Once again I saw this pattern sewn up by another blogger, whose post title encapsulated everything I feel about a good pants or shorts pattern. So slight impulse purchase, I ordered/downloaded the pattern and made up a test sample. I used size 10-12-ish and it fit well, the only change I made after doing the test version was lengthening the back by adding an inch at the top of the center back tapering to zero at the side seams. Almost forgot, I did lengthen by about 3 inches. So they are short.
This fabric is leftover from my self-drafted black denim jacket that I made at the end of last summer (worn a ton). This denim is fab, stretchy, good recovery, kind of a charcoal color. And now I can have a very odd suit if I choose - jacket and shorts. Which I do NOT choose.
Oh yeah, I did welt pockets. Kind of slapped them on there with not a lot of consideration for placement but they don't really show as worn with t-shirts so they are fine.
I used my serger for a change. With wanton disregard for thread color. Like it matters...
But I did take care with the welt pockets because I really don't like it when the lining or other fabric shows through at the welt opening, so I add a bit of the actual fabric on the top of the pocket lining. Like so.
So a straightforward summer project and new pair of very useful shorts.
Now a few thoughts about independent patterns, i.e. not the Big 4, which comprise Vogue, Butterick, McCalls (all one company really), and then Simplicity, which includes New Look also. This does seem a bit of a US-centric description as I think of Burda as equally Big, so perhaps the whole group should be the Big 5.
I'll start with a disclaimer, or at least my impression regarding independent patterns, which is that I am probably not the target market. My real interests in sewing are tailoring, jacket and coat-making, and complex patterns with pleating or draping. These are some of the designer Vogue dress patterns I have made in the past few years. (left to right, Vogue 1117, Vogue 1191, Vogue 1159). Funny they look so similar here but they are quite different.
Pattern-wise I am always on the hunt for great coat and jacket patterns, and have had good luck with Burda and Simplicity (as well as Vogue). (left to right Burda jacket, Simplicity 2311 coat, BurdaStyle handbook coat)
So when I say I am not the target market, my impression is that a lot of the independent pattern companies are focused on sewers who are not been sewing a long time, or want a pattern that includes a comprehensive instructions along with the pattern, possibly also a sew-along to help with the process. There are certainly exceptions, (Sewaholic - some interesting jackets and a coat and there are plenty of other designers that have some unusually styles) although I have noticed that her recent releases are much less complex than the first ones. Don't get me wrong, there is absolutely a place for every level of sewing pattern and type of instruction included. I think it would have been really fun to join in but I learned to sew pre-internet and there was a lot of struggling along with only the instruction sheet to figure things out. However there is a lot of sameness, so many items that to my eye are so similar that it kind of confounds me (this is the business/marketing side talking).
Where there is a big gap in the pattern world is for the plus-size or curvy market. There are a lot of sewers who want to make up the styles shown in an indy pattern but the sizing is not there. (That is such a great name - I have really been enjoying reading the Curvy Sewing Collective posts) I think if I were going to create sewing patterns (which I am not) then for pure sales opportunity that would be a good area to target and design for. With new online groups like the Curvy Sewing Collective the opportunity to connect and have a built-in market is becoming evident. I know there are a few indy patterns/designers in that size range but not enough that if a new brand came along with some good social media marketing and a variety of fit options (like cup size variation, height adjustments etc) they could really give the Big 5 a run for their money.
Getting back to the shorts I made above, the pattern was fine and went together well. As usual I didn't look at the instructions but prior to writing this post I looked through them so I could give some feedback, and to my surprise they said "all seam allowances are 1/2". What? that is unusual. So my feedback on fit is a little off, as I sewed the whole thing at 5/8". Not that it mattered and I probably should have looked before I sewed but 1/2" is kind of an odd choice. Most times when I have encountered a different seam allowance it is 3/8". Jalie, focused on knits, and Petite Plus, both have 3/8" and also are both from Canada which made me think it is more the standard metric seam allowance? in any case 3/8" is actually better for construction but I do like the typical US 5/8" as it allows a good amount of wiggle room for fitting. Anyway - the instructions were OK, nothing particularly different and not really as good as the ones I have seen in a Simplicity or McCalls pants pattern.
Grainline definitely fascinates me as the patterns are far from unique, costly when compared to a Big 5 and only include the one item, with not a lot of variation (not including both pants and shorts in one pattern, or sleeve and collar variations). I heard the designer interviewed on the radio show Marketplace and it was really interesting. She certainly has the background and I hope she develops some more patterns with a bit more complexity or detail as I would like to support the business. I have not tried their woven t-pattern but have been asked by others at various sewing meet ups to diagnose issues with the fit on that pattern Which brings me to my next observation.
Regarding a lot of indy patterns, say what you want about the excessive ease on Big 4 patterns but if a pattern does not appear to fit on the model in the bust and chest then I would be very hesitant to purchase. The bust darts need to be in the right place and be angled properly to get the most flattering fit and look. The shape of the armhole and the sleeve that fits in it is also really critical. Certainly there is fit variation in people, and a new pattern company can develop their own size scale but if there are creases and pulling across the body, or at the shoulders then the pattern looks problematic to me.
Pricing is another factor in non Big 4 patterns. Certainly I am in the US so I can buy Big 4 patterns which have crazy list prices but are on sale between $ 1 - $ 4 just about any week. New Look patterns are always $ 4. Plus there is the value part of the equation, I do like buying patterns that have more than one item. A lot of the Big 4 patterns, particularly for tops, have more than one version in the envelope, sometimes as many as 3 very different versions so that is really getting more for the price. A lot of the Vogue designer patterns which are separates have a top and skirt, or a jacket and pants, possibly with variations so that another way they give you more than a single item for $ 12.
It is a matter of personal taste but I do prefer paper patterns, it is just easier to skip that step of printing, taping and either cutting out an unwieldy taped together thing or tracing from that onto other tracing paper. If I am in need of instant pattern gratification then BurdaStyle downloadable for $ 6 has been very good (wool tweed jacket above was a pdf) and with a bit of searching they have just about any basic style and plenty of interesting ones as well. However if I saw a great pattern and it was PDF only that would not be a deal breaker. Like the Tania culottes, unique and turned out very well, although that is the only pattern in that line that seemed really different from the rest of the marketplace.
As a consumer I also look for really good info on a pattern web site. Technical drawings are SO important. Not stylized, cute drawings, but the standard style of technical drawing. This is really how I am deciding on a pattern so if they are not there, or pop up in a tiny window on my laptop - then they are not going to get a good look from me. The Big 4 and Burda do a good job with these and despite some of the wacky fabrics or poses they show the technical drawings are what sells the patterns.
This post is turning out to be longer than I planned and I have a lot more thoughts on patterns. Does it deserve another post? Let me know. Colette's Laurel - I have helped a few friends with this one and whew, it took a lot of alterations to get it to fit (could have started with a similar New Look or Burda and been done in much less time). Pauline Alice's Alameda dress, so cute, love it with my favorite cut-in armholes. plus it is a skirt/top/dress combo. Maybe next spring. Stepalica patterns, now those are some interesting and complex looks, why have I not made one? I resolve to next year. Lekala patterns have worked out very well for some and not others - but the idea of customized downloadable patterns really is the ultimate in pattern shopping so they deserve more testing.
Last year I was joking with my friend Elizabeth of the Sewn blog and mentioned that I love to pick out patterns, I always want to suggest them to various seamsters I meet either in person or on line. So we decided that I wanted to be a "pattern whisperer". In fact now I have convinced myself to do another post on the basic patterns that are really adaptable, fit-able and easy to sew that I think make a good start for anyone.
Happy Friday and this weekend I am finishing up those "please copy these shorts" for someone in my family that I mentioned in the last post, plus finishing up this year's birthday dress which is a pattern repeat (yeah!) in a slight wacky fabric, not 100% sure about it but what the heck.
today's garden photo - what else this time of year but tomatoes? Yumm.