January 21, 2015

A McCall’s M6436 shirt full o’ arrows


As an uber busty lady, it can be a lonely, tent-like world when you’re looking for button-down shirt patterns. The Grainline Archer is super cool – but with no darts, and billowy sleeves at the size 18, it tends to swamp the plentiful of chest. The new Sewaholic Granville shirt is also lovely – but clearly for pears and not for the likes of me without some serious FBA-ing.
Therefore, I was excited to findΒ McCall’s M6436 – a shirt with cup sizes up to DDD. I’m a HH so not quite there, but an awful lot closer than the average pattern drafted for a B (or C if we’re lucky). And the verdict is…. mixed.
McCall's M6436 shirt DDD size
Although it goes up to the DDD cup size, it’s surprising how few alterations have been made for the busty. Basically there’s a really big dart, which goes a long way towards the apex – it ended up about 1/2 inch off mine. That doesn’t really work – it’s definitely nipply at the end – so I’ll be re-drafting the bust dart to be a good 2 – 3 inches off which is much better on busts my size. Weirdly, it’s been drafted without a dart triangle off the edge of the pattern, which means you have to cut out the body of the dart after it’s sewn. There’s no suggestion on how to finish the edges, and it’s difficult to get a nice result given this isn’t a lined garment. I ended up doing a tight zig zag and cutting it out, which I didn’t love and I’m a bit concerned about fraying when it gets washed. My other gripe is the excessive sleevehead ease – it was quite the trauma getting them in, and there are some puckers if you look close.
Anyhow! Despite these niggles, I do like my finished shirt. I made the size 20 with the DDD and the shoulders and back fit me much better than the 22 that I usually make, which is great. I used a “silk” that I bought from a roadside stand in Vietnam, and it was a little tricky to work with, but it didn’t fray too much. As to whether it’s actually silk – the jury is out! I have a suspicion it’s a poly crepe in disguise…
I like the two slim two-piece sleeve (so rare!), which also allows the simple “turn and stitch” placket finish which is much easier than a usual placket and looks great. The back is also nicely shaped with two waist darts.
McCall's M6436 shirt DDD size
I would never normally wear a shirt done up to the neck, but here it is just to prove that it (barely) fits my chest with no FBA.
McCall's M6436 shirt DDD size
I’ve made a couple of shirts now and my techniques are getting refined little by little. I always use Andrea’s collar tutorial, my edge-stitching foot (the only way to get even topstitching in my experience), and my Bernina now plays nice with buttonholes which is a blessed relief (there’s nothing worse than ripping out the same buttonhole 5 times, weeping into your tea as the material shreds before your eyes). I french seamed the whole thing apart from the armholes – I did try to do them, but there was just too much ease for it to work.
McCall's M6436 shirt DDD size

I’ll definitely be making this again, because with a few tweaks to the bust dart and adding a little bit of ease it could be great. I have a few silks calling my name…

McCall's M6436 shirt DDD size
Have you found an awesome shirt pattern that you keep coming back to? I’m still on the hunt – I think I’ll have to try a princess seam pattern next.

62 thoughts on “A McCall’s M6436 shirt full o’ arrows

  1. Sophie-Lee says:

    This is so good! I love the fabric (here’s hoping it’s viscose or silk rather than poly) and the fit is goood with that giant dart πŸ˜‰

    1. Jenny says:

      Thanks Sophie-Lee! The material somewhat covers up the enormous dart πŸ™‚

  2. Andie L. says:

    Gorgeous shirt. I love that fabric. I have the pattern, but have yet to try it out. I like the lines on M6649 more, though. It’s not quite princess seamed, but has more shape to it. It has bust darts and waist darts on the front and back as well as the cup sizing. It’s out of print now, but likely easily found on etsy or ebay. Have you tried that one yet? I plan on making one before the winter is over. πŸ™‚

    1. Jenny says:

      Oh that’s interest, I hadn’t seen that pattern. I might have to track it down.. So far I’ve only sewn this, the Archer and the Negroni for boys.

    2. Andie L. says:

      That’s what I thought. Someone recently made it in the blogosphere. I guess I just associate awesome makes with CSC ladies. πŸ˜‰

  3. The blouse looks AMAZING! I really love the fabric; that’s a great print. I’m still working out my go-to blouse pattern. I started with the Archer, and I’m eager to try the Granville, but first I’m going to sew a vintage blouse pattern. Separates are a lot of fun!

    1. Jenny says:

      Thanks! Funnily enough I passed over the fabric the first time I saw it but then thought about it all evening, and ended up dragging my friend back to get it the next day!

  4. Michelle says:

    I think your shirt looks great! Thanks for being the guinea pig for us larger-busted women with this pattern. I own this pattern but haven’t done anything with it yet. I’ve been debating whether to try muslining this one or the Archer (first). I prefer some of the details of the Archer, but thought that this pattern might give me a better starting point with the DDD-cup option. It’s disappearing to hear that the “DDD cup” drafting is simply a giant dart (I have occasionally seen that in so-called “larger cup size” patterns). I think I’ll go ahead and tackle the Archer first then–I can make my own huge dart and deal with it, thank you. πŸ˜‰

    1. Jenny says:

      To be honest yes it’s just a mega dart so you could just as easily add one to the Archer! Only thing to watch out for though are the really big and long sleeves which have caught most people out at the larger sizes – worth muslining and adjusting

  5. Vicki says:

    It looks fantastic on you and I love the print! My daughter is also ‘an uber busty lady’ (she sure didn’t get it from me! lol) so I really enjoyed this post. We will be picking up this pattern asap! Thanks again!

  6. Jo says:

    This looks immaculate! I’ve not yet tried making a shirt; many details, and many areas requiring careful fitting. A-line dresses are nice forgiving garments, for a beginner, so I shall stick with that for a while yet. I’m in awe, both of your skill and your work rate – is it really only a couple of days since you were making children’s coats? Astonishing!

    1. Jenny says:

      Well you should be aware I don’t always post immediately when I make something! The coats were actually done in November. But this was last week’s project!

  7. Margo B says:

    I love your shirt and it looks like a perfect fit! I have been looking for a good shirt pattern and have settled on Burda 6849. Hopefully it will work out the way I hope.

    1. Jenny says:

      Thanks, Margo. I’ve had mixed experiences with Burda so far so I’m really intrigued to see how yours turns out!

  8. emadethis says:

    I did not know that about the Granville or the Archer, but then I don’t wear button downs as a rule and I’m not as busty as I was pre-kids. This is a nicely fit shirt though–the extra shaping in the sleeve from the 2 pieces is especially flattering. Your edgestitching is very clean too–yay for edgestitching feet!

    1. Jenny says:

      Yes I am the #1 fan of the edge stitching foot!

  9. Tiffany says:

    I love your blouse!

    1. Jenny says:

      Thank you, Tiffany

  10. elaineoc says:

    This looks great, I also struggle to get a flattering shirt pattern so really nice to see πŸ™‚ Love that fabric too.

    1. Jenny says:

      Thanks! You should give it a go

  11. Debbie Cook says:

    Really lovely! I don’t see any of the problems you mention and I doubt the real world will either.

    About the darts … if a dart doesn’t have legs into the sideseam, you can just press it upward and it works fine. Something to remember when you’re short on fabric and the big ol’ dart legs take up precious inches. Also, since the dart should be on the bias, the cut-out shouldn’t ravel. Fingers crossed.

    1. Jenny says:

      Actually I tried out pressing up and even that way it wouldn’t have caught in the side seam and would have been flapping about… Hopefully its ok though!

    2. Debbie Cook says:

      Wow. Sounds like a drafting error. I haven’t actually seen the pattern so I’m pretty much just spittin’ in the wind here. Now I’m really curious. Heh. πŸ™‚

  12. Linda Vass says:

    Have you tried the Named Tyler pattern? I have made the short sleeved version for both myself and my Mum – both generously endowed – and have found it works well

    1. Linda Vass says:

      It is a raglan sleeve, though, which I have found really good for adjusting. Sorry for the two part response – my iPad isn’t behaving!

    2. Jenny says:

      I haven’t because I’m quite a way out of their size range but glad it worked for you!

  13. V says:

    The shirt looks gorgeous on you! Very flattering. I don’t do too much on the button ups. I’ve been eyeing the Sewaholic Oakridge, both bow and bowless versions. I’m leaning toward bowless with a narrow fabric ruffle around the neckline. πŸ™‚ I am not quite as endowed as you, being only a DD. I figure I’m going to do a serious round of muslining to get the FBA worked out, but I know it will be worth it in the long run. I mean, seriously, little ruffled neckline. I also have some hot pink voile tucked away for a bow version once I get the bust issues sorted out.

    1. Jenny says:

      I’m a little hesitant about Sewaholic just because they truly are drafted for the exact opposite of my frame and sometimes that means more than just an FBA. But they look lovely on everyone I’ve seen who’ve done them!

  14. Kate McIvor says:

    First of all — great job on the shirt. The topstitching is amazing, and I love how well the shoulders fit. You’re right, the bust dart should stop 2″ to 3″ from the apex for us busty girls. I love McCall’s 6076 as a shirt for women with our body type. I have only made one for myself (what??!!!), but I made them for everyone in my book club, and they love them. A FBA on a princess seam is a lot of work, but the shirt looks great.

    1. Jenny says:

      Thanks, Kate! I’ll have to check out that shirt, though I agree that FBAing a princess seam can be hard – not difficult to do the process, but hard to get the actual curve over the bust correct.

  15. patsijean says:

    For a more casual button-up, you might try Silhouette Patterns #600, Classic Blouse by Peggy Sagers which goes up to a D cup. http://www.silhouettepatterns.com/html/patterns/p_600.htm I’ve made several blouses, but do have only a B cup. There is a bust dart and vertical waist darts but Peggy often recommends waiting until the garment is constructed before deciding on the waist darts. Her sizing is not traditional so you will have to look at the chart and measure some of your best fitting blouses to see how the measurements match. I love her web-casts http://www.silhouettepatterns.com/html/media/livestreamchannel/index_replays.htm and also subscribe to her YouTube channel. She is in the process of adding all her free webcasts to YouTube. If you have concerns, she often recommends a muslin, just email Peggy and she will contact you .

    1. Jenny says:

      Thanks! I checked out her jeans fitting youtube video and it was really interesting.

  16. Fickle Sense says:

    Love this shirt. The choice of fabric really suits the sewing pattern… even if it may not be silk. A great souvenir from Vietnam! I love ‘travel fabric shopping!’

  17. Heather says:

    I just made my first Archer, and bought an edge stitch foot before I started it. It makes me look so pro! Love it when the feet do the work. πŸ˜‰

    1. Jenny says:

      Exactly! It was like magic when I first got it…

  18. Sara A. says:

    Super cute! Have you thought of splitting the dart in two or three littler darts to offset the giant wedge problem? It’ll change the look, but also solve the “dart nipple” problem

    1. Jenny says:

      Yes that’s definitely an option I’m going to look into.

  19. Tina says:

    My favorite shirt pattern is from Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing. It’s her bow tie blouse pattern, but I like the variations more than the original pattern. I think it might be drafted up to a d cup.

    1. Jenny says:

      Interesting, I’ll take a look!

  20. BeckyMc says:

    You can identify mystery fabrics like your Viet Nam silk with a simple burn test. This site has basic explanations, with pictures of how different fibers react to the flame.
    http://www.teonline.com/knowledge-centre/fabric-identification.html
    I want an edge stitch foot! Your topstitching looks great.

    1. Jenny says:

      I’m going to give that a go! Hopefully I don’t burn my house down (I did do that before.. ok, not all the way down but it was a bit singed)

  21. Well it’s turned out loverly! Not knowing much about bustiness, I can’t suggest any other patterns, but I have read of splitting large darts into two smaller darts for a better fit…. Also can you sort of redraft the dart legs so that they are longer and can be pressed up or down? I also like your stairwell!

    1. Jenny says:

      I’m definitely going to redraft the dart legs – that’s pretty easy. I may try splitting too, though it can look a little odd in my experience. And thanks – Katy and Ashley found it, a place with lots of natural light that’s indoors!!

  22. Gabrielle says:

    Yay, it looks awesome – and must be a great feeling to get this level of fit without having to make too many adjustments :). I’m on the SBA rather than the FBA scale of fit, so I can’t recommend my favourite shirt pattern (an old OOP, boxy, small darted pattern from Vogue)!

    1. Jenny says:

      Thanks, Gabrielle!

  23. Excellent job of making this pattern work for you! It looks just like an expensive silk shirt by Equipment. I’m curious to see if your fabric is silk or poly…Viet Nam does produce some nice fabrics regardless. —Meg

  24. tanyamaile says:

    Your shirt ended up looking great on you, even with the headaches. Love that fabric! Wish we had roadside stands here for fabric! The only thing they sell on the roadsides here are produce…. give me some fabric, too! Lol If you want to know the fabric content, you could always do a burn test on your scraps.

    1. Jenny says:

      Ha ha well there were some less… savoury things that I was seeing at these stalls so you should probably be glad we mostly go to shops here πŸ™‚

  25. This is so, so lovely! Every time I saw a sneak peek of this on Instagram, I got so excited about the fabric and then was so sad when I heard it was from Vietnam! Fabric souvenirs really are the best souvenirs. πŸ™‚ This really looks nice on you. I’ve never sewn a two-piece sleeve in a shirt (just blazers/coats), but I’d like to try it! It makes sense that you would get a nice fit from one.

    1. Jenny says:

      Thanks Sonja! This isn’t a very shaped two-piece sleeve but it still came out well.

  26. Ali says:

    Love the arrow fabric! I had the same reaction to the mega big dart on M6436…and was thinking about making it again and dividing the dart into two to disperse the bigness of it. Also I can confirm the big / long sleeve problem with the Archer – such a bummer!

    1. Jenny says:

      Yeah the main downside of the mega dart is that it gets a bit pointy.. I may try two darts next time!

  27. I love the fabric and you have enviable top-stitching! The first, overhead photo is great – model-tastic!

    1. Jenny says:

      Ha thanks! I have my special blog lipstick on too πŸ˜‰

  28. I sympathise so much with the issues with button up shirts – H cups unite! Thankfully I am an hourglass shape by virtue of having a pear shape with a bust, so I am tempted to try FBA’ing the Granville (why did Tasia pick a name so close to Grainline???)

    Vis a vis princess seamed shirts I had success a few years ago by FBA’ing New Look 6941. It is OOP now, and only goes up to size 18, but I usually cut a size 20 and I had success with it. The only pattern I know of now with front and back princess seams and yokes is V8689. In terms of the best princess seamed shirts for busts the amazing Pepperberry makes their shirts with layers of princess seams (http://www.bravissimo.com/pepperberry/products/sale/tops/shirts-and-blouses/the-classic-shirt/black/pt107blk/?level=1&page=2) – the normal one over the bust then another from the waist to below the bust. I can testify from experience this creates a great fit and avoids the square effect from princess seams on a big bust. I am really tempted to try splitting the side front pattern piece on a princess seamed shirt to get this great fit – I have certainly never seen such design lines on a printed pattern.

  29. This looks sensational on you! I’m glad to hear you buttonhole woes are behind you. That was so strange.

  30. Divamazon says:

    I know you said you wouldn’t wear it buttoned but I think it looks awesome on you both ways!

  31. Mali says:

    I think your shirt came out lovely! Would you consider doing a video tutorial on this pattern? Thank you . ☺

Let me know what you think!