Thursday, September 15, 2016

Brief Pattern Reviews: McCall's and Butterick

McCall's, Butterick and Vogue had a Labor Day pattern sale and I took the opportunity to order several patterns for $1.99.  They've arrived and I thought I'd right up a bit about them.

We'll start with the Butterick ones. The two I ordered are both historical patterns.

B6400 "Misses Bones, Back-Pleat Jackets" is a Making History pattern for a Victorian Bodice with variations.  It's basically the same bodice with different rear bottom details and different trim.  View A and View B are actually exactly he same except for the braid/lace trim and the giant bow on the back.   View C is my favorite with the military look of the ribbon trim.   So this may not be the most exciting pattern ever, but it's a good staple to have for Victorian costuming.

Next is B6397, a Making History pattern for 4 different historical hat styles.  You know, this pattern makes me wish the Making History patterns came with ANY historical notes about the patterns, just so I could be sure exactly what time periods they are shooting for.  But anyway, we have a 1940's style pillbox, an early 20th cen broad brimmed hat, a bustle-era Victorian hat and a beret/tam thing that I think is vaguely Regency, but is pictured with Victorian clothes and yeah I don't really know.   So I'm just going to totally ignore that style because it's basically a round bag with a brim and yeah.

The three other hats are constructed with buckram covered in fabric and the instructions seem pretty good.  Not as thorough and good as, say, Lynn McMaster's hat patterns, but if you are vaguely familiar with hat construction or can watch some YouTube videos you should be fine.

The entire reason I bought this pattern is for the Victorian hat, which is a lovely historical style you rarely see people wear these days. It's a style meant to be worn with an updo and features a small crown and lots of decoration at the back.  The instructions for this one are pretty detailed, including how to gather the tulle/veiling and attach it, which I find super helpful as I'm not very good at hat embellishment.

Next we'll most onto some of McCall's costume patterns.  I picked up the recent Pride and Prejudice and Zombies inspired pattern M7493.  I absolutely adore the coat and I'm wondering how well it would work with a steampunk outfit.  Short jackets are something that ISN'T very period Victorian, but IS very steampunk, so Regency-era spencers are something I think translate well.

I also like the Regency gown under the coat, since it is very simple and I tend to like simplicity in my Regency styles.  It probably doesn't have as much fabric in the skirt as a real historical pattern would, but this is really meant to be more costume than recreation and I appreciate it being slightly more frugal.  This will give you the look, especially with the long coat.

I need an excuse to make this whole outfit, really.  Why aren't there Regency events around here?  As far as the pattern it looks fine, the instructions are standard pattern instructions, nothing seems overly complicated.

Next up is a McCall's pattern from YaYa Han for Men's pants and vest, M7399.  When I first saw this pattern, I was not too impressed.  It looked like a pretty boring, standard pattern of men's Victorian wear.  The pants don't have anything exciting going on, and the single-breasted vest is pretty plain.  It is a little different than the more common lapel-style vest, so that's something, but overall the pattern didn't scream NEED TO OWN to me.  Until I noticed the line drawing that shows this pattern actually includes three completely different vests: single, double-breasted, and a lapel-version of single breasted.  The double-breasted version is SUPER steampunk and of a style that I don't think exists as a pattern from a major company yet.  (Harlots and Angels has a similar vest pattern on Etsy.)

I don't know where this style of vest first came into steampunk, but it seems like it's been copied by a lot of clothing makers and artists.  Which is cool, cause it's awesome.  So I think this pattern is worth while for the vests.  As for the pants?  They appear to be a bog-standard pair of modern trousers, with zipper fly and everything, so I don't see what it's necessary.  Yes, you could get away with using this pattern for steampunk wear, but there's nothing inherently steampunk about them and they aren't very Victorian.

I also picked up the Yaya Han corseted bodysuit M7398.  I haven't made a bunnysuit style bodysuit before, so I thought it'd be interesting to see this pattern.  Overall the pictures of the finished suits look pretty nice and I like that it has different pattern pieces for different cup sizes, up to size D.  The
curve in the waist is VERY mild, though, so this is really made for people with athletic figures and not sizable hips.  It's definitely not meant to really be a reducing corset.  There is a version with a zipper closure in the back and one with lacing closure that is meant to be laced completely closed.

The instructions are very detailed and give advice about using steal boning (both flat and spiral) and how to cut and order boning.  The boning is attached to the lining layer by placing channels made of bias binding over the seams on the inside.  The top layer is free-floating for a smooth look, which is appropriate for this style.

I like the instructions for the elastic around the leg openings and the hook and eye closure between the legs.  Over all, the construction is ok for a costume piece that won't see a lot of use.  It's not likely to take a lot of strain or heavy wear, but that's most likely not what most people looking for a bunny suit will want.  If it were me making it, I'd make sure to make the lining of a strong twill or coutil and use something a little better than store-bought bias for my bone channels.  Otherwise, you could follow the pattern instructions.

Again, I'd say this isn't a pattern that is going to work for every body type and is mostly intended for women who fit in a narrow range of sizes and fairly straight or gently curved figures.  But this is a challenging style garment to make for more extreme curves, so that's not really surprising.

Finally I also picked up the M7373 Coat by Yaya Han.  This was really popular when I posted a picture of it before.  I do love the gored version shown on the front of the pattern.  I wish the longer version also had contrast gores but it is pretty voluminous on its own.  There's not that much to say about this pattern, as it's a fairly standard garment.  It's lined, has pockets, and doesn't seem to have cut any construction corners.  I'm glad it has two sleeve options if you don't like the poofy shorter sleeves you can substitute the straight, long sleeves.


  1. I just made that bodysuit pattern with the zipper back for Dragon Con's Bunny Hutch party. I ended up having to shorten the torso (standard for me and patterns), but then redraw the back leg seam and increase the crotch length by at least 3 inches. Not sure if that was 'size of butt' related, but definitely something to keep in mind.

    I don't have the instructions in front of me, but either the pattern calls for underlining the fashion fabric with something like a twill, or I did it out of paranoia. It seemed to work pretty well - the crotch fastenings are going to go before this thing pulls out of shape. :)

    1. I know it calls for the fashion fabric to be flat-lined and the lining to be interfaced but I'd skip the interfacing the lining and use something strong.