the bold color. Photo Source: The Brock Collection Fall/Winter 2016
Another silky blouse! And the skirt: extremely romantic florals are also having a moment, aren't they? Tempering the treacle a little bit: oxfords without socks (oh, honey, hope you brought Odor Eaters). Photo Source: The Brock Collection Fall/Winter 2016
Hm, a silky blouse worn with a plaid tweed. Tres '30s! Look at those ruffled cuffs peeking out of the 7/8 jacket sleeve. Wait, jacket? Actually it's a coat. I got so lost in the blouse, I didn't even notice. GET ON MY BODY, all of you pieces! Photo Source: Creatures of Comfort Fall/Winter 2016

A bow-neck blouse, comin' at ya! Except this one goes all the way down to the crotch, because it's a ... jumpsuit? Maybe. Can't tell from the pic. Someone: buy me a ticket to NYFW right away so I can find out. Photo Source: Suno Fall/Winter 2016

Now that you see the ways in which the blouse trend influences today's creation  ... shall we get to the damn pattern review already?

The Pattern

McCall's 7053 offers two completely different blouses: one with a large knotted detail at the neck, and one with a drapey cowl-like neck that almost looks like an attached scarf.

McCall's 7053: the pattern.

I made the latter, View B. There is a functional button on the left side, but you could easily get this thing on and off with a non-functioning button. In fact, that's what I did. Why? You'll see.

McCall's 7053, front. The skirt is a self-drafted pattern.
The fabric? A salmon red crepe de chine with a leaf print, from Fashion Fabrics Club. The yardage was originally intended to be a lining for a coat, but, as is always the peril with mail-order fabric, it wasn't quite what I needed. I'd been wanting to try this McCall's archive pattern, however, and the happy accident provided a perfect opportunity.

Photo Source: Fashion Fabrics Club, salmon red crepe de chine

Were the directions easy to follow?

Yeah. For someone with intermediate sewing experience.

McCall's 7053, front full view.

I wouldn't recommend this for a newbie. The astrophysics of inserting the drapey cowl could make your brain explode if you're not accustomed to such things. And there's a scary moment where you clip back to a reinforcement at the neck; if you mess up, the top is basically unsalvageable.
McCall's 7053, from the side. You can see the drapey-ness of the cowl in this pic. Starting this project, I was a little worried that the cowl would make my bosom look enormous. And maybe it does. I don't care. This shirt is comfortable as hell, and I'm never taking it off.
The pattern provides ample illustrations, and the written directions are thorough, but this would be a good candidate for a how-to video where the instructor patiently explains the process, slowly, showing all sides of the fabric as it's being clipped and sewn into its contortions. If I had any ambition at all, that could have been me. But I don't. Bwah.

Fabric matters

The cowl has a facing of self fabric, and the raw edges are hidden by this facing (slip-stitched to the seam allowance). For that reason, too, you have to really be careful about your fabric choice. Anything with more body than a crepe de chine or challis could make the cowl stick out like a bandana. Which is maybe something you want. It would certainly be a different take on this 1930s pattern!
Spandau Ballet says: '80s neck bandanas are cool.
Although I usually take the time to encase raw edges in rayon seam binding, I didn't for this blouse. You can guess why: I doubt the delicate crepe de chine would agree with the extra stiffness created by binding the seams. Instead, I blew the dust off my serger and ran the edges through it.
Serged raw edges. The hem is machine blind-stitched, too.


I performed a Full Bust Adjustment (FBA) on the side portion of the bodice. Since this is a non-standard bodice -- not a princess seam, and not a plain dart situation -- I'll provide a separate tutorial for the FBA on this pattern. For now, let's say it's not a difficult process.

Otherwise, this is a loose-fitting, blousy garment with a ridiculous amount of ease, so I wasn't compelled to make other adjustments. I plan to wear this tucked-in 100% of the time, so I didn't want to nip in the waist too much. If you plan on wearing this untucked, maybe some fisheye darts are in order, to give it a little more shape.
McCall's 7053 (B) Full Bust Adjustment preview. I'll walk you through the process in a separate post.

Functional buttons - not

The blouse opens at the neck with three buttons. Pick something fun here, because they will be a prominent feature of the garment.

I chose to construct the garment normally, except for these buttons. The blouse goes over my head easily without real buttons, and I'm not particularly enamored with the way my sewing machine makes buttonholes. Therefore, I opted to skip 'em and just sew the thing closed.

At first, I used a single button that was left over from another project. It has a 1930s vibe, no?

Originally, a single button on the neckline.

But then, after wearing it once, I decided the button wasn't doing it for me. It's coming off soon, and I plan to replace it with these three Art Deco style buttons.
Soon, my pretties.
There are also some buttons at the cuffs. The pattern gives instructions for linking two buttons together in a cufflink-like arrangement, so that you have buttons on both sides. Having wee hands that fit through tiny holes (I'm lots of fun at parties), I skipped this step and just sewed 'em down.

The cuffs include a nice double-button feature, which I ignored in favor of sewing simplicity. Also, pointy!
Had enough?

Next time, I'll describe the FBA in detail. If you're clever, you can probably figure it out from the picture. I'll go through it step by step just in case.

Have you sewn this garment? I don't think a lot of people have, since I can't find many examples of others' work via Google search. If you are familiar with this pattern, let me know in the comments. And, for heaven's sake, post pictures! We need more of 'em out there.

1 comment:

  1. I think the first button is fine but i totally understand getting obsessed over a detail and wanting to change it.

    That fabric is dope.