Monday, November 30, 2015

Finished Project: StyleArc - Misty Jeans (v2)

I just did something that I almost NEVER do: I made the same pattern twice in one month. Seriously, I consider a pattern to be a big winner when I keep it in my "queue" pile and don't put it away after finishing it, but diving right into a second version is pretty much unheard of for me. However, I've been wearing my first pair of Misty jeans so much (and also wanted to make some fitting tweaks) that I wanted to get another pair into my wardrobe ASAP.

StyleArc Misty Jeans - v2
For the basic pattern review, you can read the post that I wrote about the first pair that I made. I'll use this post to cover the changes that I made for this pair, and will post a few side-by-side pics to compare the fit of each pair.

To start, I added functional pockets this time around and got a little fancier with the top-stitching, using white top-stitching thread. Out of the envelope, the front pockets are only a mock pocket with a facing and no pocket bag. I realize that by design, this is meant to cut down on bulk in front, but I really like having a place where I can quickly stick my phone at times. And if you know me, you know that function wins out over bulk reduction every time.

Functional front pocket

Back topstitching and pockets
So let's take a better look at the fit on these. I used the exact same denim (I'd bought a 5-yard cut) as I did for the first pair, but I made a few new pattern alterations this time around:
  • Shortened the jeans by 1" above the knee and another 1" below the knee.
  • Did a 1/2" full tummy adjustment using Kathleen Cheetham's method.
  • Added a 1" wedge at the CB seam (to give more vertical length), tapering to nothing at the side seam.
  • Did a 1/2" knock knee alteration (this was meant to get rid of the "X" wrinkles at my knees in back using Sandra Betzina's method. (There were a handful of different ways to do this alteration I found through searching the internet. Sandra's seemed the easiest, so I figured I'd try her method first.)
  • Moved the back pockets in and up a touch.
Let's see how the new jeans compare to the previous pair from the front. Note that I've lightened these photos to better show the wrinkles/details:

New Misty jeans on the left; Old pair on the right
As you can see, the length alteration that I made took care of a lot of the wrinkles around the knees that you can see in the old pair (on the right). My shirt is covering the area where I was getting the "tummy pull" distortion on the right, but that is fixed now, too. I do think that the CF/crotch might be slightly too long now, and I might shorten that by a touch the next time that I make these. Overall, I feel like the fit from the front is an improvement.

And here's how they look from the back:

New Misty Jeans on the left; Old pair on the right
There's definitely an improvement in that the knock knee wrinkles aren't nearly as pronounced in the new pair. I wonder how much of the improvement is do to the length fixes that I made in this pair, but in any case, the new pair looks better.  The back pockets also look better in the new pair. Some of the knock knee alterations also incorporate a bit of a full inner thigh adjustment, and from looking at these photos, I think that would be worth trying for my next pair.

So...I'm getting there.  These still aren't quite at the point where I'd just buy a cut of stretch denim and sew them up straight off of my TNT pattern pieces, but I'm pretty happy with my progress. I am sure that you will continue to see more posts from me about new pairs of Misty jeans in the coming months!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

This Week in Patterns (27-Nov-2015)

I'm doing an abridged version of my roundup post this week as here in the US, we are in the middle of a long, Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

Cutting to the chase, here are links to what we saw released this past week:

  • BurdaStyle Plus: Hotel Bar (December 2015 collection) - A collection of little black dresses (LBDs) that I might find more interesting if I had any place to wear a LBD. At least they're not shapeless sacks, right?
  • Pauline Alice: Seda Dress -  Cute 50's-inspired dress with the option of being off-the-shoulder or with a contrast yoke (for those of us who can't go braless or wear strapless bras). I love that she was thoughtful enough to include that option for those of us who are more...endowed. The samples in the photo are too large on the model, IMO, but I like the design of the dress, and like many of her designs, I wish they were available in a larger size range.
  • StyleArc: Hedy Designer Dress - Asian-design-inspired unstructured dress with interesting construction details. It's a cool design, but I don't think I could wear it.
  • StyleArc and MimiG Collaboration: Maya Dress - This pattern appears to only be available in PDF download format via StyleArc's Etsy shop. Not sure what the deal with this is, considering that I've never seen a formal announcement about it. The Style is certainly more MimiG than StyleArc. Hmmm...

Monday, November 23, 2015

Finished Project: HotPatterns 1169 Classix Nouveau Refined Peasant Blouse (v2)

Ever since I made my original version of HotPatterns Refined Peasant Blouse last summer, I've been wanting to add another one to my closet. I've been wearing the first version that I made nearly every wash cycle. However, I got a bit hung up on fabric choice for the next version. I absolutely love the cotton double gauze that I used the first time and have been very tempted to make a the second version using the exact same fabric in a different colorway, but that seems kind of boring, doesn't it?

I recently joined the FabricMart Fabricista blogging group, and you'll see me blogging a few projects over there over the next few months. For my first project for them, I wanted to use a pattern that I was fairly comfortable with but choose a fabric that had some "wow factor". I'm a little afraid of sewing with silk (so slippery!), but I felt like making the HP peasant blouse pattern up in a silk fabric would check both of my requirements boxes.

HotPatterns - Refined Peasant Blouse
HP Peasant - back view
I've already reviewed this pattern before, so I won't do an in-depth review in this post, but I will talk a bit about the fabric and construction choices that I made for this version.

Original review/post for the HP Peasant Blouse pattern.

Refined Peasant Blouse - envelope
The fabric that I used was a cranberry-colored silk double georgette. I felt that it would be a good choice for both its drapiness and ability to handle the tons of gathering that's in the neckline for this blouse. On the other hand, like you'd expect from a drapey silk, this fabric was as slippery and wiggly as heck.  I thought about stabilizing it with a starch or a gelatin, but have read enough horror stories online about how difficult it can be to wash those out afterwards that I was wary. (If you have any suggestions for how to stabilize a wiggly silk in a way that washes out easily, I'd love to hear them.)

Surprisingly (to me), the fabric pressed extremely well, and if I made a pressing error, it was also easy to steam the miss-pressing right out of the fabric. I wasn't expecting a fabric as wiggly as this to press as nicely as it did. On top of that, the fabric also raveled less than I had expected.

Here's a closeup view of my gathered neckline:

Refined Peasant Blouse - gathered neckline

I wanted the insides of this blouse to be clean-finished, so I used French seams as my seam finishing method:

French seams
I only made one additional fit alteration to the pattern for this version--I gave myself a little more room in the wrist cuffs because I found them a bit snug on my first version.

Now, in a lesson of how different fabrics behave differently with the same pattern, I had done an FBA (rotated into the neck gathers) for the first version. I didn't necessarily need the additional width that this gave, but I was concerned about the blouse riding up in front if I didn't add extra length there. I think that this alteration worked well in my reasonably-drapey-but-firm cotton double gauze. However, in my super-drapey-not-at-all-firm double georgette, you can see that I'm getting a wrinkle at the bust indicating that there's perhaps too much fabric there.

GOMI-worthy twee pose
Given that I've already altered the master paper pattern, I think I'll be sticking with fabrics with not quite as much drape for future versions--like doing another double gauze version or perhaps a cotton voile or lawn.

Friday, November 20, 2015

This Week in Patterns (20-Nov-2015)

Happy Friday, everyone!  We've got a short round-up this week, which is probably a bit of a relief for both you and me considering that I squeezed in two project posts over the course of the past week.

This week, we have new releases from two companies:
  • Closet Case Files
  • StyleArc
Closet Case Files: Clare Coat

We've already spent a fair amount of time discussing the newest Closet Case Files pattern release on my blog post where I talked about testing this pattern.  But, in case you missed or skipped that post, the gist of it is that the pattern gets a big thumbs up from me. It's a really great pattern in a lot of ways for inexperienced coat sewists, and it's got two pretty stylish views even if you don't need the hand-holding.

I'd love to see some more patterns like this one, both to help expand my own and others' skill sets and to give us the confidence to lose the training wheels on the interesting coat patterns offered by other pattern makers who trend to more sparse instructions.

CCF - Clare Coat
StyleArc: Design Contest Winner Patterns - Hampton Crush Collection

Earlier this week, StyleArc released a trio of new patterns, one of which was the winner of the pattern design competition that StyleArc hosted on Instagram a while back. You can see all of the contest entries on Instagram:

StyleArc: Vicki Top

First up is the Vicki Top, a breezey swing top with armhole darts. This pattern is free with the purchase of the collection as a discounted bundle. As is so often the case with StyleArc, the sewn up sample on the product page is much more appealing than the line drawing.

StyleArc - Vicki Top
StyleArc: Emily Skirt

I'm not sure how this skirt would look on someone with a tummy, like me, but I quite like the design itself:

StyleArc - Emily skirt

StyleArc: Christia Pant

The Christia is a woven pull-on pant. It's a fine enough pant, but I'm a little disappointed that this was the design winner when, IMO, there were more interesting designs submitted. On the other hand, interesting takes on a pull-on pant seem to be the bread-and-butter of StyleArc, so maybe it shouldn't be a surprise that this won. It's fine, but as someone with a tummy, I'm leery of the pleats.

StyleArc - Christia pull-on pant

Final Thoughts

I've already made the Clare Coat and have the paper pattern on its way.  I can see the appeal of the StyleArc patterns, but I don't feel like they're the best style choices for my figure. What are your thoughts? Like, love, or hate anything?

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Finished Project: StyleArc - Misty Jeans

I've had the pattern for the StyleArc Misty pull-on jeans in my stash for about six months now, but I'd been on the fence as to whether to try that pattern or the similar Jalie Eleanor jeans, if I were to dive into the waters of pull-on jeans. (I'd purchased the Jalie jeans, too, because they include both my daughter's and my size jeans all in one envelope.) However, when Alicia of Pandora Sews announced that she was hosting a curvy sewalong for the Misty jeans, I knew that I wanted to take part and finally get my Mistys sewn up.

It's been great seeing so many curvy sewists of many shapes and sizes post their progress on these jeans on Instagram over the past month, so here's my take on the pattern:

StyleArc - Misty jeans
The Misty jean is designed for stretch denim (StyleArc recommends denim with at least 3% spandex), has mock front pockets, a mock front fly, and an elastic waistband.

StyleArc - Misty jean line drawing
I feel guilty liking how these fit and feel as much as I do. I mean, they're elastic-waist jeans! My husband saw the waistband and said, "You're wearing Mom Jeans!"

Out of the envelope (with a few minor changes), though I feel like these are a better fit than the "real" Burda jeans that I've been working out the fit on off and on over the past few months. The Mistys aren't perfect, but they're a few minor pattern alterations away from giving me the fit that I'm looking for, I think.

For comparison, here are the first two versions of my Burda jeans:

Burda v1 - the wearable muslin

Burda v2 -- better
And here are my Mistys, with the only adjustment being adding a bit at the high hip:

Misty jeans
I've clearly still got the knock knee wrinkles, but the other wrinkles between my knee and butt are gone. I do need to add a touch to the length of the CB seam and play around some more with the pocket placement, but I'm pretty happy with these for a first pass.

Here's the view from the front. I see a little bit of pulling through the tummy, so I'll probably do a small full tummy adjustment on my next pair of these.
Misty jeans- front

Fabric and Notions Used


I used the following fabric and notions for my jeans:
  • Fabric: Stretch denim purchased ages ago from I bought this back when everyone was making the Jalie stretch jeans that I never made.
  • Elastic:  1.5" pro-stretch elastic (the pattern calls for an odd size--I felt this was close enough) from Fashion Sewing Supply.
  • Thread: Gutermann jeans top-stitching thread for the top-stitching; regular Gutermann thread in the bobbin and for all of the seams.
Here you can see my top-stitching in all of its glory:

Top-stitching - back

Top-stitching -front

PDF Assembly


N/A. I used the paper pattern.


Pattern Drafting, Sizing, and Alterations


This pattern is available in on the StyleArc website in StyleArc sizes 4-30, which corresponds to 32.6-61" (83cm - 154cm) hips. Additionally, StyleArc has extended sizing up to a size 38 available in their Etsy shop.

I sewed a size 22 with about 2" added to the high hip/waist area.

Pattern Instructions


StyleArc is known for its brief instructions, and this pattern is no exception. However, these jeans are so easy to construct that I didn't really need them. If you do need more comprehensive instructions, refer to Alicia's sewalong.

Misty Jeans Sewalong

Final Thoughts

I like these way more than I thought I would. Next time, I'll make the pattern adjustments that I previously described and want to play around with altering the pockets to make them functional. These jeans are soooooo comfortable and they're nearly as fast to construct as a pair of yoga pants; I will definitely be making more of them.

This pair even earned one of my closely-rationed StyleArc labels:

My StyleArc label

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Finished Project: Closet Case Files - Clare Coat (Tester Version)

I have been dying to talk about this coat project.  If you're a regular reader of this blog, you could probably tell that based on all of the hints that I'd been dropping about a really well-done coat pattern that I tested with really great instructions. was the Closet Case Files Clare Coat:

Closet Case Files - Clare Coat
Apologies for the crappy lighting here; I took these photos a while back (note the sandals and lack of tights on my legs), early in the morning. I've wanted to re-do this photo shoot, but if you follow weather in the Pacific Northwest at all, you'll know that we've had an awful lot of rain these past few weeks. (I finally snagged ~10 minutes of non-raininess to photography my StyleArc Misty jeans this morning...which I finished over a week ago and have worn several times.)

First off, let's get a couple of things out of the way. Yes, I pattern tested this coat and therefore received the pattern for free. However, I wasn't asked to blog about this pattern and all of the opinions that I express are mine, blah, blah, blah. And I'm just going to be blunt here; I love this coat. I loved working on this coat, and I'm really happy with how it turned out.

Clare Coat - Side with Zipper

Now let me go on a mini-rant: In blog posts and in the comments sections on other people's blogs, I have two pet peeves that I lament on a semi-regular basis:
  1. The lack of details in the instructions for commercial coat sewing patterns. I found this horribly frustrating last year when I sewed my first coat. As a newbie coat sewist, you don't know what you don't know. The Big 4 patterns that I've looked over typically tell you to interface the collar and the facings, and that's about it. There's nothing about back stays, interfacing the hem, or adding interfacing anywhere else that might give your coat the structure that it needs to actually look good. (When I look at the coat I sewed last year, I suspect that it would have benefited greatly from an interfaced hem...which I didn't do because I didn't know that I should do it.) We can cobble together tips from books and online sources, but I had yet to see a pattern that actually walks you through the process of making a coat.
  2. So many indie patterns are really basic and beginner-oriented. When you look to the brands that carry more detailed and more advanced patterns (e.g. StyleArc, BurdaStyle), the instructions often leave something to be desired. Where are the Intermediate or Intermediate-to-Advanced patterns with the detailed instructions that could help a sewist advance her skills?
Whether intentional or not, this pattern addresses both of those issues. I feel like Heather was really smart choosing an untailored coat style like this one for her first coat pattern--we dip our toe into things like adding support to the garment, but we don't have to worry about lapels, roll lines, pad stitching, or many of the other things that might make coat-making seem intimidating.


But it's $18!


I know that a lot of you are interested in this pattern but probably want to hear more about it before pulling the trigger. I've already seen a few comments online expressing hesitation at the price ($18 USD).

CCF - Clare Coat

IMO, if you like the style of the coat, this pattern is totally worth the $18 investment. And while I technically received the pattern for free, I kind of freaked out over the number of pages to print/tape in the standard PDF version and wound up taking it to a copy shop. So yeah, I've already paid over $18 for this pattern (and will be receiving a free copy of the print pattern), and I'm totally fine with that. Here's what you get for your $18:

  • Two distinctly different coat views. The two views do share a few pattern pieces, but where the views diverge (other than length), you get separate pieces.
  • Separate lining pieces. None of this having to remember to take an inch off the bottom of the bodice pieces, etc. It's done for you.
  • Separate INTERFACING pieces.  Yes, you read that correctly. This pattern includes separate interfacing pieces for the coat front, shoulders, zipper area, hem, etc. 
  • Two-piece raglan sleeves. Yay!
  • Really great instructions. Constructing this coat was a joy. If you're looking to expand your skill set, View A (the one with the zipper) includes clear instructions for constructing welt pockets, when and where to grade/clip your seams, inserting an exposed zipper with a zipper shield, and bagging your lining. (View B is a bit simpler, so if you don't want to tackle those detail, you don't have to, and you'll still get a nice-looking coat.)
Here are a few details/construction shots of my coat:

Clare Coat - Zipper shield

Clare Coat - Neatly bagged lining

Clare Coat - My awesome welt pockets
I realize that I might sound like a commercial for this pattern, but I wasn't asked to write this. I simply feel very strongly that we need more of this type of pattern and fewer boxy woven t-shirt patterns from the indies. I truly feel like Heather knocked it out of the park with this pattern.

On a side note, Heather gave us the choice of sewing View B or View A for testing. I was completely torn as to which view I wanted to make (really liking both views is a big reason why I threw my hat in the ring for testing on this one). I ended up going with View A because I decided that I really liked the zipper and also wanted to try out the welt pocket instructions.


Fabric and Notions Used


I used the following fabric and notions for my coat:
  • Shell: Wool tweed coating from my stash, originally purchased from (now-closed) Fashionista Fabrics. It's quite warm but also quite bulky. This fabric had been sitting waiting in my stash for me to tackle a coat without a ton of seaming, and it felt like a great match for this pattern.
  • Lining: Poly charmeuse purchased years ago from Gorgeous Fabrics.
  • Interfacing: Medium-weft fusible interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply.
  • Zipper: Custom-shortened separating zipper from Zipperstop. (Pattern testers were given a fair amount of lead time on this coat to source supplies, and I wanted to use a nice zipper.)
Check out my sweet zipper!

PDF Assembly


The test version of the pattern had 80 pages to tape and assemble. (Note that not all pages were used for all views.)  I saw that and promptly sent my pattern to a copy shop to have it printed. The copy shop version printed without issue.

Unless shipping is a major concern or you love taping PDF patterns, you'll probably want to pay a few dollars extra and go for the print version of this pattern.

Pattern Drafting, Sizing, and Alterations


This pattern is available in Closet Case Files sizes 0-20, ranging from a 31" bust/33" hip (79cm/84cm) to a 46" bust/48" hip (117cm/122cm). I'm a little outside of the size range but wanted to keep my pattern alterations to a minimum, so I sewed a size 20 and added a touch to the size 20 seam allowances throughout the body of the coat. I'm actually really happy with the final amount of ease in my coat, but it is riding up a little in front, indicating that I probably should have done some sort of length-only FBA. (This is to be expected, considering my very large bust.)

You can see that it gets slightly hung up on my rear high hip in back, but that's an easy fit issue to fix in future versions.

Clare Coat - back view

I really like the ease-of-movement that I get from the two-piece raglan sleeves. I did not need to do a full bicep adjustment on this pattern, so that was nice. I can easily drive and take my laptop bag on and off this coat without feeling like my movement is restricted.

I found the pattern to be very well-drafted. There was a small error in one of the sleeve lining pieces that the testers caught, but that is supposed to be corrected for the final version. You might notice a slight twist in my raglan sleeve in some shots--this was also corrected for the final pattern. In addition to the sleeve, Heather altered the draft of the collar piece in View A from the test version so that the collar would stand up better.

Lining shot.

You might notice that I reversed the side of the coat where the zipper opening is. That's due to a combination of user error (I cut one of my pieces wrong) and personal preference (for asymmetric things, I prefer to have the opening on the right side because I'm right-handed).

Another alteration I did was to add a coat loop at the back so that I could easily hang the coat up on our rack at work:

My added coat loop

Pattern Instructions


The instructions for this pattern are pretty great; I found them to include just-the-right-amount of detail for a newbie coat sewist. They tell you "sew the bust darts" without holding your hand (I'd assume that if you're sewing a coat, you know how to sew darts) but then go into detail on sewing the welt pockets and bagging the coat lining. 

Final Thoughts


Can you tell that I love this pattern? I realize that the style isn't for everyone. Yes, a more open neckline would "suit" my large/large-busted figure more than View A's neckline zipper, but I don't care; I like it. And if I want to break up the large expanse of fabric, all I have to do is throw a scarf around my neck. Problem solved. Would I sew it again? I don't need another version of View A, given that it's pretty distinctive, but I would like to sew View B, which I think is really cute, too. I love the idea of doing View B in a bright color (like Heather's sample of View A), so I think I'll keep an eye out for an appropriate wool for that version.

So that's my take on the tester version of the Clare Coat. Feel free to ask me any questions in the comments section!

Friday, November 13, 2015

This Week in Patterns (13-Nov-2015)

I don't have much of a roundup this week because there weren't any actual releases. I do have a few pattern-related updates to share, though.
  • Blank Slate Patterns
  • Curvy Sewing Collective
  • HotPatterns
  • Sinbad & Sailor
Blank Slate Patterns: Denver Tunic and Dress

The Blank Slate Denver Tunic and Dress pattern, which I reviewed over at the CSC, is now available as a stand-alone pattern and no longer requires purchase of the whole bundle.

Blank Slate - Denver tunic

I will say that I've really been loving this tunic--it gets worn nearly every wash cycle. I never actually put the pattern away after my last version because I really want to make another one soon, although I'm still on the fence as to whether I want to make another tunic first or try the flared dress view for my next one.

Curvy Sewing Collective: Nominate Your Favorite Curvy Patterns of 2015

Of course, I'm going to plug my own poll.

Over at the CSC, we're going to be doing a year-end roundup of our readers' favorite patterns. To narrow down the voting for the final poll, though, we're soliciting nominations first.

As someone with access to the data, I will say that in some of the categories the nomination voting is VERY close. So please, if you have a favorite pattern or two that you want to see get some recognition, please nominate it to ensure that it makes the cut for the final vote. You don't have to vote for every category, either--just vote for the ones that you want:

Curvy Pattern Nominations Poll

HotPatterns: Boudoir of Bliss - Bel-Air Lounging Pajama Limited Re-issue

On the HotPatterns Facebook group earlier this week, a member posted a picture of luxurious-looking vintage-inspired pajamas and asked Trudy if she could draft something like that. The picture wasn't terribly different from the Out-of-Print (OOP) Bel-Air pajamas that HotPatterns put out a while back (~ 6 years ago, if I remember correctly). When a number of members chimed in their disappointment that the pattern was out of print, Trudy offered to do a very limited print run for a re-issue of the pattern.

HotPatterns - Bel Air Lounging Pajamas

My understanding is that there are only a few copies left, but if you missed the pattern the first time, it's now available again for a short time, so here's your chance! (I actually own a copy of this from back when it was originally in print but haven't yet made them up.)

Sinbad & Sailor: Shop Closing Announcement

London-based indie pattern maker Hannah of Sinbad & Sailor announced this week that she'd be closing up shop at the end of the year. I've seen her patterns some around the SBC but I haven't ever featured S&S patterns in my weekly posts due to both the lack of recent releases and S&S's limited size range. If you have previously purchased but not downloaded any patterns from S&S, Hannah advises you to download and save your patterns before the shop closes.


Final Thoughts

That's it for now!  Any thoughts or questions on this week's updates?

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Finished Project: Blank Slate Patterns - Fiesta Frock (Tester Version)

To those my readers who wonder why I don't sew more for my daughter...muahahahaha...  After last week's robot costume post, this week's dress post, I still have yet another unblogged dress that I made for my daughter (ages ago, it feels like) that I haven't managed to get photos of yet. Of course, then if you consider that I haven't photographed my recently-finished StyleArc Misty Jeans yet, written up the Blank Slate Denver Tunic on my own blog for my own record, or blogged the coat pattern that I tested back in September...yikes, that's a lot of unblogged projects.

Anyway, after the robot costume insanity, I needed a palate cleanser project. I lucked out in that Melissa from Blank Slate put out a call for testers for her new girls' party dress pattern, which I fell in love with from the sample photo. This pattern was a very easy sew with no fitting involved, and I think that the final dress is adorable.

Here it is...the Blank Slate Fiesta Frock!

Blank Slate - Fiesta Frock
You can see that the line drawing is pretty accurate:

Fiesta Frock line drawing

I love how the final dress turned out, and given how easy it was to sew, I'm planning to use this pattern for Eva's holiday dress this year.

Fabric and Notions Used


I used the following fabric and notions for this dress:
  • The main fabric is actually a Mickey Mouse quilting cotton, originally purchased to make a set of pajamas for Eva. I probably wouldn't have chosen this fabric for this dress; however, the skirt is a bit of a fabric hog (but it TWIRLS), and none of my dress-length cuts of fabric for Eva in my stash would have been enough fabric. Eva has been bugging me for a Mickey Mouse dress for a while, so I figured that I'd give her her way this time.
  • Collar and sleeve binding: a scrap of white cotton shirting from Gorgeous Fabrics
  • Buttons and bias binding (for the neckline) purchased from JoAnn's.
Faux Peter Pan collar

PDF Assembly and Pattern Drafting


The PDF for this pattern went together smoothly. One thing that I liked is that although the skirt is just a gathered rectangle, Melissa gives you the option of either printing/taping the pattern piece or drafting it yourself from the dimensions that she gives. I'm a printer-and-taper, so that's what I did.

I ran into no drafting issues, even though this was technically the test version of the pattern.


Pattern Sizing, and Alterations


This pattern is available in girls' sizes NB-10, so it covers a really wide age span. Eva's measurements best fit the size 3T, so that's what I sewed. I didn't make any fit alterations, and I'm happy with the off-the-printer fit.

Fiesta Frock - back


Pattern Instructions


Even though this was just the test version of the pattern, I only ran into really, really minor nitpicky things with the instructions, which should be fixed in the final version. (We're talking about a couple of typos here.) I hadn't seen the included method of binding the sleeve hem/sewing the side seams before, but it was easy to do and made for a nice finish. Melissa's method should be much easier, especially for the smaller sizes, than trying to attach the binding in the round on a small sleeve opening.

I'd rate this as a solidly "Advanced Beginner" pattern from a difficulty standpoint.


Final Thoughts

It's so nice to have a project where everything goes smoothly, especially after a difficult one like the robot costume.  Of course, Eva loves it--she finally got her "Mickey" dress, and it comes with a big twirly skirt!


Friday, November 6, 2015

This Week in Patterns (6-Nov-2015)

Can you believe that it's November already? I've been making good headway on my sewing goals for fall, but I can tell that a number of the garments that I'd planned to make (and still plan to make) won't get sewn until 2016. And, of course, there's always bright and shiny new patterns to be a distraction, right?

With the start of the new month, we've got new offerings from the following pattern companies this week:
  • Colette - Seamwork magazine
  • HotPatterns
  • StyleArc
Colette Seamwork - November 2015 Issue

Colette is billing this month's issue of Seamwork as "the warmth issue", and its articles this month are largely geared towards the cozy sewing that many of us love. The two new patterns reflect this theme.

Seamwork - Camden Cape

I really like this cape. It looks so chic and cozy, and unlike a surprising number of cape patterns, this one is actually lined. Now, I wouldn't have a hope of sewing this up in the advertised time frame of 3 hours, but I will happily happily HAPPILY take more interesting patterns like this one that are really pushing the "quick and easy" Seamwork mantra over another boring woven t-shirt.

Seamwork - Camden cape
Seamwork - Wembley Cardigan

Unlike the Camden cape, the Wembley cardigan seems like more of a throwaway pattern. The samples all look a bit odd where the two sets of bands meet up, and I've got more interesting cardigan patterns already in my pattern stash.

Seamwork - Wembley cardigan
HotPatterns: Fast & Fabulous Diorella T-shirt blouse

I'll admit that at very first glance when I opened the email announcement, I sort of scratched my head at HotPatterns' new release. "Um, that looks awfully similar to last summer's HP Trilogy Top pattern," but then I looked a little closer, saw the back detail, and went "Oh!"...and then read the pattern description, which explains how this pattern is designed for a mix of knits and wovens and went "OH!" And yes, I know that I'm a bit of a HotPatterns fangurl, but I do really like this one, especially since it has the option of cut-on cap or long sleeves. There are a lot of fun design options here:

HotPatterns - Diorella T-shirt blouse

StyleArc: November 2015 release

This month's StyleArc offerings are fairly interesting, even if they're not all particularly my style. As they've done in recent months, StyleArc is offering two choices for a free pattern with the purchase of at least one other printed pattern this month. Also as they've done in recent months, one freebie choice is new (the Nora) and the other is an older, basic pattern (the Abby cardigan).

Violet Knit Jacket

The Violet knit jacket is a cocoon shape and promises some interesting construction. I think that this one would be really fun to make, although I don't know how this shape would translate to someone with a large bust.

StyleArc - Violet knit jacket
Ebony Woven Pant

These remind me of the wrapover pant style that pops up in BurdaStyle every so often, but without the dropped crotch that usually accompanies the Burda versions. The StyleArc take appears more wearable to me, at least from the line drawing. I've always been intrigued by this style but have never tried a pair myself. I think I'd want to see these on a curvy body before pulling the trigger, but I'm kind of tempted on this one.

StyleArc - Ebony woven pant

Nora Woven Tunic/Dress (freebie for November)

The Nora is all about the neckline. The twisted neckline on this pattern is much easier to discern and looks more interesting in the sample photos on StyleArc's website and that StyleArc recently teased on Instagram. The boxy shape wouldn't work for me, but I like the neckline.

StyleArc - Nora Tunic/Dress

Final Thoughts

The only must-have this week is the new HotPatterns blouse, but I'll be keeping an eye out for how those new StyleArcs look on a larger and/or curvy figure. I actually really like that Seamwork cape, too, but day-to-day separates are up higher on my sewing priority list right now.

So...likes and dislikes of this past week? ;)

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Finished Project: McCall's 6814 - Children's costumes

You know it's a bad sign for a sewing project when you have to Google one of the notions from the pattern notion list because you've never heard of it before.

For the record, "headliner fabric" is a soft, spongy foam-like "fabric" that is typically used in upholstery. Also, it's a bitch to sew, and I hope to never have to deal with the stuff again.

Anyway, backing up a few steps, my 3-year-old daughter wanted to be a robot for Halloween this year. Specifically, she wanted to be a blue robot. I really, really tried to push her towards the DC superhero costumes put out by Simplicity, but 3-year-olds know what they want, and Eva wanted to be a blue robot. I'd vaguely remembered seeing a robot costume pattern on the McCall's website and wound up ordering the recently out-of-print McCall's 6814.
McCall's 6814
Note that the robot looks suspiciously similar to the robot Plex from Yo Gabba Gabba (a former favorite tv show of Eva's):

Plex from Yo Gabba Gabba
Several trips to JoAnn's, $65 on fabric and notions, and many hours of work later, Eva had her blue robot costume:

Eva in her robot facepaint, post-office-Halloween party
Given the labor effort and expense that went into this costume, I probably shouldn't be too surprised that I couldn't find any reviews for the pattern on PatternReview or on sewing blogs. This costume was a case where it would have been really helpful to have found a previous review or some tips or anything to help out with some of the tricky bits.


Fabric and Notions Used


Oh know you're in for a marathon when the pattern envelope splits the notions list between the actual envelope and the paper instructions inside. If you want to tackle this costume, here's the supply list that you'll be buying:
  • Fabric for the jumpsuit (in my case, I used a lightweight poly silver lame that shredded if you so much as looked at it).
  • 12" zipper for the jumpsuit
  • Poly crepe-backed satin for the vest and helmet
  • Headliner fabric to interline the vest and helmet pieces
  • A variety of felt squares for the gear and button appliques
  • Paper-backed fusible webbing to fuse the applique pieces to the vest
  • Velcro (for the vest closure)
  • Foam (the disks on the helmet are foam disks wrapped in the silver lame fabric)
  • 3 pipe cleaners
  • 1 pom-pom
Oh, and to attach the lame-covered-foam disks, pipe cleaners, and pom-pom to the helmet, I had to buy one of these:
I now own a hot glue gun. Is that "Mom" enough for ya?

I omitted the window screen from the helmet for the sake of not obstructing visibility (this is also why the helmet is somewhat collapsing on itself).

Pattern Drafting, Sizing, and Alterations


This pattern is available in McCall's childrens' sizes 2-8.  Eva should be a size 3 based on the size chart. I considered sizing down because of the huge amount of ease that Big 4 children's patterns are known for, but I'm glad that I didn't. The jumpsuit would have been too short on her had I sized down; go with the size chart and/or your usual RTW size for your child with this one.

Pattern Instructions


Oy.  The pattern instructions are enough to get the job done, but they don't really point out any "gotchas" for working with these materials.  The headliner fabric is a nightmare to work with, and they have you underline all of the outer pieces for the vest and helmet with it. This stuff squishes and stretches all over the place. There must be an easier way to underline your "fashion" fabric with this (I did machine basting), but I have no clue what that would be. There was no way that I was going to hand-baste all of those pieces for a kids' Halloween costume. Also, the seams involving the headliner fabric are all horribly puckered. No one said anything about it, but I was glad that this costume wasn't an entry on Project Runway.


Final Thoughts

While this project was a huge pain that took forever to sew, but Eva loved it, and that's what counts. She got to wear it to her preschool Halloween party, trick-or-treating at my office, and trick-or-treating around our neighborhood.

"My name is Eva. I am a robot."
Would I make this costume again?  Hell, no. Would I recommend it...well, there aren't a whole lot of other robot costumes out there that don't involve an aluminum foil covered box, so there's that.  If you are asked to make a robot costume, this pattern will likely result in a happy child, and that's the important part.