When I’m reviewing a sewing pattern, I look at a couple of different things…
- The fit – How many alterations do I have to make to get the fit I’m looking for?
- The simplicity of the instructions – I’ve been sewing for a fair few years now, but there are still a few patterns I’ve tried recently that had stumped me at certain parts. After working through them, it always seems as through the instructions deliberately tried to choose the most complicated way to explain what to do. Cheers guys.
- The effect a particular fabric has on the design – Of course, certain fabrics are suited to particular fabrics, and I usually tend to go with the recommendations of the pattern maker. However, there are still certain fabrics that maybe highlight areas of the pattern that I like less, or don’t suit me.
For instance, if I’ve used a heavy jersey for a dress, even if the pattern recommends using it, it may make a front seam more prominent on the garment, adding extra centimeters to my tummy area. (which I generally don’t want, surprisingly)
Those are usually the main things I consider when I’m testing out a new pattern.
Over the past few months I’ve really been trying to spend more of my sewing and knitting time making practical clothes I can wear every day, moving away from the butterfly-print party dresses that I have less opportunity to wear on a daily basis.
I’ve also been focusing on warmer, practical, winter clothes, in fabrics I know work for the colder weather.
Both of these goals have been achieved in the couple of garments I’ve made from the Simplicity 1283 pattern, created by Mimi G.
In general, I’ve been using more indie patterns lately, and have been reaching for the ‘Big 4’ less and less. A lot of the time I think indie pattern designers have more of a modern, quirky aesthetic, which I prefer in general, and they also tend to have better instructions and customer care which I appreciate.It also feels good to support smaller businesses as I think they tend to do more for the wider sewing community in general.
However, recently used this Simplicty pattern on a couple of occasions and I’m really pleased with the results.
At about £6, which I paid for this pattern, it’s a right bargain. In the envelope, you get a wrap jacket/cardigan, a pencil skirt, a pair of flared trousers and a cropped turtle-neck top. I think the general look that Mimi has in all her patterns is really current, and this set of patterns is no exception.
I also think Mimi’s patterns cater for more of a curvy figure a lot of the time, which also really appeals to me. Owning clothes that don’t make me look matronly or like a prostitute is high on my list of priorities, and I sometimes struggle with ready to wear clothes on the high street.
It was hard to decide which patterns to go with from this little selection from Mimi, as I really like them all, and can see myself wearing each garment. I eventually decided to play with the trousers and polo neck top first (I think the cold weather has had something to do with this decision). Here's my review...
So I haven’t a tonne of experience making trousers. I’ve made a couple of pairs that have turned out OK, but never flares. I don’t know why, but for some reason, having that extra triangle of fabric at the side of each leg made me think they’d be so much more difficult to any other trouser pattern I’ve made. Crazy talk.
I also thought that the high-waist aspect of the trousers would make things more complicated. I assumed that it would affect the fitting of the bum and tummy area. I was wrong guys.
This pattern came together SO much easier than I expected. I actually think it’s one of the easiest patterns I’ve ever worked with. Unfortunately, I don’t think this is because I’ve got so great at sewing now – it’s legit because of the fabric I used and the simplicity of the fitting.
It called for a thicker jersey or ponte, which ended up being very forgiving fit-wise, as you can probably imagine.
Why are more trousers not made of knit?
While the fit's good, the fabric does have its downsides. I have a confession in that I definitely did not invest in good fabric here. The jersey I picked is a 2 way stretch knit, that isn’t quite a ponte, but is definitely along those lines. However, the colour runs like crazy – even after multiple washes. Not great.
The colour does not just run in the wash, but transfers onto my hands and nails which isn’t the best thing in the world. However, I still love these trousers, even though it means I can’t sit on light coloured chairs – just in case I leave a purple-black stain, plus it's also one more thing for me to hand wash.
Washing issues aside, the fabric actually drapes really nicely, and is just the right thickness to make sure there’s no see-though moments, but still feels really comfy and light.
I bought the fabric so long ago that I can’t even remember where it’s from. Although I’ve probably put everyone off using this due to the colour transfer anyway!
As I said above, this has probably been one of the nicest patterns I’ve worked with. The garment itself is pretty simple; no complicated stitches or fitting issues, but in my experience, a simple looking garment doesn’t always mean a simple and pain-free construction process!
However, these trousers can together very quickly, (4 hours from start to finish I believe) and I barely made any alterations aside from the length. At 5 foot 2, my legs are short, so this is an adjustment I always do without even thinking. I didn’t end up taking them up as much as I originally planned though, as I wanted to wear these trousers with higher heels.
Another slight alteration I made was to take the front seam in by a couple of centimetres – no biggie.
The waistband was simple to attach and as my machine was playing ball, the button hole for the one button closure was easy to make.
I used my machine’s stretch stich on all of the seams and it’s worked like a treat.
I’m always in need of more practical tops. Ones that go with everything and keep me warm in the winter. Turtle-necks fit the bill and are perfect for layering under dresses and things too.
However, I knew this top would need one modification – the length. I don’t know about you, but people who wear crop tops in the winter in the UK must have balls of steel.
This light blue jersey is lovely. It’s buttery soft and I loved the colour so much that I picked it up on a whim about a few months ago. For once I had a plan for this fabric as soon as I bought it home (this doesn’t often happen) and I knew it would work really well for this pattern.
Again, it’s not a super thick jersey, but it’s heavier than a t-shirt weight, so is a little more flattering to my figure in general.
I bought it from Fabricland in Reading and ended up taking the final 2 metres from the roll. This did mean that the fabric had a slight faded line running across the width where it had been folded, but after putting it through the wash it almost disappeared. With a bit of thoughtful cutting this wasn’t really an issue.
As it’s so soft, and a slightly higher quality than the jersey I used for the trousers, I did pay a bit more for it, but still, I don’t think it was any more than £5 a metre.
As I mentioned, I knew I needed to add some length to this top to stop it being so cropped, so I compared the pattern pieces to a top that I already own, which is the right length, and just added a few more inches accordingly.
The pattern called for a nine inch invisible zip to be inserted at the back of the neck – making getting it on and off easier. Originally, I added this in, but it just didn’t sit right on me. I don’t know whether I did it wrong, or whether the pattern size I cut was a little too big, but adding the zip made the neck and back pull out of shape and gape in a really unflattering way. SO I ended up taking the zip out altogether, and just sewed a simple centre back seam. On the outside, this looks absolutely fine, but on the inside it’s a little messy. If I was going to make this top again, I’d make the collar in one continuous piece, and attach it to the neckline of the bodice, negating the need for a seamline at the back of the neck.
I really like the centre front seam, I think it's a nice feature and adds a little more interest to what could be a pretty plain top. I know In the example on the pattern envelope, Mimi’s used a black and white chevron fabric, joining the opposing chevrons in the middle which looks really cool, but even in a solid colour I like this addition.
I didn’t need to make too many adjustments to the top other than the length. Although I do think this pattern was designed with a little more ease than I was expecting, so it’s not as skin-tight as I wanted at first. However, this isn’t a bad thing – it just means I’ll wear the top in a slightly different way.
Overall I think it makes a great addition to my wardrobe, and is a nice change from wearing black and grey all winter!
So far I’ve not worn these two pieces at the same time, aside from when I’ve been taking some photos for this post, but I actually think they go quite nicely together.
I’d really recommend giving these patterns, and especially the trousers, a try, and I know I’ll be featuring the jacket somewhere on my ‘to sew’ list in the future.
It would be great to hear what you think. If you’ve worked with these patterns yourself then let me know how you found the whole experience - did you end up making many adjustments? Anyone go for the crop top?