crafts · finished objects · Sewing

McCalls 6408: lessons in pattern photo interpretation

Pattern: McCalls 6408, view b

Fabric: Black rayon/lycra jersey from Fashion Fabrics club


I’m going to start out by saying that I really don’t recommend this pattern at all.  Mine ended up ok (not great, but ok) only after some major surgery!

Let’s start here: I require a lot of black clothing for performances.  I had a concert last weekend that required long sleeves,  and I found myself without a black cardigan.  I had this pattern on my list, so I decided to make it up… on a Saturday night… for a Sunday afternoon concert.  It seemed a simple enough pattern, but as I have discovered you cannot count on anything when you have a deadline!

I cut a size XS.  I was happy at first to measure the armholes and realize that the sleevecap had no ease, so I didn’t have to remove any!  The sleevecaps were a bit oddly shaped and were hard to set in, but I managed.  It wasn’t until I tried it on that I became aware of major fit issues around the sleeves and sleevecap.   The sleeves were really enormous, and the caps were very deep.  The shoulder itself fell off my shoulder in a drop sleeve (and I am not narrow through the shoulders at all.)  In addition, it was rather large – the ties in the front could not tie tightly enough to cinch in my waist without looking silly.

I ended up going back and removing 4 inches from the sleeves and sides.  Even after that, the sleeves are still large, but the fabric was starting to twist so I knew I couldn’t take it in anymore.  It fits better in the body, but it still almost too big.  The ties are rather long, and the weight of them tends to pull the waistline of the sweater down, so it won’t necessarily tie at the waist.   Here is a closeup of the result:

You can see how it’s still almost too big to tie.

For comparison, here is the envelope:

See how the sleeves are scrunched up?  That is a bad sign, which I will note in the future.  I also note that the gray sweater has sleeves that look both too big and too long (like mine.)

You can see on the back view how strange the armhole is:


If I were to make this again… well, I wouldn’t.  I do like the idea of the tied cardigan, but this one seems poorly drafted to me – the sleeves on the XS should not be that big, and it seems overall to be drafted large for a knit.  But if I were to make it I would reduce the length of the ties by quite a bit, shorten the armhole length, and make the sleeves smaller and shorter.

I will wear this sweater of course – I can never have too much black (it is black, though I lightened the photos considerably.)  Sorry for the downer of a review, but I do like to tell the bad along with the good.  If you like the idea of  the ties I would recommend attaching them to a different pattern – the Jalie Pleated cardigan would be my pick!

9 thoughts on “McCalls 6408: lessons in pattern photo interpretation

  1. I think it’s a good thing to say that you had a bad experience with a pattern…not all patterns work and we the home sewist should be made aware of what works and what doesn’t. So thanks for an honest review. I’m also glad that you were able to get a useable garment and didn’t end up with a wadder.

    1. I’m thinking about creating tried-and-true patern to avoid such bad-fitting issues. Just will take a pattern that fits me and then modify it using the pattern that I want to make. What do you think?

  2. I’ve made 3 of these so far. My first experience was much like yours- the shoulders were down to my elbows, couldn’t tie it tight enough, etc.etc. It is now my dressing gown. I REALLY liked the idea of the tie cardigan so I tried again using the XS (I normally cut a 16) with a M sleeve. I got really great results the second and third times around. It is cute on you!!! If you decide to make it again just lop all those inches off beforehand and go for it!!!

  3. I, too, have struggled with this pattern especially with the sleeves. My suggestions: once you resize the sleeve to the right length/depth etc – sew the sleeve to the cap before you finish the sleeve seam and side seam. The, see the entire side seam from sleeve cuff to bottom hem of cardi. This makes the underarm sean lie more smoothly. As well, this pattern seems I work best with a more structured knit (read: heavier and with less give) so that it keeps the shape of the collar/front part better. The lighter jerseys have more give and with so much fabric, the weight of it all is too much for the fabric to bear – hence, it doesn’t close properly and everything looks a bit misshapen. However, yours looks pretty good and I am sure your modifications will make it that much better/more enjoyable to see up in the future 🙂

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