27 September 2009

Hot Patterns: Style is fab, directions aren't

I almost always gift everything I make to someone else. Making an item with my own hands is something I can do for my family and friends that others don't (or can't). It sounds sappy, but I do use sewing skills to show my love.

I made myself something. This *very rarely* happens, especially when it comes to apparel. I almost never sew clothing for myself. It came down to simple need. I am taking water aerobics classes. When I leave the pool, I want to be able to just throw something on over the suit and go home. But I haven't found any swimsuit coverups that I like (not to mention, there are none in the stores around here at this time of year).

As I was browsing patterns online recently, I saw the Wong-Singh-Jones collection at Hot Patterns and fell in love with the style. I ordered pattern #1086.

The pattern came in the mail in a huge, fat, heavy envelope that barely fit into my mailbox. The pattern envelope itself is bigger than the standard manufacturers' (Simplicity or McCalls, for example). The pattern is printed on very heavy paper stock. I traced off the pieces I needed onto tissue paper.

I found the pattern confusing, but I'm used to the conventional Simplicity/McCalls/Vogue type of patterns. Some pattern pieces had to be pieced together -- halves of the paper pattern pieces were printed in two spots and had to be joined to make the pattern piece. None of the pattern pieces were lettered or numbered for reference.

The pattern doesn't provide finished measurements of the garment, which turned fitting into a shot in the dark. The pattern also doesn't specify what width the fabric should be. Their suggested layout would not have worked on 45" wide material.

I wanted to make the tunic, but 5" longer, so I used 5 yards of 45" fabric. I had less than 1/2 yard left (but note that I did not make my trim from the fabric). Again, it's good that I got plenty of material, because apparently their layouts and fabric yardages are not based on 45" fabric.

My first challenge was figuring out the directions for the sleeve pleats. There are very simplistic drawings that don't make it clear how the 28 pleat insert pieces fit with the 26 lower pleat underlay pieces. I finally just made a guess and started sewing. Once the pleated piece was complete, it had no relation to the length of the sleeve. I just hacked off the end to match up. I know, it sounds... so... wrong... all those pretty pleats made from all those damn pieces and I just hacked off the few at the end!

My first real screwup was attaching the front/back neckband to the top. The pattern directions simply have simplistic line drawings of pieces with a "+" (plus) sign between them. Figure it out for yourself, bub. So I put it on incorrectly (like a facing), cursing the whole time because it didn't really match well. I even trimmed and finished the seams before I realized my mistake. So I ripped all that out - not just the seams but also the seam finish (I use a three-point zig zag to finish seams and you do not want to rip that out if you can help it, believe me!).

From that point on, things went more smoothly, except when I put on the trim, I should have paid more attention to the diagram (my bad). I sewed the trim on incorrectly. So I removed all the trim and put it on the right way. I'm glad I went to the trouble, because the horizontal line of the trim at the sleave (along the pleat insert) really is a good (flattering) line.

Even though I had problems with the Hot Patterns directions, I will probably try them again, because they have unique styles that I appreciate. I've got my eye on the #1008 kimono wrap dress for a possible future project.

1 comment:

  1. The finished product looks great! I'm in awe of your sewing ability. This will be so handy and functional at the pool. I'm sure you'll have people asking where you got it.