Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Top 9 Sewing Happenings and Trends in 2014

As you probably know, December means "recap" time in the blogging world. I'll be doing a single Top Hits and Misses post at some point this month, rating my most-worn garments of the past year and biggest flops. I'm also planning to do an assessment on how I did on last year's goals and set some new goals for myself for 2015. I do know that the barrage of recap stuff bores some readers to tears, but remember, part of the reason why I (and many others) blog is to keep sort of a journal of our own projects, and I think that stepping back and reflecting a bit is an important part of that.
All of this year-end wrap-up stuff also gives me something to write about while project-wise, I'm still in coat purgatory. I'm going through the tedious process of underlining my lining pieces with my interlining right now, which doesn't really give me anything to show you.

To kick things off, I'm posting my Top 9 observations as to what big events and trends impacted the online sewing community and our sewing, in general, the most this year. Why 9? Because I couldn't think of a 10th one that didn't feel like filler.

  9. BMV embraces social media

Vogue-McCall's-Butterick finally hired someone (former blogger LindsayT, also known as "Meg") to blog and handle social media full-time as a way to interact with their customer base. I think that this was a great call; I've particularly loved Meg's posts showing the "guts" of some of the designer garments in the BMV offices. Now, we'll see if the comments that we repeatedly see with regards to the Big 4 manifest themselves in any way over the coming months (more cup size patterns, please!), but it's nice to feel like we have a direct, accessible contact to BMV. I don't know if the recent, awesome McCall's release is a possible reflection of feedback, but it's nice to imagine that it might possibly be the case.

8. Interesting shorts patterns

I know that last summer seems like a lifetime ago to some of us, but this past summer saw quite an interesting array of shorts patterns released. If you wear shorts at all, there probably was a length and a style that suited you, from the wrap-over shorts patterns released by BurdaStyle and Simplicity to the City Short pattern released by StyleArc to the pleated tap shorts released by Katy and Laney:

BurdaStyle 06-2014 #124

StyleArc Jennifer City Short
Katy and Laney Tap Shorts

7. Everyone is sewing bras (but me)

Do you read your blogs via a blog reader (such as Bloglovin' or Feedly), like I do? If so, in the past month or so, on any given day you probably have at least one or two posts from sewing bloggers showing off their new bras and other lingerie. It seems like there's been a decent number of new bra patterns released lately, and these are the new bright and shiney objects in the blogosphere. Of course, much like in RTW, if you wear a larger bra size, you're mostly out of luck with these new patterns.


Cloth Habit - Watson Bra and Bikini
On a personal note, I'd love not to have to pay $60+ for a single bra (you can't just walk into Kohl's and buy a bra off the rack at my size), so I'm intrigued by the idea of making my own. However, I can't say that the handful of existing patterns that reach my bra size (currently 42G) provide much inspiration. And then I'm sure that fitting will still require many muslins and be a nightmare, when I'd rather be sewing something more "fun", so there's that, too. In another lifetime and about 50 lbs ago, I did do a bra-making workshop with Anne St. Clair and came out with some wearable bras, but my skills weren't really up to the task at that point, and by the time they were, I'd gained weight and sized out of the pattern that she'd altered for me.

6. Elsa dresses

If you have a little girl in your life, you probably sewed an Elsa dress for her this year. I know that I did. Maybe it's just an awareness issue, since I have a daughter who's at that age, but I can't remember the last time that a movie dress became as iconic as Elsa's blue "Snow Queen" dress so quickly. Kate Winslet's "jump dress" from Titanic? Maybe Keira Knightley's green dress from Atonement? In any case, McCall's and Simplicity both offered patterns for this dress for little girls, and by now, both have misses' versions of these dresses, too. (Note that the Simplicity versions are the officially licensed versions and, especially in the case of the misses' versions, are more accurate versions of what Anna and Elsa wore in the movie).

Simplicity's Frozen costumes for girls

5. Neoprene/scuba fabric

Remember how Ponte di Roma seemed like the fabric that was all the rage last year? This year, it seemed like everyone everywhere was sewing with a different type of double knit fabric--neoprene or "scuba" fabric as it's sometimes called. The name is a bit of a misnomer in that this isn't exactly the same neoprene used in wetsuits or in laptop sleeves. Instead, it's a beefy, drapey doubleknit that's often available in bright and crazy prints. Because of its body, it can really make the fullness of a full skirt stand out and camouflage lumps and bumps in closer-fitting garments.

Galaxy Eye neoprene from Gorgeous Fabrics
Admittedly, I've jumped on this bandwagon and have bought several cuts of this type of fabric, but I haven't actually sewn with it yet. I suspect that I'm not alone in that regard.

4. Galaxy Print Fabric

For a few months this past summer, it seemed like Galaxy print fabric was everywhere--knit dresses, leggings, and t-shirts, to name a few places. I'm not sure if it was the revival of the Cosmos series (with Neil deGrasse Tyson on PBS), or if people just thought that the prints looked cool, but these prints were all over the SBC for a while.

Galaxy print fabric by Timeless Treasures from fabric.com

3. Skater Dresses

 One of several fashion staples of the 90's returned in a big way this year--the skater dress, which is a (typically knit) dress with a fitted bodice, a waist seam, and some form of circle or gathered skirt. Between the super-popular Lady Skater and Colette Moneta patterns, we saw tons and tons of skater dresses this year in the online sewing community. Reflecting the previous trend, we also saw a lot of skater dresses made up in galaxy print fabric.

My first Moneta
As easy as it is to make fun of these dresses for their simplicity, they do have merits in that they're easy to sew, easy to fit, and can easily be dressed up or down depending on fabric and accessories. I've made two Monetas and both are in regular rotation in my wardrobe.

2. Expanded pattern size ranges

The indie pattern making world seems to finally be acknowledging that they might, in fact, have customers with busts larger than 40" and hips larger than 42". This past year saw numerous indie pattern companies expand their size range to the lower plus sizes, and a handful expanded their size ranges well into plus sizes. In most cases, the designers didn't "retrofit" old patterns with the new size ranges, but have been offering their newest patterns in the new ranges. Just off the top of my head, the following pattern companies expanded their size ranges to at least a 44" bust this past year:

1. Indie pattern explosion

This year, sometimes it felt like every time I sneezed, some new indie pattern designer was releasing her first pattern. The explosion of new indie pattern companies really became apparent to me when I started writing my weekly pattern recaps a few months back. Some weeks, it was difficult for me to keep up with all of the new releases. As with anything any time there's a "bubble", the new pattern companies seem to be a mixed bag; some are released by professional pattern makers who want their "own" thing, others are released by popular sewing bloggers who may or may not outsource the actual pattern making and grading to others. Some designers released their patterns quietly, while others released theirs accompanied by never-ending blog tours and other promotions.

On PatternReview alone, the following screen shot shows the number of companies selling digital patterns, which doesn't even include popular newcomers, like Muse. This is simply what could fit on my laptop screen without scrolling:

Some of the digital pattern companies available on PatternReview

Final Thoughts

So that wraps up this post. Did you partake in any of these trends? What made you smile or cringe among these? Also, was there anything that you observed as a "big deal" in the sewing world that I missed?

Friday, December 12, 2014

This week in patterns (12-Dec-2014)

So, last night, after I thought that this post was ready to go, McCall's sent out an email that their "Early Spring" collection had been released. I took a quick glance through it and did like a few of the patterns. Interestingly (to me at least) none of the standouts were dresses, which are usually the patterns that catch my eye. However, since my parents are in town visiting for an "early Christmas",  I won't get around to writing about those patterns until next week's post.

That said, we'll keep things short this week, with only two new patterns outside the new McCall's release.

Muse Patterns - Natalie dress and top

New pattern company Muse of the Jenna Cardigan and Gillian Wrap top and dress has released a new pattern--the Natalie dress and top:

Muse Natalie

As with Muse's other patterns, the Natalie includes several options for sleeve length and garment length (dress, top, or maxi-dress). The big design detail for the Natalie is a triangular inset piece with ruching on either side.  I liked the Gillian wrap dress and the Jenna cardigan, but I suspect that that triangle inset/ruching feature isn't going to be a friend to the uber-busty like myself. That said, usually when a design is a horrible idea on a figure like mine, it usually looks great on someone smaller busted or pear-shaped.

Now, Debbie at Stitches and Seams, tested this pattern and it looked good on her, so maybe I'm wrong about this not looking good on a full bust? On the other hand, there's a difference between having a full bust and being uber busty, and this pattern might look good on the former but not the latter.

Pauline Alice - Quart Coat

I don't know if you've noticed, but in these pattern company re-caps, I try to only include companies whose sizes go up to a 44" full bust. The reason for that is that's the size limit that I'm comfortable working from, from a pattern alterations perspective. (My high bust is currently somewhere between 42" and 43", depending on how snug the measuring tape is pulled.) With that in mind, technically, 42.5" is within an FBA-able range for me, although I'm likely to going to be adding ease/grading up in areas where I'd typically just grade up to the next size. That said, I've seen some really, really lovely projects made from Pauline Alice patterns, a Spanish indie pattern company. I think that, like a few other smaller size-skewing Euro indies, such as Deer & Doe and Named, they're worth including in these posts, if for no other reason than inspiration/pattern eye candy.

Take the new Quart Coat for example, a military-inspired double-breasted coat with a pleated skirt and zippered sleeves. Unfortunately, there don't appear to be any line drawings for this pattern, but here are a few photos showing the details:

Pauline Alice Quart Coat
Obviously, this style would look terrible on me with the wide double-breast overlap, but I still really like it for the unusual details. At 8 Euros for a PDF download (there's a more expensive print version available), this pattern is pretty affordable, as far as indie coat patterns go.

Final Thoughts

Neither of these two patterns is for me/my body type, but at least they're interesting patterns. I'm looking forward to taking a closer look at and writing about the new McCall's release as I recall there being a handful that I pegged as "wants" when I did a quick flip through them on my phone last night.


Monday, December 8, 2014

In Progress (part 2): Simplicity 1254 - Leanne Marshall coat

So, I finally have the muslin photos of my Leanne Marshall coat that I said I would take!

I took this set of photos on Sunday. Note that these were taken after I took the hips/bottom of the coat in by a few inches (just guessing at how much to take in).

Leanne Marshall coat muslin - front
In this shot, it does look like there's some pulling across the bust. I can assure you that there should be more than enough ease through there, so I'm thinking that it's just the way that I'm standing, possibly. To be safe, though, I'll add a tad more room through there on the final coat.

And here's the back:

Leanne Marshall coat muslin - back

Here, you can clearly see that I need to let the hips back out a touch, at least in back. I think I overshot how much to take them in by. I wasn't getting that pooling/swayback wrinkling before I took the hips in. Good thing that this is a muslin, right?

I took a couple of photos with the hood up, as well.


Coat muslin with hood - front

Coat muslin with hood - back

I'm planning to make the following changes to my paper pattern pieces before cutting my coat fabric and lining:
  • Full arm/bicep adjustment for the coat's upper arm.
  • Let the hips back out a bit, especially at the back/high hip.
  • Add a touch more ease through the bust. I'm still not convinced that this is needed though, based on how the coat looked before I set in the sleeves. I suspect that the pulling here is either caused by how I'm standing or the tightness of the sleeve.
Another thing to note is that I messed up inserting the second half of the zipper. The instructions tell you to place the zipper tape 1/2" away from the "edge". At that point, without having inserted a lining in my muslin, I wasn't sure if I was supposed to insert it 1/2" away from the folded edge of the front or from the fabric edge itself minus seam allowance (what would be the seamline between the self-facing and lining.) I guessed and went with the fabric edge itself.

You can see here what this produced in the next two (poorly lit) photos.

Here's the zipper all zipped up. Looks okay, doesn't it?

Coat muslin zipped up
But then here it is with the top flap pulled aside. You can see that my goof created a second "top" flap over the second/right side of the jacket/zipper.

Oops!
So, if you're making this coat and have gotten confused on this step, the "edge" refers to the folded edge, which I assume will be more apparent once you've got your lining in.

Next up, another round of pattern alterations, and then I'll cut and construct my lining/interlining.


Friday, December 5, 2014

This week in patterns (5-Dec-2014)

Wow, so we had a TON of new releases this past week, many of which look like they have a lot of potential for being fun, wearable garments.

StyleArc - December Release

As you all know by now, a new month means a new release from StyleArc! One thing to note about this month is that StyleArc's member discount has been increased from the usual 10% to 30% for the month. If you've been thinking about buying a membership (price includes the discount, one free pattern of your choice, and a length of StyleArc's stretch bengaline), December would be a good month to sign up.

Cindy Jean Jacket

Okay, so I love this. I'm not sure about the "optional neck ruffle", but I love everything else about it, and the ruffle is easily enough left off. My StyleArc Stacy jean jacket that I made two years ago is still in regular rotation in my closet in non-freezing weather, and I still love it. I'm totally on-board with making another, more femininely-shaped StyleArc jean jacket.

StyleArc Cindy Jean Jacket
Roxy Shirt

Next up is the Roxy shirt, an overshirt with a cross-over detail over the bum. This is okay. I don't really wear shirts tucked in, and while I think that the back detail is interesting, the first thought that sprang to mind was "butt curtains".

StyleArc Roxy Shirt

Misty Stretch Pull-on Jean

I should hate these, shouldn't I? I should be making jokes about "pajama jeans" and "giving up" and stuff with regards to these, right? I don't. I'm intrigued. They're somewhere between a jegging and a jean, and in theory, no one would know about the elastic waistband except for me, right? And with the 30% discount, they're $7.50 USD, which isn't really more than a Burda envelope pattern or an on-sale Kwik Sew.
 

StyleArc Misty Pull-on Jean
Tammy Knit Dress Combo

Of course, in a month where there's a 30% discount and two new release patterns that I really like, of course, the freebie pattern-of-the-month is something that I'm totally "meh" about.

The Tammy Knit Dress Combo is a 4-in-1 pattern with options for a short-sleeved top, sleeveless top, short-sleeved dress, and sleeveless dress, all with an optional overlay piece.

With my huge bust and short waist, I suspect that overlay would look hideous on me and just make me look like on giant block of boob. Without the overlay, though, there are worse things than a free t-shirt pattern from a company whose drafting you like.
StyleArc Tammy Knit Dress Combo

Jennifer Lauren Vintage - Enid Sweater

Jennifer Lauren of Jennifer Lauren Vintage, which brought you that Bronte sweater that was ubiquitous in the SBC for a while has released a new pattern. The Enid Sweater is a retro-inspired cropped sweater designed for sweatshirt knits and ribbing:

Jennifer Lauren Vintage - Enid Sweater
Honestly, this one reminds me an awful lot of the recently released Bonnie pattern by BlueGingerDoll, although the two patterns sport different necklines, and the Bonnie is drafted for a D-cup bust. Neither pattern is really my style, but these cropped sweaters do really seem to be on-trend right now. The Enid also differentiates itself be being designed to be cut on the bias, which seems a little odd to me for a sweatshirt with a band at the bottom that doesn't really seem to use drape much. I guess it's for the stretch factor?

Colette Patterns - Seamwork magazine (December 2014)

Colette Patterns launched its new electronic magazine earlier this week. The magazine content itself is free and available to read on the Seamwork website:

https://www.seamworkmag.com/

If you subscribe for $6/issue, you'll have access to three PDF download patterns, all of which Colette say can be made in 2 hours or less. For this first issue, the patterns are an open cardigan, a tote bag, and a clutch.

Colette Seamwork Cardigan

Colette Seamwork Tote
Colette Seamwork Clutch
So far, I've read two of the articles from the issue--the one on draping and the one on Pendleton wool --and they had pretty pictures and were interesting. The patterns don't really tempt me. The cardigan is nice, but I know that I have similar patterns in my stash. I do like, however, that clothing patterns from this magazine will include Colette's expanded size range (up to a size 3X).

BurdaStyle Plus - December 2014

The fabric choices and styling in this collection are really horrific, which unfortunately, doesn't seem to be unusual for Burda, especially with their Plus collections. Going off the line drawings, however, there definitely are some interesting and wearable offerings here.

Satin Jacket 12/2014 #137A

You know how we've seen a trend in recent years of jackets being made out of ponte knits and such? This jacket is sort of the opposite of that--a cardigan style made out of a drapey woven. I'd never wear this in satin, as pictured, but I really like the idea of this jacket--easy to sew and can be worn like a cardigan, but made out of a woven.

BurdaStyle Plus 12/2014 #137A
Contrast Panel Blouse 12/2014 #142

If you've liked the interesting seamwork in patterns like the Stepalica Nougat dress or Deer and Doe Centauree Dress, but like me, are beyond the size range of their patterns and have no desire to grade up that many pieces, the contrast panel blouse might be an option.

BurdaStyle Plus 12/2014 #142
Granted, there's another view of this as a two-piece dress where the model looks about 6 months pregnant with the shape of the waist seam/peplum, so that might be something to watch here. I'm still intrigued by this one, though.

Contrast Pencil Skirt 12/2014 #138B

Yeah, so let's take the second most prominent part of my anatomy (after my giant boobs) and put a giant satin panel across it. Yeah, no.

BurdaStyle Plus 12/2014 #138B
In a different fabric choice, though, this one might be okay and offer decent fitting opportunities for those of us with particularly large or small backsides.

Kimono Sleeve Dress 12/2014 #140

While we don't get a seamed sheath dress in this Burda collection, we do get the other staple of Burda collections: a kimono-sleeved empire waist tunic/dress. Here's the dress view, which we've seen variations on in other Burda Plus collections many, many times before:

BurdaStyle Plus 12/2014 #140
Ruffle Hem Tunic 12/2014 #141

Meh. That's all I have to say here.

BurdaStyle Plus 12/2014 #141

HotPatterns - Althleisure (mini) collection

Today (Friday), HotPatterns released two new patterns from a new collection of loungewear that they're starting and calling it the "Athleisure" collection. (If you haven't noticed, HotPatterns has a number of "collections", which group patterns with similar aesthetics and styles.) The first two patterns from this collection are a pair of seamed lounge pants and a new hoodie pattern.

HotPatterns 1180 - Athleisure Sunday Morning Sweatpants

The Sunday Morning Sweatpants are a slim-fitting pair of loungepants with a forward side seam, pieced legs, and front patch pockets. I'll admit that when I first saw these, I asked myself, "Do those have a dropped crotch? After Burda tried to (unsuccessfully) force that on us for how many of the past years?" No, it's not a dropped crotch--it's just an optical illusion of the line drawing caused by the piecing of the inner leg. With that in mind, I like these a lot for a running-around-town on the weekend pant.

I think that you could have a lot of fun with contrast topstitching and/or doing a coverstitch finish on these. Trudy also is going to be hosting a sewalong for these starting January 8th.
HP Sunday Morning Sweatpants
HotPatterns 1179 - Athleisure Big & Beautiful Oversized Hoodies

As you know if you following this blog, I will buy and make just about any pattern with a hood and pockets. This pattern will be no exception. I can't decide which view I like better--the longer one (with pockets) or the shorter one with the gathered "skirt" (but no pockets *sad face*).

HotPatterns Oversized Hoodie

I will point out, as someone who has made a lot of HotPatterns over the years, that when Trudy describes something as "oversized", she means it. I'll check by flat-measuring the pattern, but I expect to go down at least a size, probably two, from the size chart, as a starting point. You'll also want to stick with really drapey fabrics on this one to get the look of the pattern envelope.

Simplicity 1254 - Leanne Marshall Coat Update

In unrelated news, I finished my muslin of the Leanne Marshall coat. As expected from my preliminary fitting, I need a tad more room in the upper arm, and I want to take the hips in a bit on my muslin and see how that looks. Outside of that, I think it looks pretty good. I muslined the collar/hood, and I think that's going to look pretty good on the final coat. I'll get some muslin pictures this weekend when I actually have access to daylight, if you're curious.

I'm not going to make a second muslin for those relatively minor tweaks, so *deep breath*, this weekend I'm going to pre-treat my fabric (didn't want to jinx the coat by doing that before I muslined) and get started on it! For those who plan to make this coat but haven't started yet, I recommend going with your expected adjustments for Big 4 patterns, and when you make your muslin, you'll probably be in the ballpark of where you want to be fit-wise. The one exception would be that if you typically grade up one or more sizes in the hips, you will likely either be able to skip that with this coat or grade up fewer sizes.

One thing that amused me, now that I've read all the way through the instructions, is that whoever wrote the instructions for this coat clearly hates hand-stitching as much as I do. The entire lining is bagged except for a small section of the neckline that you slipstitch up at the end. The zipper instructions are a bit odd, so I'll take photos and try to help with that as I sew up my actual coat.

Final Thoughts

I really like the new StyleArc jean jacket, possibly the pull-on jeans (I know, I know) and the new HotPatterns lounge pants and hoodie. I also like that cardigan-style jacket from the Burda Plus release. Now that I read back over the first sentence here, all I can think are, "Wow, those are some turkey eatin' clothes!" Of course, we'll have another round of turkey eating at my house in a few weeks, and I feel like you can never have too many comfortable clothing options.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

In Progress (part 1): Simplicity 1254 - Leanne Marshall coat

As I know I mentioned in a previous post, I put aside my other two in-progress projects to jump on the Simplicity Leanne Marshall coat bandwagon. My muslin is well underway, and while I wouldn't normally post a progress post this early in a project, I know that a lot of others are working on this coat right now, and I wanted to share how the fit was going in my muslin, in case it helps anyone else out.

The Fabric

First up, though, here's the fabric and lining that I'm using for my coat. Apologies for the somewhat dark-ish photo, but as blog followers, you've probably picked up on the fact that A) I'm a crappy photographer who just uses an iPhone camera and B) the lighting in my sewing room (outside of the Ott lamp at my sewing desk) is crap.

Fabric for my Leanne Marshall coat...squeee!
The color is hard to see here, but the fabric on the left is a gorgeous wool flannel in a peacock/turquoise-ish blue that I bought from (the now closed) Fashionista Fabrics a few years ago. Melody told me that there's some cashmere blended in there, and I believe it. This fabric is SUPER soft. I've been waiting for the perfect pattern for this coating (and in reality, probably, to finally live in a climate where I wear coats), and I'm both super nervous and super excited to finally have a wearable garment from this.

The fabric on the right, of course, is my lining fabric. It's a poly charmeuse that I purchased during a recent sale at Gorgeous Fabrics. It looks like there's still 3 yards left, if you're interested.

I also purchased interlining (not shown) from Gorgeous Fabrics. It's supposed to be similar to thinsulate, but can be washed, dry-cleaned, etc. I will be underlining the lining with this fabric.

Why is this coat labeled "easy"?

I've seen some comments online wondering why Simplicity chose to mark this coat as "easy", especially since the zipper instructions are not supposed to be good. I've only worked through one side of the zipper so far in my muslin (they split up the process of doing each half), and while they don't produce the most professional-looking zipper as written (there's no facing/shield, as drafted), I didn't find the first half particularly confusing. In any case, I can see why this coat is labeled "easy", compared to other coat patterns:
  • There aren't a lot of pattern pieces. It's basically the equivalent of sewing a lined, princess seamed dress.
  • Inserting that zipper, even with possibly confusing instructions, is going to be way easier than either trying to do machine buttonholes on wool coating or attempting bound buttonholes.
  • The hood/collar is pretty straightforward and is easier to attach than, say, doing a notched lapel collar, like on other coat styles.
Once I get the whole zipper inserted, I'm going to try to figure out how to add a facing and shield so that the zipper tape is nicely sandwiched in my wool in my final coat. Cathy on Pattern Review made this change, and I'll likely do the same for my coat. I think it looks nicer.

Preliminary Fitting Notes

I decided to muslin the whole coat. I've gotten burned in the past by not muslining sleeves, so I will be muslining both of those, too. I've found that you can't truly get a read on your arm mobility until you've got both sleeves in. I'm also going to muslin a single layer version of the hood/collar, just in case it looks horrible on me, in which case I'll scrap this coat and move onto a different pattern. So far, I have the muslin shell sewn up, and the sleeves sewn but not inserted.

Here are my fitting notes, based on my partial muslin:
  • I used my own "standard" Big 4 adjustments as a starting point (FBA, broad back, petiting everything by 2 1/2", "just in case" 1" seam allowances on the sleeves).
  • I have one half of the zipper inserted, as I've been following the instructions as written. Right now, my fitting observations are based on pinning the coat closed at the CF, but I don't expect them to change much.
  • The bodice fits, as expected through the shoulders, bust, waist, and butt. My high bust measurement (43") puts me between a Big 4 20 and 22, so given that this was a coat, I went with the larger size as my base size (22).
  • As the first few reviews/posts for this pattern have indicated, there's more room through the hips on this coat than the line drawings/pattern photos indicate. On my muslin, it has almost a fit-and-flare shape. I think kinda like it like this, but I think I'm going to take the hips in a bit on my muslin because although I like the look, it's not what I was going for with this pattern. I'm not sure if I'll be taking in just the front princess seams through the hips, or the side ones, too. I do need the extra room going over my big butt in back, though. The hem is actually hanging completely level, and I don't want to mess with that.
  • Pattern length for the coat body runs as expected. My 2.5" petite adjustment will put the coat hem at a similar place on me as it is on the pattern photo for the coat view. Right now, it's just above the knees, but I suspect that with a 1.5" hem, as called for, it'll wind up pretty close to lower-mid thigh, like on the model.
  • The sleeve, on the other hand, looks like it's going to run short and snug. Just from eyeballing it, I decided to only shorten it 2", instead of 2.5", and after sliding the muslin sleeve onto my arm, I suspect that I'll be adding most, if not all, of that length back on. My "just in case" extra large seam allowances aren't going to cut it here, either, if I wear this over anything long sleeved or with any bulk. I'll be doing a slash-and-spread full bicep adjustment before I cut my fabric. Unless you have slender arms, I highly recommend muslining the sleeve for this pattern.
If you're working on this coat, I hope that you find my observations useful in figuring out what adjustments you may or may not need. I hope to get my muslin finished/tweaked over the next few days, and will get photos over the weekend (the only time that I'm home when there's actually light outside for photos), so that you can start to get an idea of how this coat looks on a plus sized body.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

This week in patterns (28-Nov-2014) (Okay, 29-Nov....)


Happy belated Thanksgiving, everyone! As you might have guessed, this post is a bit late this week because I've been spending my long weekend hanging out with my daughter and husband. We woke up to snow this morning, which made for a very happy toddler and a very happy dog.

Onto this week's patterns...

Tenterhook Patterns - Jacaranda dress

A few months ago, I was super excited to see that a new indie designer named was focusing on plus sized sewing patterns with a motto of "Plus sized sewing patterns, without the rules". You might recall my excited post about the subject. Her first pattern offering was a pencil skirt with several fun different view options. Today, Amanda released her second pattern, the Jacaranda dress, which features a sweetheart neckline, princess seams, and an option for a seamed pencil skirt with slash pockets or a half circle skirt. The dress is fully lined:

Tenterhook Jacaranda dress
If I am going to be completely honest, I'll have to admit that I'm a bit disappointed. The pattern is drafted for a C/D cup. Upon Amanda's announcement of her company's launch, my initial thought was "Yay, someone is finally looking out for us larger women!" I'd assumed that meant that she'd be drafting for a larger cup size, since many, many of us plus sized sewists have large to very large busts. Granted, a C/D cup is better than the standard B cup size used by the Big 4 and some indies, but it still means a sizable FBA for many of us. I guess I can't understand why you'd draft/design something knowing that nearly all of your customers will need an FBA. I don't expect anyone to draft anything to my G-cup sizes (unless I win the lottery, go back to school, and launch my own large-bust focused company), but can you throw us a bone and target a DD or E cup?

I'm definitely not trying to badmouth a new (plus sized) designer, but I'd really hoped that this line was going to realistically address the fitting issues of plus sized women. Unfortunately, that doesn't appear to be the case (yet).

It's a cute enough dress. I don't have the Joan Holloway confidence or lifestyle to rock the pencil skirt version, although that's the more original view. The half-circle skirt is more my style, but with a C/D cup draft, it's nothing that I can't get from a Big 4 pattern + FBA.

Blank Slate Patterns - Winter Collection 2014

I've made no secret of the fact that Blank Slate is one of my favorite indie designers for kids' patterns. I've consistently found Melissa's patterns to be cute, practical, well-drafted/consistently sized, and to have good instructions. Over the past year, she's expanded beyond kids' patterns to release several designs for adult women, and on Black Friday this year, she released three more women's patterns.

If you're looking to check out Blank Slate, she's offering 30-50% discounts on all patterns through December 1st:
  • 1-3 Patterns: 30% off with code BLACK30
  • 4 Patterns: 40% off with code BLACK40
  • 5 Patterns: 50% off with code BLACK50
Wintersong Dress

The Wintersong Dress is a simple raglan-sleeved dress for knits or stretch wovens. There's no line drawing for this one, but it looks like it might have gathers at the neckline. This dress has an option for a lace overlay.
Blank Slate Wintersong Dress
This one doesn't really grab me, and I already own New Look 6298, which is a raglan-sleeved sweatshirt dress.

Zinnia Jacket

Remember the super-cute Zippy Jacket that I made for Eva (and loved) a little while back? The Zinnia is the grown-up version of this jacket. I'm buying this one. I love Eva's jacket and while I don't want to be "twinsies" with my 2-year-old daughter, I'd be lying if I hadn't said that I coveted a version of this with its circle pockets for myself.

Blank Slate Zinnia Jacket
Tulip Top

We've been seeing crossover tulip-style things showing up everywhere for the past few months (most commonly in sleeves, but sometimes in other places), and here's Melissa's take on a sweatshirt with a tulip crossover front:

Blank Slate Tulip Top
I love fun twists on sweatshirts, and I think that this version is really cute. It also nods to the crop top trend slightly, but without showing any actual skin. On the other hand, something is a little off with the second sample top in the listing:
2nd Tulip Top sample (sweater knit?)
I can't decide if this is a fabric issue, if it just needs a good pressing, or if the hem binding got stretched out. If you roll over the graphics on the actual website, it says that this version is a sweater knit and the first version is a sweatshirt, so maybe this pattern is best for fabrics with more body like sweatshirting or ponte knits.

Final Thoughts

Since this was a short week/long weekend, in the US, I wasn't expecting to write about many new patterns this week. I'm kind of surprised that we have four new ones. Of the four, I want that Zinnia jacket after loving how the child version that I made turned out so much. I just received a bunch lightweight of polartec fleece that I got for $5.99/yard from FabricMart, and I think that would be a perfect match for that pattern. I think that the Tulip top is cute/unique, but I'm iffy on that lighterweight version. In theory, I like the idea behind the Jacaranda dress, but with a C-cup draft, I know that I can get closer to the draft that I need for my figure using one of the A/B, C, D cup size patterns from the Big 4. And the Big 4 offer plenty of princess seamed dresses with cup sizes.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Quick hits and random bits

I still don't have a finished project to show you. I did finish that pattern that I tested on time, but won't be able to blog about it until release. Actually, ideally, I won't blog about it until I've made another version from the final pattern and then can show you the "before" and "after" photos, which may or may not be interesting.

In the meantime, here's what's going on with me:
  • I've cut out the StyleArc Elle pants and put them aside. Actually those were cut out just before I started on that pattern test, and that's the only reason that they were put aside.

    StyleArc Elle pant
  • I've cut out and set aside the HotPatterns Sakura Bomber jacket. This one was also started and put aside for pattern testing. I actually put this aside because on the morning that I was going to actually start sewing it, I felt more like cutting things out, and so I cut out the Elle pants instead.
  • Neither of these are difficult patterns at all and should be relatively quick sews, but oooh....shiney! Seeing all of the coat posts from everyone, including the Leanne Marshall coat sewalong on Pattern Review kicked my butt into gear on really wanting to get going on that coat.
Simplicity Leanne Marshall coat
I did cut out my paper pattern pieces and have just gotten started on my initial round of my standard alterations (petiting, FBA, etc). The sleeve checks out to be an okay width if I were wearing it over something close-fitting, but as a coat, I think I'm going to want to widen it some. (Sometimes I need to increase sleeve width; sometimes I don't. Toddler mom arms, I guess.)  I am hoping to get a muslin at least partially sewn over the long Thanksgiving weekend that we have in the US. Early reports from the online sewing community are that the coat lacks the ease that a coat should and that the zipper instructions are a disaster, so this could be an interesting project. I'll be making the final version from a gorgeous peacock blue wool that I bought from Fashionista Fabrics a few years ago. It's been sitting around waiting for the perfect pattern and for my skills to catch up, and I think it's finally time to bring this fabric out of my stash.
  • I took advantage of Crafty's Black Friday sale and signed up for the two sloper classes from Suzy Furrer (skirt and bodice sloper) for $19.95 each. I don't see myself tackling these before the first of the new year, but I do really want to give them a try. With my fitting issues, I am hoping that these will be a huge help to fitting wovens and/or maybe trying my hand at drafting something for myself.
  • At the moment, I am signed up to attend the trunk show with Jen from Grainline Studios at a local fabric shop, Drygood Designs on Saturday morning. I'm really looking forward to this and have never attended a trunk show before; HOWEVER, according to weather underground, it's supposed to snow all night Friday night into Saturday morning, which would put a crimp in those plans. As I'm sure you're completely shocked to read, I drive a Prius, which doesn't exactly have all-wheel drive, and snow happens so rarely in the Seattle area that our streets won't likely be plowed, so that leaves me with no safe way to get to the trunk show. I had been hoping to try on an Archer sample, get an idea of what sort of FBA (and other alterations) I'd need and be able to skip a first muslin on that one. On the other hand, I can think of far worse ways to spend a Saturday morning than playing in the snow with my family.
 Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! I am hoping that my next non-pattern news post will include photos of the Leanne Marshall coat muslin. IF that muslin is a total disaster (I don't expect it to be, though), I'm going to move on and muslin the new Butterick coat pattern with cup sizes instead (Butterick B6143).