McCalls 8146, How to Use Sewing to Tap into Your Self-Identity

African American woman wearing McCalls 8146 pattern in green Ankara in an open field

After my fifth trip to West Africa, I had a revelation regarding my identity and readily started sewing McCalls 8146.

Plenty of characteristics define each of us. Our gender, cultural background, experiences, and beliefs crown us with identity. In particular, our experiences shape how we see the world moving forward. Over the years, I’ve noticed my sewing changing with travel. I felt ridiculously American after my first time in metropolitan Paris, France. Therefore, on my return home, I almost immediately changed the way I wore clothes, but I also was forever different in how I chose fabrics and sewed with them. Hence the sewing of statement top McCalls 8146.

Pattern features, sleeve variations

There are a few sleeve variations for McCalls 8146. The pattern has three views with differences mainly in sleeve length; there is a long or short-sleeved option.

Pattern McCalls 8146 alongside of green Ankara from Woodin

Two of the views are long-sleeved, and a single view includes a gathered long sleeve with ruching in the forearm.

Fabric choices for McCalls 8146

When I picked up the McCalls 8146 pattern, all I saw was an entourage of African women in full color having the best time doing whatever. I also knew M8146 would be made first in Dutch wax or Ankara. And you know how much I love Woodin Fabrics from Ghana. If you want to know to shop in Ghana for these fabrics as an American, click here.

It’s designed for woven fabrics, so options include:

  • Charmeuse
  • Challis
  • Lawn

For something a little more statement worthy for M8146:

  • Medium weight cotton
  • Denim

If you look at some of the makes online, many of them have floppy sleeves. I think this is because the fabric is so light. When I sew this again, I will try one of the suggested fabrics for M8146, but for now, I’m rolling with my fabric intuition.

Tips for Sewing M8146

It’s a curved hem. You can do this the traditional way sewing a narrow hem with a long stitch and shaping the hem. My go-to is horsehair braid. You can check out my blog post here on how to do it.

I did not use the twill tape open for securing the inside of the top; I prefer a snap. Either is fine; it’s a sewing preference when constructing McCalls 8146.

African American woman wearing McCalls 8146 pattern in green Ankara in an open field

Get some practice on gathers before you put the sleeves together. The sleeve gathers are what keeps the sleeves of M8146 up in addition to the sleeve head or shoulder pad.

Petite Alterations

I created View A to create a balanced proportion of skin to clothing. In hindsight, I probably could have removed another inch or inch and a half from the sleeve length and probably will next time.

I didn’t make any bodice adjustments to McCalls 8146. For reference, I’m a bra size 34DD, with high-bust measurement of 35.5 inches.

African American woman wearing McCalls 8146 pattern in green Ankara in an open field

Styling options, where is she going in McCalls 8146

When I pick up a pattern, I have this internal and sometimes external conversation with myself: “where’s she going”, I think it or say it. Remember above; I told you I saw an entourage of African women. This pattern feels so ethnic to me; I digress.

  • She’s going to brunch with her friends: McCalls 8146 + skinny jeans 👖 + a fabulous handbag + heels.
  • She’s going to worship service: M8146 + pencil skirt + flats 🥿
  • She’s going on a dinner date: M8146 + denim skirt + a dangling earring + nude heels.
African American woman wearing McCalls 8146 pattern in green Ankara in an open field

Photography credit: Rakimism