McCalls 6991 + Vogue 8936: DIY Silk Crossover Blouse and Leopard Print Pencil Skirt

McCalls 6991 and Vogue 8936
McCalls 6991 and Vogue 8936

Hello Readers,

Let’s get straight down to the business. McCalls 6991. I bought this pattern as soon as it was released. I have a RTW blouse similar to view B already in my closet (seen here), and I wanted to be able to tweak the pattern to make it easier to wear (i.e. less chance of exposing myself!) Plus I wanted sleeves.

For this particular version I made view C. I had some beautiful sandwashed silk in my stash and I thought it would be a good first project to cut my teeth on in terms of sewing with silk. The silk itself sewed like a dream. I used a microtex needle, glass headed silk pins and the finest “between” (quilting) needle I could find for the hand sewing. Yes, there is some hand sewing in this project.

McCalls 6991 and Vogue 8936
McCalls 6991 and Vogue 8936

Anyway, I would sadly consider this particular project a partial fail. It may even turn out to be a complete fail if it doesn’t make it out of my wardrobe. That remains to be seen. What is the problem? Let me stress that it is not to do with the pattern. I think the pattern (at least view C) is essentially sound. No, the problem is that for some reason I imagined this silk to be much wider than it actually was. I laid the pattern pieces out prior to cutting. All seemed well. I proceeded to cut out all the pieces with the exception of the front pieces. They were going to be cut last. Then I noticed the front pieces were cut on the bias. Oh yes. Much swearing ensued. My husband was enlisted to try and figure out the best way to cut the pieces from the remaining fabric. I consulted with Meg from The McCalls Pattern Company. In the end, I decided the fronts had to be cut on the bias, but the best way to do it with the meagre amount of fabric I had left was to piece the left front piece (as this would be hidden under the right cross over). Here’s the offending piece, with french seamed pieced patches (also cut on the bias). I think there were a total of 4 separate joins….

McCalls 6991 and Vogue 8936 - close up of pieced left side
McCalls 6991 and Vogue 8936 – close up of pieced left side

But that piecing…it just hasn’t really worked. I think the left side has come up a tiny bit small and so that side is just not sitting right against my body. You can perhaps see it better in the next couple of pictures:

McCalls 6991 and Vogue 8936
McCalls 6991 and Vogue 8936

Can you see the left side is pulling? And here with my hands at my side:

McCalls 6991 and Vogue 8936
McCalls 6991 and Vogue 8936

I would even guess that if I had cut that left side as I should have done, I might have got away with not having to (purchase) wear a camisole – and I dislike having to wear camisoles under anything!

McCalls 6991 and Vogue 8936
McCalls 6991 and Vogue 8936

Here’s an inside shot – sorry still no dress form. Everything was french seamed and the hem handstitched.

McCalls 6991 and Vogue 8936 - inside facings
McCalls 6991 and Vogue 8936 – inside facings

Oh yes, I even made self covered buttons. I think they really elevate the project to another level.

McCalls 6991 and Vogue 8936 - self covered buttons
McCalls 6991 and Vogue 8936 – self covered buttons

Ah me, a lovely blouse and maybe in time I will feel differently about it. But just not right. What would you have done Readers, if you wanted to save that silk? Hmmm?

The skirt is made using Vogue 8936. I believe leopard print is going to be big this season and I loves me some leopard print. It was made in a couple of hours using some mystery double-scuba-knit fabric. I took a wedge out measuring a total of 5 inches from either side to get the shape I wanted. The only reason I used this particular pattern is that I already had it in my stash and I have made a top from it (here). I love the skirt but I have already given the top away to charity. So what I am saying is don’t rush out and buy this pattern just for the skirt. I see it is already OOP. But I really like the skirt. A lot.

Pattern Review

Pattern Description:

Bias tops. A and B: very loose-fitting, pullover, mock wrap, self-lined yoke back, left front gathered to right side forming drape, narrow hem and conceal button closing. B: pocket, shaped hemline, wrong side shows on back hemline. C: button tab on rolled sleeves. D: collar. C and D: wrap, semi-fitted, front gathered into yoke, button/loop closing. B, C and D: long sleeves. Note: no provisions provided for above and below waist adjustments.

I made view C.

Pattern Sizing:

8 – 24

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?


Were the instructions easy to follow?


What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?

I want to be very clear, the reason this pattern didn’t work out for me is because I didn’t have enough fabric to cut the front pieces out (which are supposed to be cut on the bias). In the end, I decided I would cut them on the bias, but I only had enough to piece the left front piece. I figured it would be covered up by the right cross-over, so I pieced the left front together using 4 pieces (all cut on the basis). In the end it hasn’t quite worked out. The left side is pulling and the neck won’t sit flat against my body. It’s a shame but I thought I would still share the finished blouse with you.

The pattern doesn’t mention stay stitching the neck line or understitching the facing (both of which I did). I do wish I had perhaps eliminated the facings altogether and just done a narrow hem as you can see the facings through the silk.

Fabric Used:

A sandwashed silk. The McCalls blog gives some great tips on the kinds of fabrics to choose for this blouse.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:

I shortened the sleeves by 2.5 inches and did an approx. 1 inch sway back adjustment.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?

I am not entirely happy with this outcome, but I feel like I don’t want to be beaten by this pattern. So I might revisit it. It’s all about choosing the right fabric for this pattern. Yes. I would recommend. I think the right side is fine. It’s the left side which is causing me the pain….


Love it or hate it I have a feeling you will be sick of seeing tops like this in the shops. Get on the bandwagon and have a go at making one.

Well, that’s it for now. Hope your sewing is going well for you. Sometimes we have projects that don’t turn out as we imagined or hoped, but in the words of Bram Stoker, “We learn from failure, not from success!”

Until soon….


McCalls 6991 and Vogue 8936
McCalls 6991 and Vogue 8936

Posted by

By day I work in the exciting world of pharmaceutical regulatory affairs, registering medicines (!), but by night I turn in to a sewing diva, making all manner of clothes in my beautiful sewing space (which you can tour using the link at the top of this blog). I love how sewing and sewing clothes that fit my curvy body continually challenges me. I enjoy working with all different types of fabric, and whilst I don't like to put restrictions on myself and say I won't buy RTW, the truth is that I probably rarely do buy it, preferring the fit of my own me-made clothes. I love to use natural fibres where ever possible and colourful coats are an obsession of mine! Sewing is both my addiction and my therapy. You can contact me at

23 thoughts on “McCalls 6991 + Vogue 8936: DIY Silk Crossover Blouse and Leopard Print Pencil Skirt

  1. Beautiful, Manju. Absolutely beautiful. I am so sorry that you had cutting layout troubles with this silk, though! The color is so lovely on you that it completely distracts me from how the underneath panel is laying. I can see what you’re talking about, but I look at this outfit and just sigh over how awesome it is and how chic you look! I’m itching to buy some silk and leopard print, then knock off both pieces…

  2. Oh, that’s too bad about the pulling – I actually think the seaming is a sweet detail if it wasn’t affecting how the garment lies on you. And that fabric is just heavenly.

  3. That silk is seriously the most beautiful colour. Such a shame about the dramas you had with it. I don’t think it looks that bad though. My first thought was actually that I loved the look of that slightly loose, unfitted top with the fitted skirt, beautifully layered. I know I get overly finicky about everything I sew at times, especially if it hasn’t turned out exactly as I’d envisioned or isn’t correctly done somehow- even if I know very well that nobody else out there would notice. I might think about turning it into a pretty little cami. But then you know what I’m like, I’m always a little to over excited about jumping in and cutting up something I’ve already spent hours making, even if it was perfectly wearable in the first place ;-).

  4. That top is beautiful on you…I hope you make another one! I did not notice the ‘pulling’ until you talked about it.

  5. From my own experience, my guess is that this might languish in your wardrobe and that would be a real shame for such gorgeous fabric. Make a cami or a vest top, the colour really looks gorgeous on you.
    IMHO, this top, with the sleeves, looks boxy and doesn’t really flatter your gorgeous curves – hope you don’t mind me saying.

  6. I think your judgement is clouded by the frustrations you experienced, because I didn’t really notice the pulling until you mentioned it. Like Lilysageandco I like the loose top over the fitted skirt. I hope you do come to at least like it enough to wear it, but if you don’t please try and reuse the fabric for something else because the colour looks amazing on you.

    1. Thanks Sam. I don’t think I am fanatically self critical but you know when your constantly pulling at something cos it’s not sitting right or it’s twisting and doesn’t feel comfy? Well that’s how it is with this blouse. But I will come back to it…even if to save the silk in some other way.

  7. Oh what a shame.. such a beautiful piece of fabric, and the color is amazing…
    Love the loose fit.
    I would change the cross over bit in the front, turn it into an open front. Make the smallest of buttonholes diagonally down the front (with those stunning covered buttons, just smaller), forget the cross over on this one because I think you should wear that garment and not leave it in the cupboard. It looks wonderful on you.
    Try the pattern again for the cross over look, but fix this one to make it wearable and a success.
    I made V1387 and on the second try, got so fed up with the cross over part gaping I just altered the pattern and made the front V on the fold!

    I hope you manage a fix up!

  8. Oh no, such a pity regarding the silk but wow…what a colour! Like stitchedupsam has already said, I think your judgement of the top is clouded by your disappointment. Let it rest for a little, you’ll come up with a solution. x

  9. I think you look ah-mazing! I totally understand that how you feel about a project affects how you think you look, but I think wow!

  10. I am so sorry you encountered cutting problems with this top. Regardless, the color looks fabulous on you! And loooove the skirt!

  11. What a lovely color! I think it looks great, but understand about the pulling and that garment-consciousness that makes wearing no fun. I like the idea of opening it up, but wonder how hard it might be to take the offending front panel off and do a colorblock with it instead? Black in a similar fabric would be pretty, but so would a fun print, like a graphic black and white and blue print.

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