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 😉
This time around, I made the dress with the view B faux cap sleeves, but with a gathered skirt. I made two changes. I added red piping at the waist, and I added in-seam pockets.
This dress was made for Kid No 3, and is a huge hit. She loves ladybugs and the colour red, and recently asked me why she doesn’t have “a dress that twirls”. The pockets are hidden in the gathers of the skirt, and she loves the “secret pockets” too.
This was a lot of fun to sew. The pattern makes a really pretty dress that’s lined and nicely finished on the inside. But the sewing was quick and problem-free.
Warp & Weft Sewing Society
This is a Warp & Weft Sewing Society project. We are a group of talented sewists and quilters creating beautiful projects inspired by the fabrics from Warp & Weft Exquisite Textiles.
I have recently seen so many gorgeous knit maxi dresses on the web, that I thought it was time I made one too. I was especially impressed by a number of dresses made by some curvier ladies, that looked amazing. So after some mulling over, I decided to use the Moneta dress pattern by Colette Patterns.
The instructions are great, and the pattern is simple and quick. If you’re new to knits, this shouldn’t give you much trouble and there is a Moneta sew along, just starting. It’s also very quick to assemble.
I used a lovely, springy bamboo jersey by Telio that I bought locally. It’s amazing, and I will definitely use it again, in all the colours possible.
I sewed the XL, based on my measurements, but it was huge. I ended up taking in the sleeves by two inches and the sides of the bodice by an inch on each side. I could have taken a bit more in the sleeves, and a tiny bit more at the waist. I probably should have cut the medium with a fake FBA (to the size large).
I’ve seen at least one review that recommended using the sleeve in a size smaller than the dress, and I agree, this would be a good idea. I thought the bodice looked short, but with the weight of the skirt, the length was perfect (I’m a bit long waisted too). I extended the skirt by 12 inches, to make a maxi dress, but I didn’t keep the angle, as others have, keeping the same dress width at the bottom.
The instructions have you gather the skirt using clear elastic. I’ve seen at least one review that noted this was difficult. I had no trouble. But I had to recut the skirt a bit (more on that later), and I was out of clear elastic, so I used lingerie elastic. This is much, much easier as it doesn’t slide around. I added clear elastic to the shoulder seams though, which wasn’t in the instructions.
After taking the dress in, I had two main problems: the first was the neckline. Did it look like the pattern photo and technical diagram? Absolutely! And was it flattering? Absolutely not. It’s just the neckline to show off my bad curves, and hide my good ones. In the end I recut the neckline into more of a scoop neckline and lowered it by 2.5 inches. I could have lowered it more. I also used a band to hem the neckline (like in the Renfrew top by Sewaholic) – tutorial here. My double needle broke, which is why I did this, but I prefer the look, in any case.
My second problem was with the stripes in the skirt. The skirt panels are not rectangles, but curved at the top and bottom. I think this might be to have a prettier hemline with a shorter skirt. However, with stripes, it means that the stripes near the waist will appear to curve down at the sides of the dress. You can see it in the pattern photos on the Colette website, if you look carefully. You would only notice this with stripes. It also means that if your fabric panels are cut the slightest bit off, or if the gathering is uneven, the skirt will appear crooked. In the end, I recut the skirt to be straight on both the top and bottom, because the curved stripes really bothered me.
And in the end? Even with the fitting modifications (and the fit is good), I don’t think the dress is especially flattering – on me. I’ve seen lots of versions of this dress, on a lot of different figures, and they look lovely. On me, though, the gathered shirt emphasizes exactly where I need to loose a little weight (sigh). A better silhouette for me would have shorter cap sleeves, or 3/4 sleeves, a lower scoop neckline, and less gathering at the waist, and I think I’ll stick with a solid next time. It is, however, the most comfortable dress I have ever owned. So overall, a great pattern, but not ideal for my figure.
I’m a bit discouraged, to be honest. I was hoping this would be a great, easy (it is easy!), go-to summer dress. But I think I have to keep looking. I’ve just cut out Vogue 8825 in black , which I think might look better on me. And I’ve bought the Lady Skater by Kitchy Coo, as well. Hopefully I’ll have more luck with one of those. Wish me luck!
Modifications: I took in the sleeves by 2 inches and the sides of the bodice by 1 inch per side. I lowered the neckline by 2.5 inches and made it a bit more scooped. I used a fabric band on the neckline. I reshaped the skirt so that the stripes would be straight at the top of the skirt and I lengthened the dress by 12 inches. I used lingerie elastic at the waist, and clear elastic at the shoulders.
Results: Great pattern, but not ideal for my figure.
I wasn’t sure if I could do the whole pants purple koi (maybe a bit too rock ‘n roll), but a tuxedo stripe sounded fun.
I used the After-School Pants pattern by Oliver + S. It was a breeze to sew. I made size 6 and 7 in a medium-weight twill, with koi accents, of course. I had originally planned to use quilting cotton, but after patching yet another pair of pants, decided on something just a little tougher.
The only changes I made to the pants were to add a bit of extra top stitching, to make them look a bit more like jeans, and to use the koi print for the side stripes, interlined with the same twill. I though quilting cotton alone might not hold its shape well enough, when combined with the twill.
I originally had not planned to make anything else. Fish pants seemed pretty distinctive. But while the pants took four long stripes of fish, but there was still a little fabric left over. And of course, it’s gorgeous, so I had to do something fabulous with it. I only had one yard of the Don’t Be Koi print, but I still managed to get four garments out of it.
So I made up the Roller Skate Tunic by Oliver + S (view C), which I’ve made once before. I cannot tell you how much I love this pattern. When it first came out, I wasn’t sure I liked it, but it definitely grows on you. It is a really quick, easy sew, and there are so few seams to finish, which is always a bonus. I used some more koi, and some white shirting that has been in my stash for ages and ages. It’s actually older than my oldest daughter (so embarrassing!). The tunic is lined in soft cotton batiste. I made no modifications, beyond colour blocking the tunic.
For my son, I used the Prepster Pullover by Blank Slate Patterns. I first thought about making a button-down shirt, but my son is not a fan of those. So many buttons for little hands! This shirt is easier to get into, so he gave it the thumbs up before I got started.
I used contrasting fabric for the placket and collar, modified the pocket to add some extra koi, and lengthened the hem on the sleeves. I also changed the construction order. The pattern has you put in the collar at the end, after you’ve sewn in the sleeves and attached the sides, but it is much easier to do earlier on. There’s a cool article on the difference between the two construction methods here.
Unfortunately, the Koi collection is almost gone, but you could get a similar effect with the Charley Harper collection or the Beyond The Backyard collection. Anything bright, with some good contrast would work well.
Beige twill, white shirting (poplin?) from my stash, and Don’t Be Koi from the Koi collection by Rashida Coleman-Hale for Cloud9 Fabrics, courtesy Warp & Weft.
Sizes: 6 (pants and pullover) and 7 (pants and tunic).
Sewing Level: Pants and tunic: advanced beginner. Pullover: intermediate.
Modifications: I colour blocked the tunic. I interlined the side stripes with twill and added some top stitching to the pants. For the shirt, I used contrasting fabric for the collar and placket, changed the pocket, lengthened the sleeve hem, and changed the construction order.
Spring is finally here (sort of). And that means the great clothing change-up. But when I brought out all the spring clothes and put away the winter clothes, what was missing? Spring pyjamas.
This time I let the kids do the fabric shopping (sadly, I still had to do the paying). And they picked some great prints! So cute. The girls all chose prints from the Picture Pie collection by Ed Emberley for Cloud9. And my little boy chose Little Birds from the Havana collection by Monaluna. Cute, cute, cute.
I used the Bedtime Story Pajamas sewing pattern by Oliver + S, for the bottoms, and appliquéd an animal from each print onto store-bought t-shirts for the tops. I’ve made these pants seven (!) times before, so obviously, it’s a great pattern. I hardly even need to say it do I? But as always with Oliver + S, the instructions are super clear and the sewing is a breeze, and this would be a great project for beginners.
The photo session, however, was an exercise in frustration? comedy? Four little kids at bedtime are hard to wrangle sometimes.
This post is part of the Kids’ Choice sew along organized by Elegance & Elephants.
Picture Pie in Raccoon, Fox and Fish by Ed Emberley for Cloud9 (organic).
Little Birds in Blue from the Havana collection by Monaluna (organic).
Sketch in Grey by Timeless Treasures for the waistbands.
Sizes: 18-24m, 4, 6.
Sewing Level: beginner, intermediate if not just the pants.
Modifications: I lengthened the pant leg and folded twice to hem, instead of binding the leg hem.
Results: Excellent! I’ve made these 7 times before. I would highly recommend this pattern.