…Until I do!
Like many of us, I looove new sewing patterns. I also looove keeping my money (dragon-style in a big pile would be top preference). It’s a push-and-pull. So, how do I decide if a sewing pattern is worth the moolah? Obviously this will vary – when I was beginning I prioritized instructions and pattern support. My current priorities have evolved towards fit and value.
Value is simple: does it have a few views, or if it has one view, is that one super classic and useful? For me, that’s the Ginger jeans. I only sew view B but I sew it a LOT. If it’s a rectangle or a circle with some pleats or gathers, is it priced accordingly, or does it offer something else? The Raspberry Rucksack is a draw-your-own-rectangles pattern, but I’m a bagmaking newb and the designer shared a detailed sew-along, so I’m happy with that pattern.
Next, evaluating fit! I’m certainly not a pro, but I’ve figured out some ways of looking at a sample and seeing if it’s right for me. I don’t expect perfection right out of the envelope, but I hope to see evidence that some specific fitting needs have been considered. Come pick a nit with me.
Let’s look specifically at the MN Curve Dawns jeans, a recent purchase of mine. I’ve wanted them for a long time, but I procrastinated. I’ve seen dozens of people look like Flaming Hot Cheetos in this pattern and I want that spice, but the samples have fit issues – specifically, mine!
Don’t be distracted by this gorgeous Valkyrie’s glowing smile. First alarm bell: of the 16 images that show the front of the pants, 10 of those are posed with the model’s hand in her pocket. In the straight sizes, you can see the front in 15 images, only 1 of which has the model’s hand in her pocket. To me, this feels a little like camouflage – probably concealing drag lines, which I’m guessing means, they (and I) need a full stomach adjustment. Next, look at the yoke on the back of the shorts. It’s too tall, so it’s buckling. I only see this happening on the shorts sample, but I’ve made that adjustment before so I’ll probably have to remove height there, too (if it was a darted back I wouldn’t worry about it; it has to do with the particular shape of my bum).
Now take a peek this beautiful cozy angel.
Do you see those diagonal lines pointing towards her inner thigh? It looks like the pattern could use an accommodation for full inner thighs! I’d want to scoop the back crotch to be more of a “J” shape, as the need for a full rear/hungry bum adjustment is indicated, too. And finally, the back pockets are far too small for my taste.
So, was this pattern a good purchase? Well, I got it on sale, and it has 4 views with the potential for everyday usefulness, so to my mind, yes. Even though a close-read of the samples shows me a list of necessary adjustments, if I pull back for a second they’re still gorgeous. And I’m going in with a sense of what I need to do; prepared is half the battle. I’ll get a lot of bang for my buck once (if?) I fit them correctly!
Okay, now let’s do tops! While these patterns aren’t on my I-wanna list, they do have nice clear images. I don’t understand upper body fitting very well, but there’s one thing I can check right away.
First, the CC Cielo top and dress – look at the bust dart. Way too high, right? Again, it’s not that these samples aren’t beautiful; I’m just looking for indicators that the pattern needs more adjustment than I feel like (even something as simple as a misplaced bust dart can stop me from buying something; thanks, #Smaughordegoals).
Compare that to the Grainline Uniform tunic, where the dart is clearly too low.
Especially if the pattern is simple, I want to see that done right!
You might notice all of these samples were sewn in the higher range of each designer’s sizes. Most of my standard adjustments are made for convex curves – full stomach, full thighs, full biceps – so even if my actual size fits in either range, I get a better read on how it will fit my body from what many designers describe as their ‘curvy’ block.
Of course, I’m not always this particular. I bought the RTS Papao pants more or less instantly. I loved sewing and I love wearing my two pairs (so far!). But if I give the pattern sample photos the business, I can see room for improvement.
There’s some pooling at the center back –the model may need a swayback adjustment. However, I usually don’t (by the way: a lot of suspected swaybacks are actually butts or hips that need more space! Something to consider). There’s also excess fabric at the thighs (more visible from the back), and sure enough, I get the same excess on my pairs. But that’s a pretty short list of potential changes, and if I had let that put me off at the time, I would be a sadder and less awesomely-trousered person today. So contrary to my pro-fussbudget propaganda, sometimes it’s fine to just let things go!
This might be completely self-evident to all of you. And listen, I can always find a reason not to buy something; this is good, or I’d be up to my ears in mugs and novelty baking pans and seasonal cereals and pristine notebooks and sock yarn I don’t know how to use. Okay fine, that life doesn’t sound so bad. But if you want look at patterns with a more critical/thoughtful eye, and this was useful at all, I’m glad!
Here’s a few more tempting patterns I haven’t bought recently –
The Assembly Line V-Neck Jumpsuit – it’s over $20, only one view, and it wouldn’t go with the winter boots I wear nearly every day from December – March. Also, many of the samples are sewn in black, so I can’t see what the heck is going on. But I like it. This falls into the category of ‘maybe I’ll buy it with a gift card’.
The Sicily slip dress – it’s so slinky and lovely and dreamy and where would I wear this?! Ever? Professor Boyfriend suggested “to a murder mystery party” which, WELL PLAYED, PROF. BF, but that’s a post-rona discussion.
The Soho sweater – hey, it ain’t boring! But I doubt those sleeves would fit comfortably inside a coat, and I don’t have a source for full-bodied knits, so the likelihood that I could make this, let alone would make this, is extremely low.
Fibre Mood Leah jumpsuit – I have a pattern credit for this so it wouldn’t even cost money! Plus its name is a homonym for my name! Is it destiny?! Or is it riding up the model’s crack? I probably won’t use several yards of fabric to find out.
Well, that got wordy. Next time, another finished object – it’s a straight-lines-and-rectangles kind of pattern, but one I definitely got my money’s worth from!