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).

Friday, November 21, 2014

This week in patterns (21-Nov-2014)

Greetings and salutations! Things have been pretty quiet around here this past week because I've been traveling for work, spending the past two days down at my company's Irvine office. Let me tell you, nothing will make you miss your kid more than being on a plane full of families going to Disneyland and hearing the words "Elsa!" and "Haunted Mansion!" every three minutes, and I'd only been away from her for a few hours at that point. 

In any case, I haven't gotten any sewing in during the past few days, although I did finish that test pattern the day before I left. She's hoping to release the pattern in December, so if all goes well, I'll be able to post about it then. I didn't encounter anything major with the pattern, so I'd expect the release to stay on track, unless there's an issue with the smaller sizes. As a tester, I'm supposed to be receiving a copy of the final pattern, which I'm looking forward to making up and comparing to the test version. When I return home, I've got a partially finished pair of StyleArc Elle pants and a cut-out HotPatterns Sakura bomber jacket that I'll be working on, and then after that, it'll be Coat Adventure 2014 for me.

So, that's what I've been up to. We had a few new patterns released this week, too:

StyleArc - PDF Downloads!

If you've been wanting to try StyleArc patterns but have hesitated because of the shipping costs from Australia or are wary of single size patterns, I have good news! This week, StyleArc made a small selection of their patterns available as PDF downloads in their new Etsy shop. Each pattern has three size options, as well, so you'll have more options there, as well. Based on what I've seen on PatternReview and around the blogosphere, StyleArc chose some of their most popular patterns for this experiment. The following patterns are now available in StyleArc's Etsy shop. Note that this list seems to grow every day, so just check out the Etsy shop for the most up-to-date list:
  • Lola pant
  • Nina cardigan
  • Laura knit dress
  • Laura knit cardigan
  • Tamara top
  • Phillipa peplum top
  • Sandra narrow leg jean
  • Zoe pencil skirt
  • Franki dress and top
  • Sunny top
  • Ziggi Jacket
  • Jacinta knit dress
  • Ursula ponte skirt
  • Gorgeous gore skirt
  • Ollie tunic
  • Fay skirt
  • Mindi skirt
StyleArc - Laura knit dress
The prices are quite reasonable, as well. The current selection of patterns run $8-$12 USD. While I can't say that every single StyleArc pattern I've made has been flattering on my figure, due to style choice/wishful thinking, I can say that I've never run into any drafting issues with their patterns. Additionally, their patterns usually run pretty close to their size chart. Basically, these patterns are a much lower "risk" than some other "indie" patterns.

Butterick - Holiday Collection 2014

The last of the Big 4 finally released their Holiday collection this week--Butterick. Like the Simplicity collection, the Butterick collection had both some high points and some head-scratchers. I love head-scratches, though--it's so much more interesting to see a few "What were they thinking?" patterns than a bunch of cocktail dresses and re-hashes of last year's designs like the Vogue Holiday collection had. Let's take a look at a few of the Buttericks:


I LOVE this dress. I have nowhere to wear it, but I love the lapel and the it's-not-actually-a-jacket overlay. If I recall, this is a knock-off of something that Kate Middleton wore somewhat recently, but I can't recall the designer's name. The skirt wouldn't work on me, but that's an easy enough fix. Might have to buy and stash this one at a Hancock/JoAnn sale. (Seriously, my company's holiday party is an informal event held at a football stadium, so I don't even have the company party excuse to make this.)


In B6131, Butterick combined a bridesmaid dress with an infinity dress and came out with this...


Yeah, I'm not a fan. This is the kind of dress that a really passive-aggressive bride asks her bridesmaids to wear. "Oh, but it's so versatile with the wrap! And you don't all have to wear it the same way; you can personalize it!" Which, really, is just a variation on, "You can cut it off and wear it again!"


If Colette's Chantilly dress had a child with the new Dahlia dress, it would look like B6130:
I actually like this quite a bit, if I had a reason to make/wear it. Including a jumpsuit view is a nice variation from your typical holiday dress, and I like that the dress views have princess seamed skirts.


Hands-down, my favorite pattern in this collection is this new coat pattern with shoulder princess seams, cup sizes, and an interesting lapel:

I don't know how many coats a person needs--I already have two in my sewing queue--but I really, really want to sew and wear this one, too.


And finally, there's this... a strappy corset from the Wavery line of all things:

Without all of the straps, I see a corset pattern that could be useful if you like making corsets. But with the way that it's styled here, I'm thinking that you'd accessorize this one with a riding crop made from fat quarters?

BlueGingerDoll - Violet Dress

I feel like Abby from BlueGingerDoll has been releasing new patterns left and right lately; this is her third new pattern since I started compiling these posts earlier this fall.

The BlueGingerDoll Violet dress is BGD's second knit pattern offering, this time offering a pieced bodice with a v-neck/bust ruching detail and several sleeve and skirt options:

BlueGingerDoll Violet dress
One thing I like about BGD's patterns is that she always offers a lot of options with each pattern, so that you can make them several times without feeling like you've made the same dress/top again, but just with different fabric. I know that this neckline type is a good one on me, and I'm intrigued by the options with piecing. I also know that personally, I'd stick to the fuller/A-line skirt on this one. On the other hand, I feel like I could just frankenpattern a different skirt onto my HotPatterns Cote d' Azur pattern or StyleArc Alice top; however, then you'd lose the seaming details and would have to draft those. At that point, I wonder if it's just more worth it to shell out $14 for the pattern.

I really like Tanya's version, which is both very cute and immensely flattering.

Final Thoughts

The must-buy for me here is that Butterick coat. I'm tempted by the B6127 dress with the interesting lapel/faux jacket, but I just don't see where I'd wear it. I do like the new BGD Violet but will probably pass on it for now, both for seasonal reasons and to contemplate whether my time or money is worth more when it comes to frankenpatterning.

I love that StyleArc is dipping their toe into the PDF waters. In the past, I've tried to bundle/plan my orders from them around the freebie-of-the-month, but this provides a much more affordable and instant gratification way of obtaining their patterns. I can still see myself ordering their paper patterns in months when I like the freebie, but I'm no longer limited to that purchasing model.

Friday, November 14, 2014

This week in patterns (14-Nov-2014)

We're heading into a lull of pattern releases as most of the Big 4 have released their holiday collections by now. We did get a handful of intriguing new patterns from StyleArc and a perfect-for-fall weather dress from HotPatterns, though.

Tilly and the Buttons - Francoise Dress

Tilly and the Buttons of Tilly and the Buttons fame released a raglan-sleeved shift dress on Wednesday named the Francoise Dress:

Tilly and the Buttons - Francoise Dress

Beyond the French darts and designer's personality, I'm not sure what sets this pattern apart from the dozens of other shift dress patterns out there, like the Colette Laurel, or just about anything from Simplicity's Jiffy/retro line. This one is a pass for me, but if you're a brand new, beginning sewist or just a big Tilly fan, I guess I can see the appeal.

StyleArc - mid-month release

StyleArc released their first set of bag patterns on Thursday, and they're quite a stylish trio of tote bags. I really like all three of them, to be honest.

Paris Tote Bag

The Paris tote bag reminds me a bit of the HotPatterns Mommy tote that I made up last year, although the Paris has a number of different details. I still use that Mommy tote all the time (it's my go-to bag for toddler outings), so I don't see myself purchasing this particular pattern just for the extra details, but if I didn't already have the Mommy tote, I'd be all over this one.

StyleArc Paris Tote

London Tote Bag

The London tote is the smallest of the three, and also has a buckle closure for added security. This one seems like it's a bit of a hybrid between a tote and a more traditional purse. It's a pretty unique pattern in that I can't recall any similar bag patterns off the top of my head.

StyleArc London Tote

New York Tote

Look at all of the pockets on the New York Tote! If this pattern had been around with Eva was a baby, I never would have bought a separate diaper bag. I like the options for mixing media and colors with this one, too.

StyleArc New York Tote

HotPatterns - Chameleon Dress

On Friday, HotPatterns did something rarely seen in sewing patterns: they released a dress clearly designed to be worn in cooler weather (even styled with boots on the pattern envelope). Outside fo the Big 4, it seems like most pattern companies think that we can perpetually live in summer dresses all the time. The Chameleon dress is designed for chambray, washed linen, and other woven fabrics with some body and good drape.
HotPatterns Weekender Chameleon dress
 This one ticks all of the boxes of things l like in a pattern:
  • Open neckline
  • Raised waist seam, which is more flattering on me than lower waist seams
  • Skirt with ease
  • Pockets
  • Bust shaping
  • Interesting top-stitching options
So, now I guess I have a pattern for all of that chambray that I've been buying and hoarding with the intention of making shirt dresses that I never get around to making!  Seeing the lines on this one also has me tempted to channel my inner Angela Chase and make it up in a plaid. Or my inner Elaine Benes and make it up in a drapey floral.

I'd put a personal moratorium on sewing dresses for the next few months while the weather is cold because I just don't wear dresses that often when temps are in the 40's. That's beyond pairing-with-leggings-and-boots weather to me. I think I'm going to make an exception for this one, though.

Final Thoughts

This week was quite slow, as far as new releases go. If I'm remember correctly, Butterick is the only Big 4 company who has yet to release their holiday collection, so I'd think we'll bee seeing those soon.

The StyleArc bags are tempting, but not so much that I'd place a separate order for them right now. I could definitely see myself buying either the London or New York bag in a future order with another pattern or two. I ordered some of that faux red leather from Girl Charlee recently with the intention of making a non-mommy bag, so I'm very much on the lookout for stylish bag patterns right now.

I like the HotPatterns dress, and I'll be ordering that while it's on sale through the weekend.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Whatever happened to....[Pattern Company]?

Lately, it seems like every time you sneeze, a new indie pattern company pops up somewhere. I've been realizing just how many of these are popping up since I started writing my This Week in Patterns posts a couple of months ago. Especially with so many of these companies offering basic, similar designs, I'm really wondering if and when the bubble is going to burst for some of these newcomers. I just don't see this being sustainable from a market perspective. I mean, how many kimono-sleeve tops and A-line skirts does a person need?

I've been thinking a bit lately about the indie pattern companies that were around when I first started sewing in 2007, and a few immediately spring to mind that are no longer around or actively releasing patterns. 

Gone or MIA

  • Betsy Ross Patterns: Before Colette and other hold-your-hand-while-sewing vintage-inspired indies arose, there were Betsy Ross Patterns. (I think I learned about them via Bust Magazine.)
    At the time, they were the only indie that I could recall that was targeting younger sewists. Most indies at that time seemed geared more towards art-to-wear or a much more mature aesthetic than mine, so Betsy Ross intrigued me.

    I never sewed any of their patterns, however. Even though I was much thinner back then, their largest size still topped out at a 41" bust and a 45" hip. My bust was slightly larger and hips were smaller than that, and I just figured that I was out of luck with their patterns. They closed up shop a few years ago, and now you can't even find a link to their website via google.

    Betsy Ross - cropped jacket
  • Go Patterns: Not to be confused with current kids' pattern company Go To Patterns, Go Patterns was an indie that produced sewing patterns focusing on couture techniques. The had a Little Black Dress sheath dress pattern that was all the rage on Pattern Review for a while. Then they released a second pattern (a cape), and then...nothing.

    Go Patterns sleeveless dress

    Their patterns were above my skill level, but I liked their sophisticated designs and liked that they targeted more advanced sewists (for when I was ready for that).

Lower Profiles

  • Jalie Patterns: While still definitely an active pattern company, Jalie released its last batch of patterns in May of this past year. However, their last two releases before that were in March 2013 and October 2011. I love the large size ranges of their patterns (covering both my two-year-old daughter and my plus sized self), but wow, they go a long time between releases. Their solid drafting and instructions has earned them a loyal following, so I doubt they're in any danger of disappearing.
  • Knipmode Magazine: In my early days of sewing, the big pattern magazines for women were Burda Fashion (before being rebranded as BurdaStyle), Ottobre Woman, and Knipmode, a Dutch magazine whose garments often had interesting draping and seaming details. They had several online distributors where you could easily order single issues in the US, and a steady stream of reviews on Pattern Review. A few years ago, though, they had a few management changes and their magazines became difficult to obtain in the US. On top of that, their designs got a lot more basic and a lot less original. You just don't see them mentioned much any more, although I guess you can buy a lot of their patterns as PDF downloads now.

The Current Crop of Indies

Of the current crop of indies, I wonder if we're already starting to see some yellow flags. Cake Patterns had a very public (and very unprofessional) social media meltdown last year and has barely been heard from since. By Hand London stopped all sales of PDF patterns, possibly because those PDF sales were cutting into the sales of their overstock of print patterns. I've read posts from other bloggers where a designer got snippy with them on their blog because of a less-than-glowing review. I have to wonder what the business plans are for these companies, given some of this head-scratching behavior.

The other thing that really stands out to me now that I've been paying a lot closer attention to pattern releases is that beyond slight differences in online personalities, I can't really differentiate between a lot of the newer indies. In a crowded market space, smaller companies have to find a strong niche to thrive, and I really wonder what the niche is for some of these designers. What makes you different from one hundred or so other indie designers out there, and why should I buy your pattern? Especially when so many of your patterns look like other patterns out there? And why does it seem like so many indie designers are targeting a beginner sewing market? With a few exceptions, where are my indie patterns for fly-front trousers, jeans, jackets, and coats?

Final Thoughts

On a contrasting note, I threw my hat in the ring and was selected to test a new pattern by a new designer. I volunteered to do so because she posted a pic of an earlier version of the design, and I loved it. It's very "me", and when I do eventually post photos, you'll know in a heartbeat why I was interested in this pattern for myself. There are also some very unique things about the construction and seaming of this pattern, and I'm really excited about it. There's a new type of welt pocket involved that I've never seen before. I'll actually *gasp* learn a new technique from this project! To me, that's the sort of thing that makes an indie pattern worth the extra cost.

Friday, November 7, 2014

This week in patterns (7-Nov-2014)

After several weeks where it seemed like collection after collection of holiday patterns were released, this week was relatively quiet in pattern news and releases.

True Bias - Sutton Blouse

This first pattern was actually released last week, but I became aware of it after I'd already published that week's post, so here it is now. True Bias, the designer behind the Hudson track pant, has released her second pattern, the Sutton blouse:

I don't really have a need for a woven kimono sleeve blouse pattern, and it seems like there are a lot of similar patterns already out there. This one is a pass for me.

StyleArc - November release

A new month always means new StyleArc patterns! This month, there's a dress pattern, a jacket pattern, and a choice between two freebie tops.

Patti Woven Dress

First up is a woven dress with interesting seaming:
StyleArc - Patti dress
Sienna Woven Jacket

Next is a woven unlined jacket that StyleArc says can be completed in an afternoon. I like the idea of this jacket, but I'm pretty over the waterfall/lapel thing at this point.

StyleArc - Sienna Woven Jacket

Freebie: Lotti Knit Top

The first freebie option is the Lotti knit top. I think that this is a really cute top....for someone else. I cant see how that bust level gathering could possibly be flattering on someone large-busted, but I'm sure that someone out there on Pattern Review or in the blogosphere will prove me wrong.

StyleArc - Lotti top

Freebie: Elsie Woven Overshirt

Oddly enough, my favorite new pattern out of this batch is this overshirt with a notched lapel collar. I like the neckline on this one a lot. It doesn't appear to have much shaping and is probably quite boxy when worn (read: not the most flattering shape on me), but it looks like it would be so comfortable for shlumping around on the weekend.

StyleArc - Elsie Overshirt

Colette Patterns - Seamwork magazine

Not really a release, but Sarai from Colette announced earlier this week that they would be releasing a digital sewing and pattern magazine in December named Seamwork. Each issue will contain two download PDF patterns and various articles on sewing-related things. The articles will be available free online, but the PDF patterns will be part of a paid subscription. The promise is that the PDF patterns will be simple things like loungewear and tote bags and will be projects that can be completed in under 3 hours. Pricing will be announced in December. If you sign up for a sneak peak, you'll be entered to win a possible free subscription. If you're interested in signing up, here's my own "sneak peak" link (i.e., I get extra entries if you sign up through my link):

I think that this is an interesting idea. Honestly, though, the thing that appealed to me the most about this announcement was Sarai saying that by pairing their more basic patterns with the magazine, they plan to release more complicated patterns as part of their regular pattern line. I really like Colette's hand-holding style of instructions, but I'm way past needing those for beginner patterns. I'd love to have my hand-held through more complex garments, like their earlier patterns were.

Perfect Pattern Parcel #7

Perfect Pattern Parcel #6 just ended, but the PPP team has already released PPP #7. This time, the PPP is a group of handbag patterns:

Perfect Pattern Parcel #7
There are some cute bags here, although I'm not familiar with any of the designers this time around. I don't sew a lot of handbags myself; I typically only sew one when one either dies or when I find I need one for a specific purpose. Not needing to add to my (small) handbag pattern stash, I'll be taking a pass on this one.

Final Thoughts

This was a pretty quiet week in pattern release land, as I think that most designers/companies have released their fall or holiday patterns. We'll probably see a bit of a lull in releases until the new year starts.

I don't see any "must buy" patterns for myself this week, outside of possibly that StyleArc overshirt. The Colette announcement intrigues me, if only because I'm hoping that they'll release some more intermediate and advanced patterns in their regular releases next year.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Finished project: Simplicity 1233 - Elsa dress from Frozen

Do you want to build a snowman?

I did finish Eva's Elsa costume several days before Halloween. Unfortunately, I never did get "good" pictures of her in her dress. I did, however, get a few cellphone pictures of her trick-or-treating at my office on Halloween:

Eva as Elsa
I talked a bit about the construction of this dress in a previous post, back when the dress lacked a yoke, sleeves, and a zipper. Seeing Eva's reaction to the glitter organza of the cape, I opted to use it for the yoke and sleeves, as well. The neckline appears to gape a bit, I think, due to the stiffness of the organza and the fact that the dress is slightly too large on her (as intended so that she could use it as a play dress in the coming months). I'd considered using a chiffon for the sleeves and yoke for comfort, but with my OCD toddler daughter, I decided instead to sacrifice slightly stiff and less comfortable chiffon for a more Elsa-like look with the organza.

Pattern drafting notes

I found the pattern to be well-drafted in that everything lined up as expected, and I didn't encounter any weird fit issues.


  • Cape: Glitter/snowflake organza from HelenEnoxFabrics on Etsy
  • Bodice: Sequined fabric from JoAnn's.
  • Skirt underlayer: Costume satin from JoAnn's. I also lined the bodice with this same fabric.
  • Skirt overlayer: Iridescent organza from JoAnn's.

Pattern sizing and alterations

Height-wise, my daughter is on the cusp of size 2T/3 on the Big 4 size charts. I sewed a size 3 in this dress, knowing that it would be slightly big, but figuring that she'd be able to wear it to play dress-up for at least a few months after Halloween. Outside of the skirt/cape running very long, the dress fits true-to-size.

In the reviews of the equivalent McCall's pattern, I've seen people mentioning that there is a (fairly typical with the Big 4) large amount of excess ease. I did not find that to be the case with this pattern.

I also tapered the cape so that it didn't drag on the floor in front, but was left long in back, just like the "real" dress.

cape shot

Pattern instructions

I complain about the instructions for Big 4 patterns a lot, but these were actually quite good and suggest appropriate construction methods for the garment. For example, the instructions actually have you use French seams for Elsa's cape, which is intended to be made from a sheer fabric. I think that this is the first time that I've ever seen French seams mentioned in Big 4 pattern instructions, regardless of the recommended fabrics. The order of construction is logical, as well.

Another complaint that a lot of us have about Simplicity patterns is that the instructions jump around a lot when a pattern has more than one view. That's not the case with this pattern--the instructions for Elsa's dress and Anna's dress are kept completely separate.

Final thoughts

I enjoyed making this dress a lot more than I thought I would, and I'm ecstatic about how excited it's made Eva. She'd probably wear this dress every day if we let her. I was so impressed with the pattern and its results that I'll probably snap up the other Frozen patterns from Simplicity. I think that an "Anna" dress for dress-up might make a good Christmas present. ;)