McCall 5556

Now, tunic time. Although I may need to call it a popover.

This pattern is an out of print number by McCall and I honestly cannot remember when I bought it. I know for certain, however, that it was generally in style when I picked it up, cycled out of style, and now could pass for being semi-fashionable if paired with other articles correctly. Hopefully, my version of View B is appearing more in than out of style. The description might need to change, though, since I found a close match at JCrew but it's called a popover instead of a tunic. Isn't that a bakery good, not a piece of attire? Hmmm.

Pattern Description: If the best part of this pattern is the nicely finished product then the worst part is the time it takes to get there. The pattern envelope says "4 looks, 1 easy pattern." Let me clarify what they mean by "easy." Easy, in this case, means straight seams, minimal darts, little to no fit issues (it's a tunic, y'all), and suggested material that presses well. Easy is not a synonym for "fast," "so straigtforward you can use your instructions as a coffee cup coaster," "start this on a weeknight and plan to wear it tomorrow," or "no need to care about finishing details because it will look professional regardless of what you do." You'll have to invest some time in this one if you want sharp points on the bandings, evenly spaced button loops, and crisp top stitching. All in, I think this was 12 hours of production time.

Instructions: Not bad. In fact, if you can force yourself to really read them, pay attention, and not say, "Whatevs, I know how to sew a shirt, forget this!" then you'll be rewarded with a well-constructed item. The neck, hem, and arm banding are sewn backwards and if you don't pay attention I'm going to bet you'll think it's a mistake in the instructions rather than an intentional approach. Or maybe that's just me....
The pattern does call for a fair amount of understitching. I only did this on the neck band facing, reason being that the other areas that call for understitching can be difficult to get to fully. Personally, I think semi-finished understitching is less desirable than no understitching at all.
Once you've flipped all the bandings into place you then edgestitch them. I thought this helped
the shirt look a little less home-sewn.

Fabric: The fabric is your basic striped shirting in an ambiguous charcoal gray/navy shade. While the pattern says you can use all kinds of material I'd suggest sticking with the lightweight wovens. There's a lot of folding and flipping going on with this top and thick material could make things sloppy.

Fit: As a tunic/popover/whatever-it-is I don't believe you should be looking to this to show off one's figure. Thus, I did nothing but cut on the line marked "10." I feared this could result in a look of me wearing one of Dad's old shirts for art class. My first fitting came after the last stitch was sewn and mercifully, I was pretty happy with the results.

Finishing: Do you see the serged seam allowances? I love, love, love being able to do this! I particularly enjoy being able to finish off the armsyces with the serger. It cuts down on bulk and looks so much more professional than my past approach of using pinking shears.

Fabric = $4.50
Pattern = $1.00 Never pay full price for them!
11 buttons = $13 (!). They're small knots - j'adore, even if it was highway robbery.
Interfacing = $2.00
Total = $20.50

Verdict: I like it. My model shot highlights how thin the fabric is and I'll likely sport a long tank top beneath to hide that shirt-to-jean transition. I suspect I'll get some good use out of it this summer since it's made from a classic fabric and the shape is pretty versatile. It's lightweight for day and the 3/4 sleeves will keep my always-freezing self comfortable at night. And, I'm thinking beach cover-up for sure.

Has anyone else made this shirt (and given half a day to do it?)


  1. Well done! It is very JCrew-esque.

  2. All the time and effort you put into making this shirt shows. It looks fantastic!


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