Thursday, February 26, 2015

On hiatus

My family has received some very bad news regarding my father's health. As some of you who I talk to off-blog know, he has been battling cancer for the past six months. While things were going well initially, they have recently taken a bad turn, and we now know that he won't be with us for much longer. My family and I are devastated.

I will be taking a temporary break from blogging while I focus on emotionally supporting my family and coming to terms myself with the hand that we've been dealt.

When we've moved past this, and I've had a chance to grieve and start healing (and my sewjo returns), I expect to be back with more pattern snark.

Friday, February 20, 2015

This Week in Patterns (20-Feb-2015)

I'll be blunt. I'm still down in the dumps mentally/emotionally and not quite up for writing my usual weekly pattern round-up yet. I try to keep personal stuff (outside of kid/cat/dog pictures) mostly out of this blog, but on top of losing my cat, my dad has been dealing with some serious health issues for the past few months, and he had a major setback yesterday.

If that weren't enough, my team's office moved to a different neighborhood in downtown Seattle last week, so I'm still getting used to a new commute and a tougher parking situation (on days when I don't take the commuter bus). The upside to that is that we're now in a much cooler neighborhood (we're a block away from SubPop records, for example) that should allow me to easily reach a few of Seattle's best indie fabric stores (Nancy's Sewing Basket, Drygood Designs, and District Fabrics) with a short bus trip on my lunch break. So, um, lookout fabric stash?

Basically, I'm still not in the mood to snark or gush about anything. However, we've had a ton of new pattern releases over the past two weeks, and while I'm not doing a full write-up this week, I did compile a list of links and jotted down a few notes, if you'd like to click through and check them out yourselves. The New Looks and Simplicities came out yesterday, and while they're both mostly "meh", they did each have a couple of noteworthy designs (IMO), and I might very well cover those in more depth next week.

Anyway, here's an abbreviated round-up of new pattern releases for the past two weeks:
  • Bluegingerdoll: A-clan collection: Warm-weather collection of four patterns that coordinate with each other.
    • Abby singlet top
    • : Cute woven, button-down tank. Easily my favorite piece out of this collection.
    • Alicia shorts
    • Shorts with front pleats. There's something odd going on with the crotch on these in the pattern photo, which would make me wary of buying them.
    • Anne peek-a-boo knit top: Knit top with peek-a-boo cutout. Yeah, that's not going to work with my ginormous bust. I remember there being a similar Big 4 pattern to this in recent years, too, but wasn't able to find it quickly.
    • April gathered skirt: Basic, but cute skirt. If I wanted to make this, I'd probably opt for a Big 4 equivalent.
  • BurdaStyle Plus: Modern Museum Collection (02/2015) : Not as fug as last month, but nothing I'd want to sew or wear, either.
    • Day Dress : Dress with pleats over the boobs. Not going to work on the uber busty unless those pleats are stitched down, and then, what's the point?
    • Silk BlouseAnother boxy blouse from Burda Plus (ABBFBP).
    • Hi-Lo Plus size shirt: Meh.
    • Fringe Trim CoatA nice-looking coat, and it's actually not double-breasted.
    • Star JacketCute, if boxy, jacket. Not sure what's up with the giant star applique thingy.
    • Bootcut pantsTurkey-eatin' pants. They should have released these back in November. (Or maybe this is Burda's consession that plus sized women DO actually have sex and get pregnant--because these look an awful lot like my old maternity pants.)
    • Fold blouse: Blouse version of that same pleated dress.
    • Cargo pants: I like these (in a drapey fabric). I probably shouldn't, but hey, they look comfortable and POCKETS.
  • By Hand London: Sophia Dress (presale): The latest party dress from BHL. There are some interesting darts there--I'll be curious to see what this looks like on a curvy figure.
  • Jennifer Lauren Vintage: Felicity Dress: Cute, vintage-style dress.
  • New Look: Spring 2015: Mostly boring basics, but there's a casual wardrobe pattern in here that caught my eye.
  • Paprika Patterns: Jade skirt (re-release): The re-released Jade skirt now includes sizes 7-10 and a few other updates. Based on the fact that I flat-out like the skirt and my positive experience with the Jasper sweater, I've already purchased this.
  • Simplicity: Spring 2015: More mostly boring basics, but I liked one of the knit skirt patterns and the jumpsuit pattern. Because apparently I hoard (but don't sew) jumpsuit patterns.
  • StyleArc: Toni designer dress: Interesting dress, but not my style, and I'm not sure that I'd like the look on my figure, anyway.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

New HotPattern for a good cause

First of all, I want to thank you all for all of the kind comments that you've left about my recently departed cat, Dante. I miss him dearly, and even though I haven't responded to individual comments on my post about him, please understand that I very much appreciate your thoughts and sentiments.

In more fun news, Trudy has released a new FREE HotPatterns PDF download in conjunction with a charity fundraising effort that she's helping out with:

HotPatterns Joyful Top pattern

HotPatterns Joyful Top
The top uses mixed fabrics--wovens, sheers, and knits and has hidden bust darts. While you can download the pattern for free, Trudy is hoping that if you are able to do so, you can chip in a few dollars towards a charity that she is helping to raise money for. The charity benefits a summer camp for kids with cancer, and you can click the following link to read a bit more and to donate:

http://www.chailifeline.org/events/Bike4Chai/my/Shauly

I have made a small donation and downloaded the pattern, but have not printed it out or made it up yet. On the HotPatterns Facebook group, a few people asked questions about their printouts. Specifically, they asked how much to overlap the pages, since the pattern lacked a lined border to show the overlap. Trudy explained that the pages are NOT meant to overlap at all; just butt the pages up next to each other when taping them together. You'll get some blank spots where the printer cuts off before the edge of the paper, but you should hopefully be able to mentally "fill in the blank" of where the lines would be. (Note that until recently, SBCC pattern downloads did this same thing.)

Happy sewing!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Goodbye, Dante.

I didn't have it in me to write my weekly pattern round-up post this week. On Thursday, we had to say goodbye to my very beloved 17-year-old cat who I've had for my entire post-college life.

My sewing assistant
Dante and I had been together for all but the first few weeks of his life. I adopted him as an unweaned kitten and helped foster/bottle-raise him. He was with me through my stupid and irresponsible 20's, my figuring-things-out 30's, where I met my husband and had my daughter, and for the first few months of my 40's.

Dante, taking a nap on our old stained carpeting
A true native San Diegan, some of Dante's favorite things included:
  • In-n-Out french fries
  • Carne asada
  • Hoppy beers (I'm not making this up--if you left a pale ale or IPA attended, he'd try to steel a few licks)
  • Pasta with meat sauce (okay, not so much a San Diego thing, but I always found his love of meat sauce odd)
Dante enjoying a few licks of a Stone Pale Ale
This wasn't sudden or out of the blue. We'd been treating him for hyperthyroidism and kidney disease for the past six months, and his kidney function had taken a turn for the worse back in late November. (We'd been giving him subcutaneous fluids to supplement his failing kidneys since then.) On Monday night, he suddenly lost interest in food and treats. On Wednesday, we took him to the vet to see if there was anything more that we could do for him, and she let us know that his time was nearing an end, and gave us some medication to make him more comfortable while we tried to come to grips with saying goodbye, but on Thursday morning, he let us know that it was time for us to let him go. 

You know that you have a special cat when the staff at your vet's office comes in to say their final goodbyes while your vet is performing her final act of kindness towards him. Our house feels emptier without him, and I don't feel like our family will ever be quite the same. He will be missed.

Rest in peace, Dante (1997-2015).

Monday, February 9, 2015

In Progress: HotPatterns 1112 - Classix Nouveau Dolce Vita Slim-cut pants (muslin)

Normally, after sewing a long and involved project like my Leanne Marshall coat, I'd sew a couple of quick-and-easy instant gratification projects before diving into anything involved again. I did promise my husband and follow through on sewing him another merino wool knit t-shirt (using HotPatterns mens' t-shirt pattern), but instead of quickly whipping up a few more knit tops for myself or a Moneta or something like that, I decided to dive head-first into fitting and making pants for myself. I had two reasons for this:
  • Over at the Curvy Sewing Collective (CSC), they're doing a series of posts on separates, with a focus on pants this month, and I wanted to join in.
  • Pants have become the limiting reagent of my laundry cycle. I wear the same three pairs of jeans all the time, a pair of lounge pants on the weekend, and usually a knit dress per wash cycle, and I felt like I was doing laundry far too often. I knew that I needed some everyday pants that I could wear both to my casual office and on weekends.
Enter my pant pattern of choice:

HotPatterns 1112 - Classix Nouveau Dolce Vita Slim-cut pants

HP Dolce Vita pant

I think I've had this pattern in my stash for about four years, but it's never been far from the top of my sewing queue. To be honest, I'd been intimidated by fitting these, especially in the past few years with all of my pregnancy and post-baby-related body changes to my lower half. Proportionately, I carry a lot more weight in my butt now than I used to, and I've been procrastinating dealing with that from a pant fitting perspective.

I chose this pant pattern because I felt that the leg profile was fairly current without being a "skinny pant". Outside of the usual plus size/curvy fitting issues, I also have very large/athletic calves, which adds another fitting hurdle to skinny pants or jeans. I also liked that this pattern had usable pockets, a traditional fly front, and if I felt up to it, an option for welt pockets in back.  

Over the past few days, I've sewn up a muslin of a size 22 (based on my hip measurement) straight out of the envelope. This is a true, non-wearable muslin--I wanted to have the freedom of being able to mark up this garment without worrying about trying to preserve it for future wear. The fit isn't perfect by any means, but I don't think it's bad for a first muslin.

Are you ready to look at some unflattering pictures of my crotch and butt, as I document my fitting process with these pants?

Dolce Vita muslin - front
First up, the fronts. Obviously, the length is a tad too long, which I know is throwing some other things off. For the most part, the front looks pretty good, I think. There's a little bit of pulling at the tummy, indicating that I need a little more room there.

Dolce Vita muslin - side view

The side seam straining shows (as I suspected might be the case) that I need more room at the high hip, particularly in back. You can see that seam being pulled a bit backwards as it's both straining to handle my butt and tummy. Also, you can see a bit of pocket gape on the slash pockets. These pants do have a tummy stay, and the pocket gape isn't nearly as bad as RTW pants I've tried on with slash pockets. I suspect that when I add some ease through the tummy and rear high hip, the pulling/gaping will decrease.

And finally, here's the rear view:
Dolce Vita muslin - rear
If it wasn't clear before that I needed more room through the rear high hip, it should be now. I also need more length at the CB seam--these sit a bit low on me just standing and give me a full-on case of plumber's butt when I sit in these pants.

So, with what I've learned from this muslin, I'm going to make a few alterations and then tackle a wearable muslin:
  • Add 1.5" to the CB seam length.
  • Add 1.5" to the high hip (split between front and back)
  • Grade the legs down a size, starting at the ankle up to the upper thigh.
I think that these changes will get me into the ballpark of a good fit, although I might need further tweaks. I'll be making my next version out of a soft cotton twill that I got from FabricMart. It's a deep blue/purple-ish color that I love, but at only $3.50/yard, I can afford to sacrifice it if something in my next version goes horribly awry.

Friday, February 6, 2015

This Week in Patterns (6-Feb-2015)

Happy Friday!  This week was a busy one for pattern releases, and maybe it's just my mood, but sadly, I wasn't super excited by any of them. In any case, there are lots of pictures and patterns to dissect in this week's post.

StyleArc - February release

StyleArc's February release was a bit more interesting than their January release, although I don't feel particularly tempted to place an order for this month's patterns/freebie, either.

Marley Woven Shirt

So, first up is a darted, easy-fitting blouse with side and sleeve vents. It's a nice enough basic, but nothing to motivate me to place an order.

StyleArc - Marley Woven Shirt

Erin Woven Culottes

Because every pattern company seems determined to release a pleated culotte pattern this spring, here's StyleArc's take on the style. I think that these could be interesting, in theory, but I don't see all of those pleats opening up over my (full) tummy possibly being a flattering look on myself.

StyleArc - Erin Woven Culottes

Saskia Woven Bustier

If I wasn't so ridiculously busty, I'd totally be digging the Saskia bustier. I really like the line drawing for this, and if there was any human way that I could go braless without putting someone's eye out, I'd be looking to give this pattern a try.

StyleArc - Saskia Woven Bustier

Dixie Woven Top (freebie)

The freebie this month is the Dixie woven top. This is probably my favorite/most realistically sewn pattern for myself this month, although I'm not sure how that seam placement would look on someone with a very full bust. This one reminds me a little of my Olive Spliced tee, which I love and was designed for knits. I like the keyhole neckline on this one, too.
StyleArc - Dixie Woven top

Colette Patterns - Seamwork Issue 3

So, with the third issue of Seamwork, Colette patterns jumped on the lingerie/bra-sewing bandwagon that's been going strong in the online sewing community for the past few months. The patterns included in this month's issue are a bralette pattern and a panty pattern.

I'm going to link to these patterns, not because the images are particularly NSFW, but I suspect that some of you work in an open-plan office (like I do) and would probably prefer not to have modeled lingerie pictures show up on your monitor, especially if you work with a bunch of men (like I do). So here are the pattern links:
My G-cups laugh hysterically at the idea of a lounge bra, so I'm clearly not the target demographic for this pattern, even if it is available up to a 3X. The panty is cute, but I prefer a higher rise on my panties, otherwise my tummy flab tends to cause the waistband to fall down, and I spend all day hiking them back up. They're nice ideas, though, I guess for those who can pull off and/or be comfortable in these styles.

Butterick - Early Spring Release 2015

The elephant in the room this week is the spring Butterick release. To be blunt, I hated it. As wonderful as I thought the most recent McCall's release was, I thought that the Butterick release was awful. Let's look at some fug.

Butterick 6168 - Lisette

I think that the most notable thing about this release is that Liesl (from Oliver + S and Liesl + co) has apparently moved her Lisette line of women's patterns from Simplicity to Butterick. I have to admit, though, that I preferred her designs for Simplicity, as this batch seems a bit uninspired. The best of this lot, to me, is this dress, although I feel like there's something "off" about how it looks on the model.

B6168


B6169 is another new Lisette. The moto jacket is okay, but it's nothing that we haven't already seen dozens of times from other pattern lines over the past few years. The dress is a shapeless sack with a hi-lo hem and an optional tie belt. This one is featured in that video that McCall's put out a few days ago, and it didn't do anything for me seeing it on a "live" person, either. Pass.

B6169


I'm only calling these two out because they both feature external darts. Weren't external darts in style just a few years ago? Are we really at a point where we're cycling fashion trends every five years? How can we miss you if you won't go away?


B6164

B6184

B6170

B6170 is the type of shapeless sack that Burda editors think that plus sized women should dress in:

B6170

B6171



B6171 is another entry in the shapeless sack category. Maybe some of the Burda Plus designers decided to follow the trend of leaving Simplicity as a distributor and moving over to BMV?


B6171

 B6178

Speaking of trends that were around just 10 years ago...  Because Spring 2015 is the Spring of the Pleated Culotte, here's the Butterick version of this trend. View C looks awfully similar to the Erin Culottes that Style Arc just released.



B6178
B6185

I thought that the best pattern out of this whole batch was B6185, a wardrobe pattern featuring a v-neck jacket and a top and dress with Chelsea collars (the collars conveniently fit over the neckline of the jacket). I would maybe pick up this pattern on sale.


B6185
B6167 - Patterns by Gertie

We'll cap off this less-than-inspiring collection with what's probably my pick for "worst" out of the batch--the new pattern by Gertie. This is another pattern that features a shelf bra with some sort of ruching or pleating and cuts the model right across the bustline. I just don't know who this would be flattering on--it makes the slim model look completely flat-chested, and I suspect that it would look ridiculous on anyone with a large bust.

B6167
I'm sure who the target audience is for these Buttericks, but it definitely isn't me.

Closet Case Files - Carolyn Pajamas

Whether you like or or not, based on her blog, etc., I have to really hand it to Heather from the Closet Case Files for carving out a really nice little pattern niche of Patterns That Aren't Available Elsewhere. After the semi-unique Bombshell swimsuit, she's released three patterns in a row that don't really have equivalents in current pattern catlogues--the Nettie bodysuit, the Ginger jeans, and now the new Carolyn Pajamas.

Carolyn Pajamas

Closet Case Files - Carolyn Pajamas
In my previous life as a non-sewing, single, professional woman with a little bit of disposable income, I once splurged on a set of BedHead Pajamas as post-breakup retail therapy. Yeah, I paid that much for a set of pajamas. As embarrassed as I was to shell out that kind of cash for pajamas, I LOVED those pajamas. The Carolyn PJs appear to have similar detailing--cuffs, piping, and a feminine, non-oversized silhouette, PLUS they have pockets (both a shirt pocket and slant pockets on the pants, and both summer (shorts and short sleeves) and winter (long pants and long sleeves) options.

Closet Case Files - Carolyn line drawings
I've seen Heather come off as a bit...emotional on blogs, but I admit that much like the Ginger jeans (once I saw them made and modeled on a few curvy figures), I like these quite a bit. I'm pretty sure that in the modeled pics, she's hiding some pocket gape of those slant pockets with the styling/hand positions, though.  This one isn't a must-buy for me right now, but I'll be keeping my eyes open for both finished versions by other sewists and possible (cheaper) Big 4 alternatives that I've overlooked with similar details.

Final Thoughts

I can't say that any of these are a "must buy" for me, and some of them are downright awful, I think. I've liked some of Gertie's designs from her books, but she appears to be in a bit of a shelf-bra rut with her Butterick designs. I can't say that I'm really tempted to buy any of the new Buttericks.

I'm not particularly tempted on the StyleArcs, either. Maybe I'll feel differently when I start to see them made up.

The CCF pajamas are a "maybe"--I'm not inclined normally to shell out indie dollars for a pajama pattern; however, the Big 4 pajama patterns that I've made up have all run pretty big and been pretty baggy. I'll wait and see on this one.

Am I missing something with any of these? Also, do any of you plan to hop on board the pleated culotte trend? My feeling is that if I'm going to do it, I'm going to go all out and make that culotte-jumpsuit that Vogue just released. Personally, though, I just don't think that the pleated culotte trend is one that will be flattering on short, stumpy me-with-a-tummy, but I'd love to be proven wrong!


Friday, January 30, 2015

This Week in Patterns (30-Jan-2015)

We only had two new patterns released this week, but IMO, they were pretty good ones. Both are long-sleeved knit tops--the type of tops that are staples in my fall and winter wardrobes.

Paprika Patterns - Jasper sweater and dress

*Drumroll* Okay, so this is the pattern that I tested that I've been hinting about for the past two months. If you're a regular reader of my blog, I'm sure that you'll be shocked to hear that I jumped at the chance to test an upscale hoodie pattern with pockets back when Lisa put out a call for testers a few months ago.

Paprika Patterns Jasper Sweater and Dress

There's a hoodie option, a tabbed collar option, and you can mix and match the sweater or dress lengths with either collar option.

Paprika Patterns Jasper Sweater and Dress
For my test version, I made up the hooded sweater (surprise, surprise). The test version did have a few fit issues, but nothing so severe that it's kept me from wearing my sweater/sweatshirt as a wearable muslin. It's amazingly comfortable and cozy. What's very encouraging to me, is that in her email to her testers, Lisa has said that she fixed every single issue that I can recall running into, and improving a few things that I hadn't necessarily thought of as "issues" but that should make for a better, more wearable garment. I did receive a free copy of the final pattern, and I'll be making that version up going forward. (I'd dive right into it now, but I really need pants, so the Jasper will have to wait a project or two.) When I make up the final version, I'll blog a side-by-side comparison between that version and the test version, which should be interesting for anyone who wants to see how patterns are tweaked/refined between versions. I'm also planning to make up at least one of each of the sweater views, and possibly one of the dress views.

StyleArc - Elita Designer top

StyleArc did something new this month--they released a single pattern that wasn't tied to a 1st-of-the-month or mid-month release, AND they released it both as a printed pattern and a PDF at the same time. On top of that, they're running a 20% off PDF pattern discount through the end of the month, so the price of the new pattern is just over $8 (USD) if you purchase the PDF version with the discount code. So what's the new pattern?

Elita designer top

StyleArc - Elita designer top

I like this top a lot better than anything StyleArc had in their main release for January. I think that the neckline is a fun detail, and with the ties, the crossover front can be kept from opening up over a large bust. Anne (Clothing Engineer) already made this up in a silk jersey, and it looks very cute on her pear-shaped figure. She expressed some concerns about it possibly not being flattering on a larger bust, but in seeing where the drape falls, I'm not super-concerned myself. My bust is low, and I think that the drape will serve to draw the eye up, but I guess we'll see, won't we? For $8, I figured that this was a pretty low-risk indie purchase to create a top that I could see myself wearing a lot if I like it.

Final Thoughts

So, not many patterns released this week, but I own both of them--having received the Jasper as a freebie/thank you for testing, and having purchased the StyleArc with the 20% off promo. Did either of these grab you?

We're still waiting on the first spring release from Butterick, which I'd think we'll be seeing soon.