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pattern reviews

Vogue 2241

I was a bridesmaid in a wedding, and the only requirement for my dress was that it be red. So, I picked this Vintage Vogue pattern, and was very pleased with how it turned out!

I used a size 10 (usually I use either a 10 or a 12). The only pattern adjustment I made was to add 5" in the hip area -- it was way too small on my muslin! I intended to take in the armhole a wee bit, as it gaped a tad, but I forgot to on the actual dress. I still think it looks pretty good. I used the casa satin from Joann Fabrics to make this dress. I think it would look smashing in a silk 4ply crepe.

The construction technique for this dress is to press your seam allowance, then lap it over the other seam allowance, baste, and edgestitch. At first I wasn't sure about this technique, but in the end, it works great. All of the seams are bias, and it would be VERY hard to get smooth, non-wavy seams otherwise. I skipped the basting part, and just used lots of pins. The dress top calls for facings. I don't like facings in general, so I self-lined the bodice (basically, I cut two of everything). Since I was lining the bodice, I went ahead and lined the skirt as well (using a regular lining fabric). The back of the dress opens like the lapels on a jacket (sorry I didn't get any pics of that -- the photographer did, so I ordered some, and will post them when I get them), and I did have a hard time finding a bra that was low enough in the back. If you don't have a full bust, I would recommend going bra-less. The dress opens in the back with a series of snaps. I had considered sewing up the back, and making the dress a pull-over (test this with your muslin first), and while I was able to pull it over my head, it was quite a wiggle to do, and I decided against it, as my hair would be done up. I did find that the top snap kept wanting to undo, so if I was to make this dress again (which I would if I had occasion to), I think I would either sew up the back, or make the bodice just a wee larger.

As you can see from the pictures, I did not wear the belt. It didn't look very good, perhaps because I am short and curvy. Overall, I was very pleased with how this dress turned out, and I got lots of compliments on it!

Cassandra

This skirt is a snap to sew up and is very flattering. It makes me feel so elegant and beautiful when I wear it.

Basically, this skirt is two pieces: the front panel, and a back panel that overlaps to the front. The skirt is just sewn together at the waistline, for about 3 inches on each side. You might not want to wear this skirt on a windy day! Fred has the best, IMO, directions for inserting an invisible zipper, and there are also two facings. I shortened my skirt about 3 inches, and probably could've shortened it a bit more. Be sure to get the waistline fitted fairly snug, because I found that mine stretched out a bit with wearing, so I need to take it in a bit.

Overall, I adore this skirt, and will definitely be adding more of these to my wardrobe!

Athena Blouse

Yes I would definitely sew this pattern again, and I have! I have now made this blouse twice -- first in green silk duppioni (the picture), and next in white linen (short sleeve), both with the wide collar.

This is a very flattering blouse, and the directions that Fred writes are fabulous, as usual. This blouse also goes together quickly, just be sure to pay close attention when doing the square armholes. They aren't hard, just take your time. Fred gives directions for doing a full-bust adjustment on this blouse, which is an adjustment I normally do, but I skipped it, and the blouse still fits me fine.

I have also seen this blouse made up in the jacket version, lengthened to about mid-calf, and it looked stunning. Fred designed the jacket version so that when it is hanging open, it hangs straight down. She accomplished this by flaring the center front out a bit from about the waistline, and it really works!

Elan 530

I have been wanting to make a bra ever since the *first* bra article came out in Threads in 1997. This pattern has been in my stash for over 4 years!

Making a bra is certainly not a project I would recommend for a beginner, but this was easier to sew up than I thought it would be. Cindy's pattern and sewing directions are excellent, and very clear. She is also very, very helpful, and was a treat to talk to on the phone when I placed my order for the bra findings, and also helped me via email with some of my fitting questions. The Fortitube channeling that she carries is *excellent*. This first bra took me about 3 hours to make, including some interruptions.

As you can see in the photo, I've got the bra on my mannequin (some thing I picked up at a resale shop years ago), and it doesn't fit well at all. I'm not too keen on the idea of having a photo of me on the net in a white bra, but trust me, it fits me very well! Now I am tweaking the pattern to make a nursing bra, pictures of which can be seen at:
http://mamafitzz.tripod.com/nursingbra1.jpg
http://mamafitzz.tripod.com/nursingbra2.jpg

I also ordered some clear elastic straps, so I can try making some of those new bras you see now with clear straps. Now I need to learn how to start dying the findings and the possibilities are endless!!

addendum:
after reading Karla's comment, I realized I didn't note how my sizing went (duh! ). Yes, I found the sizing very close to my RTW size. The best fitting RTW bras I have are 34DD, so I used a 34 band, with 36D cups. I also used a 36D wire. The bra fit well, though it felt snug in the band, and I had it hooked on the last hook. Also, the center piece did not touch my chest at the top (it did on the bottom). After emailing my fitting questions to Cindy, she suggested I slash the band pattern and add 1/2" inch in width, thus allowing me to close the bra on a smaller hook, giving me a little more leeway. She also showed me how to increase the cup size just a tiny bit, to help the center piece touch my chest, which I also did, and that is the bra that is currently in the works, with the nursing access.

I know it might take a few tries to get this pattern *just* right, but the bras go together so quickly, and to be able to have all sorts of fun printed bras (especially nursing ones!) makes all the tests well worth it!

Thia Tee

Another winner from LaFred -- a very flattering tee. This pattern comes with three sleeve lengths to chose from (cap, 3/4, and long), and two necklines (square and semi-boat). There are bust darts and waistline fisheye darts to acheive a nice fit. There is also a center back seam and dropped shoulders.

For my tee, I eliminated the waistline darts, as I thought it might make it a little too fitted around my middle. ~G~ Also, I think I would like the 3/4 sleeve, and the body of the tee about 1 inch longer; just enough so that the top of my skirt or pants don't show when i lift my arm. The directions for this pattern are very well written and clear.

Elizabeth Lee Designs #202

I have made this pattern so many times, it's ridiculous. It's my staple baby shower gift. This is a very easy pattern to make, and with all the wonderful fabrics out there, you or any mom you know, can have some wonderful, fun, non-baby printed slings.

I do make a few changes to the pattern. I prefer to use a full 2 5/8 yards, instead of the 2 1/2 called for in the pattern. This gives me a longer tail, which I've used for a sun shade, or a privacy screen while nursing. It also gives a 'handle' for a young sibling to hold onto while walking. I also make the padded rails shorter -- cutting them 36" long instead of 44". I take the 8" off of the tail side of the sling. When I quilt the padded rails in place, I do triangles, like this: /\/\/\/\/\, instead of some straight lines. For the accessory bar, I do a clip, for keys, a long tie, and a snapping loop. Sometimes I also put a small patch pocket right above the bar, which I've used to hold some money, or a debit card, if I'm just running to the store.

Another variation I have made on this pattern is to make a fleece-lined sling. I saw one once in a catalog, and thought it was a great idea. It was especially handy in the fall, when Calvin was a few months old, and we would go to the park or walk the dog. I would just need to put a hat and mittens on him, and he would be as snug as a bug in the fleece! How I did it was I cut the fleece as wide as the sling, minus 4 inches on each side. Lengthwise, I ended the fleece at the rings, and at the accessory bar. Next time, I would extend the fleece all the way down to the end of the tail (it works great as a little blanket). I still padded the rails, but used a thinner batting. This sling was quite thick, and I needed to use much bigger rings.

I have pictures of various slings on my webpages:
http://mamafitzz.tripod.com/nursing.html
http://mamafitzz.tripod.com/february.html
http://mamafitzz.tripod.com/march.html

Vogue 2822

This pattern was my wedding dress. As it's been 10 years, I hope I can remember enough to give a good review!

I used a cotton brocade for this suit, and underlined it with cotton batiste. It is lined in Ambiance. I made a few minor alterations to the pattern:
-I took in a small bust dart in the front (about 1/2").
-I shortened the pattern 1/2" above the waist, at the bust dart level, on the back and underpanel.
-I made bound buttonholes, instead of machine buttonholes.
This was a lovely pattern to make. I found it to be well drafted, and the cotton brocade was a dream to work on. The jacket is very flattering, and the collar frames the face and neck nicely. The sleeves eased in beautifully, and I put sleeve heads in. The skirt is just a plain straight skirt, and I made it short enough that it does not have a split.

I would love to show you a picture of me in the suit, but I don't really have any good pictures from our wedding (my only regret was not hiring a professional photographer -- we had a very small, intimate wedding), and after two children, I can't fit in the skirt anymore!

However, I still fit in the jacket, and I love it, so I'm thinking I will make it up again, as it is such a smart looking suit.

oh, I really finished it in time for the wedding, with three hours to spare (planned that way, as sewing is my relaxation). And it was truly finished! no tape, staples, or safety pins! ~G~

Cityscapes

I have had this pattern for a long time in my stash, so when it came up to be reviewed at the independent pattern club I belong to, I jumped at the opportunity!

This is only the second SW pattern I have made so far, so I'm still not sure on how their sizing runs. After conferring with some friends, I decided to make the size small, with no adjustments. I knew I would need to shorten the dress, but I figured I could do that after the fact, and then be sure to have some room to walk, as I have read that the dress can be a bit constricting to walk in if you don't have a very stretchy fabric.

First, the jumper. I found both fabrics at Canvasbacks, a local manufacturer that periodically has fabric sales. I just fell in love with the colors, and knew it would be perfect for this jumper. As I did not have the pattern with me when I found the fabric (when do I ever?), I just guessed that I would need one length, as it was 60" wide. That was about 1.25 yards, but I had to get 1.5, as Canvasbacks only sells in full and half yards. Imagine my dismay when I get home and read that I'm supposed to have 2.75 yards! This just does not seem right to me, so I laid it out, and I was just fine. First lesson: plan your layout in advance, if you can, because you may not need nearly as much fabric as called for. The jumper (and the dress as well) went together very smoothly. I only changed the way the neckline/shoulder area is sewn. First, I trimmed about 1/8" from the neckline, so that the lining would favor to the inside of the jumper when finished. Then I sewed the shoulder seams on both the jumper and lining separately. Next, I sewed the neckline RST, trimmed, clipped, and understitched. Last, I sewed the armholes, one half at a time, from side seam (dot, actually) to shoulder, trimmed and understitched as far as I could. I think this gives a smoother line. The side panels went in very quickly and easily, and I like how the lining is used to partially cover that seam.

The dress is just gorgeous, and also went together very easily. Again, preplan your layout if you can. The pattern calls for 4 yards of fabric (45"/60"), and I only needed 3 yards of 60". The dress is made from a delicious rayon jersey that I purchased at Gayfeather Fabrics. Usually, when I buy thread for a garment, I buy two spools, and use a similar color in the needle of my serger, and I'm fine. I forgot to take into account the long darts in the front and back, almost making this a princess line dress. I ran out of thread, so I haven't hemmed it yet, and next time I'll buy three spools! The only thing I found odd about the pattern was that the binding for the neckline is supposed to be cut on the bias, and I've always thought that binding for knits should be cut on the cross grain, as that is where the greatset stretch is (and that is how I cut it). Also, the illustrations show the seam for the binding as a diagonal/bias seam, and the pattern is straight. I found the binding to be too big for the neckline, so I trimmed the neckline down, and I like it better anyway. This could also be because I didn't take a big enough seam in the first place, as I was constructing from memory at this point. I do really like the neckline finish; I think it looks very professional. The fit is wonderful -- slim through the upper body, and belling out slightly below the waist.

I have not hemmed either the dress or jumper yet (it's just too hot to put it on quite yet!), but I plan to put the jumper hem in by hand, as I think it would look odd to have a machine stitched hem, with no other exposed stitching.

I will definitely be making at least the dress again, as I think it is quite flattering.

Update 10/7: Wore this outfit to church yesterday and got a LOT of compliments. I had dh snap two quick pictures of me, so I've updated the finished project pictures. Also, I hemmed the dress using a twin needle, but omitted the interfacing called for in the pattern, as I felt it would hinder the stretch.

Lines and Angles

I made this pattern up for a model garment at a local fabric shop. I was attracted to the lines (and angles!) of the pattern -- suitable name, I think! Even though I had heard this pattern can be difficult, I went ahead.

First, I made the skirt. It was a pain to cut out, because it is one piece, and I had to do it on the floor. Otherwise, it went together quite easily -- though it wraps left over right, instead of right over left.

Then, I did the vest. I added a dart, as I didn't want to have gaposis in the armholes. I was very careful to cut the pieces right side up, and still, my side seams were off 1". I feel this is a very poorly drafted pattern. There is no way that center front can be where it is marked, because when I held it up to my body's CF, the neckline went out halfway down my shoulder! Once I finished the vest, I tried it on to mark the closure placement, and had to overlap it much farther than matching the CFs. I don't know why the underlap point shows, as it does not in the pattern drawing.

I think this pattern runs huge, and the directions are rudimentary, at best.

Overall, this pattern is a total bomb for me. I think it does not look good at all on me, and my husband took one look at it and said "it makes you look fat, and you're not". So, I guess I chalk this one up to experience! A shame, because I love the fabric so.

To be fair, I have seen this made up and on someone else, and it looked quite nice -- it's just not a good choice for my figure.

Teagarden Tee

Even though this pattern has been reviewed a few times, I thought I'd chime in with my opinion! This top is a knockoff (or a direct copy? I'm not sure) of Vogue 2094, an OOP Miyake pattern. Click here to see that pattern.

I made this top in february, for the pattern club I belong too. After conferring with some online sewing buddies, and posting on Sewing World, I decided to go with a medium. I was advised to make my muslin exactly like the pattern, and make adjustments from there -- good advice, as it's really hard to see just where anything is on the pattern! The first two pictures are of my muslin. I found it fit quite well (thought the sleeves are much too long), but I also decided I wanted a trimmer look, so I decided to re-draft the gusset, making it narrower. You can see how I did that here.

My final top is made out of a cotton/lycra cheetah print (third and fourth pictures on the page). Originally, I wanted to use a neat slinky knit print (incidentally, also a cheetah print -- I like animal prints! :D), but I really feel this top needs a fabric with more oomph or body than slinky provides. I also decided to put the hems in by hand, as I did not want the look of the topstitched hems.

I am really pleased with this top. I think it's a nice alternative to a plain long sleeved tee, and can easily dress up or down. I will certainly be adding more of these to my wardrobe.

New Look 6800

This is a nice general separates pattern for kids, sized 2-7. It's not showing up on the New Look site, but I'm fairly sure it's a current pattern. The pattern includes a raglan long sleeve shirt, pull on skirt, and pull on pants, with pockets. I'm reviewing the pants.

My youngest son is an airplane fanatic, and I found a cute airplane print from equilter. He's on the small side, and finding pants for him has proved to be hard. When I borrowed this pattern from a friend, I was sure it would be a winner, and it is! I like that it has pockets, and that they are stitched down. I made the size 2 for my little man (he is 3 years old), and they are a wee bit big, but I don't mind, as they will last through the winter, easily.

Sewing these pants together was a breeze. I didn't feel like changing my serger thread (yes, I'm lazy, and it bothers me if I don't match my thread!), so I flat-felled all the seams, sewing the garment RST, instead of the usual WST for this type of seam. This is because of the way the pocket opening is made -- you basically clip to the dot and make a narrow hem, so to do traditional flat felled seams would have meant a small raw edge. Probably not a big deal, but I didn't want to be bothered, KWIM? The pocket is one piece that is stitched onto the pant, making it nice and flat.

I have just cut these out again in fleece for my 6 year old, and will definitely be making more for my 3 year old. I think the pockets will be nice in the fleece too -- no flopping around! For my 6 year old, I cut a size 5, but used the size 7 length (he's skinny, but tall). They'll probably be a bit roomy, but that should be fine.

The skirt in this pattern is just adorable, and I'm sure it would sew up really fast. Alas, I have no girls to sew for, so I can't test it out!

Burda Kids Magazine, Fall 2002, design #606

My oldest son needed a fleece pullover, for those cool fall days when it's not quite cold enough for a winter coat, yet not quite warm enough for just a sweatshirt. I liked this design when I received the Burda Kids magazine.

I like the detail of the crossover hood, and I like the fabric kangaroo pocket. The fleece had been in my stash for a few years, and I had a difficult time finding a woven to match, and finally ended up using a babywale corduroy.

Tracing the pattern was a breeze, and I decided to use the smaller size of 110/116 (this design comes in two sizes: 110/116 and 134/140). I added 3/8" seam allowances. I measured my son, and he falls at the lower end of this size range. I also checked the length against him, and I thought it was ok, though when I make this again, I will make it a bit longer, for more grow room.

The sewing directions for the pullover are sketchy, as usual with the magazine patterns. I kept getting confused with the directions for the pocket opening, because they called the welts piping, and to me, piping has cording in it, and you put it on cushions! I just put the welts in the way I normally do. I did have some difficulty stitching the pocket to the fleece -- it kept wanting to shift, and the final pocket is a bit crooked. Did I mention I've never really sewn on fleece before? My only fleece projects before this were two pairs of pull on pants for my sons.

Overall, I'm really pleased with how this turned out. I like the design a lot, and I'd like to make it again.

McCalls 3019

My mother asked me to make her a new bathrobe for Christmas, and after browsing through my pattern stash (see, having a pattern stash is GOOD!), she picked this one. It's made out of a animal print poly silky.

Once I opened up the pattern, and took a look at the finished pattern measurements, we decided to make a size small. I shortened the patterns as indicated for a misses (this is a misses'/men's pattern), but kept the men's length. My mother is tall (about 5'8"), and wanted the robe to come to about mid calf, not to the ankle as shown.

Sewing this robe together was a breeze. The pieces went together nicely, and the poly silky has some body to it, which made it easier to sew. The collar is a nice size, and I like that the sleeve is set in, instead of put in flat. I think that makes it hang nicer. I added the black braid on the pockets, collar and cuffs, to give some contrast, as the print is quite busy. I also added the turn back cuffs by making the sleeve hem extra deep, and folding it back.

I've tried the robe on, and it fits quite nicely -- not oversized and sloppy, which I think can happen quite easily with a robe. On me it almost touches the floor (I'm 5'2" -- didn't inherit my mom's height!), so the length should be just right for her.

I have also made the shorts in this pattern. They were a gift, so I don't know whether they ran big or not, but they did go together nicely too. I'd like to try the t-shirt too, it looks like a nice shirt just to kick around in.

To The Point

I belong to an Independent Pattern Club, and when we picked this pattern in our crop of patterns to be reviewed over a year's time, I picked this one as one of mine to review. The fabric is a wool challis that I picked up at Canvasbacks, a local manufacturer.

This coat comes in one size only, and is quite oversized. I started out by doing a muslin of the pattern exactly as it. It was quite quite huge. A friend came over and helped me fit it, and we ended up taking a 1 3/8" FOLD out of the width of the pattern, thereby reducing the finished circumfrence by 11 inches. I maintained the integrity of the shoulder line by tracing it off before I folded the pattern, and then redrawing it on the reduced pattern. We also shortened the coat by 3 inches, and took it all up in the upper front, leaving the lower front untouched. There was no need to shorten the sleeve, as it seemed short enough once the coat had been taken in.

I decided against using the wide (2 1/4") seam allowances that are pressed open as I wasn't sure if my fabric would do well with that type of seam finish. Instead, I trimmed my seams down to 5/8", and flat felled them all. The seams were very easy, as they are all straight, save the underarm, which is just gently curved. In the original pattern, Louise Cutting uses a lot of steam-a-seam, which I am not overly fond of (just a personal thing), so I didn't use any, just lots of pins. The miters on all the corners were just perfect.

There is to be a large pocket on the coat, and I still haven't decided if I am going to put it on. By raising the front seam, the pocket will now be in the correct location (before it was much too low), I'm just hesitating because I don't want it to be droopy.

While I do like the finished coat, I'm just not sure if it's 'me'. At first, I got a Bea Arthur feel when I had it on, and decided right away that I won't wear it with pants! I wore it to church today, and received lots of compliments, and I like it more each time I put it on, so for me, it may be one of those patterns that just needs to grow on me a bit more. I think this coat would look stunning in an organza or chiffon, as an evening wrap.

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