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.


  1. I agree with you on the first one. I mean at least draft for a full D or DD. Odd to do C/D. It's a cute dress too!

    Be twinsies!!!!! :)

    That tulip top is super cute.

    1. I agree. It's got a bunch of plus/curve-friendly elements, like the neckline and the seamed skirt, so it surprises me that she'd target a cup size that's no larger than what's offerered elsewhere.

    2. I've gone to the site to look at that dress a few times. And something is off. There's some odd bunching of fabric at the waist and it looks like the blue version has some pulling (or needs to be pulled down) at the upper skirt. I'm not sure if these are fit issues or just that the dress needs to be adjusted from movement during the shoot. And the problems seem worse on the red version. But I do like that red print!

  2. Here's a "me, too" on the comment regarding pattern lines touting their so-called special bust sizing that, gosh, goes all the way up to the C/D cup.

    A few years ago, I took a seminar at Sew Expo from a very well-known indie pattern designer whose pattern line has A-D bust sizing. I asked her what she suggested for those of us who are bigger (significantly bigger, in my case!), and she said that in her experience the D cup size plus pattern ease worked for everyone. I was dumbfounded. It's hard to believe that she had never had to fit an E cup or greater, but it is the only explanation I can think for such an extraordinary statement.

    I'll be doing FBAs forever, I'm quite sure.

    1. I'm pretty sure that I know who you're talking about. I've heard mixed things about her patterns--it seems like they either work really well for you or not at all, depending on your figure type.

  3. Good pattern choices. I understand your dilemma completely-I too am a G cup. Please consider pattern making software. I have Pattern Master and I was able to copy the Jacaranda dress exactly and customize it to my measurements--cup size included. I do this for most patterns that have simple lines. There are very few patterns that I am not able to copy. Saves a lot of time (and frustration) at the cutting table.

    1. I'd look into it, but I'm a Mac user, and it doesn't seem like any of the pattern making software applications run on Mac. :(

  4. The Zinnia jacket is very cute, esp those colors. I'm guessing I probably have a pattern stashed I could use to copy it, but ... laziness. Hah.

    I hear you on the cup sizes. Funny, though, because I thought this might have been the pattern you were testing once I saw it released on another blog. I don't particularly like real sweetheart necklines or this dress so I'll be passing.

    I'm guessing the tulip pullover is probably a similar draft compared to the Zinnia and if you have the Zinnia, you could fairly easily morph the tulip front pieces. I agree that there's something funky going on with the sweater knit version. Even the sparkly version has a neckband problem in one of the other pics on the website. And the inside looks like happy hands at Walmart. Oh, did I say that out loud? sssshhhhh

    I've been testing too and am looking forward to the pattern showing up in your weekly review in the next couple of weeks. :-)

    Once again, thank you for the round-up, and enjoy the snow! (I am NOT jealous!)

    1. I think that the hardest thing about hacking the Zinnia would be getting those circle pockets just right. I did end up picking up that and the Tulip and a few patterns that I had on my list for Eva. Girl Charlee has/had their sweatshirt fleeces on sale for $3.50/yard, so I figured those would be good for working out any pattern kinks.

      Snow is still a novelty to us. It was fun!

    2. Haha ... I think you read me backwards. I meant buy the Zinnia and use it to create the Tulip. I wouldn't want to guess at those circle pockets if I didn't have to either. :-) Since you did buy it, can you tell me if it's got a facing enclosing the front zip?

      Glad you had fun in the snow! Weather here has been all over the place. 30s/40s and 80s. It's hard to know WHAT to wear lately. But I'm not complaining ... we don't have snow!

  5. Happy Belated Thanksgiving to you!
    I like the Blank Slate top, but I think part of the wonkiness is the hanger. I'm wondering is the knit is getting pulled by gravity, making it look like the sewing is poorly done or the band was over-stretched. Just a thought.

    I'm not a full C cup, so drafting for C/D is not a major issue for me. THAT said, someone focusing on plus sizes could and probably should draft for a larger size. Clearly the model is larger than a C/D. The dress isn't really my style, and I thought the skirt she first released was way too short, like gyno exam short.

    What company are you testing for? If you're allowed to say, that is.

    I love watching my dogs play in the snow, especially when its on the ground and coming down.

    1. Ignore my comment about the skirt being gyno-short. The drawings show a very short skirt, but I just looked at the model photos, and the skirt is much longer than the line drawings illustrate.

    2. Yeah, the sweater knit one does look better modeled than on the hanger. I do think, though, that it's a sign that it'll turn out better with a knit with more body to it.

      The first Tenterhook skirt was really cute, I thought. (The two views that weren't the straight-up pencil skirt had a bit of a Burda vibe, in a good way, I thought.) As far as the cup size draft goes, Betsy's (SBCC's) plus size range starts at a DD cup. Some of the Big 4 cup size patterns even go up to a DD or DDD in the plus size ranges. It's frustrating because I had hoped for more out of a line targeted at plus sizes.

    3. Once I figured that it wasn't so short, I like it to. The tulip hem version is basically identical to a Burda magazine skirt from a few years ago. Maybe an October or November issue? It had a tulip skirt and a very drapey crossover top. I like the other version of the wrap skirt too. The standard pencil... well, standard pencil. I wish I could post a picture of the Wow doge.

  6. Thank you for the honest review.

    I want to thank the folks who left comments too.

    1. You're welcome, and I want to point out that this these aren't reviews, just my impressions based on what I see in the listings for these patterns.

  7. Replies
    1. I did not. At one point, they were forecasting 3" of accumulated snow for our area, and at that point, I called in an cancelled so that someone else could have my spot (they had a waitlist). We didn't get quite that much, but it was still fun to play in.

  8. hi Michelle! "I'd really hoped that this line was going to realistically address the fitting issues of plus sized women."

    That is tremendously frustrating. What have the designers of plus-sized indie patterns had to say to you about why they're designing for such small cup sizes?

    1. I haven't heard from anyone. I've only got about 150 followers, so I'm just a minor blip in the SBC. (Which, is totally fine with me--I don't think I'd be comfortable with a large audience.) I am hoping that collectively, though, as the number of curvy and plus sized bloggers increases (thank you CSC), those of us with large cup sizes might stop being ignored.

    2. Interesting that it seems the designers *targeting* plus sizes aren't (or don't seem to be) following and reaching out to the people who are likely to buy their patterns. Was it on Cashmerette that a designer popped in to note that she wasn't getting much plus response to her full bust hoodie pattern? I think there was a good discussion about how the pattern wasn't really listed/ promoted for larger busts, and her patterns/ marketing was more directed at "straight" sizes, so a lot of plus sewists didn't even know about her patterns.

      I wonder why this new line is drafting for a smaller bust. Looking at the versions of that dress on the site, the model definitely had a serious FBA to fit the dress. Is she the designer or a tester or the designer's model? Just curious, because if the designer, her muse, or sample tester needs an FBA, she should guess that her target market typically will too.

    3. Well why don't you write likely-looking indie pattern designers by e-mail? Even designers with the best intentions are not all-seeing. Michelle you could definitely do a write-up of what you have gleaned from comments on your blog, including trenchant observations and a summary.

      Writing your observations and wishes on your blog and then just hoping that a designer who's aesthetic appeals to you runs across that particular blog post is one way to approach things but perhaps not the most effective.

      If you want to see patterns designed for bigger busts, show the designers that there is a market and demand. You don't even have to come up with a completely new white paper for each designer, a piece which is well thought out and concise will be valuable to any pattern marketer.

      If the market isn't there, well then you're stuck. But there are ways to make a difference without starting up your own business. I'd be more than happy to help with editing/proofing anything you want to write up. i'm at wanderinbritches at gmail dot com

      I used to be in charge of customer relations for a small point of sale software cannot believe how difficult it can be to get customers just tell you want they want! And there are only so many hours in the day.

      Just a thought, steph

    4. Linda, right? I think it's saying something when a pattern designer needs a significant FBA on her own patterns. And I recall the comment that you're talking about--it was in response to a post about the lack of larger sizes in a lot of pattern lines on the CSC, and it was the designer from Seamster patterns saying that she hadn't had much response to the plus size version of her Avocado hoodie, which none of us were aware existed. I don't think she's released any new patterns since then, so who knows how she'll follow up with that.

    5. steph, I don't know how I feel about cold contacting pattern designers, especially those who have established businesses/pattern blocks. But there is a LOT to be said for data. At one point, I had been working on a post detailing the different cup sizes that plus-friendly pattern companies designed for, but I never finished/published it. Shannon (from A Finished Garment) wrote a very interesting and thoughtful post about pattern size ranges and grading techniques a few months ago, and I bet that a lot of the same principles would apply to cup sizes. This is very much worth a read if you haven't already read it:

    6. One more thing to add is that with the various niche designers popping up all over the place, I'm really surprised that someone hasn't tried to become the Sewaholic of the full-busted. I would think that the market size should be pretty similar, just based on observation.

    7. And I think the potential customer base for a niche company based on the large busted would be significant. I know many MANY full busted women, and from what I can tell, they'd love someone designing clothes or patterns that fit, flatter, and don't hang from the bust points like drapery.

    8. OTOH, if i was a pattern designer with limited funds i do not know that i would want to risk it all on a niche which has not yet been proven profitable.

      Again, this is all speculation. What is obvious to you, me or the fly on the wall may take on a very different complexion in the vicissitudes of the market.

      And i still don't see how it can hurt to let designers who's work you admire know that you'd like to see some different bust options. How else are they supposed to know, especially if they are not yet offering those type of patterns so you can show your support by purchasing them?

    9. How else are they supposed to know? Well, for starters they could Google their company name and/or pattern names/numbers and read. Michelle's blog comes up in the first 5 results on such a search. :-) I'm also guessing that Analytics is now showing Michelle's blog as a traffic source to the Tenterhook website/blog. Michelle is pretty smart and saavy and I think if she felt comfortable reaching out, she would have done so already. Selfishly, I love Michell's recaps and wouldn't want to see them altered because she thinks she "owes" a pattern company a heads-up ... or anything else.

      OTOH, Michelle ... can I continue to dream about creating/selling a few "niche" patterns with you? :-) JK!! I can't afford to quit my (new) day job to take on any such venture.

    10. hi Deb! " for starters they could Google their company name and/or pattern names/numbers and read. Michelle's blog comes up in the first 5 results on such a search. :-"

      on your and my computer it does. Imagine my shock when i go to my dad's house, where the main interests are carnival glass and carnivorous plants, and i have to sort thru pages and pages of results to find my sewing and flying saucer blogs!

      Google takes the user's browser history into account when searching. You visit and comment on this website so it gets kicked up in the results.

      How is writing an e-mail different from writing a blog post? It's the same amount of time....but you do open yourself up to the possibilities of new ideas.

      It's certainly less fuss than doing an FBA.

      "I'm also guessing ..." That's my point. One could ask and maybe you'll get some interesting answers.

      "... she thinks she "owes" a pattern company a heads-up ... or anything else." Where did i suggest this? Or are you talking about something else?

      If people are so worried about journalistic ethics, then why not do a Q & A with plus-sized indie pattern designers about the issue and publish it all on the blog? Out there for everyone to see? I feel that would be very interesting for all involved.

      Of course all this takes time, resources, etc. We're all grown people and have to allocate our time as we see fit. Michele when you wrote about 'hoping' that Tenterhooks would address the bigger cup size issue i just thought maybe i'd missed something - that they'd said they were going to or something?

      Happy Monday All! steph

    11. Tenterhook never indicated that they would target a larger bust cup size. That was my own wish, and I figured that they would be a good candidate to do so, given that their target market is plus sized sewists. If you read the comments on my blog, on Pattern Review, and certainly on the Curvy Sewing Collective, you'll see a common theme of MANY curvy sewists being frustrated with having to do significant FBAs all the time. So, while my evidence is anecdotal, I do strongly believe that there would be a market for sewing patterns where women can either skip the FBA or at least only have to do a reasonably sized FBA.

      With a two-year-old, a full-time job, and a 90 minute daily commute, I don't really have the time to do someone else's market research and still have time to sew/blog. But I am hoping to raise the visibility of the issue. I don't suspect that I'm alone in feeling this way. ;)

    12. Unfortunately, I think you're taking my comments out of context and giving my words a different meaning. I don't really want to argue in someone else's living room but I feel a need to clarify a couple/few points.

      First, if you search on Google on "Tenterhook patterns" or "Tenterhook Jacaranda," you're not going to get carnival glass as a result. You're going to see the actual Tenterhook website at or near the top and Michelle's post(s) close by. Yes, Google may try to predict with some auto-fills based on history, but if you don't let it, you'll get the best results to the specific search terms entered. And, since the subject of this search reasonably would have very similar browsing histories to mine, even the Google predictions would also be similar. And searching on your own products is just Business 101 for the current times.

      Next, an email is different than a blog post in many ways, but to me ... the biggest difference is that an email is a private conversation, more intimate, and a blog review is public and more akin to an essay or an article, where the author is not directly connected to or conversing with the subject. Once you start a one-on-one conversation, the dynamics change. Anyone is entitled to have and give an opinion about a product for sale without feeling an obligation to provide private feedback aka market research.

      But for me, the bottom line is Michelle chose her preferred vehicle for whatever reasons and I think we need to respect that and not try to talk her into doing something different.

  9. Yep - I am in there with the "me too"!. Am going to check out the Jacaranda dress.

  10. I'm loving your new pattern round-up posts! And some weeks, I feel like I learn as much from the comments as from the post itself. :) I really appreciate that you are taking the time to to these-- you have featured a number of new-to-me companies that I am excited to explore.

  11. Something I completely forgot about when posting earlier. Coni from Sewing Patterns by Coni ( offers bodice sloper patterns (up to I cup) for wovens and knits (includes sleeves too). They are actually top and blouse patterns in larger bust sizes that can replace the bodice pieces of another pattern. Instead of having to make a fba for every pattern you use, just substitute your own sloper pattern for the bodice. I've done this a few times and it's really not that difficult. Coni is very helpful too if you have problems. I have emailed her several times and she responds usually the same day.

    1. Wow, I didn't know that those existed. I actually just bought the two sloper classes from Craftsy during their $19.99 sale, but it would be fantastic to have a couple of woven sloper patterns without having to jump through hoops.