Moonstone in the Sunshine – McCalls 7242

Sometimes you just need to revisit a pattern because you love it so much the first time.

So I did.

You can find it over at Maaidesign blog. Maaike contacted me and asked if I was interested in writing a blog for her in return for some fabric… and although I have said no to a lot of things since my accident… an Australian business and lovely fabric seemed like a nice thing to blog about (I may have purchased some extra fabric because I liked it so much!). You can read more about it and see some more images over at Maaidesign blog.

McCalls 7242, the 'water view'

McCalls 7242, the ‘water view’

Fabric: Courtesy of Maaidesign, all opinions my own (I liked this fabric so much I purcashed some in addition to the 2m supplied)
Pattern: McCalls 7242

The Happy Days maxi(mum) summer shirtdress, McCalls 7242

I confess, I may be slightly infatuated with this pattern. I was happy when I made it. I feel happy when I wear it.

McCalls 7242 sewn by Sew Busy Lizzy

Front view. The buttons finish mid thigh.

Meet McCalls 7242. I immediately fell in love with this pattern. It has a gracious swooshiness (technical term). I pictured it in a vivid blue fabric.

The Inspiration

When I was in Melbourne for Frocktails, Busy Lizzie gave me a page from a magazine of a ‘celebrity’ wearing a striped maxi shirt dress (very much like this one), telling me ‘I can see you in this’. She knows me well! I confess I’ve been a little obsessed since. When I spotted this McCalls pattern it seemed like a good place to start a maxi shirtdress kick. Next up I’m looking for something with a buttonband – I may simply convert an existing ‘stash’ pattern.

Aussie road block: it’s a Laura Ashley design and McCalls only ship Laura Ashley patterns to USA and Canada! I know, I know, virtual mailboxes, other websites such as (which didn’t have it at the time, I’m an impatient person!), eBay… however we have an international network of enablers… I’m most grateful to Suzanne of Beau baby for helping me out! Thank you!

The Pattern – McCalls 7242

This pattern is described as: Loose-fitting dresses have collar, blouson bodice, back pleated into self-lined yoke, elasticised waist, side pockets, and narrow hem. A: Pockets and side slits. B: Ruffle. C: Bias armhole facings. B and D: Elasticised lower edge of sleeves.

I was immediately drawn to the sleeveless maxi dress – View C.


This is a lovely design, elegant in its simplicity.

The skirt is gently flared. I like the lack of volume combined with the length of the skirt. I’m 5 foot 4 and I feel slender and tall(ish) in this style.

Back view: McCalls 7242

Back view: McCalls 7242. A rather wet hem… see photo below! The perils of beachside living.

The neckline is simple V-neck with a mandarin/band collar. As far as collars go – this is nowhere near as fiddly as a collar and band to attach.

I like the centre back pleat and how the back is gently gathered at the waist with elastic. I’m not always a fan of elastic at the waist… in fact I never seem to have any in my stash. However it is very comfortable for eating/wearing and I’d always wear a belt with this to break up the expanse of fabric and define my waist.

McCalls 7242 sewn by Sew Busy Lizzy

I cut the back yoke on the bias. The back features a pleat and the waist is gathered in with elastic.

The finish is generally neat. I opted to French seam the side seams of the bodice & skirt. The yoke is self-lined, finished burrito style (I cut the outer yoke on the bias – barely noticeable but I know). The armholes are finished with self bias binding.

The fit across the upper bust reminds me of the Grainline Alder (which I made here, here and here!). The back is fuller than the Alder with a centre back pleat and the fullness being gathered in gently at the waist with elastic. Note: There are no bodice darts for shaping.

The only overlocking is along the inner edge of front facings.

I managed to have a slight ‘idiot’ moment sewing on the facings in a completely stupid fashion late in the afternoon of the first day – I knew I should stop… but I didn’t… the blessing is I didn’t go past ‘the point of no return’ and some unpicking and patience figured up my mistake. Lisa of Notes from a Mad Housewife sent me the instructions via Instagram (mine were beside my machine, locked away in the sewing room for the night… I’m sure I’m not the only person who can’t go to sleep until I figure out a mistake!). Funnily enough she was just finishing up her long-sleeved shorter version of the same dress – perhaps more inspirational for those of you heading into fall!

McCalls 7242 sewn by Sew Busy Lizzy

Of course I managed to ‘wreck the dress’ during photos, getting caught by the slightly bigger wave wash than anticipated! You will notice some of these photos have a slightly drenched hemline!


Honestly I can’t find much critical to say about this pattern. It went together easily and I like its silhouette, ‘vibe’ (that’s a thing right?) and design elements.

The elastic finishes shy of the centre on each side. I find it does want to pull the centre front apart a little at the waistline. I think my elastic needs to be looser – I confess I didn’t measure the elastic using the pattern guide (I never do). I may use a button or snap to hold it neatly closed (see this post by the Vintage Ink Fairy)… although I will probably always wear a belt with this to define my waist and break up the expanse of fabric.

The front opening doesn’t have a button placket. It is finished with long, long, long front facings. The maxi length of the skirt combined with the buttons stopping above the knee means that the facing wants to flap out a little as I walk. I might try some invisible hem stitches to catch it to the inside of the dress skirt.

McCalls 7242, you can just see the front facings here. That sort of thing bugs me - minor but I notice it

McCalls 7242, you can just see the front facings poking out here. That sort of thing bugs me – minor but I notice it


I love it – perhaps one of my favourite creations of 2015.

Thank you

To the girls who came from Sydney, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Parkes and Frederickton to sew in Port Macquarie last weekend. I was exhausted after two days of non-stop sewing (and talking!). Included in this lovely bunch was Kat of House of Lane (crikey she can sew fast!), Maria of How Good Is That?, Michelle of My Sparkling Machine, Colette of Colette’s Sewing and Stuff, Loanne from the Gold Coast, Lee-anne from Parkes, Bianca from Brisbane, Kylie from Frederickton and Jenny from Lincraft.

We had breakfast and dinner together (I’m not sure you can count picking up takeaway and stuffing it down our throats mid-sewing as ‘lunch’) and spent two days talking and sewing non-stop. It was lots of fun and something I haven’t done before. Sewing can be such a solitary process, it was interesting to sew with company… it was also interesting to see how focussed we all are! I loved that people bought their families and partners along with them – and we all had dinner together. It was noisy and fun. We were joined at dinner by June, who happened to spot us on Instagram and was holidaying in Port with her daughter.

I managed to start and finish this dress over those two days (thank you for rescuing me from a ‘derp’ moment Maria LOL). I even managed to scare away a hoard of rampaging squirrels and stayed focused until I reached the finish line. Thank you to Bianca who provided the final bit of white thread as I ran out about 20cm from the end of the hem! Argh! Typical.

There were quite a few who couldn’t make it – life happens! I think there may be another in 2016… maybe with a workshop or two, we might need a bigger room… hopefully the weather is as perfectly fabulous as it was last week.

Sorry not many photos of the actual weekend’s activities… I get distracted and just enjoy the moment sometimes… camera/iPhone free. Nothing to apologise for!

Pattern: McCalls 7242, size 6-8
Fabric: Woven rayon from Spotlight, Port Macquarie. I used approximately 3 metres (plenty of leftovers). I purchased it on special for $9.95 a metre.

A girl and her dog

A girl and her dog. I do love a maxi that can be a little saucy when required.

It was a warm spring weekend – we spotted a pod of whales breaching and flipping their tails about. Like spotting koalas ‘in the wild’, it’s hard to tire of the magic moments that nature provides free of charge.

Whales frolicking in the summer heat

Whales frolicking off the beach in the afternoon heat

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The ‘Why did I do that?’ Shirtdress, McCalls 6696

Ever make something, finish and think… now why did I do that???

This is one of those makes… alas…

McCalls 6696 - no amount of naval gazing will save this one with me.

McCalls 6696 – no amount of naval gazing will save this one with me.

This is the infamous McCalls 6696 shirtdress.

McCalls 6696 - the pattern

McCalls 6696 – the pattern

I finished this early September. Life has been overwhelming and I’m struggling to keep up with the laundry – not to mention blog posts. I’ve got another two things to blog… actually three…

I absolutely loved making this. Loved it. Yes, being a shirtdress it’s quite a detailed make. Yoke, collar, button band, waist band, belt keepers, pockets and more. The cutting seemed to take forever. I imagine trying to sew it up in a few sessions would be exhausting.

I sewed this in a gorgeous fabric – a Lisette lawn, silky soft and such a pretty print. Not too colourful and flowery for me.

I sewed it up over a week or so. Cutting, pinning, basting, sewing, overlocking, ironing, hand stitching when I had an opportunity. I purchased this pattern as soon as it was released, and traced it. Then put it on the back burner and watched everyone else sew it up. I just had not felt I had enough time to make it up.

McCalls 6696 - the only side shot we took!

McCalls 6696 – the only side shot we took, I was rather distracted that day as it was the puppy’s first day at the beach.

I made most of this while my husband was away for a few weeks and I was doing the typical ‘working mother’ juggle of work-school-meals-activities-appointments etc. When the girls were in bed, I would do the quiet tasks… cutting, pinning and hand sewing. I would sew some seams when I woke up and so on. It always surprises me how much I enjoy making garments in this manner. I find I make less mistakes, my sewing is more considered.


I attached the yoke using the burrito method ala Grainline Archer shirt. It’s genius.


After my silk Grainline Archer collar battle, I decided to try Four Square Walls method of attaching the collar. I personally found this SO much easier.


This was my massive blooper of the make. It’s not that I hate contrasts and quirkiness. I just hate it on me. I think if I had sewn it up plain with no contrast, I would be much happier. Oh well, you live and learn!

McCalls 6696 - inside front view

McCalls 6696 – inside front view

McCalls 6696 - inside back view

McCalls 6696 – inside back view. I am not a huge fan of the gathers in the back. They felt puffy so I ironed them flat before I wore the dress.

McCalls 6696 - close up of the contrast horror on me...

McCalls 6696 – close up of the contrast horror on me…

I cut the inner waistband, inner collar stand and inner button plackets a from small pink gingham. I made bias strips of the blue fabric to finish the armholes. I know! Attention to detail plus!


I’m not sure if it is of any interest to anyone whatsoever and it’s certainly not ‘new’, however I used some of the quick-piecing techniques I used when I used to make quilts, it’s not rock science but it does speed up your sewing – quilting or dressmaking. I’ve found that being skilled in a wide variety of crafts has been enormously helpful with my dressmaking. I won’t bore you with all the details here as it’s not relevant but I did use one of those techniques to quickly create my contrast buttonbands – if it is of no interest or you have seen this before, skip over the next section.

I don’t blog every detail of my makes, there is a lot of knowledge out there, I’m including this as it’s a variation on the pattern and thought it might be useful to someone.

You could easily add seam allowances, cut four bands and sew them together. Or you could do this…

I added seam allowance to the button band and cut one button band from the blue fabric and one from the pink. I interfaced the pink strip. I then placed the two button bands right sides together (pink and blue) and sewed down the outer two lines.

You will need add seam allowances to the pattern buttonbands. The centre line is what you will cut down to create two bands. The outer lines are your stitching lines.

You will need add seam allowances to the pattern buttonbands. The centre line is what you will cut down to create two bands. The outer lines are your stitching lines.

McCalls 6696 - Once you have sewn along the two outer lines, cut down the centre line - or use your rotary cutter to create two buttonbands.

McCalls 6696 – Once you have sewn along the two outer lines, cut down the centre line – or use your rotary cutter to create two button bands.

McCalls 6696 - ta da. We now have two buttonbands

McCalls 6696 – ta da. We now have two button bands

Then iron the seam allowances (trim if required) towards the pink contrast side.

McCalls 6696 - understitching the buttonband

McCalls 6696 – understitching the button band

Iron the bands wrong sides together and…

McCalls 6696 - the finished buttonband

McCalls 6696 – the finished button band

I’m not one of those super-organised bloggers with a fancy camera on a tripod. I make no apology for that – I use the family point-and-shoot camera. I often think half way through a make “oh that might be interesting to someone” and absent-mindedly use my iPhone to document my work.

I did contact Heather of Handmade By Heather B via twitter before I attached the button bands as the instructions said to turn the unnotched band edge over 3/8in and then sew the band to the dress (this will make sense if you make the dress). It just struck me as odd when the band is folded in half and then the band is sewn to the dress with a 5/8in seam allowance it didn’t feel logical that the 3/8in turned under edge out meet/cover the stitching line. Heather confirmed that she probably hadn’t even read the instructions as she constructed her shirtdress. I often don’t but shirts with collars make me nervous. Heather said she had probably sewn her bands on with a 5/8in seam allowance and turned the raw edge under 5/8in as well. So I did too.


I hand sewed the inner waistband, collar stand and hem. I overlocked the raw edges.

I’m not pleased with the top stitching around the collar & buttonbands, I should unpick this stitching and re-do it closer to the edge. It looks heavy-handed to me as it is.

I took a lot of care with this make… and I love every minute of it. It just goes to prove, there can be as much joy in the making as the wearing. I sew because I love the process. That’s here I find my magic.

McCalls 6696 - note to self - standing wonky never does wonders for the butt view.

McCalls 6696 – note to self – standing wonky never does wonders for the butt view.


I might not like my interpretation on me, however I loved making it and think it is a great pattern. A real classic.


I’d definitely have no contrast fabrics. I’d add some length to the bodice and taper out the skirt more over my hips. Or maybe I’m just not a shirtdress kinda gal.

PATTERN: McCalls 6696, view C.
FABRIC: Lisette lawn from Spotlight.

ALSO SEE: Handmade by Heather B | Idle Fancy | Sewmanju | Sew Dixie Lou | Sew Amy Sew

McCalls 6696 - view C.

McCalls 6696 – view C. It is pretty, I don’t know why I can’t make myself fall in love… alas.

Saved by accessories… McCalls 6844

I said that I was going to make another pair of jeans. And I haven’t. I will, just not within a fortnight. I’ve decided to be kind to myself. I didn’t want to rush and stress myself out any more than I have been lately. Sorry about that. I will blog at the end of July and see who else managed to battle through the Jeans Challenge!

I made some knit cardigan/jackets to wear with my jeans – compromise?

Today I’ll share with you the one I thought I would really, really like… and just don’t. Boo. Not the win I was hoping for – or needed.

Ever since McCalls 6844 came out I’d been dying to make it. I used a precious piece of divine blue NZ merino jersey from my stash (from The Fabric Store, Sydney). Perhaps if I’d made this in a heavier fabric I might feel differently, however I’m just not feeling the love for this pattern which has received such rave reviews on Sewing Pattern Review… I don’t think it’s a bad pattern, in fact it’s easy to make… it’s just not for me – or more likely I’ve made it in the wrong fabric. My bad.

Perhaps if I stumble across some heavier knit fabric I might give it another go…

McCalls 6844 - just not feeling the love.

McCalls 6844 – just not feeling the love. I was so disappointed as I adore this fabric. It’s lovely!

I wish I had not interfaced the collar piece as instructed. I think it would work much better without interfacing in this lighter fabric – making it more of a drape cardigan and much softer looking.

I found the collar once interfaced didn’t really line up with the hem of the jacket. Rather than hacking a ton off the hem (I didn’t want it any shorter). I simply left the collar slightly shorter than the jacket hem – I’m always going to wear this with a scarf which does help hide that small sewing sin… and really unless you have seen the pattern you wouldn’t know.

I do like the swingy peplum back, it’s super cute.

I made the smallest size – it’s not super small – I think the sizing runs large… or I run small… or the truth is somewhere in the middle…

McCalls 6844 - back view

McCalls 6844 – back view. My favourite feature, I love how the back hangs.

These light jackets and cardigans are a great wardrobe addition. I often have one in my handbag – they are not heavy enough to ward off a cold winter’s day but they are perfect to pop on to keep the chill off inside, under a heavier jacket or throw on during a spring or autumn morning/afternoon.

I used a light hem fusing tape to turn up the hem and sleeves. Then I finished them with a twin needle on my Bernina. This gave a great result – no tunnelling at all!

I’m rather OCD about some of my finishes and since I could not get a matching overlocker thread, I made this entire piece on my Bernina sewing machine, using lightening bolt & overlocking stitches, my walking & overlocking feet. You don’t have to have an overlocker to sew knits. It just makes it faster and easier – that is all.


I collect accessories like some people collect stamps or coins. You can never have too many scarves, necklaces, earrings, bangles, stockings in your arsenal – simple little touches which can transform an outfit. While I don’t love this jacket/cardigan I do like it with a scarf.

I think it’s great to sew yourself sensational clothes. I think it’s even better to learn to wear them well. I rarely sew or purchase anything without thinking about the complete overall look. I see a fabric or a garment & picture the shoes, the belt, the bag and so on. It’s not just a piece of clothing, it’s a package deal.

I know plenty of people who have amazing clothes. Expensive, well cut, designer clothes. That doesn’t always make them stylish or interesting. Individuality and ‘wearing the clothes’ rather than letting them wear you is the key I think.

I get stopped frequently and complimented or questioned on the clothes I’m wearing – often by strangers. I’ve got a very diverse mix of designer, homemade, vintage and charity shop pieces – I tend to wear them mashed up. To be honest, those compliments always surprise me. I’ve never seen myself as particularly interesting – especially to random strangers. I don’t think I’m any better dressed than anyone else, in fact I’ve never ever perceived myself as glamorous, stylish or beautiful. I find it weird & unsettling some days – and sometimes highly amusing.

I love to select one statement item and then build the rest of the outfit around it. You can get ‘too busy’ in a visual sense. It’s important to figure out what the key element is and make sure it sings, rather than competes with everything else you are wearing. Any opera singer will tell you – there can be only one diva!

I’ve got lots of thoughts on style and clothes. I never really blog about them but I’ve been reading some different blogs that really interest me and I think it’s something I’ve been thinking a lot more about. Maybe it’s something I will write more about, not because I’m a guru but the concept of personal style interests me greatly… maybe…

Accessories are important

Accessories are important! And never underestimate how much warmer your legs are in winter in high boots LOL!

I’m a bit of a scarf and necklace obsessive – do you have an accessories weakness?

I’ve also made Vogue 8780 – which is a complete ugly duckling on the envelope and I love to pieces. It’s coming up next! I’ve posted a sneak peek on my instagram feed (yes I know you can’t see much of it – that’s why it’s called a sneak peek.)

Pattern: McCalls 6844
Fabric: NZ Merino from The Fabric Store, Sydney
Also see: Girls in the Garden | Suzy Bee Sews | Mimi G | Beebee’s Vintage Dress

A huge thank you to all the people who have sent me messages, emails, comments and more. Your kindness and courage to say something when it’s often difficult to know what to say is much appreciated. Like so many people, I need more people in my life that value me enough to put me back together rather than pull me apart.
The people that weather the storm and wait on the other side.




Thank goodness I am on holidays for a month at the end of this week, I am dead on my feet from exhaustion!

I have been super busy making/knitting things but need to take some pictures and finish some projects off in the next couple of days. I’m working on two skirts – one of which is my next Abakahan Fabrics 15 Pound Aussie project. The other I’m hoping to wear to the meet-up. How fabulous does this day out in London sound?? Thank you Rachel of House of Pinheiro who has done all the organising – can’t wait to meet you!

The gorgeous Rachel of House of Pinheiro

The gorgeous Rachel of House of Pinheiro (IRL I probably only come up to her kneecap)


Like all truly hopeless marathon runners, I hit the wall of exhaustion hard after the Tessuti competition.


TESSUTI GRIDLOCK – sleeves rolled back.

I thought it was a pretty neat entry. Thought out, well executed, highly wearable and stood out from the crowd, an imaginative use of the fabric. The photos were well styled and the backdrop was awesome! Unfortunately Tessuti did not agree – or at least not in a winning or honorable mention kinda way. The winner was an outstanding creation and they also decided to award five runners-ups with $100 Tessuti vouchers. And no, I didn’t make that short list either. They are all great projects, there were some in particular I really liked right from when they were posted.

I never ‘expect’ to win these comps. I’m fairly uncompromising person at times, I make something I will wear and suits the fabric – that’s not going to win me accolades – but I’d rather be ‘me’ and someone else’s version of ‘me’. At some point in our lives we all get caught up in being the someone other people want us to be or think that we are, I’m past being that person. I simply am who I am. Take me or leave me. I’ve never been a fan of reptiles of any shape or size – so my chameleon qualities are non-existent. My conclusion was that either:-

  1. my stitching is not up to scratch; or/and
  2. my fitting is not top-notch; or/and
  3. my style is not ‘Tessuti Style’; or…
  4. it actually doesnt mean much at all…

I admit, I felt quite despondent about entire process. It was one of those ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ moments. The feeling you get when you know it doesn’t matter what the dumper says to the dumpee, it’s simply a sugar-coated version of the truth.

Then I came back and read all the comments on this post, read the comments on the Tessuti post, the Twitter feedback and realised that to humble old me it’s your opinion that counts more. I might not be a stitcher to attract Tessuti applause but you gave me a standing ovation.

Thank you.

I’m annoyed with myself for being distracted by the Tessuti project and thinking about the outcomes and what that meant about me, my style, my ability. It took me a few days to realise it meant precisely nothing. I’m just me and I’m happy with that. $1K would have been nice or just a pat on the back – but you gave me truckloads of encouragement and admiration. That’s more than enough for me. I sew & blog because it makes me happy. That’s all.

My disappointment is no criticism of the Tessuti winners, the judges or anything else. It’s simply an interesting reflection about me & the process. And I’m tired, very very tired and that never helps.

It even manged to stop me stitching (it can and does happen LOL) while I gazed at my bellybutton in long sorrowful moments of self reflection & doubt. So much so that I lost faith that I could make my pink jacket. Stupid I know.

Burda 03/2013 jacket

Burda 03/2013 jacket. A pretty wool blend.

I have these wonderfully perfect buttons from Buttonmania in Melbourne – thanks to the ever-wonderful Rachel of My Messings. I could finish the jacket before I leave but I would botch the finish. And that’s not worth it. So it shall now wait for my return. I feel really bad about as Rachel made a huge effort to get them to me on time. Thank you Rachel you are fabulous.

I had a go at making my own buttons, they were horrendous. The fabric was thick and frayed awfully. I wish I’d taken a picture of my efforts but I tossed them aside in disgust and outrage! This buttons are perfection. You need buttons? Check out Buttonmania in Melbourne, Australia. Go on spoil yourself. I know you want to.

Perfection: Buttons from Buttonmania

Perfection: Buttons from Buttonmania

Me? I’ve gotta go. Sew & pack for London, Paris & Madrid. Yes, sucks to be me.

Thanks for hanging around with me and putting up with my random rumblings and sewing creations.

Love Lizzy. 🙂


Footnote: You know this post always bothered me a bit and I’ve frequently thought about taking it down. I think people misread it. I genuinely like Tessuti, I’m a customer and I actually didn’t mind not winning. At all. I know the winning entry would have been impeccable. I know people who know and highly respect the sewist (sorry just can’t type sewer when I talk about someone) and her & her skills are held in very high regard.
I guess the point I was making was simply I didn’t understand the criteria and I had no idea how to improve if I was to sew in a competitive sense. The more I sew and blog the more I’m not bothered by these things. I think Tessuti have more than a right to run their competitions however they like. I work in a highly regulated environment and initially struggled with anything that wasn’t strictly governed, had guidelines and so on. These days I kinda like that. I don’t mind how designers or fabric shops run their business – it’s none of my business. I’m happy to support them. In fact I love Tessuti and frequently buy fabric there.