Sunday, April 26, 2015

Last Week in Patterns (26-April-2015)

So, um, hi? In no way did I anticipate the response that my last post received. I didn't have time over the weekend to respond to everyone's comments, but I did read all of them. That was easily the greatest number of comments for any of my posts on this blog.  A few things to take away from that post and the response:
  • We all have different experiences with PatternReview, but I noticed that the trend from the posted comments was that the people who felt most positively about it were the people who'd made a comment to the effect that they didn't go into the forums much. Take away message for me: Stay out of the PatternReview forums. I have enough things on my plate and don't need to add to them by going places with what I feel is negative energy.
  • For those of us thinking we'd like to see a little more diversity in guest posters and content on CSC, please send them your articles and reviews! 
  • I've been guilty of saying that I would write something for the CSC and then flaking, and from reading other comments, I'm not the only one. (I had been totally on board with the "season of separates" idea, but for "pants month", my pant muslin needed a lot more work than I anticipated, and I wasn't able to get a "real" pair done by the end of that month. And then my dad's health plummeted, I traveled back and forth to San Diego a bunch, and I barely sewed anything for two months.) 
Back to the purpose of this post: I want to get the pattern roundup post series going again, although I'll be posting these on Sunday (rather than Friday) to give myself the weekend to finish writing them. We had a somewhat interesting week of releases this past week.

This week, we have new patterns from the following companies:
  • Grainline Studios
  • McCall's
  • Muse
  • StyleArc
  • TrueBias


This Week's Pattern Round-up


Grainline Studios: Morris Blazer

I am so flippin' sick of waterfall cardigans. They were fine for a while, but now I'm done with them (like peplums). It makes me really happy that we're starting to see some new cardigan/casual jacket shapes emerging from the pattern world, like the just-released Grainline Morris Blazer (The SBCC Cabernet cardigan, in a boyfriend shape, is another.)

Grainline Morris Blazer
I'm not sure that this boxy silhouette is the best choice for my figure, but I really like the shape and design. Jen drafted this blazer to be made from either a ponte/doubleknit or a stretch woven, so you have quite a few fabric options for this pattern, and the resulting jacket should be pretty comfortable.

I'm somewhat tempted, but it does look pretty similar to the HotPatterns Sweet Jacket, which I already own. I like the collar of the Morris better, but the back of the HP is a lot more interesting.

McCall's Patterns: Summer 2015 release

I thought that overall, the summer release from McCall's was pretty boring, but of the patterns that I liked, I *really* liked them a lot. There's also a really good "WTF" pattern in here, too, for those of us who are amused by that sort of thing.

M7167: Misses' romper and jumpsuits

So that Vogue 9075 culotte jumpsuit pattern that I've been planning to make for the past couple of months? I like this McCall's pattern better. And the McCall's has cup sizes, too. On top of that, the sleeves are a more youthful shape, and I think that this will be a more flattering look on me.

McCall's 7167
If I could go braless, I'd be all over the view with the cutout/strappy back, but McCall's at least provided a covered back view, too.

M7156: Misses' dresses, rompers, and jumpsuits

I am going to buy make up View A of this pattern, and rock it over a babydoll tee with a pair of Doc Marten 8-eyes, grab a wine cooler, and chant, "Donna Martin graduates! Donna Martin graduates!"

McCall's 7156 - View A
Seriously, though, I will be buying this pattern. It's a classic shape with princess seams, I can easily increase the width of the straps to make it more bra-friendly, and since I now hoard romper and jumpsuit patterns, it'll be good for that, too. (This pattern is also a less expensive version of the By Hand London Sabrina dress.)

McCall's 7156 - View C

M7168: Misses' two-piece swimsuits

How refreshing to have a retro-style swimsuit pattern where the straps aren't halter straps!  I think that there are a lot of cute options in this pattern, and I think that by mixing and matching different elements, just about any woman could put together a swimsuit that flatters her figure and that she feels comfortable in. The under-bust band on the tops of these also lend themselves more to adding additional bust support more easily than some retro styles. Love the skirt/tankini option, too.

I recently bit the bullet and bought a Modcloth swimsuit, and I'm really happy with it, but I've added this pattern to my list for the next JoAnn's sale.

McCall's 7154: Archive collection gown

I have neither the figure type nor the event schedule to wear a gown like this, but I do love the design:

McCall's 7154
McCall's 7176: Leather accessories

And then there's M7176, the perfect accessory pack if you're planning to head to a steampunk leather bar. Thankfully, one of the included patterns provides a nice starting point for a pair of assless chaps, should you ever need them:

McCall's 71716

Muse Patterns: Knit sleeve add-on pack

Muse Patterns (of Jenna cardigan and Gilian wrap dress fame) did something interesting this week: They released an add-on pack of four knit sleeve variations that should work with all of Muse's knit patterns.  The knit sleeve add-on pack is available for the very reasonable price of $3 USD (can you tell that I've already purchased this?)

The add-on pack includes the following four sleeve variations:
  • Short tulip sleeve.
  • Gently gathered sleeve cap, and options for short, 3/4 or long sleeve length with a classic narrow sleeve. 
  • Short flutter sleeve.
  • Classic narrow sleeve with options for short, 3/4 or long sleeve length.
Muse Patterns - Knit tulip sleeve
One thing that I've really liked about Muse Patterns, from what I've seen so far, is how much emphasis places on providing a lot of value from her patterns. Most of her patterns contain at least three views, and she truly seems to want to provide sewists with patterns that they'll be able to make multiple times with different looks.

StyleArc: Cleo Knit Dress and Tabard

For their mid-month release, StyleArc released a pair of "designer" patterns, which is something that they've done several times in recent months.  I could see how these pieces could look chic on the right person, but they're really not my style.

Cleo Knit Dress

The Cleo has sleeveless and long sleeved options and includes optional dart shaping.

StyleArc Cleo Knit Dress

Cleo Long Tabard

To be honest, before I received the StyleArc newsletter this week, I didn't even know what a "tabard" was. I turned to Google for writing this post:

Tabard definition via Google
I'm guessing that Cleo (or someone else on the StyleArc team, although the garments are named "Cleo") saw something like this on a runway show or something like that. It seems like too random of an offering from StyleArc to not have a clear inspiration piece behind it.

StyleArc Cleo Long Tabard
The StyleArc tabard is designed to be made out of sheer fabrics and worn as an outer layer over the Cleo knit dress.

Honestly, I don't know what to even think of these, so I'm reserving judgment until I see them worn together on a real person.

True Bias: Southport Dress

I've been pretty "meh" on the first two patterns released by True Bias, but I actually think that the new Southport dress is pretty cute:

True Bias Southport Dress
I'm sure that we'll be seeing tons of these popping up all over the sewing blogosphere over the next few months. I think I'd be tempted to buy it, but I do already own the very similar Blank Slate Catalina dress pattern, which I bought last summer.


Final Thoughts

We had a fair number of new releases this week, of which, I suspect the Morris blazer and Southport dress are the ones that we'll be seeing the most of in the coming months. (Now, who will be the first blogger to post a photoshoot of a Morris blazer paired with a Southport dress?)

Of all of these, I think I'm actually the most excited about a handful of the new McCall's, since I don't already have pattern doppelgangers for the ones that I like in my pattern stash.

And what do you think about Muse offering the sleeve add-on pack for a few bucks? I'm kind of surprised that more designers don't do things like this--it's a good way to extend the use of your already-purchased (and altered) patterns without having to buy and figure out alterations for a whole new pattern.

Friday, April 24, 2015

PatternReview: Plus Sized thread trainwreck

I hadn't planned to write this post, but I wanted to open a discussion about a trainwreck of a thread that happened in the PatternReview forums last weekend. I tried to let this go, but it's been bothering me. While I wouldn't normally post about a PR thread here on my blog, but based on what happened there, I felt that taking things off of PR was the best place to voice my concerns. I feel that the "trainwreck thread" is indicative of some bigger issues in that community.


The Incident


So...what actually happened?

I was browsing the PatternReview forums over the weekend, and a new thread in the low-traffic forums caught my eye. The title of the thread was "Plus Size Resources," and the thread was started by Madeline, a new PatternReview employee, who is supposed to be helping out with order fulfillment, customer service, and site blog posts, among other things.  Here is the original, first post (captured by a savvy reader and later re-posted on a GOMI thread):

I am collecting information that pertains to plus size pattern companies, online fabric stores that cater to plus size people, and other companies that provide things for plus size sewists. Please comment below and let me know what are your favorite pattern companies, fabric stores, etc who cater to you.

We all want to look like giant tomatoes, right?

Um, what?

I tried to give her the benefit of the doubt, figuring that she was either putting something together for a PatternReview blog post or for the upcoming "plus size" sewing contest, so I posted a few pattern companies with inclusive size ranges and asked what she meant by "fabric stores that cater to plus size people," since I, and all of the other plus size sewists I know, all shop at the same places that thinner women shop at.
  • A few other PR posters also posted in response things like, "You mean, where do I get my tentmaking supplies?" and other jokes along that line.
  • The OP then returns and states that she's a new PR employee and that she was trying to find some new corporate sponsors for PR that were more friendly to plus sizes.
  • The forum posters pointed out that she had asked some odd questions and that most of what she was asking could easily be found via Google. 
  • There was a bunch of weirdness where the OP edited posts, got argumentative, made a few "sorry not sorry" posts, and said some weird things about the Eiffel tower. As more people called her out on her actions and suggested more diplomatic ways to pose her questions, she appeared to get angrier. More apologies along the lines of "I'm sorry your feelings were hurt" without actually apologizing for what she said or how she framed her question, etc.
  • Finally a mod locked the thread.
  • The next day, Deepika posted something about the OP being a new employee who was learning.
  • Fairly soon after that, the thread was deleted, reminding us all where the "Deletka" nickname came from.
(For those interested, there's a funnier recap in the "Hate Read" thread on GOMI. No, I'm not a hamcat, but I do lurk.)


PatternReview, Inclusivity, Censorship, and You


I see two major issues with last weekend's incident: censorship and inclusivity.

PatternReview moderators have a long history of deleting forum threads when the threads get too heated. An overwhelming number of these deleted threads are political in nature. I can remember a handful of non-political threads getting heated and deleted though--there was a particularly infamous one on breastfeeding, and of course, a thread calling out the PR moderators for too heavily moderating the forums.

The only reason that I can think of for the "Plus Size Resource" thread getting deleted is that it made PatternReview look bad. The OP's responses lacked maturity and professionalism, and of course, that reflects poorly on PR. Unlike most deleted threads, the PR members participating in the thread weren't slinging insults at each other or otherwise at each others' throats. In fact, many of them wrote thoughtful and insightful posts as to how plus sized people are treated, both in the sewing industry and in society in general. I would have liked to have seen the thread remain open because it brought up some painful, but important points to many of us who fall outside of a Misses' size range.
I don't feel that PatternReview is a particularly inclusive community. The community demographic has gotten narrower and narrower in the ~8 years that I've been a member. Whereas there used to be a decent number of plus sized members who'd regularly post pattern reviews, that number has waned considerably in recent years.

For most "contests", most of winners determined by votes from fellow PR members. These winners are nearly always slender and are always well-photographed. If someone raises this concern in the PR forums, someone will point out that "Debbie won the such-and-such contest." Well yes, Debbie, did win a couple of contests...and I think those contest wins were probably about six years ago at this point. The "young, thin, and slim" contest advantage was brought up enough times that last year, some members nominated the idea of having an "Over 50" and a "Plus size" contest to level the playing field for those parts of the community.  There were actually then people who bitched that a "plus size" contest wasn't inclusive to thinner members.

Burda Plus Sack of Shame

The contests aren't the only part of PR where I don't feel entirely comfortable, though. While the forums can be great places to ask questions and get help quickly, I also see a lot of body snark there. The body snark doesn't just come from the size 6 "ladies who lunch" who complain "OMG, my thighs are so fat!" One woman wrote a post where she was clearly offended that someone had checked the "plus size" and "regular" boxes on an old pattern review, causing the "plus size" designation to persist to all future reviews, because she was NOT a plus size. Personally, I've had some rather rude comments posted on reviews that I've made (under the guise of "helping" or telling me what was "flattering"), and I know that I'm not alone in those experiences.

When the Curvy Sewing Collective launched last year, I'd hoped that it might become my new online sewing "home" and that I could leave PR behind. At this point, I feel like the CSC is still finding its footing, and the forums don't see enough activity to really be a viable replacement for PR yet. Many communities have growing pains, though, so I'm still holding out hope that interaction level will increase at the CSC, making the CSC will become a viable alternative to PR.

For those of you reading this post, I have a few questions:
  • Do you participate on PatternReview? Why or why not?
  • If you are on PR, does PR have issues with inclusivity (or lack of it) and censorship?
  • What do you expect and want to see in your ideal online sewing community?
Note that I won't delete your comments if you disagree with me. (The only comments that I will consider deleting here are ones that contain body snark, because hey, you've got most of the rest of the Internet for that.)

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

A Guide to Pattern Cup Sizes

While I was taking some time away from blogging these past few months, I spent some time thinking about what I wanted my blog to be.  As has always been the case, I wanted to continue to document my own sewing projects, both to keep a record for myself and to provide more information to other plus size or curvy sewists who might be contemplating or in the process of making a pattern that I've made. I also wanted to continue writing my pattern roundup posts in some way, but trying to keep up with so many new releases and writing a weekly post about them had gotten really stressful. Those posts take a long time to compile, and it felt like the busiest pattern release weeks nearly always fell when I had a ton of other things going on. Between my project posts and pattern posts, I had very little time or writing energy to devote to any other types of posts.

Introducing a new post series...sewing for the uber busty!

Keeping the above things in mind, I also realize that I spend a lot of time complaining about the lack of resources (largely patterns and fitting information) for those of us who fall into the "uber busty" camp (a phrase coined by Shams at Communing with Fabric, who has some great resources on her blog for fitting a large bust).  For the purposes of this blog, I am defining "uber busty" as having a cup size larger than a DD. Patterns with built-in cup sizes aren't available in those sizes, and most large bust-fitting tutorials target C-DD cups. Adjusted pattern pieces can look significantly different when you're doing a 1" Full Bust Adjustment (FBA) vs. a 3" FBA. (A 1" FBA is the amount you'll typically see in FBA tutorials.)   In short, once your cup size surpasses DD, you pretty much fall off the map of the sewing world.

Through experimentation and a lot of trial and error, I've learned a lot over the past eight years with regards to fitting my own body. Others may disagree, but I feel that a lot of fitting "rules" need to be thrown out the window or at least re-evaluated when your cup size crosses over into uber busty territory. At the very least, you'll likely have additional fitting steps, such as dart rotation, beyond just making a Full Bust Adjustment (FBA) to increase the bust size of your pattern. I'm not a fitting expert, but I'm planning an occasional series of posts that focus on the options and pitfalls of fitting a bodice when you're uber busty.

I'm kicking off this series with a post about pattern cup sizes, which should be helpful to most of my readers, not just the uber busty among us.

Pattern cup size vs. bra cup size

Pattern cup sizes are different from bra cup sizes. Just because you wear a D-cup bra does not necessarily mean that you will need a D-cup pattern or always require an FBA.

Bra cup sizes vary by bra maker, and it seems like there are about a hundred different ways to measure for bra size. Most of these methods involve measuring your under bust area, doing some math (or not) and subtracting that from your full bust measurement. To confuse things further, the volume for a particular bra cup size increases as bra band size increases. For example, the cup of a 36D and a 38C bra will have the same volume. Along the same line, the volume of a 40DD cup will be considerably larger than a 32DD cup.

Thankfully for those of us who sew and frequently need FBAs, pattern companies have a standard method to measure pattern cup size:
  1. Measure your full bust. Wrap the tape measure around the fullest part of your bust. Don't pull the tape measure too snugly, or you will end up underestimating your full bust measurement.
  2. Measure your high bust. Wrap the tape measure around your chest and under your arms. Pull the tape measure snugly.
  3. Subtract your high bust from your full bust, and use the difference to figure out your pattern cup size:
    • 1" = A cup
    • 2" = B cup
    • 3" = C cup
    • 4" = D cup
    • 5" = DD cup
    • 6" = DDD cup
For those of us with very large busts (larger than a D cup), I haven't yet found a patternmaker who specifically drafts for any size larger than a DDD cup, and only very few cover the DDD cup, at that. 


Why is pattern cup size important?

If you've ever gone to a pattern's size chart, picked a size by your bust measurement, and had the garment that you've sewn end up too large in the neck and shoulders, then pattern cup size should be important to you. Most commercial sewing patterns are drafted for a B cup, meaning that the pattern maker is assuming that the sewist making the pattern has about a 2" difference between her high bust. The neck and shoulders of the pattern are drafted with this assumption in mind. If you have a larger difference, for example, you're a DDD cup and have a 6" difference between your high and full bust, most patterns that you select by your full bust measurement will be much too large for your neck and shoulders.

If your cup size is larger than the pattern's cup size, you'll usually get a better fit by selecting a pattern that fits your neck and shoulders and doing an FBA to increase the bust size. The following fitting issues are clues that your fit might improve if you start with a smaller pattern size for your neck and shoulders:
  • Gaping at the neckline
  • Shoulder seams that extend past your own shoulders 
  • Gaping armholes
  • A pinch or wrinkle of fabric forming at your armhole above your bust
In my opinion, patterns with larger cup size options are a GREAT option for those of us with large busts. We might still need to perform an FBA, but we have a much better starting point. To make a baseball analogy, as a G cup, starting with a D cup pattern is like trying to score from third base rather than scoring from first.


Determining your starting pattern size 


If you're a B cup choosing a B cup pattern, select a pattern by your full bust size. If you're a D cup selecting a pattern by a company that drafts for a D cup (for example, Bluegingerdoll), select your pattern size by your full bust. From there, things get a little more complicated:
  • If you're a D cup selecting a B cup pattern, choose the pattern size whose bust measurement corresponds to your high bust (not your full bust) measurement. This size should give you a decent fit through the neck and shoulders. Depending on the ease of the pattern, you may need to then do an FBA to increase the bust size of the pattern.
  • If you're a D cup selecting a pattern that has separate cup size options, such Vogue's Custom Fit patterns, determine what your pattern size would be if only the B cup option was available. In other words, choose your normal Vogue Patterns starting size (typically, going by your high bust measurement), but then select the D cup pattern piece for that size.
What happens when your pattern cup size falls outside of the range of the pattern itself, though?  For example, what if you're a G cup (9" difference between your high and full bust measurement)?
  • If you're selecting a B cup pattern, select by your high bust measurement and expect to do a large FBA, depending on pattern ease. (I'll talk about options for a large FBA in future posts.)
  • If you're selecting a pattern that has separate cup size options, like the aforementioned Vogue pattern line, select your starting size based on high bust size, then choose the D cup pattern piece for that size. You will probably still need an FBA, but your FBA will be much more reasonably sized.
  • If you're selecting a pattern from a pattern line that drafts for a D cup, remember that the patternmaker is assuming a 4" difference between your high bust and full bust. Add 4" to your high bust measurement and start with that size.
Let's walk through this example with real numbers. We'll assume that you have a 51" bust and a 42" high bust measurement, for a difference of 9", then pick your starting size for a Bluegingerdoll pattern, which will be drafted for a D cup:

Bluegingerdoll size chart
Take your high bust measurement of 42" and add 4" for a hypothetical bust measurement of 46". Find the 46" bust measurement on the above size chart and see that it correpsonds to a size 20, which is the size that I'd suggest starting with for these measurements. You'll likely still need an FBA, but it will be a smaller FBA than if you were to start with a B cup pattern.
Now, if you're uber busty, you might have other methods that you use to select your starting pattern size; however, I will usually use the method that I've just described, and it works well enough for me.

I do highly recommend making bodice muslins unless you're really familiar with a company's sizing. You may find that you need to go up or down a starting size based on your own personal body.


Cup size reference chart


A question that I see frequently asked in the online sewing community is "What cup size does [Pattern Company] draft for?" I compiled a chart of the most popular and a number of larger-bust-friendly pattern makers to help sewists evaluate what pattern size to start with and identify companies that help make FBAs a little less painful:

Pattern Company
Cup Size(s)

Custom pattern draft based on your own measurements.
  • C (Misses)
  • D (Plus)

  • B 
  • Small selection of cup size patterns
B5917, B5966 have cup sizes D-DDD in the Women's range.
By Hand London

Custom via grading
Connect-the-dots and lines to grade Cake patterns to your own measurements.
Closet Case Files

Colette Patterns
Sarai has mentioned in blog posts that she officially drafts for a C-cup, but makes sure that her patterns will fit her own D-cup figure.
Deer & Doe

Grainline Patterns

C (for base size 16), Increases and decreases with pattern size
Cup size decreases and increases as the pattern is graded for smaller and larger sizes, respectively.
In-House Patterns
  • D (early patterns)
  • A-D (recent patterns)
Early patterns were drafted for a straight-up D-cup. More recent patterns have cup sizes A-D included.

Kwik Sew
  • XS & S = B
  • M = C
  • L & XL = D
  • 1X = D
  • 2X & 3X = DD
  • 4X = DDD

Custom pattern draft based on your own measurements.
Maria Denmark
  • B
  • C (option for select patterns)

  • B
  • Small selection of cup size patterns
M6436, M6473, and M6927 have cup sizes D-DDD in the Women's range
Muse Patterns
  • B
  • Some patterns have D cup option

New Look

Ottobre Woman

  • B (sizes 1-7)
  • C (sizes 6-10)

Petite Plus
Petite Plus are drafted for curvier women 5'4" and under
Seamster Patterns
C (for base size 6), Increases and decreases with pattern size
Cup size decreases and increases as the pattern is graded for smaller and larger sizes, respectively.
Sewaholic patterns are drafted for a small-busted, pear-shaped figure.
B, C, D
All patterns have options for cup siszes B-D
  • B
  • Small selection of cup size patterns

Skinny Bitch Curvy Chick (SBCC)
B (smaller sizes) DD+ (larger sizes)
SBCC patterns are drafted for women under 5'4". Here's a great blog post explaining their cup size draft:

Tenterhook Patterns

  • B
  • Small selection of cup size patterns


Research methods

I used three methods to compile the information on this chart:
  • Some pattern companies list cup size information their websites.
  • I contacted a handful of indie pattern makers directly to ask about cup size drafting.
  • A small amount of information came from Pattern Review threads (e.g. Kwik Sew), but I have not been able to find/verify that information elsewhere. I did, however, want to include those entries for the sake of completeness.
If you think that an entry contains an error, let me know, and I'll follow up. If the entry does, in fact, contain an error, I will correct it on my chart.


Final Thoughts


I hope that you found this post helpful! I don't know how frequently I'll write these since I know that not everyone is interested in reading about fitting a large bust. Also, I do want to continue to document my own sewing projects and will revive my pattern roundups in some form sometime soon.  My goal with this series is to document the type of bust-fitting information that at some point, I wished that I could find, but that I was unable to find in a fitting book or via a Google search. I've learned a lot through trial-and-error over the years when it comes to fitting my own bust, and I hope that I might be able to save a few other busty sewists out there a few headaches.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Spring sewing plans, part 2: Dresses, shirtdresses, jumpsuits, and rompers(!)

Because I couldn't contain my entire "to sew" list in one post (that first post was getting seriously long), I split my spring planning into two posts. I realize that these planning posts are probably boring for others to read ("Hey, a blouse pattern! Oh, another blouse pattern!"), but I like to write them every few months to jot my thoughts down somewhere so that I can refer back to them for inspiration. From a purely self-indulgent standpoint, it's also fun for me to go back a few months later and look at what I was planning to sew and compare that list to what I actually did sew.

Spring sewing wouldn't be spring sewing without a ton of dresses on my list, so this post calls out the non-separate sewing patterns that I'm looking to make for this spring/summer.


HotPatterns Cote d'Azur Dress

First up is an old favorite. I made this dress last summer, loved it, wore it a ton, and got a ton of compliments on it. Unfortunately, the fabric is starting to fade and pill a bit, and I want to replace last year's version with a new version sewn in a higher quality knit.

HotPatterns Cote D'Azur dress

BlueGingerDoll Violet

Tanya's versions sold this pattern to me while back during a BGD pattern sale. Mary's recent version reinforced that I want one of these in my wardrobe sooner rather than later.  For mine, for warm weather, I'd be going with the short sleeved option on the dress with the fuller skirt.

Bluegingerdoll Violet dress
On a side note, when one of these Violet dresses pops up in the blogosphere, am I the only one who then immediately winds up with Courtney Love screaming in her head, "Go on take everything, take everything, I want you to!"  It's just me? Oh well, carry on, then.

Modcloth Coach Tour Dress knock-off (McCall's 6796 & Colette Moneta frankenpattern)

When browsing Modcloth, I became smitten with the Coach Tour Dress:

ModCloth Coach Tour Dress
I couldn't find a pattern that was all that close of a match to this one, but McCall's 6796 does have that collar, and the gathered skirt is similar to the Colette Moneta.

McCall's 6796
 I'm envisioning a frankenpattern of the two patterns, and my version will have short sleeves, rather than being sleeveless. Since I'll need an FBA on the McCall's, I'll just rotate the resulting dart to the waist gathers, and I'll add a waistband/belt detail between the bodice and the skirt.


Will Spring 2015 finally be the season that I finally sew one of the shirtdresses that I've been openly ogling/pinning/talking about for months, but not actually sewing? If I'm going to deal with the hassle of fitting woven blouses, I might as well tackle fitting a shirtdress, right?

Lekala 4115

The dress that started my recent streak of wanting to knock off Modcloth dresses was this one: the Soda Fountain dress:

ModCloth Soda Fountain Dress (in grape)
I'd sent my husband a link of a swimsuit that I wanted his opinion on (he liked it, I bought it), and I apparently got him browsing the site. He sent me a link to this dress and said, "You should make this!" That immediately sent me browsing pattern sites looking for a pattern that I could use or patterns that I could frankenpattern.

Lekala 4115 is pretty close to the inspiration dress:

Lekala 4115

So, I paid the $3 for another Lekala experiment. I'm not a fan of the super puffy sleeves, but I can modify those. My first experiment with Lekala was a total wadder, but it was a knit, and they seem to do better with woven patterns, so I thought I'd give them another shot.

McCall's 6696 & McCall's 7084
McCall's has a few good shirtdress patterns. The two that really jump out to me are the ever-popular M6696 (aka Mary/Idle Fancy's shirtdress) and McCall's 7084.

McCall's 6696
Both dresses have a separate button band. M6966 has a waistband as well. M7084 has shoulder princess seams (yay!) but no separate cup sizing (boo!). M6966 has the separate cup sizing (yay!) but uses darts for shaping (meh, compared to princess seams). Both patterns have options for a straight skirt or a full skirt--M6966's full skirt is pleated, whereas M7084's full skirt has a bunch of godets. I'm really on the fence as to which of these I'd rather sew and wear--I think my perfect pattern would be if these two patterns mated had had baby shirtdresses.

StyleArc Italia

The StyleArc Italia is the only dress on this list that doesn't have some sort of a waist seam. However, it does have a fair amount of shaping through bust darts, waist darts, and back darts. This pattern is also easily the most modern/least retro looking of the group that I've picked, so if I end up sewing two shirtdresses, I'm sure that this will be one of them.

StyleArc Italia shirtdress

Colette Hawthorn

Because it has to be here, right? I'm going to keep the Hawthorn on my to-sew list until I finally sew the damn pattern. Or maybe if I keep including it in these lists, it will fit and sew itself, right?

Colette Hawthorn

Jumpsuits and rompers

Like a shark drawn to chum, I've been picking up and hoarding jumpsuit and romper patterns every time they're on sale for the last few months. Have I made any of these patterns yet? No, and I'm not sure if they're work on my figure, but I'd like to imagine that they will with the right fit and proportions! I'm determined to at least muslin at least one of the following patterns in the upcoming months.

Vogue 9075

My desire to make this pattern hasn't decreased in the months since it was released. I suspect that I'm not the only one, given that the larger size range was sold out on the Vogue website for a little while. On paper, this pattern sounds like a horrible idea--a culotte jumpsuit! But really, in the photos, it looks like a fit-and-flare style dress (a good silhouette on me) that just happens to have wide-legged pants instead of a skirt attached. In reality, this is probably the "safest" pattern choice out of this bunch, between the shape and the fact that it has shoulder princess seams.

Vogue 9075

Lekala 4053

On my many visits to San Diego over the past few months, I saw rompers everywhere, on women of all shapes, sizes, and ages. I went to brunch with a friend one Sunday morning (at one of those places with an outdoor patio that's great for people watching), and I swear that every third woman was wearing either a romper or a jumpsuit that looked like a maxi-dress. This convinced me that I could pull off this look with the right pattern, fabric, and fit adjustments.

That said, a romper/playsuit on a 5'2" uber-busty plus sized woman should be an ultimate test of Lekala's custom drafting abilities, right? I like this one because it's a little more conservative than some of the romper patterns out there, with its longer shorts and short sleeves, but it doesn't look dowdy.
Lekala 4053

McCall's 7115

McCall's 7115 is probably the closest style-wise, to most of the rompers that I saw in San Diego. It's also similar to the rompers that were popular in the mid-90's that I always coveted but could never wear because my top half was two sizes larger than my bottom half. I still think that I could make this work with the right fabric choice and fit adjustments:
McCall's 7115

Final Thoughts

So, those are the patterns that have made it to the top of the pile on my sewing desk for the next few months. I am sure that there will be at least a few bright and shiny new patterns released this spring and summer that will vie for my sewing attention as well.

I'm extra, extra torn on the various shirtdress selections. I feel like I'm a housecat trying to chase a laser pointer when it comes to choosing one to sew. Here! No, over here! Do any of these grab your attention over the others?