M7906 and the Ashton top

Today I have a double garment post for y’all, featuring the McCall’s 7906 skirt and the Ashton top from Helen’s Closet. This outfit is a very late brain child of the Seamwork Design Your Wardrobe challenge – which took place back in February, and I never completed – but nonetheless has informed my sewing queue ever since.

If you haven’t tried the Design Your Wardrobe challenge, I highly recommend it. Or at least, I highly recommend the first part (which is the only part I finished). The basic idea is that you take the time to create a mood board of styles you are drawn to, and then try to find or identify a cohesive theme. After you figure out what the overarching motifs are, you name your future collection and use it as a basis to start planning what you will make next.

Things I learned from this exercise:

  1. What I thought was a long-dormant desire to fancy myself a cowgirl is in fact alive and well. Helloooooo cowgirl boot wearin’ 1st grade Miranda.
  2. Even though I still love the 20s-40s vintage aesthetic (thank you Downtown), my sweet spot is really where americana meets romantic silhouettes.
  3. Apparently I love belts??? And yet, at the time of this exercise – I owned no belts. We are slowly remedying that.

What did I name my collection, you might ask? Desert Rose. You know, like Kate Winslet in Titanic, but specifically that last scene where you get the shot of her on a horse & living her best post-Titanic life. I like to imagine that Rose moved somewhere to the southwest, still wore fancy vintage clothes, but struck a less ostentatious vibe and instead went a little more yeehaw. Basically, I let my imagination fill in the gaps on this Pinterest board.

Let the record show that yes, Titanic is my favorite movie. Don’t @ me cuz no, I’m not ashamed.

Anywho! Back to the topic at hand, which uhhh . . . is not Kate Winslet and my photoshopped tangent but actually the two sewing projects I referenced in the title.

Like the McCall’s M7906 skirt! I think this is a fantastic pattern that would be beautiful in just about any fabric, but when I came across this kitschy horse tech fabric at my local discount fabric store – I knew some Desert Rose wardrobe dreams were about to come true.

The pinterest post that inspired my skirt. Friggin horses, amirite?!

I’ll be transparent with y’all: this skirt is constructed from what I’m 90% sure is a quilting cotton (M&L Fabrics in Anaheim sells discount fabric on a flat fold – which means you don’t get more information than what is printed on the selvage). Was it a risk? Yes. Did it totally pay off? Also yes.

And really, it’s kudos to the pattern itself because it’s clearly designed for sturdy fabrics (although I think it would be lovely with a softer silhouette too). I cut a straight size 10 based on the finished waistline measurements located on the pattern pieces*, and didn’t worry about grading out at the hips thanks to the pleated design.

Partly because I sewed this up in a quilting cotton, and partly because I was inspired by Brittany J Jones – I opted to finish all of my seams with contrast bias binding. Holy moly does the result feel fancy! I have to resist the urge to run around lifting my skirt up for everybody who expresses a modicum of interest in my outfit. The nicer finishes really elevates the garment, and it feels like something I paid a lot of money for at a high end department store (when it fact the total cost was about $17)

I don’t have much more to say about the M7906 except that it’s a great pattern, and 11/10 I will be making it again. I can also pair with at least four of my tops already, so as far as pure #sewfrosting projects go, this one is definite win!


Now – on to the Ashton top by Helen’s Closet. After I completed my skirt, and while planning what to wear with these blog photos you’re now enjoying – I realized that I owned only one white crop top. Given the amount of patterned high-waisted skirts in my closet, I decided that this a gap in my wardrobe I needed to start filling.

Cue the Ashton, which has been making the rounds on Instagram since it’s release. The silhouette is super cute, and I knew it would work perfectly with this skirt. This pattern has been touted as a stash buster, and since I had a tiny amount of linen leftover from the last Fairfield I made, I had high hopes I could squeeze an Ashton out of what was left.

Luckily, I was right! Granted this was another precarious, Miranda-tests-the-limits-of-what’s-reasonable, fabric cutting situation. But I got through it, and with only one seam line added to the back hem facing! (For any other brave explorers out there – please note that I squeaked out this top out with only 1 yd of 34″ wide fabric)

when you on thin pattern-cutting ice and you know it

I cut a size 4 in the cropped view with the facing finish option – despite my facing rant in my last post. This was the first time I’ve done an all-in-one neck/armhole facing, and I like to try things at least once before refusing to do them. With that said (and while an all-in-one facing is definitely less annoying to wear than separate facings), I will probably skip it next time in favor of bias binding.

The only adjustment I made was 1″ small bust adjustment, and overall I’m pretty happy with the fit! My single complaint is that I barely fit into the neck hole, and I’ve definitely already gotten make-up all over the neckline of the garment. I’m not sure if this is a grading issue since I’m at the smaller end of the size range – or if I just have a large head.

Either way, I will adjust this on future versions. The construction was straightforward and I was super impressed with the level of detail that Helen includes in her pattern instructions.

This top is a great closet staple, and omg, it’s perfect for summer. The A-line shape means that it hangs completely off my body, and the linen fabric is easy breezy. So between it and my quilting cotton skirt (which okay, I will admit is a little warm), I was not uncomfortable taking these photos in the August heat.

As always, thank you to Ian for taking these photos, and to anybody else who has managed to read this far despite my rambling.

The Details (M7906):

  • Fabric: 100% Cotton from M&L Discount Fabrics in Anaheim, CA (3 yards, 45″)
  • Pattern: McCall’s M7906
  • Size: 10
    • View C, length shortened to View B
  • Total Cost: $17
    • $2 for the pattern
    • $9 for the fabric
    • $6 bias binding

The Details (Ashton Top):

  • Fabric: Leftover Linen from Ian’s Fairfield Button-Up
  • Pattern: The Ashton Top from Helen’s Closet
  • Size: 4
    • View B, Facing Finish
  • Adjustments:
    • 1″ Small Bust Adjustment
  • Total Cost: $11
    • $11 for the pattern
    • $0 for the fabric (yay for sewing leftovers!)

*Tip: when using a Big 4 pattern – do not cut out your pieces based on the pattern envelope. For this pattern that would have (surprisingly) only put me one size over what I needed – but often times it’s two or three sizes off. You need to pull the actual pattern pieces out and take a look at the finished garment measurements before picking the correct size.

the fairfield-button up

Hello friends! I am back with another finished piece – this time featuring my husband, Ian. This is the fourth button-up shirt I’ve completed for him, and I think I am finally zeroing in on the perfect fit (& in the perfect pattern).

My first ventures into shirt-making for him were from the Simplicty 4760 pattern. I’m not sure when this particular pattern was designed – but if I had to guess I’d say it was the late 90s based on the photographs and the amount of ease designed in the pattern. That pattern required a TON of altering to get a slimmer/modern fit, and while this was a good learning exercise for me – I became weary of other Big 4 men’s shirt patterns for the same reason.

I also didn’t love what felt like short cuts in the design and construction. Namely: the facing used for the button band, and lack of a collar stand.

The fit was about as modern as this photo.

Y’all, I’m pretty much over facings. Arm facings? Nope. Button-band facings? Maybe in dresses, but for collared shirts that’s now a nope. Neckline facings? Also nope. Whenever possible: I much prefer a bias binding or RTW techniques.

Besides the lack of facings, there were two main things that really appealed to me about the Fairfield button-up. One was the legit button placket construction. The other was that it included a version designed with back darts instead of back pleats. If you’ve done much shopping for men’s shirts – you’ll know that back darts in shirts are harder to find than back pleats (at least in the U.S.). A back pleat will add volume to a shirt (which is great if you are larger figure), but in Ian’s case he always has a much better fit with darts.

Fabric is a pure linen so I know y’all understand the wrinkles. Notice how the back darts give a slimmer fit than a pleat under the yoke would.

Anywho, I decided to make the first version as a wearable muslin in an inexpensive cotton I picked up some time last year. To my pleasant surprise, the construction was straightforward, and I didn’t have any trouble with the button placket even though it was my first time doing it. (I repeat: why bother with a facing???)

I didn’t find the collar stand particularly difficult either, and I think the result is worth the added effort. The only bit I had trouble with was keeping track of the “under” vs. “over” collar pieces. Instead of cutting the same collar stand and collar piece on the fold, the pattern includes four different pieces in which the “over” pieces are slightly bigger to allow for the turn of cloth (another reason this is a high-quality pattern). I’m pretty sure I mixed them up on the first version of the shirt, so for the second one I made sure to use tailor’s tacks to help me keep track of which was which.

I should note that I also shortened the sleeves for both of these versions. The pattern does not include a short-sleeve option, but it’s an easy adjustment to make yourself (especially if you have another pattern you can pull from, like I did). I can’t speak to the cuff construction in this pattern yet, but given my experience so far I have high hopes for when I try it this fall.

As for the fit, it was honestly not bad straight out of the pattern. I had to raise the pocket placement an inch and a half, but otherwise the result was pretty good.

Even though Ian thought the first fit was amazing (thanks boo!) – I was bothered by the drag line coming down from his right shoulder. The shoulders were a touch too long, leading to extra fabric in the chest and back. To correct this, I did just a 1/4 narrow shoulder and back adjustment – and I think the second version looks perfect.

The singular drag line was trickier to figure out, but after consulting Fit for Real People, I realized that Ian has slightly uneven shoulders. I followed the pattern adjustment as outlined in the book, which is essentially a straight shoulder adjustment on one side only. Note that this will raise/lower one of the armholes as well, which is what you want if one arm is in fact hanging lower than the other.

Simple in theory, not simple in execution! Making an adjustment to only one side of a pattern is a lot to keep track of when you are talking about two separate front bodices pieces, two yoke pieces, all cut on a single layer – on a fabric where the right side and wrong side are interchangeable.

I did my best to keep everything straight, but when Ian tried on the shirt and asked me, “Isn’t the pocket supposed to be on the other side?” I knew that somewhere along the way I had made a grave, grave error. While it was easy to move the pocket to the correct side – it was way to late for the buttons and button holes.

Apropos of nothing . . . what photoshoots with me are like. “Can you pose like this, please!?”

Funny enough, I did manage to get the adjustments all on the correct side in terms of actually wearing the garment – so it fits and looks great! But managed to completely switch the construction of the front bodices. I guess I didn’t notice because it seemed correct to me? But, forevermore, every time Ian puts that shirt on, his fingers will awkwardly remember that I managed to sew his shirt backwards.

Really, the worst part is that it means I will need to do all of those adjustments again the next time I make him this shirt (did I mention that I traced and cut this pattern on a single layer?). But as far as this version goes – nobody but him and you lovely people reading this blog will ever be the wiser.

Okay not exactly a garment photo but it’s my blog. Don’t @ me!

The Details:

  • Fabric: 100% Linen from Superbuzzy (2 yards)
  • Pattern: Fairfield Button Up by Thread Theory Designs
  • Size: S
  • Adjustments:
    • Short Sleeve
    • Raised Pocket 1.25″
    • 1/4″ Narrow Shoulder and Back
    • 1/4″ Uneven Shoulder
    • Shortened Bodice Length 1/2″
  • Total Cost: ~$50
    • $11 for the pattern (one time cost but I’ve already used it twice)
    • $35 for the fabric (linen version)
    • ~ $5 for misc. notions (buttons, interfacing)

the Willamette shirt

Every time I finish something new and it turns out well, I can’t help but think it’s my new favorite make. It’s hyperbolic and time is a better test – but you guys, this pattern is a real joy to sew and wear.

I had no plans to make this top in the near future, but when I spotted this beautiful striped linen at my local Joann store (while shopping for another project) – I could not resist buying a yard and a half. Elise Joy and Heidi from Handmade Frenzy recently made such beautiful versions of this pattern – that this project & fabric instantly jumped to the top of my queue.

I try to purchase fabric independently – but Joann’s is really killing with their linen game right now.

When I left the store I really thought that a yard and a half of fabric would be plenty to make myself a nice top, but upon purchasing and printing the pattern pieces I was surprised to discover that the Willamette shirt called for 2.5 yards of fabric! At this point I was committed, however, and therefore had another round of fabric tetris ahead of me.

Luckily I was better prepared this time, and opted to trace all of my pattern pieces to be cut on a single layer. This meant that for pieces designed to be cut on the fold, I traced a new piece that was mirrored with a center line instead of a fold line. For pieces meant to be cut twice, I went ahead and traced a second piece.

Original collar piece at the top – “Cut 2 on the fold”. Instead (bottom) I mirrored the other side and created two separate pattern pieces.

Ultimately this meant that when I layed my fabric out on a single layer, I had a pattern piece for every single piece that needed to be cut, and didn’t have to make any guesses as to where to place each piece.

Apologies for the bad lighting (that 5 pm sunlight was comin’ in FIERCE) – but look how nicely I was able to fit all my pieces!

This obviously required some more time on the front end of the pattern cutting process – but it was 1000% worth it!! Actually laying out the pieces and cutting my fabric was sooooo much easier than my Joni dress.

Once again I found myself with the most adorable tiny scrap pile.

Because my Anna dress was such a journey, I did not opt to make a muslin or do any fitting adjustments prior to sewing this up. The design is meant to be a little over-sized, so I was fairly confident that it would turn out fine without much fuss. I love a long and involved project – but sometimes it’s nice to have a spacer and work on something that’s fairly quick and easy.

As for the pattern itself, it’s fantastic. These are possibly the best set of instructions I’ve encountered yet, and I really loved every step of the project. This is the first time I’ve sewn together a proper front and back yoke, and the process was explained beautifully. If you have never sewn a collared shirt before – I highly recommend this pattern as a starting point.

Finally, I loved sewing with this linen. It’s beautiful. It’s easy to work with. And ooooh it presses so nicely. I cannot wait to wear this as the days continue to get warmer over the next few months. I was reminded of how much I love sewing a collared shirt, and the Fairfield button-up I’ve been promising my husband for months has jumped straight to the top of my sewing queue.

The Details:

  • Fabric: 100% Striped Linen from Joann Stores (1.5 yards, but pattern calls for 2.5)
  • Pattern: Willamette Shirt by Hey June Handmade
  • Size: 2
    • View C w/cuffs
  • Adjustments:
    • Raised the center front stitch line 1″
  • Total Cost: ~ $33
    • $10 for the pattern
    • $23 for the fabric