Pattern Reviews

The Zebra Cowl Neck Shirt – McCall’s 6841

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This pattern is no longer in print, but can be found on Amazon and other sellers.

This version of McCalls 6841 is the shirt I affectionately refer to as my zebra shirt. Based on the black and white striping, I could just have easily called it my jail bird shirt too, I suppose. But zebra it was deemed.

I made this shirt in early August 2016. That means I had been sewing all of 2 months, so I really had no idea what I was doing. Truly, none. I don’t even remember how I got my hands on this pattern M6841 since it’s now out of print. But it says EASY right there on the envelope, so I believed it! I made view B, which is the sleeveless version without lining.

According to my notes (yes, I take notes on all of my projects—it’s the former meeting planner/project manager in me), I reviewed a bunch of resources before diving into this. The instructions are full of fitting tips since it’s a Palmer/Pletsch pattern. But this was NOT easy. At least, not for a true beginner with nearly zero experience. Now, I would totally understand how to roll the neck into a burrito, but back then? Oy.

Oh, and did I mention it has pleats on the shoulders? I’m pretty sure mine are folded the wrong way.

I really had no idea what I was doing. The best resource I found for this online was a YouTube channel called Sew & Style. She has a sew along for the pattern from 2013. But that still didn’t help me figure out the burrito part very well.

The instructions suggest using your high bust measurement due to the ridiculous amount of ease (read: extra fabric) in the front. Obviously with a cowl neck you’re going to get a lot of ease, but this is really kind of nuts. So I’m not sure if it was my own ineptitude, the pattern itself, or a combo of the two, but this shirt came out waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too big. Based on my high bust, I made a size large. But the armholes are gigantic! You can see in the picture above, my thumbs are right about where my nipples are. These armholes are HUGE.

Hello armpits!

Despite all of that, this is one of my favorite shirts. Sure the stitching is wonky, the front V dips a little too low (nothing a black bralette can’t fix), those armholes leave a lot to be desired (again, bralettes FTW), and it’s not the most flattering look (hi, not pregnant!) but I absolutely love this piece. It was technically the 14th garment ever I sewed and/or upcycled, but it’s the only one from those early days that gets any use. I even wore it to work—multiple times! And to conferences I was executing, meaning I had to look like I was in charge. My trusty zebra top has seen me through a lot since it came together.

If I were ever to make this again, I would raise the armholes a full inch. Oh, and it’s made out of a poly crepe, which is lovely but this is pattern is actually for knits. I still hadn’t gotten the hang of fabrics back then. But between the texture and the kooky black lines, I just love it.

And at least now I know how to roll burritos!

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