Sewing Adventures – McCalls 7417 rash vest and pants

By Susan | Comments: 17 | January 17, 2017

Sometimes accidents happen and this is one of those happy joyous accidents. Where I’ve made something I really love the fabric combinations.
Earlier this week I posted this image on Instagram.

I was intending to make my niece a rash vest to go with her roarsome swimsuit. Well I’m not sure if I’ve lost a sheet or am reading the pattern wrong but I cannot find the child’s pattern in this? I kept unfolding and rechecking and still nothing? Instead of getting stuck with searching for it it falling down a rabbit hole of internet research on it, I opened up my swimwear fabrics tub and started pulling out likely fabric combinations for myself.
This navy self spot was a The Fabric Store purchase from a few years back. It’s nice and thick but doesn’t have really great stretch as it’s a nylon knit with just a little spandex. It is however super cute.

The pattern fabric was something I spied on Instagram, had a meltdown about and was assisted by the amazing @_littleblackcloud in getting me some from Rathdowne fabrics. It’s super stretchy but quite lightweight.
Much laughter occurred at the idea of a cropped rash vest on Instagram. I mean it’s not exactly practical is it? However if you are not blessed with height the cropped version is actually a decent length. I added 2cm to the hem length of the crop version to make this top (keep in mind I’m only just 5 foot tall so this mod won’t work for taller people). EDIT: I’ve just come back from paddling and I have to say the cropped version doesn’t work, it keeps moving around and exposing my stomach. Unless you are wearing it over a one piece do not cut the cropped version.

To keep the top as lightweight as possible I used the navy spot as the side panels and cut the rest in the pattern. Once it was together I tried it on and ended up slimming down the arms as they were too baggy. I deliberately didn’t make it skin tight as I want to use it for stand up paddling. I paddle for about an hour each time I’m out. For the final few minutes of each session I take off my rash vest and paddle in my bikini. This gives me a huge dose of vitamin D but also ensures my fair skin doesn’t burn. If it’s super tight it’s really hard to get off while standing on the board.

Sleeve hems were overlocked and turned up to be topstitched down. The garment hem I added some clear 6mm elastic into the hem to help keep it in place during the paddling motion.

Now for the bottoms. As mentioned previously the patterned fabric is lightweight so I reversed the top layout by cutting the center of the pants in the navy and the sides in the pattern. As I do with all swimwear, all major seams were sewn then I try it on and adjust the fit. I took evenly off each seam allowance until they reached the desired fit. I also added a full lining and applied the elastic as I usually do and didn’t bother with their instructions on it.
There are some serious issues I have with this pattern.
1.5cm Seam allowance on swimwear, utter craziness. The seams are way too bulky and it makes the crotch way too wide causing odd bunching.
The bottoms only come with a gusset lining. No and no. Once the panels were together and adjusted I laid them flat and used them as a template to create a full front and back lining. The gusset is also far too wide, I found it went across and then down my legs and kept folding back up. So I cut it narrower. Perhaps use an existing swimsuit or even bikini knickers to judge your correct width?

It indicates the patterns are to be cut on the cross grain. To me this suggest cutting on the bias. Why on earth would you cut swim fabric on the bias? It certainly doesn’t need to be. Surely the correct terminology would be tell you to cut with the greatest amount of stretch going around the body?
This combined with some odd styling notions makes me think it was designed by someone who saw a picture and went we need one of those but has no practical knowledge of how swimwear works?
Despite the crazy pattern I am very happy with the set, mostly due to the awesome fabrics. The fit is ok it could be improved but they are functional and that’s always a big plus when it comes to swimwear.

Pattern: McCalls 7417 size Large for top with extra 2cm added to the crop length and narrowed sleeves. Cut size large for the bottoms but probably adjusted down to an M but check stretch % on next fabric before cutting a straight M.
Fabric: navy self spot from The Fabric Store, print from Rathdowne Fabric, lining and elastic from Pitt Trading
Changes for next time: cut down seam allowance before making it up. Cut crotch narrower, make full lining for pants and narrow the arms more.

And now I need to go search for the children’s pattern hidden inside? or I might just head out for another swim


  • Medi
    January 17, 2017

    Hi Susan,
    This is a really nice set! And you made it work! I love SUP and kite surfing myself. I always look for patterns that I can be active on the beach. Thanks for the review, I am not sure I will go for this pattern 🙂


    • Susan Goodwin
      January 24, 2017

      Kite surfing and SUP! that sounds amazing!

      Look if you like the style give the pattern a go just be prepared to make it work with some alterations, because as it is? well it’s not good enough for proper activity. But using it as a starting point or base might work?

  • Rebecca
    January 17, 2017

    Your rashguard look great! I love the fabric! I’ve made the kids version which I love but have yet to make one for myself so I’m glad to see your review! The pattern is sized in adult and childrens in multiple sizes so you have to get 2 separate patterns. ☺

  • Michelle
    January 18, 2017

    This pattern has two size envelopes, one for adult sizes and one for children. They are not all in one envelope. Don’t waste your time looking for something that is not there, lol! I made the same mistake/discovery.

    • Susan Goodwin
      January 24, 2017

      I never even thought it would be separate, assumed they would all be in there, how silly of me!

  • Melissa
    January 18, 2017

    I finished a zip Rashie top for myself but used a mc’calls active wear jacket pattern and made it a couple of suzes smaller. I love your contrast fabric might give that a go next time. Could the kids size be a seperate sizing envelope ?

    • Susan Goodwin
      January 24, 2017

      Using the activewear jacket and sizing down is a brilliant idea, well done for thinking outside the box. Give the contrasts a go, I’m never happy unless I’m mixing prints!

  • Melissa
    January 18, 2017

    Just checked mc’calls website and there is kids size and a misses size in seperate envelopes.

    • Susan Goodwin
      January 24, 2017

      see I never even thought it would be separate envelopes! how dumb am I?

  • Bec
    January 18, 2017

    It’s funny what you say about the crotch width, because I always find the crotches in swimming patterns from the big 4 too wide! I’ve heard that from a number of sewers now and I’m forever narrowing that section. Your rashie and bottoms turned out great! 🙂

    • Susan Goodwin
      January 24, 2017

      I know so wide! all the width does is sit weirdly down your legs/bottom and then fold back on itself which is both uncomfortable and unflattering.

      Am so happy with the set despite all the issues, the patterned fabric in particular is so nice and lightweight it means it’s not too hot in the sun.

  • Colette
    January 18, 2017

    I can see why you had to track down that fabric – it’s pretty cool! Got half way through my first swimmers before I had to tidy up my house to sell, hope I can finish them before summer finishes!!

    • Susan Goodwin
      January 24, 2017

      Ohh new house? potentially new sewing room?

      I hope you get to finish them up soon, this hot weather certainly looks like it is staying around.

  • Sam the Aussie
    January 18, 2017

    Looks great – I used a kwik sew pattern, add a front zip and adjusted the seams for negative ease. Enjoy the board riding – I can’t stand up 🙁 Sam the Aussie

    • Susan Goodwin
      January 24, 2017

      I must look into the Kwik Sew options? When I first started paddling the guys told me don’t look at the board look at the horizon and hey presto! could stand up. So amazed.

  • Sharon
    January 19, 2017

    Great looking rashie and bottoms, pity it was too short but you can easily fix that for your next version.

    • Susan Goodwin
      January 24, 2017

      Thanks! I so like the combination of fabrics/prints.

      I’m considering adding a ruffle or flounce to the bottom to create the length? even a wide band would do the trick?

Comments are closed.




Hi, I'm Susan. A designer living in Sydney, Australia.

Here I share tales of my sewing, my pattern collection and insights into what it's like to work as a professional fashion designer.

Other recurring themes include cat photos and an ever changing hair style.



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