apparelsewing

Pattern Testing - Dana Point Top

I had a phase where I did a ton of testing, anything that came up, I threw my hat in the ring. I've been doing it a bit less for two reasons: one, as a form of self care I have been on facebook less (I deleted the app from my photo so if I want to look there I have to use the intentionally crappy mobile webpage) and two, I thought about how many hours I spent doing a test, plus the cost of muslining, sometimes more than once, and I had "spent" so much more "paying" for my own time than if I just bought the pattern. 

That was until I saw the call for the new Itch to Stitch pattern, the Dana Point Top. It was just what I wanted (and I wanted it NOW). Kennis is a fantastic drafter and her patterns have clear instructions and diagrams and best of all, layers! I think this is my all time PDF pattern feature. Anyhow, I've tested for her before, the Lisbon Cardigan which I actually managed to blog about and the Belize Shorts and the Vienna Tank which I didn't. The Idyllwild Tee is my TNT knit top and I love my Lindy Petal Skirt (free!). I'll get back to that later. All of this amounted to me eagerly applying and joining the test team for the Dana Point Top.

Image copyright Kennis Wong, Itch to Stitch Patterns

Image copyright Kennis Wong, Itch to Stitch Patterns

First, I actually made a muslin. This is not normal for me, but it let me check fit and use up a bunch of fabric that I didn't want to toss but didn't want to wear, so win/win. I was super punctual. Got it done within a day of the pattern going out. Then came my sister's birthday, and Wes' and my real fashion fabric, all of which conspired to kill my progress on this thing. My fabric is a lovely black with floral pattern rayon challis from Gaffney that I got maybe two years ago for $3/yd. I had them earmarked for culottes but the pattern didn't have the finished waist measurements (who cares about the finished hip circumference when you've got swishy, wide leg culottes with a fitted waist?!) so they forfeited the fabric claim. Luckily, because my fabric was not unidirectional I was able to fit the whole pattern (self-lined) on 2 yards, rather than the 2 3/4 the pattern called for! (YMMV, measure twice, cut once!)

The fabric is buttery soft, breathable, with a lovely drape. Only problem is it's black, and the back is dark grey, and none of my damn chalk markers or transfer paper and wheel would work to show the markings I had to transfer. It was so lightweight that even when I used pins or thread to mark points they would fall out. Amazingly, for all it's shaping, only has two pattern pieces, the front and back. This is one of the blessing/curse things with this pattern.  Unfortunately that means each piece has six pleats, multiplied by two because you have to do the same again for the linings. If you cut a C cup or larger, there's also bust darts. My fabric also had the bonus of being slippery. Next time I make this top (not this year, I'm all pleated out, sheesh!) I will use a lighter fabric that will take my frixion pens and maybe try doing the gelatin method to stiffen the fabric as I trace and sew. So with all that, I finished my final version a week later. But damn, am I pleased with the final result! 

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Pros: 

  • fit is ON POINT
  • only two pattern pieces (makes pattern assembly and fabric cutting way easier)
  • clear instructions and diagrams
  • LAYERS
  • Cup sizes (the are very generous. I wear a 38DD in RTW and cut an 18C according to the sizing chart and the fit is perfect. If you have a larger bust there is more room for you in these bodices than you think.)
  • fully lined so you can use those lovely sheer fabrics you bought but don't know how to use without showing the world your boobs
  • flattering design, hugs and skims in the right place, lovely v-neck
  • can fit over your head without unbuttoning

Cons:

  • lots of markings to transfer
  • difficult with shifty fabric
  • prone to puffiness if you have a significant swayback (though not really much of a con since Kennis has a blog post of how to easily adjust your pattern pieces to fix this
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Seriously, I love this shirt. In the end I didn't have enough buttons so I invisibly hand stitched the button "bands" to overlap as they would when buttoned. I had planned to sew dummy buttons on top to be decorative but I'm really liking it as is.

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I like this thing so much I've already begun scheming the hacks I want to try in the future. Extended to knee length to be a dress, for sure. And can I hack the front so that it's a single cut on the fold piece now that I know I can fit it over my head without unbuttoning it? I think I'm going to have to hit up Gaffney and see if I can get any summer weight fabrics on clearance to stash away for next year. While I'm at it I'm going to grab some ponte or scuba to make a black Lindy skirt to go with it. I tried Dana Point on with my cream, black and plum leopard print Lindy and the silhouette was perfect (despite the intense pattern clash). 

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In the end, I think my problems were mostly down to fabric choice and going forward I shouldn't have problems with it in the future. Even if it weren't I think the fit and style would be worth it. I wholeheartedly recommend this pattern.

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Twinsies

So, I did a thing. I couldn't resist.

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In my defense, she loves to wear matching stuff. I do too. I love the compliments and feeling cutesy with my girl.

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Confession: I'm not going to stop until she makes me and I hope that day is far, far away.

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Pattern is the free Popover Dress from Oliver and S. It took about 90 minutes from idea to finished product and that was mostly due to the fact that I did a bias tape hem instead of a double fold and that I tried it on her to double check the length of the shoulder straps (I didn't bother measuring against the cut pattern piece). I used leftover fabric from my Jessica Dress. You can check out the details in my last post here.

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She loves it, it's super comfy. I recommend it if you need a quick palate cleanser project. I can easily get a size 3 (that's what I used, same as last year. She's gotten taller but not broader.) on less than half a yard of fabric.

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And in case you need further proof that we are related, here you have it.

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Thirteen years in the making

My husband and I met in October of my freshman year of college. We've been married since 2010. In the almost fourteen years I've known him I've frequently offered to make him things. In all that time I can detail exactly what I made, with and without permission.

Before I thought to ask him if he'd even like such things I knit him a scarf and crocheted him a throw blanket. The scarf was a green and brown Homespun, likely in garter stitch that has since been lost to the ether. The blanket lives in the closet. I think he likes it fine but it doesn't get a ton of use. Since my skills started to broaden, I began to ask him what he'd like (I realized that if I was going through the expense and trouble to make him something I wanted him to both like and wear/use it). This, friends, may have been a mistake. In the last ten years or so, all I was permitted to make for him was a single watch cap. It is brown and simple but it does look quite nice on him. I used vintage Australian wool I got from an op shop while I was living there in 2007.

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I grew tired of being able to make these wonderful things and not share a bit of shine with my honey. (It's how I show love. I get it.) I offered to knit him a sweater which he repeatedly declined since he doesn't much like wearing sweaters. (In hindsight I'm glad he didn't let me knit some fine sweater for a six foot tall person that would never get worn.) So I decided to really look at what he did wear. Enter the Fairfield Button Up from Thread Theory Designs. His wardrobe of tops consist in large part of polos, graphic tees, and button ups (largely in a plaid cotton). I showed him the pattern and asked his thoughts. He gave the go ahead and I got to work. I hit my favorite fabric store (Gaffney Fabrics in Germantown, if you're in the Philadelphia area) and found a cute print (Dear Stella Fabrics Jetsetter print in Sky, unfortunately discontinued) on sale so it wouldn't be so precious if I needed to make some fit changes in the next iteration. I took measurements and double checked with the helpful Morgan at Thread Theory to make sure I was choosing the right size based on those measurements and then I got to work.

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I made used the Average Figures block, the darted back which I think looks lovely and slimming, the standard pocket (the pattern comes with one pocket style but there is a free download of three additional pocket shapes available) and the short sleeve from the free sleeve download. If you read the sew along, I used the less stiff interfacing scheme and just did one button band (the one with the buttonholes), one collar piece and one collar stand. Instead of topstitching the inside collar stand I hand stitched it for a clean finish. I used a double border of topstitching to attach the pocket.

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I found the instructions quite clear and very rarely had problems. The drafting is really spot on. I used my blue frixion pen for markings and they came out completely with the iron. I highly recommend trying these if you haven't. The marks will reappear below 30 degrees F but I'm not worried as this is a summer shirt. My only problem was when I accidentally cut the directional print of my upper collar upside down and only realized after I'd sewn the whole thing, trimmed the seam allowance and turned and pressed it. Luckily I had a good amount of extra yardage to redo it. Most of the garment is constructed with flat fell seams so it has a beautiful, professional finish inside and out. To facilitate this, some of the seams that match up have different seam allowances (for instance a seam where one piece has a 5/8" SA and the other a 1/4"). You line up notches at the edge but I did not like having to justify the piece with the smaller seam allowance along that long seam. Yes, it meant no trimming at the end, but I didn't want to just eyeball things so I measured out the difference and marked it all the way down. My preference would have been to trim later but I could see where the designer was coming from with this approach. My only other qualms were in the absence of two things I really like to see in PDF patterns: layers and a map of the full document so you know which pages to print for the style you're making. Layers let you print only the size you need and avoid the guesstimation at the points where several close lines blur together in a blob. A map lets you save on printing. As it was I ended up having to print both back pieces (this pattern has the option of a pleated back or a darted one) even though I only needed the darted one.

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All in all I'm thrilled with how this came out. He liked it so much that he not only put it on to wear to work but agreed to quickly pose for photos before he left! Once he's back I may pop with a shot of the contrasting inner collar stand and my label on the inside yoke. I will certainly be making this again and am just over the moon to have found something I want to make and he wants to have. I'll add a touch of ease in the midsection per request and try to troubleshoot the draglines at a front and back armholes. Might a rounded/forward shoulder adjustment help with that? I may try a small one next time using the fitting instructions from the sewalong in this post. Oh, and I'll ignore the button markings and make my own since the top button is a little low for his liking. Tiny tweaks. This really is a great pattern with serious TNT (tried and true) potential. I recommend checking out Thread Theory if you're looking to sew menswear. They have a free undershirt pattern you can try out to get a feel for their stuff. They also have two womens' patterns, one of which, the Camas blouse, I've had finished but for some fiddly topstitching (a breeze on wovens, an epic headache on knits) and some hems. Hopefully I'll have an update with that one soon.

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Poppy - Pattern Testing

I am a magpie when it comes to patterns. Always into the new and shiny. I love the Jo-Ann pattern sales and just grab up tons of $1 Simplicity and $2 McCall's. But as I get more experienced at sewing garments for myself and my kid (all of my early, formal sewing education was costuming, so I never got much guidance in how to select and tweak patterns for my own body), I'm learning the value of TNT (tried and true) patterns and designers.

For me, I love Itch to Stitch. Kennis' block is just spot on for my body and her designs have a really classic, wearable aesthetic.  The only changes I have to make are usually to add length (I like tops longer than most designers or RTW manufacturers for that matter, design them) and sometimes grade between sizes, depending on my body measurements. Likewise, I've found the perfect designer for kid dresses: Bubby and Me Creations (the designer of my all time favorite kid sew, the Ava Dress). Both designers have really clear instructions, with professional finishes and layered pdfs (this is HUGE. It means that you can print the pattern in only the size(s) you need. No more going blind trying to find your line where ten sizes converge!).

I've been lucky enough to test upcoming patterns for both of them as well. In fact, I've got some tester photos and a review of the newest Bubby and Me pattern for you now. Poppy is a knit, princess seamed dress in toddler to big girl sizes. It has options for long or puffed sleeves, or sleeveless with armbands. It has circle and gathered skirt options (I went circle for both of mine for two reasons. Number one is obvious: maximum twirl factor. Photo evidence to come. Number two is my own oddity, but I feel like I have a problem with my serger making gathered seams in knit waistbands appear in big bumps rather than nice gathers when I finish the waistband seam allowance so I just try and avoid them.). There's optional faux piping (which looks so slick and was super easy) and a ton of color blocking opportunities.

 

See, I told you the twirl was out of this world. I used ITY on both versions from Gaffney Fabrics in Germantown, Philadelphia (a must shop if you sew and are ever in the area). I picked the purple and yellow but she was adamant about the black flowers. At $3/yd. we compromised and got both. Her review was as follows: 

I like it because it has a big neck hole and doesn’t squish my face. It is great for spins! Here watch!
— Nina

I made the first version with long sleeves per her request but now that the temps are warming up around here (HELLLOOOOO SPRING!) I'm planning to shorten the sleeves this week. There was no unpuffed short sleeve cut line in the tester version so for the flower dress I sewed up the long sleeve version, tried it on her, had her point to where she wanted the sleeve to end, cut it an inch longer than that and hemmed. I didn't bother to hem the purple skirt because my fabric didn't even curl. It looks even better than the rolled hem I attempted on the subsequent version.

Here's a shot of the faux piping because I love it so hard. I'm totally using this trick in garments for myself in the future.

Here's a shot of the faux piping because I love it so hard. I'm totally using this trick in garments for myself in the future.

If you couldn't tell already, I highly recommend this pattern. I've gotten tons of compliments on it and I have to explain to Nina that she can't wear the same two dresses to school every day. Once I have a bit of time to sew for myself I'm going to make up a few sleeveless versions for this summer. With pockets this time (once I find a pocket pattern to steal from elsewhere) because the circle skirt has side seams. This has the added bonus of taking less fabric because you can stagger the pattern piece instead of needing the full width to cut a traditional full circle skirt. You can get Poppy for yourself (well, your kid. I keep nagging on Nikki to make her designs in mom size too. I'm milking the age where twinning with mom is cool for all its worth!) right here. And send me your photos when you're done, I want to see!

Best of all, Poppy is on sale right now for $9! It will go back up to the regular $11 price in the next few hours so go ahead and snap it up now!

 

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