The thing about losing that much weight, is that nothing at all fits anymore. I went from a decent me-made wardrobe to nothing. But the thing about that is that you get to start over. I was feeling kind of stuck in a wardrobe that didn’t really fit me, both literally and figuratively. I didn’t really want to dress like a mum anymore, and I don’t have the kind of job that requires the corporate wardrobe stuffed in the back of my closet which suddenly fit again.
So when I made this dress I decided to choose something way more fun than I normally buy. Roses and skulls. I feel a bit more badass than normal, so I figure I’m doing it right.
This pattern is perfect. It is super easy to make and the fit is great! The only problem I ran into was of course the infamous Awkward Skull Placement™. There was a 1/2 inch of skull on the bodice front that I thought would be fine but then I decided it would irritate me constantly. I had to shorten the bodice by just a sliver. If I hadn’t, the length of the bodice would be perfect, but what’s a girl to do!
Pattern: Lady Skater Dress by Kitschy Coo available in sizes 1-8 (using their own pattern sizing system). I chose the short-sleeved view. There is also a long sleeve version.
Fabric: Red Goth digital jersey: 92% cotton, 8% spandex, and 200 g/m2 with black tubular ribbing. From l’Oiseau Fabrics.
This time I made quite a few adjustments. First, I went down two sizes. I made size 12, which is about 2 sizes smaller than the size chart indicated I should use. This made the fit at the shoulders much better.
I skipped the waistband altogether, which wasn’t especially flattering on me, and lengthened the top by three inches to make up for the length in the band and then some. I’m a little long in the ribcage and ready-to-wear shirts are often too short. This is the length I prefer.
I also skipped the zigzagging around the neckline that is called for in the pattern instructions. Last time, I tried this on the back of the neck but I didn’t like the look. to hem the shirt, I used a double needle. I’m much happier with this finish.
I also used better fabric. This jersey is a bit more expensive than the last time, but has much better recovery. That makes it a little more flattering, but also more comfortable. It’s also really bright, which I like. Who says kids should get all the fun?
I am so much happier with this shirt. It feels great and cheers me up when I wear it.
Pattern Review: Renfrew Top by Sewaholic Patterns. I made view A. Fabric: Cotton-spandex Jersey, from L’Oiseau Fabrics. Cost: The pattern was a birthday gift and the fabric was about 16$ a meter. Total: about 25$. Size: 12. Sewing Level: Adventurous beginner. Modifications: I didn’t zigzag around the neck band, I lengthened the shirt by about three inches, and I skipped the waist band. Results: So much better than the first Renfrew I made. I plan to make this again with the cowl neck.
I had been looking at the Skater Dress pattern for a while, but didn’t really have the right fabric. Ideally this would be made in jersey, but I thought the French terry be a little cozier. The dress ends up being great for our current cold weather, but still fun to wear and very comfortable. This French terry has a lot of stretch, which makes the dress very wearable, especially for kids. It’s like your favourite sweatshirt, but it’s a dress.
Unfortunately, it’s been too cold for outdoor photo sessions and the light hasn’t been great lately generally, so you’ll have to settle for less than ideal photos this time around.
I let the kids choose the colour of the contrast cuffs from my scrap bin. The cuffs are so bright, but they do really make the dress. With solid colours for the main part of the dress, they might be a bit plain, without that crazy pop of colour.
The pattern is sized to fit over two years. They fit a bit large. My kids are both at the lower ends of their ranges, but definitely too big to go down a size. I double checked the measurements, and tried the size 5/6 on my normally size 7 kid to check. Next time I might take the dress in a little through the bodice for my skinny girls, especially if I use a heavier fabric again. In jersey, it would probably be fine.
This pattern is a really quick sew. I finished both dresses in an afternoon. The instructions were great and everything came together without any problems. I also have the women’s version of the skater dress, so I’m pretty excited to get to that soon.
Pattern Review:Little Girls’ Skater Dress by Kitschy Coo, available in sizes 18m-8Y (in 4 different sizes). Fabric: French terry, with jersey cuffs. Sizes: 5/6 and 7/8. Cost: Pattern: About 14$. Fabric: $5 per dress. Project Sewing Level: Beginner. Modifications: none. Results: Great. The kids love wearing these.
It’s a very quick, easy pattern, and makes a nice, basic skirt. I made this in sizes 4 and 6. The only changes I made were to lengthen the size 4 by one inch, and the size 6 by two inches, and lower the kick pleat to match. I also added the pockets from the Oliver + S Sandbox Pants, to the back of the larger skirt.
I used stash fabric for both skirts, leftover from otherprojects. This pattern takes a little under 3/4 of a yard of fabric, per skirt, which is what I had.
It’s a great pattern if you have just a little bit of fabric left over. But unfortunately, it meant that pattern matching was out of the question. Since this fabric would have been wasted otherwise, and these skirts were meant for casual fun, that seemed fine, this time around. I settled for an absence of awkward print placement, but I had to trace out the pieces with chalk a couple times in the size 6, to get that right.
The skirts are a big hit and seem to get worn at least once a week, which is a lot with my sometimes finicky kids.
Scoot Scoot in Blue from the Havana collection by Monaluna (organic).
Sizes: 4 and 6. Cost: Pattern: 0$. Fabric: 0$ (all was leftover pieces from other projects). Sewing Level: Beginner. Modifications: I lengthened the skirt, by 1-2″, depending on the size, and lowered the kick pleat. Results: Great. These were fast, are super comfortable, and are now in heavy rotation.
So I was very excited to be a pattern tester for the newest version of the pattern, which now includes a sweater, a short-sleeved version, and an expanded size range from 12m to 12Y.
And is it ever easy to sew! I finished about one project per nap. I love one-nap projects!
In the end, I made this pattern six times: three tops and three dresses, in three different sizes.
This project calls for knit fabric, and obviously a sweater knit would be ideal, but sadly the choices were limited at my local fabric shops and I had no time to order online.
The smallest kids chose the fabric for the tops (ack! so cute to watch them choose fabrics) – a slinky rayon jersey. In that fabric, the tops have a retro 70s vibe.
The pattern changed slightly during testing, and now has a banded waist, but these tops were made before the change.
For the dresses, I chose a ponte de roma that has a bit of a soft, sweater-knit texture. This fabric gave better results than the jersey. It’s a stable knit that is still very stretchy and has great recovery.
I only made two changes. First, I shortened the sleeves by 1-2″, depending on the fabric and dress size. Second, I attached the cowl neck first, before starting the sleeves. I find it easier to work this way, but it’s just my preference. See a discussion on sewing flat versus in the round, here.
I didn’t use a serger – I don’t have one. I just used my regular machine, which has a faux overlock stitch and I hemmed everything using a double needle. This worked very well.
The results were great. These tops and dresses are cute, cute, cute and the kids love wearing them. Yay!
Dakota stretch rayon jersey knit Hearts in navy, pink and teal (medium-weight knit, 95% Rayon/5% Lycra, 4-way stretch, 25% vertical stretch and 50% stretch across the grain).
Ponte de roma in grey, (medium- to heavy-weight knit, 80% Polyester/15% Rayon/5% Lycra, 30% stretch across the grain), magenta, and dark teal – not shown – (medium-weight knit, 50% Polyester/45% Rayon/5% Lycra).
Sizes: 2T, 5T and 7Y. Cost: Pattern: 0$. Fabric: About $12 per top and about $16 per dress. Sewing Level: Confident beginner. Modifications: I shortened the sleeves, by 1-2″, depending on the fabric and dress size. Results: Great. This was fast, and I love the trendy look.
Disclaimer: The pattern was generously provided by Heidi & Finn, in return for testing the pattern. As always, my opinions are my own.
I didn’t make many modifications. I shortened the pants to shorts. I also left off the drawstring waist and used a simple elastic waist. I left off the buttons on the pockets as well. Kid No 2 is not a fan of either. Drawstrings and buttons are his kryptonite. They also take longer, so I’m not complaining!
The pattern calls for 1 3/4 yards for the pants, but I got these shorts out of 1 yard of fabric.
The print is Scoot Scoot in Blue from the Havana collection by Monaluna. It’s a really nice, smooth organic cotton. I love the print, but unfortunately it was printed slightly off grain, which made cutting and pattern matching a bit of a pain. I’ve used other prints from the collection, without any problem, so I guess I was just unlucky this time.
Kid No. 2 loves bright colours and fun, but age-appropriate prints. Unfortunately, most of the clothes in the stores for boys his age are in darker, and/or more serious colours – lots of navy, grey and beige (yawn). One of the great things about sewing my kids’ clothes is being able to make them the things they really like.
This is also a stash-busting project for the Stashbusting Sewalong. I bought this fabric maybe a year ago, so I’m really happy to get it into regular rotation.
Fence in White, Stars in Blue, Rainbow in Pink and Rainbow in Purple, all from the Angry Birds collection and all licensed to David Textiles by Rovio Entertainment, LTD. I bought this at the local chain shop.
Sketch in Grey by Timeless Treasures for the waistbands and leg bindings.
Sizes: 18-24m, 4, 6.
Sewing Level: beginner, intermediate if not just the pants.
Results: Excellent! I’ve made these 11 times before. I would highly recommend this pattern.
Just to be clear: The Angry Birds name is trademarked by Rovio Entertainment, LTD and used by the fabric manufacturer under licence. The pjs shown here are not official licensed products and are not available for sale. But you can always buy some fabric and make your own!
Fabric: Sunset from the Fly Away collection by Amy Schindler for Robert Kaufman. FloraDots in Violet from the La Dee Da collection by Erin McMorries for Free Spirit Fabrics. The lining is white cotton batiste. The piping is made with Kona solids.
For those of you here for the sewing, I ‘ll have some dresses up soon. But first I wanted to look at something that I discussed in my last post on why it makes economic sense for indie pattern makers to extend their size ranges.
In my last post I showed a couple of distribution curves that illustrate what percentage of the population could use a pattern with a given size range. But I thought it would be interesting to see what range of sizes existing indie companies are actually offering.
I figured I would just choose the top pattern makers, but how to choose? The ones on someone’s list? The most blogged? The ones I like the best? The hippest style, nicest drafting or most clever instructions? So I hopped over to pattern review.com, and looked at some of the patterns that have made their top ten patterns of the year, over the past few years. You may or may not agree that these are the top patterns, but they’ve been sewn by a large number of people, and have obtained many good reviews.
A reminder: In the following charts, I’ve shown size range in the general population, across a normal distribution. Then I’ve charted the sizes offered for specific sewing patterns as the area under the curve (the green area) to calculate what percentage of the population could use the pattern. See my previous article for a more detailed description of these concepts.
First shown is a range of pattern sizes (6-18) used by some indie pattern makers. About 43% of the population can use these patterns.
Next is a pattern from BurdaStyle magazine: 04-2009-101 “Skirt with Front Pockets”. Only 31% of the population can use this pattern. Considering this is a simple straight skirt, that would look good on a wide range of figures, it’s surprising that the pattern is offered in so few sizes.
The Cambie dress is similar to the curve used by indie pattern makers, shown above, with a couple extra sizes near the middle. However, since Sewaholic patterns are drafted for pear-shaped figures and I’m comparing pattern sizes based largely on bust measurements, in reality this curve is probably shifted a little to the right and probably covers a slightly larger percentage of the population.
The Archer shirt uses a curve similar to the Big4 pattern companies.
This is the Anna dress from By Hand London. Although their sizing system is slightly different, this dress goes up to the equivalent of a size 24. It’s a curve similar to that of used by the Big 4 pattern companies, but shifted up slightly.
Here we see the distribution for Colette’s Peony dress. It covers 61% of the population, just like the Anna dress above, but the pattern maker offers 10 sizes to cover the range, instead of 8.
Colette recently extended their size range with new patterns for knits. This is the size range for the Moneta dress. It covers 80% of the population, in only 7 sizes. This isn’t one of the top patterns on pattern review.com (it’s too new to be considered), but I think it’s interesting to look at, compared to the previous size range for this company.
The Tiramisu dress is also a dress for knits. It covers a slightly larger percent of the population (85%), but this time with only five individual sizes.
Finally there is Jalie. Their large size range is part of their marketing strategy and their patterns are often drafted for both kids and adults. Jalie 2919 can be used by 88% of the population. It’s the largest percentage, and they definitely have the largest number of sizes per pattern (27!). But, compared to some of the other companies, Jalie doesn’t offer the largest sizes.
These numbers are only approximations based on the model I described in my previous blog post. The same statistical caveats discussed in that article apply to these curves. Keep in mind, I’m using bust measurements, based on this chart, to do a comparison across various different companies, all of which use their own sizing systems. I used bust measurements because they are always listed, and because there is a historical precedent in vintage patterns. Using a different measure (waist, hips, etc.) would result in slightly different curves for each pattern. Overall, though, the differences between companies should be similar.
I’m choosing patterns from patternreview.com. It’s possible that there is a sampling bias. Maybe the people on that site prefer patterns of in a larger range of sizes, for example. There are probably many more patterns out there that have curves that look like the BurdaStyle skirt, than ones that look like the Jalie top.
Covering the entire ranges of sizes may not be the goal of a given pattern maker. In some cases, certain pattern companies may be marketing to specific niche markets, and so they may not intend to cover the largest range possible. In other cases, resources are limited. Nevertheless, I think it’s interesting to look at examples of what specific, successful pattern companies are doing.
Comments are always welcome! And I promise the next blog post will include actual sewing 😉