Monday, February 13, 2012

Testing New Sewing Patterns

2011 was my year for going back through my collection of disappointing patterns to see if fitting alterations could make any of them useful. With the exception of a loose-fitting shirt style and the frequently pre-tested jacket, I didn't find any overlooked treasures. Given all that pattern-adjusting and sewing with no new clothes to show for it, I decided to bite the bullet and order some new patterns. (Oh, for the days when they cost $1.25!) This "Vogue 8598" blouse with shoulder-princess seams was the winner of the bunch. It was easy to make the full-bust adjustment (or maybe I just have had a lot of practice lately), and that was the only change I made to the basic design. I wore this blue rayon shirt Friday, and it fit fine and didn't reveal any design flaws or tendencies to bunch or pull under a jacket. The shirt collar is a little over-sized, so next time, I'll replace it with a more "normal" menswear collar. I'm planning to try it next in a crisp cotton, and if that works well, perhaps I'll use it for the cotton-linen blend I dyed last summer.

This tunic pattern, "Vogue 7858," was half-price the day I ordered patterns, and I thought it looked intriguing, perhaps as a light-weight over-blouse for summer air conditioning. This turned out to be one of those cases where Vogue's drawing doesn't match the pattern. The side front horizontal seam doesn't sit at the bust, as the drawing shows, but well under the bust, giving quite a different garment shape. A quick look at the multi-size tissue pattern also revealed that the sizes were not graded--larger sizes were simply wider than smaller sizes.

Years ago, Vogue was reliable for excellent line drawings and accurate estimates of wearing ease. The blouse pattern above (Vogue 8598) was just as depicted on the pattern envelope. Still, since I'd already blown the money on pattern and postage, I made some pattern alterations, and sewed a muslin. I thought it looked promising, so I cut it out of some Guatemalan cotton fabric I bought in Costa Rica in 1983. I was really glad to have the serger for neatly-finished seams on the ravel-y hand-woven.

While the muslin (made of actual muslin) seemed to be the right size for an over-blouse, the finished garment in a heavier, coarser weave seems a bit too large. I think it has a future as lounge-wear, but I'm unlikely to use it as a light jacket in work settings. (These days work clothes are less in demand than lounge wear, so this is not a problem.) Should I ever sew this again, I would definitely use a smaller size One size smaller, or two? I'm not sure.

Despite the way their pattern line's name fits with my philosophy, I've never had much luck with McCall's "Stitch and Save" patterns. Still, the price was right, and I'd been intrigued with this Empire style blouse since I first saw an expensive custom-designed version of it several years ago. Although the pattern is adaptable for various bra-cup sizes, my first muslin indicated that I needed a further full-bust adjustment, and some narrowing at the shoulder seams. The second muslin seemed to fit, so I tried it in this blue silky polyester (from my mom's 1980's collection).

Ah, if only I had tried sitting down in the muslin, I could have saved this fabric for some more successful project. When I sit down while wearing jeans, my, um, need for wearing ease around the waist increases. In fact, even when I was as young and nearly as slim as the model on the pattern envelope, that wearing ease issue was there for me. I suspect the jeans-wearing model herself never made the mistake of sitting while wearing this fashion. I ripped out the side seams and added substantial gussets, so I can sit down, but I suspect when I finally wear this blouse out and about that it will not be a success in either comfort or appearance.


Janith said...

Thank you for your insight into these patterns. I'll need to try the Vogue 8698. I have had success with Christine Jonsons t-shirt 714 shoulder princess seam pattern. Janith

Rebecca Clayton said...

Glad you found my comments helpful. For drape-y rayons and challis, I like it very much. I'm about to test Vogue 8689 in a crisper cotton next.

I hadn't seen the Christine Jonson 714 top before--it looks very interesting. Thanks for the tip!