The Great Waistless Wonder

So pretty in theory, so tricky in execution

The Colette Jasmine pattern is a pull-over woven top cut on the bias for extra drape. It has a couple of flat collar options and some shaping in the body. It is rated as a beginner pattern, and it is.

I made up two Jasmines last spring: a wearable muslin out of blue poly, and a final version out of Liberty lawn. I don’t get as much wear out of either of them as I would have liked.

I’d never before dipped my toe into the waters of indie patterns. I knew of and had used the Big 4 for decades, but sewing was not popular when I was growing up, and all we had around was FabricLand.

When my favourite local fabric store, Needlework, opened up, they had all of these very pretty and tempting indie patterns stocked, including all of Colette’s. Of all of them, the Jasmine top showed the most potential to me: the bias cut promised a drapey, flattering fit, and it didn’t require any buttons (my sewing machine at the time was particularly good at devouring any fabric so unfortunate as to find itself underneath the buttonhole foot). It looked like a basic, fairly simple, short-sleeved shirt that had the potential to be a work wardrobe staple. Alas, it was not to be.

First, the good: the notches matched up. The collars worked. The sleeves fit pretty well. It is a garment I was able to assemble from the pattern pieces and instructions and it looked mostly like the picture on the cover. I graded between a 12 at the bust and a 10 at the waist based on the sizing chart, and then slimmed it down a bit for a closer, drapier fit.

So why don’t I wear them?

Wearable Muslin: the blue poly never pressed as well as it should have. It’s a cheap fabric I bought for testing purposes, so that’s not a real surprise. Also, because it was a test, the sizing is not quite right. The bust darts were a bit on the low side (I know, but I have the shortest back-waist measurement ever) and it all felt a little baggy.

This I fixed in the final, but the problem is that cotton lawn, even cut on the bias, doesn’t really drape.

Horrible picture! My apologies. It's been a brutally cold winter and I'm trying to spend as little time outside as possible.

Horrible picture! My apologies. It’s been a brutally cold winter and I’m trying to spend as little time outside as possible.

Cotton is one of the recommended fabrics, but on my body shape, even on the bias, it simply does not drape enough to have a flattering shape. I look like the Great Waistless Wonder from the front, where I need to have all of that excess fabric to get the shirt over my bust.

This is just not the silhouette I'm going for.

This is just not the silhouette I’m going for.

Looking at the pattern sample with the benefit of hindsight, the model is … how to put this … carrying less mammary tissue than I am, and I’m sure that’s part of why the pattern is more successful on her.

Jasmine pattern sample from the Colette site

As a result, I really only wear this shirt when I can tuck it into something. Since most of my pants and skirts don’t go all the way up to my waist (that high waist thing), this isn’t very often.

I can’t count the shirt as a success, since I get so little wear out of it (poor Liberty lawn). But I did learn something valuable from it which is, for me, that I will only wear shirts that either drape well because of the inherent nature of the fabric (like knits), or have closures. There is no point for me in making a pullover woven top, certainly not out of cotton.

Indie4Less: Carolyn Pajamas by Closet Case Files

You knew this post was going to happen. Yeah, we were [insert adjective here], too, that PJs were the newest pattern from Closet Case Files. The claims of slimmer fit were investigated by your diligent SSSF editors, and the ease was noted as follows:

  • bust: 6″ (umm, ok)
  • waist: 10.5″ (head scratch?)
  • hip – top: 5.5″
  • hip – pants: 2.5″ (well, there’s your slimmer fit)

The Big 4 have been releasing pajama patterns f.o.r.e.v.e.r. Herbert Herbert and TOLWLIAS were kind enough to find all the current patterns with notched collars and tops and bottoms, discussed below:

  1. McCall 5992 – Something like 11.5-12.5″ of ease on the top? Sized for knits. Bonus, includes a sweatsuit pattern…for your dog.
  2. Butterick 6145 – Not unisex, but lol the frills. No, literally, the frills. 8.5-9.5″ of bust ease and 4-5″ of hip ease for pants. Sized for wovens.
  3. Butterick 6837 – Beware the unisex pattern – the horror, the horror! Sized for wovens.
  4. Kwik Sew 3553 – Not unisex. No shorts view, but an extra couple minutes with tape measure and flat pattern, and you’re good to hack go. Sized for wovens.
  5. Kwik Sew 2811 – If hacking a pants pattern into shorts is not your thing, this one’s for you. Sized for wovens.
  6. Simplicity 3971 – Hooray for plus sizes! Beware of the 12.5-14.5″ of bust ease and 5-7″ of hip ease. Unisex. PJs are sized for wovens; other view is sized for knits.
  7. Simplicity 2317 – If “slim fit” ease is what you’re looking for and you don’t want to cut a smaller size, this one’s for you: 4-6″ of bust ease and 2-4″ of hip ease. PJs are sized for wovens.
  8. McCall 6659 – Another close runner-up to S2317 with 4.5″ of bust ease and 6″ of hip ease in case Simplicity’s not on sale. Has the most number of views that closely resemble the indie contender. Sized for wovens.

Some other PJ-themed editor suggestions for entertainment and practical value:

  • Kwik Sew 3712 – Adult onesie. With footies. Not even kidding. THEY EXIST, PEOPLE.
  • Burda’s Breakfast in Bed Collection from 12/2014 – In case you want PJs but with a different aesthetic, 8 patterns for the bargain price of $24.99 (PDF).

(line drawings after the jump to keep the main page clutter down)

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A Light in the Snark: Vogue Spring 2015 Collection

Co-authored with Andrea

Hamcats, it is with sorrowful hearts and lowered heads that we acknowledge the passing of one of the SBC’s most celebrated institutions: Lladybird’s new Vogue release snark posts. Please join us for a moment of silence as we mourn its untimely sellout demise.

Fortunately, SSSF is equipped to take on the future care and feeding of such an important project–and other pattern company releases. But let’s begin by tackling a truly challenging project: the Vogue Spring 2015 pattern release, which Lladybird deems unsnarkable.

Overall, SSSF highly recommends this pattern release to sewers with a pressing need to be perceived as aesexual in public spaces.

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Walking Away from “The Walkaway Dress”

Butterick 4790 was my third sewing project ever and the second dress I made, and I was super proud of it at the time. I picked this dress because it looked cute and easy: there are only three pattern pieces, and no zippers, lining or facings to worry about. The pattern itself is very simple and easy to assemble with clear, easy to follow instructions. I used lightweight cotton gingham, in line with my plan for a fun weekend dress and made no pattern alternations.

Two years later, I now know that the pattern, while simple, requires too many alterations to become the cute vintage dress of my dreams.

The Pattern
B4790 illi


Butterick 4790, commonly known as the “Walkaway Dress” is described as:

Three pattern pieces, bust darts in front, front and back waist darts, with a back waist seam. Fuller back skirt wraps around to the front panel for a sheath-and-overskirt look.

Apparently B4790 was the highest selling pattern ever, and when it was released in 1952, Butterick dubbed it the “walk-away” dress. It was so easy you could “Start it after breakfast…walk-away in it for luncheon!” The simple yet flattering wrap design and easy construction were what made it so popular. The dress itself is designed as a sheath-style at the front which fastens at the back with snaps, and an overlay circle skirt that loops around and fastens at the waist in front. All of the raw edges are finished with bias binding which is flipped to the outside and treated as a design feature.

The dress goes together easily – all the notches lined up, and it fit the way you would expect from the illustration on the pattern envelope.

The Three Months
I, like many others in the sewing community, fell in love with the retro shape and the claims that it would be super-fast and easy to sew.
Oh, how wrong I was on both counts. Let me step though my issues:

1. This dress is not made for hips. I have what I like to refer to as childbearing hips. Or, in less polite terms, big hips. Normally this means big skirts are perfect, but in this case, the underskirt/front panel was not wide enough to give the level of coverage needed for me to be comfortable with wearing the dress in public.

2. The way that you fasten the dress at the back is not very secure. The pattern calls for you to use snap fastenings to secure the front “underskirt” to the back. Because of how fitted the front sheath piece is, my snaps came unsnapped constantly. I ended up replacing them with hooks and eyes, which were a little more secure but still not ideal.

3. Real life involves wind. Seriously, this thing is not safe for wind – that huge skirt, the not so huge underskirt. Somehow, probably due to the front opening, it lets the wind in so much more than a normal circle skirt. This “vent” and the insufficient overlap between the over and under layers means that even the slightest wind will cause you to desperately try to hold the skirt down.

4. The weight of all that skirt dragged the bodice down at the back, resulting in uneven and awkward hems, where the front underskirt portion is much shorter than the back, like an unintentional hi-low hem.

5. All that bias binding. The pattern instructs you to finish all of the raw edges except the hem with bias binding. In most versions, including the pattern envelope, the binding sits on the outside of the dress, rather than the inside as usual. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with homemade clothes, but that stuff looks “Becky Home-Ecky” in the worst way.

6. The pattern is actually just really unflattering out of the envelope. I think that some of the changes made when the pattern was modernised and re-issued are to blame.
It is, of course totally possible to make a cute version of Butterick 4790: the Edelweiss Patterns blog has some great instructions on how to make the pattern both more vintage-appropriate and flattering. Unfortunately, it was too late for my version, which I realised was unflattering, uncomfortable and unsalvageable.

Personally, I’m just going to chalk this one up to poor judgment – I already binned the finished product after wearing it fewer than 10 times and realising how much it didn’t work for me. I’m not sure what I could have done differently at the time to make it work better. However, with the experience I now have in sewing, I realise that this pattern is not flattering on anyone without a substantial amount of work, which I don’t think is worth it when there are so many other patterns available

Indie4Less: Chardon Skirt by Deer and Doe

The Deer&Doe Chardon is an oldie but goodie (full disclosure: one of the SSSF team has a bit of a crush on this pattern), with a good reputation and an average indie price tag. Sadly, the paper-only pattern is also out of stock, but if you really love that pleated waist, there are less pricey Big 4 options!

The Deer&Doe skirt has no waistband, but does have optional tie-sash or belt loops, and an optional decorative band at the bottom of the skirt.

  • Vogue 9061, suggested by commenter Micmacker, is a pleated skirt with no waistband, length options, and an optional bottom band.
  • Butterick 5756 has pleats or gathers, a narrow or wide waistband, length options, and an optional bottom band.
  • Burda’s pleated midi skirt from the November 2014 issue has inverted front and back box pleats, side pockets, no waistband, a fly front, and a slit in the back.

(line drawings after the jump to keep the main page clutter down)

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Indie4Less: Granville Shirt by Sewaholic

Sewaholic’s Granville shirt has just been released to massive fan acclaim after months of teaser IG posts. And, true to Sewaholic’s form, it looks spectacular: princess seams in the back, darts in the front, tower plackets, a nice two-piece collar, and some beautifully-made-up pattern samples. (Hey, just because we like to snark doesn’t mean we can’t give compliments where they’re due.) It’s a lovely, fitted button-up shirt that would work in light woven fabrics.

Sewaholic Granville, $15.98 paper, $11.98 PDF

But Sewaholic’s target market is the pear-shaped woman. If you are busty of chest or slender of hip, the alterations required on the Sewaholic patterns might be off-putting; or, you may just want a similar pattern for a smaller price.

Well, you’re in luck! The Big 4 and Burda have been putting out button-up shirt patterns for decades, and there are plenty to choose from. Here’s a small selection:

  1. Vogue 8747
  2. Vogue 8689
  3. Vogue 9029
  4. McCall’s 6076
  5. Burda 09/2012 #111 / #112

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Enhancing the GOMIness of Your Blog

Congratulations to all you SBC bloggers who have attracted GOMI Craft’s notice. You are obviously Speshul Snowflakes. You followed our advice on writing a GOMI-Worthy Blog, and it worked! Perhaps you’re mentioned in a thread about someone else, or you may have several posts devoted to you in the Hate Reads thread. The question now is, how can you expand your notoriety? You need a bigger stage. No – you deserve a bigger stage! It’s kind of like making it through the Big Dance in college hoops: you feel like you are ready for the big time, but how can you break through on the national level?

You are so lucky to have us. Here at SSSF, our goal is to help you not only get mentioned multiple times on GOMI, but to achieve the ultimate SBC championship level recognition: your very own thread! Here are some tips for making sure you sit right at the front page of the GOMI Craft forum where you can have your very own GOMI 100-car pileup.

1 – Flounce On/Flounce Off.
Did some big old blue meanie on GOMI say bad things about you? Did they point out that you aren’t as wonderful, indispensible or infallible as your fawning fangirls have been telling you? Well then, it’s time to channel your inner Miss Piggy, pirouette on your vintage platforms, smooth your Coco, toss your hair over your shoulder and walk away from blogging altogether. Don’t forget to announce it publicly on your blog! After all, it’s not a flounce unless you tell the world about it, and that you have been driven off by those cellar-dwelling-chip-eating-ageist-homophobic bitches at GOMI. This will endear you to your fangirls, who will beg you to stay.

After an appropriate length of time (2 days is usually about right) and an appropriate amount of wailing, rending of garments and gnashing of teeth by your fangirls, get back on that (high) horse and tell them that they have been heard, you have relented, and you magnanimously forgive those cellar-dwelling-chip-eating-ageist-homophobic bitches at GOMI. That will earn you a halo in the SBC.

The point is, you don’t really want to flounce into the sunset forever. If you do that, posts about you will get buried in the bowels of GOMI, your name will be forgotten and your fangirls will flock to the next blogger in line. SBC bloggers are like Hollywood starlets. For every one that makes it big, there are a hundred right behind her with daggers pointed at her back.

2 – Post? What Post?
If someone on GOMI points out something stupid that you wrote, you can just delete the post. If you delete it, it never happened, right? Take it down. After all, it’s your blog. Taking it down wipes it off the internet. What? It’s archived? Some cellar-dwelling-chip-eating-ageist-homophobic bitch at GOMI got it from the Wayback Machine? Well in that case…

3 – Revise History
Put that post right back up, but rewrite it so you look better. That will take care of getting rid of that archived version. Oh wait – the original version is still out there for anyone to see? Well then…

4 – Set Out the Bait
Put your post back up, but add comments at the end to show GOMI that you are so much cleverer than they are. Use sarcastic tone, condescending language, lots of extra vowels and asterisks. Here’s a good example: ****Big big update for those of you visiting from another site. You were soooooooo right! Now it’s so crystal clear to me that you’re not cyberbullies, and you’re not ageists, and you’re not homophobes. So the only question that remains is…what exactly are you? ****

Oh, that last question is the perfect riposte to GOMI bitches. It will have GOMI readers flocking to your blog to read your other witty repartee. If course, that repartee will only be with your fangirls, who will tell you how clever you are. So you win!

And don’t worry about copying and pasting the example above verbatim into your blog! As we all know, there’s no such thing as copyright or plagiarism in the SBC.

5 – My Big Brother is Going to Beat You Up
When in doubt, bring in the big guns. Threaten to have your sister who is a real-estate law paralegal write a firmly worded cease-and-desist. Yes, that will show GOMI, and it will ensure that you land once again at the top of the first page in GOMI Craft.

6 – Bring on the Cray Cray
If you really want to ensure that you land atop the GOMI pile, go batshit crazy. It’s even better if you go creepy-batshit-crazy. You know – say things like, all is forgiven, that you really like GOMI, and that you will haunt GOMI like a spinster’s ghost in a gothic novel. This will ensure that you get lots of responses from GOMI bitches, and lots of emojis. Make it a contest to see how many dancing bananas you can get!

Any of these things, especially any combination of these things, will earn you a spot in the GOMI Craft hall of fame. It’s easy; it’s fun and it will give you a big leg up on all those other SBC wanna-bes. So get out there and make yourself one of the GOMI champs!