Monthly Archives: April 2017

McCall’s 7574 scuba dress

A couple of weeks ago I saw some photos on Melissa Watson’s Instagram feed of a gorgeous dress/ top pattern she had just released with Mccalls. I drooled over it for about half an hour, and then gave in and ordered a copy! It jumped straight to the top of my to-do list, and now becomes the first make I’m devoting a blog post to 🙂 It’s meant for stretch fabrics, and I decided to start with the dress. I sewed all the seams on an overlocker, did the topstitching on a regular machine, and the hems on a coverstitch machine.

I made a toile – I always try to do this, especially if it’s a pattern company I’m not familiar with (yup, confession: this is the first time I’ve sewed a Mccalls pattern!), and I graded from a UK size 8 (US size 4) at the top to a 12 (US 8) at the hips. I’d normally grade to a 10 (US 6) at the hips, but this looked pretty close fitting and I didn’t want it to be too tight across the tummy (which is definitely not my best feature). My toile came up a little large across the shoulders, bust and upper arms, but seemed perfect across the hips and tummy, so I made my adjustments on the pattern pieces (included with the pattern are helpful guides for all sorts of adjustments, and recommendations for ‘tissue fitting’ but, I must confess, I didn’t do this – the toile is my alternative!)

No, that fabric wasn’t meant for me. Pink camo jersey… it’s supposed to be for my daughter, but I had 3 metres and she’s only small, so I figured I could borrow some 🙂

Once I was happy with the fit, I cut out my ‘proper’ version in this floral scuba.


I’ve never sewn with scuba before, so it was my first Mccalls pattern and my first time using scuba… and I should have made my toile from the scuba. It’s much less clingy than the cotton jersey I used for the toile, and it just hung off my hips like a tent. I wish I’d photographed it but I didn’t think to take a pic (still not used to thinking ahead to blogging!) I felt quite demoralised at that point, because in my head this dress looked so stunning, and in reality it looked more like a hospital gown (even if it would have been a hospital gown adorned with huge digitally printed flowers). I did wonder whether to just cut it to the cropped top length since the fit across the shoulders and bust was great, but I really did want the dress, so it got unstitched and re-measured… I took in the sides by about an inch each from the waist down, so my initial generous grading was totally pointless Proportionally speaking it worked out though, as after my toile fit the top of the finished version ended up as a UK size 4/ US 0, so I’ll know in future that using scuba might mean I need to go down a size or two.

(I’ve cropped most of the photos, because believe it or not, that ‘oh, is the camera going off?’ face is actually pretty much the best facial expression I managed to capture on film…)

As for the dress itself, the design is beautiful. My favourite part is the shape of the raglan sleeve: it’s so flattering, following the shoulder line, and is an interesting detail that sets this dress out of the ordinary. I also like the two-piece sleeves and the two-piece back – it helps the dress to fit beautifully which, since it’s quite form-fitting, really makes the difference.


The shirt-tail hem isn’t a look I’ve tried before – I almost altered it to a regular shift dress hem before I even began, and then decided to just trust the pattern – and it’s great! Lesson: I must not be afraid to try something new. The overall length of the dress means I want to wear this with heels rather than flats, but that’s fine as the fabric isn’t exactly casual!

I don’t know if I made the right choice with the fabric – I’m not sure I can pull off such a statement print, so I’m going to have to develop some attitude to wear this out of the house. I don’t think it’s a ‘blend into the background’ kind of a garment, so one to wear when I feel like strutting.

Finally, a moderately successful selfie!

The pattern itself is faultless: the instructions were clear and the fit advice was useful. Overall, I’m really pleased with this pattern, and predict that I’ll be making the tunic version before long (maybe not in a scuba… and maybe in a smaller print!)

One week on

A week ago I hit ‘publish’ on my first blog post, and then a few minutes later hit ‘share’ on my first Instagram post. Posting pictures of myself online takes me about as far out of my comfort zone as it’s possible to go, so I thought I’d write a short post today reflecting on my first week of hashtags and selfies!


(This is me NOT mastering the art of the selfie…)

Apart from a few years Facebooking when it first launched, I’ve never been much of a social media user, and half the time I don’t even have my phone in the same room as me. This stems from a time when I lived in a flat that only had mobile reception by the bedroom window, so I had to leave my phone on the bedroom windowsill and pop back in to check it for messages every now and then… so even though that was before smartphones, and even though mobile reception is pretty good in every room of our house, I still find myself in the habit of leaving my phone in the bedroom and just popping up from time to time. But I realise I have to move with the times and face facts: social media is just how the world works today!

I haven’t shared this new venture with anyone but my closest family: most people in my life don’t even know that I sew, let alone that almost everything they see me or my daughter wear is handmade! So for me this is about connecting with a community, not staying in the safety net of people I know will follow me and ‘like’ my posts, but rather putting it out there and seeing if other sewists/ crafters/ designers like it or not. It’s scary, and humbling, but also brilliant: I have connected with some amazing sewists, I’ve loved waking up and catching up on sewing-related banter, and I’ve discovered some great new (or new-to-me) blogs (right now I’m enjoying Dream.Cut.Sew, Sew and Such, Sewing Unaffiliated, Sew Ready, A Sewful Life, and I’ll add more links another time!)

So apart from taking more selfies in one week than in the last five years, what’s been going on this week? Well, here at Valentine and Stitch HQ we’ve designed a leggings pattern for girls (my daughter tried on version 2 this morning and loved them so much she wanted to wear them all day – that was the moment I realised she didn’t have any tops to match the fabric I’d chosen! But she doesn’t care, and I’m just happy to see her running and jumping around in her pink camo leggings.

We need to reduce the ease in the waistband before we start playing with design features, but that’s going on a back burner for now as I have to write up the instructions for the first Valentine and Stitch pattern, which just got a sneak peak on Instagram today!

Very excited about that, and I still have to sew up one more sample version so I’m currently in full-on fabric dilemma… the best kind of problem to have!

And what’s next? Well, I’m loving joining in with the #sewapril2017 challenge and following the hashtag – so the daily themes will keep me busy on Instagram. I haven’t written any ‘my makes’ type blog posts yet, which I thought would be the majority of my posts, so I have to learn to figure out how to balance that with Instagram. Lots of blog reading, to see what my new sewing friends are creating. And possibly definitely a few glasses of wine in the sunshine! Till next time, thanks for reading and wishing you all a happy and sunny week!