Thursday, December 31, 2015

Top 5 Misses and Hits of 2015

Yeah, I'm a little late to the party here, but I was busy with a lot of recent writing over at the CSC, plus there was a health crisis with a close family member that killed my sewing and writing time. Late to the party or not, though, I wanted to write this post both for myself and for anyone who might be interested--I know that I love reading year-end roundups on others' blogs.

Also, in case you've been looking for pattern roundups the past few weeks, I haven't written any--only because things have been very quiet on the pattern release front.


Top 5 Misses


Let's start with the "misses". Truth be told, I didn't have many outright misses this year--I've gotten a lot better about muslining, and that definitely prevented a few disasters. I'm also not going to call anything that's any sort of a muslin a "miss", so that eliminates several experiments that didn't work out. Most of my "misses" therefore fall into that category because for one reason or another, the garment just didn't get worn much.

5. Simplicity 1317: Raglan-sleeved top

I hesitated to put this one on my list because it was the first thing that I sewed after my dad died last spring. But, if we're going to be objective, I didn't wear this a whole lot. The sleeve proportions are weird, and let's face it--a short-sleeved sweatshirt is only going to get worn in transitional weather.

Simplicity 1317
4. HotPatterns Peasant Blouse - silk version

This one is up here strictly for fabric choice. I love the double gauze version that I made...the silk version? Not so much. Or maybe I'm just still not over the trauma of working with that georgette yet. In any case, it hasn't been worn much.

HP - Peasant Blouse (silk version)

3.  Simplicity 1254: Leanne Marshall coat

*sigh*  After all of the work that I put into this, I really hate that it ended up on this list. But the truth of the matter is that by the time I finished it, the weather wasn't really cold enough to wear it, and then I sewed up the Closet Case Files Clare Coat as a pattern tester back in August/September, and the Clare is the coat that I reach for. The Clare is just a better-made coat; the Leanne Marshall coat was a learning experience.

Simplicity 1254: Leanne Marshall coat
2. BurdaStyle Plus "Vintage Chic" dress

File this one under "I should have made a muslin". I think that this pattern has a lot of potential for me, but because I didn't muslin it first, there are just enough things off with the fit that this dress was only worn a few times before ending up in the back of my closet as the weather got cold. Maybe it would get worn more in the winter if I had made one of the coordinating cardigans that I had planned to make, but that hasn't happened yet.
BurdaStyle "Vintage Chic" dress
1. HotPatterns Trilogy Top

Oof. File this one under "Hubris, lots of hubris" AND "You really, really should have made a muslin." I wasted two yards of good double gauze fabric thinking that I could outdesign the pattern designer, and I lost.  The comedy of errors that was this top is detailed in my blog post about it. The best thing about this top is that the worst parts of it are easily hidden under a jacket, so I've been able to at least get some wear out of it that way.

HP Trilogy top

Top 5 Hits


In happier news, I had a REALLY hard time narrowing this list down to 5. It turns out that I made a lot of garments this past year that I wear a lot, so I'm really happy about that. My purple Appleton dress, Burda pants, and CCF Clare Coat barely missed the cut on this list, so I want to call those out as honorable mentions.

5. Closet Case Files: Carolyn Pajamas

Yeah, I know, I haven't actually even blogged these yet, outside of my project post for FabricMart, but I LOVE them. I loved this pattern--these were so much fun to make! You can read a little about them over on the FabricMart blog, and when I get the chance, I'll write up a more detailed post here and go more into depth on my pattern alterations.

CCF - Carolyn Pajamas
4. Blank Slate Denver Tunic

Yeah, I know, I haven't blogged this one here yet, either. I did blog it over at the CSC. I was on the fence about this one when I first made it, but it's turned out to be a wear-every-wash-cycle garment, and I get a lot of compliments on it. Everyone seems to love the fabric--especially the contrasting cowl. I know that I love wearing the fabric--it's really soft and has held up well to machine washing.

Blank Slate Patterns - Denver tunic
3. Blank Slate Marigold Dress

I love this dress. I wore it a ton this past summer, and I'm sure that I'll wear it a ton when the weather warms. I'm happy with the fit, and the fabric (a rayon poplin) was a perfect match for the pattern. Love the no-gape pockets, too!

Blank Slate - Marigold Dress
2. HotPatterns Refined Peasant Blouse (Double gauze version)

A hit in one fabric and a miss in another. I'll be making this fabric again, but sticking to double gauze for it from here on out.

HotPatterns Refined Peasant Blouse (double gauze)
1. StyleArc Misty Jeans

I've made two pairs of these and wear them Every. Wash. Cycle. The fit is a little better on the second pair (with the white topstitching), but I love both pairs of jeans that I've made from this pattern. They're so comfortable that it's ridiculous. Expect to continue to see more of these on this blog in 2016.

StyleArc Misty jeans

In my next post, I'll talk about how I did on the goals that I set for myself last year and set some new goals for 2016. If the post isn't too long at that point, I'll also talk about my non-sewing highlights for 2015.

Friday, December 18, 2015

This Week in Patterns (18-Dec-2015)

We had a fairly quiet week in pattern releases this past week, as many people start to wind things down for the holiday season. Here's who released patterns this past week (okay, the McCall's release was really last week):
  • McCall's
  • StyleArc
McCall's: Early Spring 2016 Collection

If you click the link to this collection on McCall's website, you'll find a whole lot of boring prom dress patterns at the top. Or, at least, I find prom dress patterns boring since I'm not sewing for a 16-year-old girl. Beyond that, the rest of the collection is mostly inoffensive--there's nothing as bad as the laughable ruffled leggings from their previous release, but also not much to get excited about. The patterns that I'm listing here are the few that caught my eye for one reason or another.

M7314: Misses' Shirtdresses

It looks like McCall's is following up their perennially popular M6696 shirtdress with cup sizes with another shirtdress pattern with cup sizes. The new version has a curved waist and the button placket stops at the waist seam. It also only has waist darts instead of bust-and-waist darts, which should actually make for an easier FBA, if you're like me and still need one even on a D-cup pattern piece.

M7319: Misses' Gathered Waist Dresses

This dress is really cute, fairly unique, and should look good on most figure types. This one will be on my "must have" list.

M7330: Misses' Button-up Jumpsuits and Rompers

This collection has a button-up romper/jumpsuit pattern that's a little more sporty-looking than the drapier jumpsuit patterns that we've largely been seeing. I think that this could be cute in the right fabric, but in the wrong fabric, you'll risk looking like a zookeeper or an auto mechanic.
M7341: Yaya Han Zippered Bodysuit

I'm not a cosplay person, but I do appreciate the fact that this collection includes a true plus size bodysuit pattern. You could use this pattern as the basis for a lot of different costumes, AND it's available in a truly expansive size range. With the popularity of cosplay, I can imagine that McCall's will sell quite a few of these.
StyleArc: Cameron Dress

The Cameron dress is the sort of throw-on and go dress that usually makes a great instant gratification project. I could see where someone might think of this dress as a sack with an elastic waist, but I have more faith in StyleArc's drafting than that. I made a similar dress (the HotPatterns Uptown Downtown dress) and got a lot of wear out of that for a few years. I like the wrap option on the skirt of the StyleArc, too, which is something that sets it apart from similar patterns.

StyleArc - Cameron Dress

Final Thoughts

So, I'll probably pick up that McCall's crossover dress on sale, and I could see myself getting the StyleArc dress at some point, but that's probably about it for now.  Thoughts?

Friday, December 11, 2015

This Week (and Last) in Patterns (aka Sweatshirtpalooza!) (11-Dec-2015)

If by any chance you were wondering about my absence last week, I had been knocked on my butt by the respiratory virus that's been going around. I could barely get out of bed, so writing any sort of blog post was out of the question. No post last week means that we've got twice as much ground to cover this week, and we have had quite a few new releases these past two weeks.

Late Breaking News:  Yes, I did see that the Early Spring (!) McCall's were published last night, but given that we didn't have a roundup post last week, I don't want to delay today's post to get them in. There's a bunch of re-hash-y prom dresses in this batch, but I did see a few cute everyday items from the one pass that I've made through the collection so far. We'll cover those next week.

Do you like interesting sweatshirts? I do. And if you do like sweatshirts, you should be pretty thrilled with these past two weeks because we've had FOUR different unique sweatshirt patterns released. We also had a lot of other things released, too. Here's the list of companies with new releases in the past two weeks:
  • Baste + Gather
  • Cashmerette
  • Colette Patterns
  • Colette Seamwork Magazine
  • HotPatterns
  • Itch to Stitch
  • Paprika Patterns
  • SBCC Patterns
  • StyleArc Patterns
Baste + Gather: Birkin Flares

After seeing many teaser pics on Instagram and a few related blog posts even, Lauren of Baste + Gather has finally released her flared jean pattern. Lauren's jeans are a high-waisted retro-style flare and have been getting a lot of positive comments from testers.

I like them, but I'd have to grade up a few sizes for these, plus, I somewhat recently bought flared jeans patterns from Burda and HotPatterns. (Although if StyleArc put out a flared jeans pattern, I'd snap it up in a heartbeat.)

Baste + Gather: Birkin Flares
Cashmerette Patterns: Washington Dress

My fellow Curvy Sewing Collective Editor Jenny from Cashmerette released her second pattern last week!  Like her first pattern, the Appleton dress, the Washington Dress is designed for curvy figures--up to a size 28 and with three sets of cup sizes: C/D, E/F, G/H. The Washington dress combines a knit top, stable knit hip yoke, and woven skirt to give lots of design and color-blocking possibilities.

I pattern tested this dress and have seen some of the tester photos. I won't show my tester version because I should have sized up (use your judgment as far as how comfortable you are with negative ease, when choosing a size), but I'll say that proportions and color-blocking choices are the key to getting a killer version of this dress. If you're looking to get a slimming hourglass shape out of this dress, you'll want to choose a hip yoke fabric that's darker in color--like a black or a navy. I made my tester version using a neoprene remnant for the skirt, and I really liked how the skirt portion came out, so if you're wondering about that, I say go for it!
Cashmerette - Washington dress

Colette Patterns: Phoebe Sheath Dress

Relatively soon after releasing the Wren knit surplice dress, Colette has released another pattern--this time a sheath dress with an A-line skirt.

My reaction? Meh. I appreciate the diversity of the models used for the photo shoot, but I don't feel like the dress fits or flatters the larger model all that well. In fact, if you click through to the product page, you can see that the gray sample has a bust dart (not shown in the line drawing) in addition to the princess seams. Why not just do a princess seam FBA to get a better fit? Also, for both models, why not extend that front panel all the way over to the princess seam? It just looks odd where it ends.

Colette - Phoebe dress
Colette Seamwork: December 2015 Issue

The theme for the December issue of Seamwork magazine is "Appreciation". I'm not entirely sure what that means, but it does include a mixed bag of two new patterns.

Seamwork: Brooklyn Skirt

Ok, THIS is the type of pattern that I had originally hoped would be included in Seamwork. It's a basic pattern but with an interesting attention getting detail: a half-circle skirt with a DEEP front pleat. I know that I've seen similar skirts pop up on Burda from time to time (and StyleArc also has a deep-pleat skirt in their catalog), but having the Colette version available saves you from having to hunt through Burda's dense online catalog or hunt down back issues of their magazine. So yeah, I like this skirt.
Colette Seamwork - Brooklyn skirt
Seamwork: York Blouse

The York is an unremarkable and inoffensive woven t-shirt-style blouse. It's got a boatneck and 3/4-length sleeves.

Most notable...I didn't get a screen shot in time, but the initial photos that were up for this blouse were BAD. The sample was badly sewn and the fit on the model was terrible--with bust darts that ended several inches below the actual bust of the model. I have giant droopy boobs, though, so maybe that would be a good sign for trying to fit myself?

Colette Seamwork - York Blouse

HotPatterns 1182: Athleisure Pretzel Sweatshirt

We've now reached the first (and probably my favorite) of the four new sweatshirt patterns that debuted in the past week. The Pretzel Sweatshirt features a twist hem in front and looks like the perfect cozy top to throw on over jeans. I can't wait to have this made up and hopefully join my Paprika Jasper (unblogged) and Blank Slate Denver comfy tops in near-constant wardrobe rotation.

HotPatterns - Pretzel sweatshirt
HotPatterns 1199: Fast & Fabulous Halcyon Sweatshirt

HotPatterns released a second sweatshirt pattern last week--the Halcyon sweatshirt. I like the deep v-neck and cross-over detail on this one. I'm not sure how I feel about the super dropped shoulder here, but again, this looks like a great layering piece on a cold, rainy day (like we've been having constantly for the past few weeks here in the PNW--I take back all of my complaints about a lack of rain)!

HotPatterns - Halcyon Sweatshirt
Itch to Stitch: Liana Stretch Jeans

Lost in some of the bigger name releases of the past two weeks, the relatively new but very prolific patternmaker Itch-to-Stitch released three new patterns for basics. The first of these is the Liana stretch jean, which have options for a straight, skinny, or flared leg. I think that these jeans are a fantastic idea--fit your crotch/butt area once, then swap in whatever leg you want to use. Honestly, I'm surprised that we're not hearing more buzz about these--the tester versions look good for the most part, and the size range for the pattern is fairly inclusive (better than the Birkin Flares).

Itch to Stitch - Liana stretch jeans
Itch to Stitch: Mila Shirt

The Mila shirt is one of those placket-style shirts that's been everywhere in RTW for the past few years. There are a few similar patterns out there (New Look 6474 comes to mind), but the Mila has classic shirt details and is geared more towards flannels and shirting, whereas the New Look and other similar patterns seem like they're more geared towards lightweight and/or sheer fabric. The Mila also has cup sizes up to DD, so that's a nice feature, too.

Itch to Stitch - Mila Shirt
Itch to Stitch: Irena Top

The third and final pattern in this batch is the Irena top: a knit pullover top meant for layering. I like the design of this one, but I'm not sure how well it would work on someone with a large bust. None of the tester photos that went out with the newsletter showed the top on anyone particularly busty, if I recall. So, this is a wait-and-see for me.

Itch to Stitch: Irena top
Paprika Patterns: Zircon Sweater/Dress

Following up last year's popular Jasper sweater/dress, Lisa from Paprika patterns has released another sweater/dress--this time without pockets but with an interesting inset yoke and hem detail. I think it's a pretty cool-looking sweatshirt; I love that yoke detail. My local JoAnn's (of all places) has a bunch of quilted knits and double-sided knits right now, which I think would be perfect for this.

Paprika Patterns - Zircon Sweater/Dress

SBCC Patterns: Brooklyn Hoodie

So, this is an interesting pattern. Betsy from SBCC wanted to take the oversized look that's currently in style, but draft this hoodie so that it would be proportionate with a petite woman's figure. It's got dropped shoulders and roomy at the chest, but more fitted through the sleeves and torso. I've had success with SBCC patterns, and I like the idea of this hoodie.
SBCC - Brooklyn hoodie
StyleArc: December 2015 Release

With the flood of other new patterns this month, StyleArc's December releases would be pretty easy to overlook. They're not bad, by any means, but we saw more interesting releases from some other companies, IMO. As they've been doing the past few months, if you order a paper pattern from StyleArc, you get a choice of a new pattern (the Maris top) or an older pattern (the Peta pant) as your freebie pattern for the month.

StyleArc: Kaye Tunic

It's a drapey tunic with drapey side pockets. It's fine, but there isn't much to say about it. Or maybe I'm just fatigued from going through so many patterns at this point.

StyleArc - Kaye Tunic

StyleArc: Maris Top (Freebie option)

It's a drapey top with design and color-blocking options.

StyleArc - Maris top

Final Thoughts

After barely having bought any patterns in the past few months, I went on a pattern buying binge these past two weeks.  Far too many patterns screamed "Layer up with me! I'm cozy and comfortable" while we've been mired in a really rainy stretch here in Seattle. (Hint: Most of the ones that I bought were sweatshirt patterns.)

Was there anything that you particularly loved or hated these past two weeks?