Category Archives: Pattern Review

Pattern Review – New Look 6901

Pattern Description: Misses Six Sizes in One Just 4 Knits.  Includes one drape neck top and one mock wrap top plus skirt. I made the drape neck top as I have been coveting that kind of top for a long time.

Pattern Sizing: Sizes 8-18, I made the size 12 with a cheater FBA from Debbie Cook’s blog after a disastrously ginormous muslin in a sz 16.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes I guess. It’s just an illustration, so you don’t get a real sense of how it fits.

Were the instructions easy to follow? The instructions were pretty easy to understand even for a beginner.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I love the drape neck but wonder if it really works for a c cup size or larger. I had difficulty making it work with my girls even after the FBA; it kept draping behind them. Hard to describe though.

Still a little tight at the bust, but acceptable

The pattern has a facing for the back neck which I found really hard to work with. Sewing it completely distorted the neckline on my muslin. So for my final version, I just folded the back neck over and sewed it done. Perfectly serviceable and minimal distortion.

Back neck

The sleeve cap ease is RIDICULOUS. My sewing teacher redrew the sleeve cap for me, but it was still too big when I made the final version. I still needed to ease it in.

Fabric Used: I used a cotton lycra knit from which I have made a dress in the past. I have so much left over that I am using it for knit muslins from now on. I bought it from Gorgeous Fabrics back in the beginning of my on-line fabric days when I didn’t know how much yardage I needed for any given project. Ahh learning curves, love ’em or hate ’em?

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: For my final iteration, I traced the sz 12 for the neck and torso but moved out 3 sizes at the armscye to a sz 18 for my cheater FBA on both the front and back pattern pieces. While this seemed to help the pulling at the bust in front, it didn’t quite eliminate it altogether.  The rest of the fit was much improved from the ginormous sz 16 muslin I made: much more fitted without being too hoochie mama. Although this top does require a fair amount of sucking in the tummy to maintain a good line.   😉 

front cheater FBA

I used a blind hem stitch on the sleeves (see picture above)  and should have done the same for the hem of the shirt, but instead tried out stitch witchery. What a mess that stuff is. Due to lack of planning, I had some SW scraps on my ironing board and accidentally adhered them to my iron. What a PITA!!!! Anyway, the hem is a little wavy, but seems secure. I don’t know if it will hold up in the wash though. Guess I will find out soon enough. I really need to get on the twin needle band wagon or see if I can find a used coverstitch machined on craigslist.

I already mentioned the sleeve cap alteration and the neck band change I made above.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? While I find my final version wearable, I don’t think I will make this again for myself. This drape top does not play well with c cups and above. I might try the mock wrap top version to see how that works though. I recommend this pattern to people with b cups or smaller and you will definitely need to go down 2 sizes from their printed measurement suggestions.  I don’t think this will become a TNT for me.  On to the next pattern…

Conclusion: Cute pattern for smaller busted women. Sizing is ginormous. But instructions are easy to read and understand.

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Pattern Review – Simplicity 2452

 

I just posted my review on PatternReview.com.  Here it is with added pictures of the construction of my skirt. 

 

 

 

Pattern Description: Misses’ jacket with front variations and skirt. I have made just the skirt so far but really like Jacket B and may make that in the future.

Pattern Sizing: 14-22, I made the sz 16 but took in the side seams a bit. I think the sizing on this pattern is pretty true to size. I initially made a 14 out of vanity, but my measurements said to make a 16. 

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes, but maybe not as form-fitting.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes, they were. I guess my ability to translate sewing pattern directions is getting better. 😉

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I liked the simplicity of the lines of the skirt. I am looking for a simple pencil skirt to use as a TNT skirt for my work wardrobe.

Fabric Used: Wool stretch suiting from Paron’s in NYC — similar to the grey stretch suiting I bought from there as well, but the hand was different from the grey. The brown suiting feels a little more synthetic. Not my fave, but fine for this project. And the color fills a major hole in my work wardrobe.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I shortened the skirt by 1.25 inches. The pattern calls for a 1.25 inch hem allowance but that covered my knee. I have noticed that hemlines have been creeping up lately and wanted to be in synch with everyone else at my workplace. I personally think a hemline below my knee is more flattering as my thighs and knees are a little chunky, but thought I should try out the shorter length and see how I felt. I think I will keep it at the shorter length; it feels more current and less school marmish.

As for sizing, I basically made a skirt that was between a sz 14 and sz 16 based on the fact that my sz 14 muslin was too tight in a rather compromising way. I pinned out the extra width on the skirt of the sz 16 at the side seams and altered the pattern to match, about 1/4 inch on each side for a total of an inch decrease on the circumference of the skirt.

I added a lining to this skirt even though the pattern is for an unlined skirt. Rant: I understand pattern companies needing to attract new sewists by offering easy, unlined patterns but I think they’re doing a disservice to us instead. Just because we are beginners, doesn’t mean that we don’t want a finished look and a complete garment. The frustrations we endure trying to add the elements of a garment they leave out actually deter us from having a great experience. For instance, due to the vent on this simple pencil skirt, I couldn’t just drop in a lining. Why? Because you have to construct the vent of the fashion fabric at the same time as the lining so that the individual vents work together, not separately or against each other. I did not know this and constructed my vent of the skirt separately from the lining and they fought each other. I had to unpick them both and resew them, together this time, to get the vent to work properly as walking ease as intended.  

Vent from right side

Vent from inside with lining attached

 

Check out that vent!

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I am not sure if I will sew this skirt again, but mostly as a matter of taste. After making this skirt, which has no waistband, I think I know now that I prefer a waistband. I found using grosgrain ribbon (the pattern calls for twill tape, but I didn’t have any on hand) very fiddly. And I think I used the wrong size ribbon as it stuck out higher than it was supposed to, but doesn’t really show up on the finished garment when you wear it. If I were to make it again, I will insert the zipper at the center back as I think that kind of insertion is easier as it is not on a curved seam. I am not sure why, but after a day of wearing my skirt, the zipper has creeped higher than the waist band. Strange. 

sticky uppy zipper, hmmm....

Zipper inside with lining slipstitched to it

Conclusion: Good, workable skirt pattern. Instructions are good for an unlined skirt. Sizing is pretty true to pattern measurements. It’s a solid pattern, well worth checking out to see if it fits your life/tastes. 

PR Weekend Philly Redux

Still tired, but here are some pictures to sate your curiosity.  Trena, as well as some other bloggers, are writing more substantive play-by-plays of the weekend. 

It was so amazing to meet fellow bloggers and sewists, and to see them wear creations I have seen online and reviewed on Pattern Review live and in person.  I was blown away by the talent and knowledge.  I reunited with Karen, Trena, Cidell, Carolyn and Lindsay T.  Karen was kind enough to host me for the night, or should I say her cats were kind enough to allow me into their home.  I roomed with Connie and we talked until the wee hours. 

The Kenneth King class was amazing.  I was pretty intimidated by the topic but it was surprisingly easy to embellish.  As usual, he was a hoot with tons of funny stories.  Again I have to say that he is an amazing teacher; very patient, not condescending, and great at explaining all the steps involved. 

Kenneth King

 

Kenneth King at work

 

Noile and Trena working away

 

My table, Kyle to the left there

 

The museum was amazing.  My favorite garments were the 1870’s Worth dress and the Fortuny dress.  I couldn’t believe how close we could get to the garments.  It was so cool to see all the hand stitching and construction details. 

Worth Dress Evening Bodice

 

Worth Dress Day Bodice

 

Detail of Worth Dress Skirt

 

Fortuny Dress

 

The dinner was so much fun.  We had an impromptu fashion show where almost everybody got up to talk about their garment or accessory.  There were some amazing dresses and bags.  I believe Connie’s bag won a PR contest last year.  It’s gorgeous! 

The Saturday shopping day was both fun and overwhelming.  I have never shopped that long for anything in my life, much less fabric.  But, boy am I glad that I did.  Here’s my haul.  We spent the morning at Fabric Row in Philly.  The first store I went to was Albert Zoll.  Claudine and I spent at least 20 minutes trolling the button crate.  And I found covered button kits in various sizes as well as buckle kits.  

Albert Zoll

 

The next store I went to was PA Fabric Outlet where I found some great lace and trim as well as this beautiful lilac silk linen (for a Chanel like jacket?).  The lace will be used for lining hems and little girl dresses. 

PA Fabric Outlet trim

 

PS Fabric Outlet silk linen and matching trim

 

Next stop on Fabric Row was Baldwin.  Really beautiful special occasion fabrics can be found at this store.  I practically ran out the door with this silk metallic linen.  I got it for a steal.  I think this might be the fabric for the dress I’ll wear to my cousin’s wedding this Fall. 

Baldwin

 

Carolyn and I then took a break for lunch (delish!) and met people up at the bus for our next stop on the shopping extravaganza bus tour, London Textiles, a fabric wholesaler in New Jersey.  It was like shopping with piranhas.  Ok, maybe not exactly like that, but you should have seen the mad dash for the remnant boxes.  It was every woman for herself.  Here’s what I managed to grab for myself.  From left to right: 2 silk remnants for a bias blouse, a really long remnant of silk/cotton linen with white/royal purple threads for a sheath dress and a small remnant of a striped silk/cotton linen project tbd.  Caroline was my buying advisor for all of these purchases.  Thank you Carolyn! 

London Textiles

 

From NJ we trekked to South Philly to the fabled Jomars.  I was very overwhelmed by the time I arrived here, but Carolyn took me under her wing again.  I bought 9 yards of a navy almost black lining, a cotton linen with woven stripes, a Liberty-esque cotton print, some trim for a belt and a teal t-shirting knit.  No plans yet for any of these items 

Navy Lining from Jomars

 

Jomar Cache

 

I have no specific pattern ideas yet as to how I am going to use these fabrics/notions, but I love each and every one of them.  They’re so beautiful.  

Karen and her volunteers did such a wonderful job organizing the weekend and everything went off swimmingly well.  I enjoyed myself so much and loved meeting all of these wonderful women and sharing our love of fabric.  I can’t wait to attend another PR Weekend.  Thank you Karen!!! 

One more noteworthy item:  Cidell was kind enough to offer to bring her Knip Mode skirt with her to the Weekend so I could compare and see where mine was off from the original pattern.  It turns out my front wrap curve is pretty different, so I will have to adjust mine accordingly and see if that helps with my draping problem.  Cidell even let me take her skirt home with me so I can work with it.  How cool is that???????  However, I’m a little bummed out still about the close call with wadderville, so I need to put it aside for a week I think.  

So what’s next you ask?  Well, I think Mama needs a new skirt, don’t you?  I’m thinking an unlined, red stretch cotton pencil skirt would do nicely.  Why, yes I do. 

Happy sewing!

Exhausted

I have been back since Saturday night (from the Pattern Review weekend in Philly), but have been way too tired to post about it.  I don’t see myself having the energy tonight either unfortunately.  But suffice it to say that I had a fabulous time and made some great new friends, connected with old friends and bought a ton of fabric!

I will share all the goodies, fabric and tales, as soon as I can.

Till then, happy sewing everyone!

Pattern Review – Vogue 8379

I should warn you right off that I only have crappy pictures of my finished dress — my usual photographer, my sister, has been sick for several days — so I used the self timer in crappy rainy day lighting.  IRL I think the dress is more flattering than these pictures seem to suggest.  Really!

I just posted my review on Pattern Review, but here goes…

Vogue 8379

Pattern Description:  Wrap front dress has soft pleats, side tie, and sleeve variations. Dress B has collar.

Pattern Sizing:  BB (8-14) I made a size 12.  I probably should have made a size 14, but I am in the process of losing weight (yeah, I know you should sew for the body you have, but I am really determined to lose this baby weight!)

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?  Yes, except my ties weren’t as long.

Were the instructions easy to follow?  Yes, very easy to understand.  I can’t believe I am finally able to say that. For the longest time sewing pattern instructions were written in Greek to me.  Yeah!!!

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?

Likes: close fitting bodice, adequate girl coverage, cute silhouette, great directions, pretty easy pattern, and loved the swishy skirt.

Dislikes: interfacing not necessary, facings are stupid, ties could be longer, bodice is too short, skirt length could be short for tall people and sleeves are made for twig arms.

Fabric Used:  some gorgeous knit from Metro Textiles in NYC.  I loved working with it.  It was easy to cut, didn’t curl, and was a dream to sew.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:  I lengthened the bodice by 1 inch which caused me to widen the front skirt pieces a titch, and I would need at least another 3/4 inch if I made it again.  I would lengthen the skirt by an inch also so that I have an adequate hem — I was forced to hem at 1 inch and it seemed a little skimpy.  On the plus side, having such a short hem meant I didn’t need to gather it first to do the hem since there was not much difference in size from the bottom of the hem to the top.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?  I probably will not sew it again.  I was hoping this would be a TNT (Tried & True Pattern, one that you use over and over again as a wardrobe staple for those of you not familiar with this acronym) for me, but I think the bodice needs at least another 3/4 inches in length for me.  And while I like the swishy skirt, I think I would prefer more of an A-line skirt for my TNT.  The sleeves were really snug on me and I prefer the sleeve of Simplicity 3678 to this one as you don’t need to hem it but don’t know that I trust my skill set to interchange the two.  Note that if you lengthen the bodice you might want to sew down the pleats down a little higher (longer) so you don’t get saggy boob syndrome. Ask me how I know.   😉   Now that I think of it, I may sew mine up a little higher before I wear it to work tomorrow (ETA: did not do this, but probably should have.  I am just so over this dress now though).  The interfacing of the facings is NOT necessary and only serves to make them flip out more because they are stiffer.  I hate the facings and had to topstitch them 3/8ths in so that they would stay put.  I don’t mind the top stitching, but I much prefer the facing/binding method of Simplicity 3678 for the neck edges.  Basically they have you do a self fabric bias tape treatment.  Note: the sleeves while being skinny had a huge sleeve cap and could not be eased in by stretching as you sew.  You definitely need to follow the instructions to easestitch, baste and then sew them in.  It gives you perfect sleeve insertion, but why do you have to go to all that trouble when you could just use a smaller sleevecap to begin with?????  Annoying!  Also, I would make the ties at least a good 5-6 inches longer.  I tie them around my waist from the back to front and they are too short.  I can’t see tying them any other way and having the wrap work.  So, make them longer.

Conclusion:  So while I most likely won’t be making this ever again, I see that many people on PatternReview love this pattern.  For me there were too many alterations I had to make to make it work and I was still not entirely satisfied.  I think a different pattern will work for me better.  I am not saying that I should fit a pattern right out of the envelope, but rather that this pattern was not to my liking because the changes I would make had to do with the design and not just my body.  

This was a comedy of errors project for me from day one.  From cutting out the bodice with the stretch going the wrong way first, to cutting a v-shaped hole in my bodice front…

To attaching the ties to the side seams instead of the bodice fronts…

resewn on tie interior

resewn on tie exterior

tie stubs cut as close to seam as possible

And ending with finishing the hem incorrectly because I “remembered” the directions incorrectly.

That being said, the pattern goes together well when user errors don’t occur, is well marked, is drafted well and the directions are impeccable.  The only serious flaw is that the neck facings are just wrong, wrong, wrong!!!

And without further ado, the craptastic pictures.  Hopefully my sister will be up for more pictures later which will show that this dress is nicer than I’ve made it out to be in this review.

Next on the dockets is a muslin of the Knip Mode skirt that Cidell made a while back.  Also, I want to do a little tutorial on how to lengthen a bodice, because while it seems simple enough once you do one, to the innocent beginner it can be baffling!  Ask me how I know.  😉 

Happy sewing everyone!

PS: Sorry for the crappy pictures today.  I feel compelled to say something again about it.  I was rushed trying to upload them before I left for work, so there was no time to futz around with them.

FRUSTRATED!!!

In fact I am so frustrated that I am forced to eat my son’s easter basket candy to alleviate some of the negative feelings I am experiencing at this moment. 

So fresh off the euphoria of my recent border print dress and basking in the glow of Thor’s urbanized camp shirt, I thought I had this sewing thing in the bag!  I was getting all proud of myself and a little cocky to boot.

Well folks, I have plummeted down to earth.  My wax wings melted.  I am confounded with this mysterious ritual of which you more experienced sewists speak of with such nonchalance and ease, PATTERN ALTERATIONS. You all bandy about terms like “lengthen the bodice”, “slash and spread”, and “FBAs” like they’re just slicing up a pie and serving it.  Well, I’m here to tell you I am absolutely gob-smacked and mystified. 

I have come to the reluctant conclusion that I am not “an out of the envelope” kind of gal.  Not because I am being difficult and think I”m special.  No, no, no!  I’m just a little lumpy and when you’re lumpy like me, you need to adjust for the occasional lump.  I’ve started to work out more lately, but let’s be honest here — we all know how long it takes to lose weight.  I want to sew now.  I want to wear clothes now.  I have to figure out this whole fitting and adjusting the pattern thing.  PRONTO.

I was going to cut out my good fabric tonight.  But what am I doing instead?  I am spending hours searching the interwebs for tutorials.  Oh, I’ve found tons of tutorials, but none of them answer my specific questions.  Liesl has a great one, but her tute didn’t quite address my particular problem.  I asked my question on PatternReview.com and got a quick response and link to this very dress and the very change I want to make from Michelle, but of course, I still have questions.  As a matter of fact, I am hoping she’ll answer my questions real soon.   😉

Ok, I just got off the phone with Thea.  She talked me off the roof.  Oh and Michelle replied to me again at PatternReview, so I am done ranting this evening.  It’s late and I have to get to bed now.  It took me 3 hours to find what I needed to know (don’t worry, I will share later), and now I have to put it aside for another evening. 

Tomorrow is another day. 

I bid you happy pattern alterations.

Kwik Sew 3146 Pattern Review

It’s finally finished!!!  Thor’s camp shirt.  I just posted the review at PatternReview.com.  Here it is with a few more pictures… 

Thor, God of Thunder, in his new camp shirt

 

Pattern Description:  Toddlers’ shirts have collar with collar stand, yoke, front placket with button closure, and shirt-tail hemline.  View A has long sleeves with buttoned cuffs and breast pocket.  View B has short sleeves and breast pocket.  View C has western-style yokes, long sleeves with buttoned cuffs, and front pockets with buttoned flaps.  I made view B. 

Pattern Sizing:  T1-T4 — I made a T2 for my nephew Thor; he just turned two.  It’s a little big on him, but I think that’s fine for this kind of shirt and he’s got room to grow. 

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

Were the instructions easy to follow?   The instructions were very easy to follow. 

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?   

LIKES: I thought the collar/stand instructions were great and made for a great looking collar.  I am really proud of my first collar and stand!!!  

my FIRST collar with stand!

 

Even David Coffin thought so.  Really!  We’re FB friends and when I posted a picture of the collar and stand he commented, “Nice collar.”  I was blown away!  In my shirtmaking research I did read David Coffin’s book on shirtmaking from cover to cover.  I thought it was fantastic and it definitely helped me with this project.  The Kwik Sew method for making a clean finish on the yoke was also great.  

DISLIKES: I didn’t like the tiny seam allowances which did not allow for flat felled seams at all.  1/4 inch SA’s???  You can’t even serge them to finish them off.  I accidentally serged off part of one of the sleeves.  It was minor and I was able to fix it, but it could have been a disaster.  I ended up overcasting with my sewing machine to patch some sections. 

Fabric Used:  I bought what I thought was a plain cotton gingham fabric, but when I got it home, I noticed it had some stretch.  I just assumed it was 100% cotton because why would anyone add lycra to gingham shirting?  I just don’t understand it.  However, it didn’t really affect anything with the making of the shirt.  Because of the regularity of the print/weave of the fabric, I cut all the pattern pieces in a single layer to match up the print as much as possible.  While they were cut precisely to match, it was a little difficult to maintain the matching of the gingham at the machine.  I think it will take much more practice and maybe the use of my walking foot, but I’ll get there.  This was my first time really trying to match such a pattern. 

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:  I didn’t make any real alterations, but I did change construction order and used some different techniques.  

I did not interface the pocket as I didn’t think it was necessary.  The instructions would have you hem the shirt before you sew the side seams, but I think that’s crazy.  I waited until after I had sewn them.  I guess I’m no longer a beginner now if I am disagreeing with pattern instructions!  On the other hand, the instructions also have you sew up the sleeves before you hem them, but it’s really hard to hem tiny little sleeves.  I didn’t think of this before I sewed them up, so I was forced to hem them after they were sewn.  But if I had sewn up the T1 size, I don’t think I could have hemmed the sleeves on the machine; I would have had to sew them by hand.  Another change I made to the pattern was to use pearl snaps instead of buttons.  I just thought it was a neater look and more child friendly.  I loved it.  And an embellishment I added was to use freezer paper stencil (tutorial here) to create a red thunderbolt on the back of the shirt for a more urban feel.  Thor’s name means God of Thunder, so it was very a propos and he loved it. 

painting over the freezer paper stencil I cut

 

finished thunderbolt (three paint layers)

 

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?  I will definitely make it again, but next time, I will add more to the seam allowances so I can make flat felled seams.  Why not?  You’ve already gone to the trouble to make a real collar and stand.  Why wouldn’t you also want flat felled seams as well?  Also next time, I will only interface half the placket as I felt it was too stiff after all the layers are sewn together.  It could have been that my interfacing was too stiff, but I still think halving the interfacing would be better.  I would definitely recommend this to anyone, even beginners, as long as they take their time and really understand the directions. 

Conclusion:  I love this pattern.  I think it makes a great and professional looking shirt due to the great collar/stand and yoke instructions.  

 

In other sewing news, I just muslined the bodice for Vogue’s DVF wrap dress knockoff, 8379.  I will start cutting out the real fabric tomorrow.  Wish me luck please.

Happy sewing everyone!