McCall’s 3926: Misses’ Carefree Swirler

hi hair! hi boots! hi clogs!

the pattern:
McCall’s 3926 MISSES’ CAREFREE SWIRLER, copyright 1973 The McCall Pattern Company

patterns weren’t usually multi-sized back then, but I think they felt bad about selling a pattern envelope with only one piece inside. So this pattern has three sizes.

This pattern does not belong to me! 
Here’s the story with that:
One time last fall, AE came home from a trip to NYC with two gorgeous skeins of yarn for me. He knows I don’t knit, but that I would love the yarn and would find something to do with it, and I did: I arranged a trade of skills with my friend HRM. 
My sewing for her knitting.
And this, the Carefree Swirler, is what she brought me to sew for her. I had never seen the 70’s version of this design, but I have seen later versions, maybe from the 90’s? The later versions I’ve seen are shorter, like knee length. I much prefer this 70’s maxi version. 
I wonder if this is the earliest example of The Swirler, or if there’s an even earlier original out there? Bouffant Swirler gown from the 50’s? Short Carefree Swirler dress with fringe from the 20’s? 
That would be hot. Note to self: fringe in the seams. 
This is a neat design. As you can see on the envelope back above, there is only one pattern piece. I think this would make a neat assignment for students, to draft a skirt and then figure out how to make it visually interesting with just one repeating gore. 

the fabric:
HRM brought me a really great black floral to use, pretty close to the one illustrated in View C. There wasn’t enough yardage though, and I didn’t want her to loose all that beautiful maxi-length, so I rummaged around on my shelf and found this blue taffeta. Six yards of the stuff! From a yard sale! 
I had washed it right away after buying it. Washing taffeta softens it and gives it a crinkly texture which can be pressed out, but I left in a little of the crinkliness. It’s a neat texture and a good way to keep a taffeta garment just on the outskirts of Fancy Town, rather than firmly residing in Too-Nice-For-Daytime-Landia. 


hi, wheelbarrow!
the hem, she is scalloped
See that zipper? Neither do I.

The zipper is set into a seam, which is curved, which I thought was going to be awful but turned out pretty nice and invisible. 
The pattern instructions wanted me to do a lapped zipper, of course, because 1973, but I was like Get Up Outta My Face With That Lapped Zipper. I was like Welcome To The Future, Carefree Swirler.  
Seriously though, a lapped zipper would ruin the carefree swirlyness. 

hi ladder!

This thing is easy! I wonder if that’s what the Carefree Patterns trademark was all about. Probably, huh. 
I was worried for a minute about the insane amounts of fabric this one repeating pattern piece was going to eat up, because it’s basically a giant C shape and you can’t nest more than two or mayyyyybe three across, so I checked the pattern layout diagram 
—making this the only time I’ve EVER checked a pattern layout diagram—
and saw that they want you to cut it on the crossgrain and, like, stack the pieces instead of cutting the regular direction and trying to nest them. So that’s great. Because otherwise this pattern would have to call for like twelve yards and waste about half that into fall-out. 

One bummer of this pattern, though, is that it calls for 5/8ths inch seam allowance. Which is standard for commercial pattern, but is a bummer when all you are doing is seam after seam of opposing curves. It’s not a huge issue as they aren’t tight curves, it’s just sort of death by a thousand annoyances, that unnecessary seam allowance in your opposing curves. I’d say even just trimming it down to 1/2 inch seam allowance would’ve been a major quality-of-life improvement. 

Two bummers actually, the second is that they want you to do a quarter/quarter rolled hem. 
I faced the hem instead, to keep the inner curves of the scallops nice and sharp. 

Sew It or Throw It:
Throw it! Back to HRM! Because it belongs to her not me!
But if it were mine I would Sew It. 
Would be neat to play with prints with this one, like use a striped fabric and see how the stripes would chop up and zigzag, or use an ombré fabric and see how the ombré would wave up and down along the hem.
And of course, fringe in the seams.


25 thoughts on “McCall’s 3926: Misses’ Carefree Swirler

  1. OMG! I totally made and wore this pattern to death in 1973-1974 while in high school!! It was all the rage then. Everyone was wearing it. Oh my…the patterns I did not keep and am now devastated that I do not have them. Sigh.


      1. My sister wore a red and white one made by my grandma if I remember right. Mine was green and white. Both were calicos. Then I made a light denim-blue colored one. I remember one from a school mate in shades of white…eyelet and ? It was gorgeous. It”s only been 40 some odd years. Wait…I’m not that old! Anyway, it was a very popular item in those days.

        Your hemming trick is very clever and done beautifully.


        1. Ooh, light blue denim, I want that.
          So great that your grandma made these for you and your sister. So great how much family and love is involved in home sewing.
          Thanks re: the hem trick. It ended up being easier than a rolled hem would’ve been, I think. More time spent cutting but much less effort in the sewing. Thanks!


    1. Thank you! It was fun to make.
      Ooh, it would also be fun as a rainbow! Each panel in a different color, in rainbow order. I might have to borrow this back from HRM. After I use all my other patterns Hahahhaaha.


  2. So much fun! That pattern piece is wild! I think it would be so great in a light denim or chambray! The scalloped hem is great! So many exclamation marks!!! So what’s happening with your yarn? Whatchoo getting in return?


    1. So many exclamations marks!!!!!!
      In return, I have a beret! Knitted from a 70’s pattern! It is a monster! Post coming soon, I just need to photograph it and confirm some notes from HRM on the craziness of the knitting instructions.


  3. Haha, I love that this only one pattern piece! Somehow I’d never have worked that out just by looking at the skirt. Great job, you should definitely borrow the pattern again and do a multicoloured version!


  4. My best friend Maxine was very stylish and always a leader. She had this skirt in four or maybe more different fabrics – all greeny-blues and patterned. She wore it with a flared top with a big, floppy sort of cape-like sailor collar, and neat little ties. The top was different fabrics too but they all worked together. I am pretty sure the fabrics were rayon.

    I had never seen the pattern, but this post really got me excited, and thinking. I agree it would be a nice project to make this pattern up and it will join the long list of things to do one day. Unless I find it in the meantime.


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