I have a confession to make. I had never sewn a Big 4 pattern until this month. For those who aren’t familiar with the term, the Big 4 are the patterns from McCall’s, Vogue, Simplicity and Butterick. These are the companies a lot of people grew up sewing. Sure, I own a few Big 4. They have huge catalogs to tempt me, but I was a little unsure about dealing with the thin tissue paper and the fitting.
So let’s get to it!
PATTERN NAME: McCall’s 7254 Misses’ Cardigans with Shawl Collar Variations. McCall’s describes it as a close fitting, unlined cardigan. I made view C.
SIZE RANGE (WITH MEASUREMENTS)
The pattern comes in size XS through XL. Bust measurements 29.5 – 44” (75-112cm), Waist 22 – 37” (56-94cm), Hip 31.5 – 46” (80 – 117cm)
WHAT SIZE DID YOU MAKE?
I made two versions of this cardigan. I started out by making a size XL. I narrowed the shoulders slightly and shortened the sleeves by 3 full inches. This charcoal gray version is the size XL.
I then decided that I should try a smaller size with a FBA, so the heather green version is a size L with a FBA and shortened sleeves.
WHAT ARE YOUR MEASUREMENTS, HEIGHT, AND BODY TYPE?
Bust: 45”, 38G bra
I’m 5’3.5” tall. My shape is apple from the side, hourglass from the front.
WHAT ADJUSTMENTS DID YOU MAKE AND HOW LONG DID THEY TAKE?
As I mentioned, I did a Full Bust Adjustment on the heather green version. I added an inch on each side. It was pretty straightforward, but I couldn’t decide if I should lengthen the collar band piece. It seemed too long already when I matched up the pieces. In the end, I decided not to lengthen the band, and I think it would have been better to do so. I was able to ease the pieces together, but I get some extra fullness at the seam below the bust.
I graded the size L out to a XL in the hips since I liked the hip fit on the first version.
I also left off the closure. I don’t think I’ll ever wear them closed, so I just skipped the closure.
WHAT FABRIC DID YOU USE?
The charcoal gray is a 14 oz cotton lycra from Purple Seamstress. The heather green is an organic cotton-hemp jersey from Imagine Gnats. The pattern calls for “moderate stretch knits,” but I think I would have gotten a smoother look with a heavier fabric such as French terry.
Since I only had two yards of the heathered green, I pared down the seam allowances slightly and used a scrap of French terry for the inside band in the back. There was a bit of Tetris to get all the pattern pieces to fit.
WHAT WAS THE CONSTRUCTION PROCESS LIKE?
The construction was straightforward. I inserted the sleeves flat rather than ease them in as the pattern suggests. I noticed a number of reviews mentioned having the edge of the facing cover the seam. I tried this in the charcoal version, but didn’t find it particularly easy. For the second version I followed the instructions and attached both collar and facing to the bodice. The seam isn’t bulky.
I sewed the whole project on my serger and used a small lightening stitch to hem the sleeves. The pattern instructions call for a double row of stitches for construction and then one trims down the 5/8” seam allowance as needed. This seems odd. I’ve never constructed a knit garment that way.
HOW DO YOU LIKE THE PATTERN’S FIT? DO YOU THINK THE DESIGN WORKS WELL FOR YOUR PARTICULAR BODY SHAPE?
I like the fit a lot. I think both versions fit all right, but I prefer the slightly narrower shoulders on the second version. I like the close fit through the body. Both versions have been worn often since I completed them.
This cardigan is as easy to wear as a hoodie, but it makes me feel dressed up instead of dressed down.
WILL YOU MAKE THE PATTERN AGAIN? IF SO, WHAT FIT OR DESIGN CHANGES WILL YOU MAKE?
I do plan to make it again. Once I find the right fabric, I want to make a slightly heavier version in a French terry or sweater knit. My only design change will be to lengthen the band about an inch on each side to accommodate the extra FBA space.
DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE ON THIS PATTERN FOR OTHER CURVY SEWERS? ARE THERE ANY RESOURCES (BLOG POSTS, FITTING BOOKS, TUTORIALS) THAT HELPED YOU SEW THIS PIECE UP?
I found this post on FBAs for princess seams from Megan Nielsen to be the easiest understand. While the M7254 pattern doesn’t exactly have princess seams, the shape is similar. If you FBA the front bodice and add the corresponding length to the collar band, you’ll get the right fit.
If you use a lightweight fabric like I did, I would suggest interfacing both the collar and the facing to get a smoother finish. I’m getting some rippling on the uninterfaced side of the band.
For anyone new to the Big 4, don’t be intimidated! The pattern markings are plentiful with helpful markings for the bust apex and waist. This makes it easier to make adjustments. On the other hand, the tissue is thin and fragile, so you may want to trace the pattern onto better paper. I bought this pattern directly from McCall’s in a New Year’s sale, and it took 12 days for McCall’s to put it in the mail. Even accounting for the holiday, it seemed like a long delay for a company in the pattern sales business.
Overall pattern rating
Size Range (1-5): 3 — While the stated size range is just average, the fit is generous. You may want to size down.
Instructions (1-5): 4 There are plenty of diagrams to explain the steps, but no mention of using a stretch stitch. At one point, I wasn’t sure which piece to consider the facing, but I worked it out.
Construction Process (1-5): 5 —The sleeve insertion could be simplified, but it is all clear.
Final Fit (1-5): 5 — I’m happy with my finished cardigans.
Overall Rating (1-5) + Explanation: 4.25 — It is a quick sew that makes a versitile garment.