About three years ago, the button-down, ruffled shirt trend hit the scene hard. Every fashion Instagrammer was wearing it, and I wanted one too. When I saw McCalls’ M7811 at JoAnn’s I eagerly bought it, and then forgot about it when I thew it in my bottomless pattern stash. Last month, I rediscovered this pattern in my pile long after the ruffle trend was out of style, but I still liked it enough to give it a go.
In this pattern review of McCall’s M7811, I’ll go over what I liked and didn’t like about this pattern. Spoiler alert – view B has the weirdest ruffles my husband called a “disaster”, but I found the fit quite flattering.
This fitted button-front top comes in three views with two collars and two sleeve options. I made view B with the flounce that runs from the front to the back of the shirt. The bodice is sewn with shoulder princess seams. I cut out size 12 for the bust and graded to 14 for the waist.
I made the shirt from a fitted cotton sheet I bought from the thrift store for $1. The sheet looks and feels like chambray, which suits the pattern.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
With ten pattern pieces, this shirt took me one week of nightly sewing to make. There’s a lot going on with this top – collar, buttons, buttonholes, placket, princess seams and cuffs. The directions were easy to follow most of the time. A couple of steps were hard to understand, but I figured it out by matching the pattern pieces together. I would rate this “easy” for an advanced beginner, especially if you’ve sewn button-down shirts before.
I didn’t give much thought to the pattern as I was cutting it out, but when I got to the flounce, I paused with hesitation. The flounce didn’t look right. It was out of scale with everything else. I held it against my dress form, and it was too much of a good thing – too long, too broad and too flouncy. But I didn’t want to jump to conclusions until the top was finished. Maybe when everything came together, the ruffles would blend right in.
I finished the edge of the ruffle flounce with a narrow hem technique I learned from Itch-to-Stitch. With this technique (serge and then fold over twice), I always get an even, flat hem that sews up fast and doesn’t look homemade. I fell in love with this finish on my camisole refashion and use it whenever I can.
Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda
When I popped the top on and took a look in the mirror, my heart sank. The ruffles extend past my shoulders, making me look wider than I really am. They’re also poufy, adding visual weight to my short frame. The fit is flattering, but you couldn’t see it past the overwhelming ruffles. When I modeled the shirt for my husband, he called it a bad 80’s revival. He said, “Add shoulder pads and tease your hair or cut off the ruffles.”
Removing the ruffles was the last thing I wanted to do. I serged all the bodice seams and then topstitched them (topstitching wasn’t in the instructions but I added it for a professional look). After all that work, I wasn’t in the mood to unpick the stitching. When I realized I would never wear this shirt, I didn’t bother finishing the sleeves with button cuffs. I shortened the sleeves, put bands around them and called it a day.
Gigantic, mutant ruffles are not my thing. I’m too short to pull off this look.
This project wasn’t a total loss. The fabric was only $1, and the pattern was on sale, so I spent less than $5 on this shirt. I love the neckline and slimming fit of the princess seams, so I’m seriously considering a different view sans ruffles.
Never ignore your sewing intuition. Your gut is always right.
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