The minute I was contacted by Simplicity New Look (shortly after the #NYLon meet up) to see if I would like to sew a couple of patterns from their website, I jumped at the chance. Once I started looking on their website for something that I liked and would possibly suit me, I discovered that they had Plus Size patterns! I put 'plus' in the search box and there were loads of garments available - and at very reasonable prices (in pounds sterling). I eventually chose "It's so easy it's Simplicity" pattern #1494 for unisex Pyjama bottoms [US sizes S-XXXL] along with a "Burda Style" Dress and Tunic pattern #6972 [US sizes 18-30].
These patterns were provided at no cost to me so that I could review them. All my opinions are my own! Thank you Simplicity for allowing me to try my hand at garment sewing. I will definitely continue sewing clothes for myself and I will no doubt improve each time. Everyone has to start somewhere, right!
Here are some of my top tips when sewing a garment:
- Take really thorough measurements of your body and TRUST the sizing guide on the pattern!
- Before cutting into really expensive fabric, make a test garment in cheap(er) fabric to see if you need to make any adjustments.
- Buy a fabric marking tool (a tailors chalk or something similar) to transfer all of the pattern markings onto the fabric. There are different colours out there so depending on what colour your fabric is, you can buy a colour that will show up.
- Read the pattern OUT LOUD if the instructions are confusing or if there is no diagram to follow.
- If you trace the pattern, be VERY VERY accurate and mark all the pattern markings onto your tracing paper. Label each piece as labelled on the original pattern.
I did not measure myself for the pyjama bottoms - I figured that I was a XXL so I went for it! I pinned the pattern directly onto my fabric, cutting through the printed tissue and then followed the directions to sew them up. Before the waistband and hem stage, I could already see that they were going to be huge so I put them on to show Mr Crafty Shenanigans and we laughed and laughed! They were about a foot too big at the waist and the 'waist' came up to my boobs! Sexy pj's right?!
So, I spent some time ripping out all the seams so I could re-cut the fabric to my size. I sort of measured myself and still didn't trust the pattern (I am apparently a slow learner!) so I cut the Large size on the pattern. However.... since I cut the tissue paper initially to the XXL size, some of the L size markings were now cut away so I had to make a few modifications to make them fit me better after they were sewn up.
Additional modifications I made were to narrow the legs slightly only because I thought they were a bit too baggy. I also cut 5 inches off the waist before inserting the elastic and I double folded the fabric at the waist band where the elastic went to make it sit on my waist when the elastic was inserted.
I learned quite a bit from making this garment and I am happy to say that I will make another pair of these again another day, now that I know what 'size' I am and how they fit. I already have the most delicious flannel for the next pair! The most useful thing I did was label each piece of leg fabric in pencil near the waist area to show me which was the Front and Back. This made sewing them together much easier. When they were finished, I sewed a little ribbon to the front of the pj's so I can tell which way to put them on!
|Before hemming. Pixlr graphics.|
My opinion of the pattern would be that it was a great Beginner pattern but I personally needed a couple more diagrams (I am a visual learner) to make some instructions easier to follow or perhaps a few extra sentences in the written instructions instead! The pattern was definitely suitable for Beginners and I eventually created a wearable pair of really cool looking pyjamas. Success!!
I am sad to say that I have given up making the tunic top (in my chosen fabric anyways). This pattern has beaten me despite being labelled as 'easy'. The fabric I picked was a delicious Kaffe Fassett rayon, which the pattern said was a suitable fabric to use, but I discovered it was too slippery for me to sew. As a beginner, I think that I should have definitely picked a different fabric.
The pattern did not have enough diagrams for me so I struggled from the beginning. Like I said before, I am a visual learner so pictures or diagrams are more helpful than words. Not understanding the written instructions made me quite frustrated which meant that I procrastinated and avoided completing it. Each time I attempted to work on it, I felt overwhelmed and stupid for not understanding so I would walk away. In hindsight, I should have made a test garment in cheap(er) fabric so the pressure of messing up expensive fabric wasn't always on my mind!
One day I will attempt another version of this tunic and enlist the help of my clever garment-sewing pals. Once I have someone helping me and explaining as I go, I am sure it will all make sense and I will realise how simple this tunic (probably) is/was. Stay tuned I guess!
My opinion of this pattern was that it was not 'easy' as suggested. Someone with more garment sewing experience under their belt would no doubt make this in a flash but as I have only followed two tissue patterns in my adult life, I found it difficult.
Thank you Simplicity [www.simplicitynewlook.com] for sending me these patterns to review. I look forward to sewing for myself again one day!
Readers: please let me know some of your top tips to follow when sewing garments - I need all the tips and advice I can get!