Friday, July 15, 2011

Tips for Pattern Selection and Reading

So far this summer, I have made 2 Cynthia Rowley dresses through the Simplicity pattern line.  I have got to say:
They. Are. Awesome.
The patterns are so easy, so simple, so straight forward.  And, the best part:  they are modern!
Sometimes patterns can look dated and like they're "trying too hard", especially for women.  I know some people have opinions about which pattern "company" has the best patterns (I use company loosely because the McCalls Corp does McCalls, Butterick, and Vogue), but Simplicity is, by far, my favorite.  I think they do the best job at explaining each step and illustrating it for you so you can understand.  Sometimes patterns skip steps because they assume you just know how to do it and shouldn't have to be told.  Well, we all have days when it's a miracle we're still alive by 9pm (well, I have them.. a lot!), so I like for all of the steps to be there.  SO, when Joanns has Simplicity for $1.99 each, I spend a lot of time in the pattern department.  And, then, I spend a lot of time picking out the fabric to use (like, 2 hours- WHY does this happen!?).
I sewed this Cynthia Rowley floor-length ruffle-neck dress (Simplicity 2497) in Charleston with my mom and it turned out great!  I had to alter it several times because I cut it out 2 sizes too big and altered it while sewing, then have to alter it again after wearing it once and realizing it was too big in the bust.  Boo.  It wasn't too bad though:
Looove how it turned out.  I did view D on the pattern and didn't change anything except leave out a slit in the bottom of the dress.  I hate slits on the side of dresses that go up more than a foot.  Sick.  So, I cut the bottom of the dress a little wider and at an angle to give me more room to walk and move my legs.  Worked great!  It also have an invisible zipper on the side, which I love.  They are my favorite it put in!
Yesterday, I put together Simplicity 2584.  I think it took me a whopping 2-3 hours {including cutting.  If you don't sew, it might seem like a long time, but it's not at all!).  It was one of the easiest patterns I think I've ever sewn, especially for a dress!

If you don't sew and are looking into starting, it's a really great pattern to use (I would recommend starting with easy crafts, then pajamas, and then real clothing).  I liked the dress, view B (on the model), sleeveless, but I wanted sleeves so I could wear it to teach in and not get cold in my classroom.  It's comfortable and the perfect length.  The elastic in the sleeves might not appeal to some, but it is really cute and comfortable.  I also wanted a fabric that was unlike anything in my closet-I always buy the same stuff all the time...Little Black Dress.  Sleeveless.  Right above the knee.  Always.  Solids.  Always.  I am in love with how it turned out in a floral print with the colors!  Will most likely pair some coral earrings with it.  I will say that the dip in the neckline is extremely low and I had to sew it up a few inches to be school/life appropriate, so next time I would alter it and not sew/cut it so low.  Otherwise, fantastic!
My dress form is a little boxy up top- it is SO cute on and fits perfectly!
Guess what?  Joanns has Simplicity patterns for $1.99 today and tomorrow!  Hmm, wonder where I will be today?! =)  I am going at this project with a little bit different of an approach.  Usually, I find a pattern and then choose my fabric.  I honestly think that's the best thing to do because some fabrics are obviously more suitable for some patterns and some fabrics just flat out will not work.  This time, I already have my fabric.  I fell in love with this pink/floral Swiss Dot at Joanns last week when buy fabric for these cutie baby dresses and matching diaper covers:
Adorable.  The fabric is so cute!  So, obviously I will be choosing Cynthia Rowley, but what to choose?  I am loving dresses (thanks to Momma and Sissy), but I do wear a lot of slacks to work (UGH- wooooork).  Dress.... or top?
I like 2472, but have seen some pretty awful reviews and unfortch... it looks like a total sack on anyone who wears anything bigger than an A cup and has a little meat.  Resembles a hospital gown of sorts (which I am totally making when we have children.  Giving birth in style.  Will have ties and all!).  Sooo, I'm thinking no on this one. But I do fancy the idea of fabric jewelry, like the necklace.  I'm pretty confident I can whip that up without even looking at the picture again.  Easy!
Sorry 2472!

2215 is really cute, but not quite what I'm looking for, especially with this fabric.  I don't think it has enough integrity for this design.  However, this one has great reviews and the skirt is reallly cute.
I really like 2361, but it looks more like a swim coverup to me.  I'm not sure I'd be able to wear it to school and I'm not really looking for something I need to layer on top of a tank or shirt.  Plus, not a whole lot of reviews.  I only found one review on it, which was okay, but it didn't really look that cute.
I already have 2586, so I might make the sleeveless view and add a short sleeve.  I also think I look chubby in a deep scoop neck, so I will probably take up the neck a little.
Well, that's no fun!  I want a new pattern!  I think I will get 2512 for sure because the skirt is so cute and I could probably make it with some denim I bought for $.75/YARD on clearance at Walmart and love saying, Hey, my skirt was $.75!
 Loooove view B, again what the model has on.  Okay, I am doing 2215, too (pattern #2!).  AH sewing is so fun.
I realized it would be nice to have some tips about pattern choosing on here.  I have a whole 2 day lesson about reading patterns that we do at school which would also be helpful, but I don't think I can post that- it's still summer and I refuse to think school right now!  So, here are a few tips:

Tips for Pattern Selection and Reading
  1.  Know what looks good on your body.  I know that deep necklines and things without a lot of structure and lines make me look like the Michelin Man.  So, I kind of stay away from them, especially when I want to use light, flowy fabric.  Choose what looks best on you!
  2. Look at the pattern envelope and read the details of the garment.  The back of the envelope (as well as the picture-duh!) will tell you if you will be using a zipper, buttons, etc.  If you hate either of these (which you shouldn't!  Take your time and it will work out!) and refuse to do them, obviously you can't choose this pattern.  If I am wanting to try something new, I will choose one with a technique I don't usually do, but usually I stick to what I know.  Don't drive yourself crazy buying a pattern you can't sew.  It will be frustrating enough getting it to fit the way you want.
  3. Again, read the pattern envelope.  Most patterns can make 6 different things and you can always mix and match elements from one garment with another.  ALSO, the back of the envelope will tell you all the things you need to buy for the garment, including fabric amounts and notions.  It doesn't all appear on one line, so look for notions, fabric, interfacing, lining, zippers, buttons, and snaps.  There is nothing worse than getting home and not having what you need!  Also, your pattern with have fabric measurements for 45" or 60" fabric.  Usually you need less if you have 60" fabric.  Ask the cutter if you don't know how wide your fabric is and you can save a buck or two buying a little less fabric.
  4. Know your measurements.  Most patterns come in 2 different envelopes with sizes split into 2 categories.  If you don't buy the right envelope, you might not even have the right size pattern!  You will need to know your bust, waist, and hips measurements.  The back of the envelope will tell you what size to buy based on your measurements.  This does not mean that what you make will automatically fit.  No way!  It's only an estimate.  What I like about Simplicity patterns is that they have finished garment measurements on the back.  That is usually what I look at.  It will tell you the measurement of the garment once it is finished, so you need to match it up with your measurement and consider wearing ease.  Sorry, but if you have a 38 inch bust, you won't fit into a 38 inch bust finished garment.
  5. Buy the kinds of fabric they suggest on the back of an envelope.  There is a reason why they don't make linen wedding dresses, people.
  6. After you cut out your pattern pieces, lay them on your body just to make sure they fit right.  Make sure, again, you consider wearing ease and seam allowances.  My patterns always tell me I need one size for my bust based on my measurements, but I always end up going down at least 1 size, if not two.
Some other day, I will post more sewing pattern tips.  I have a pattern store calling my name!!



  1. Good job! I actually have four sewing projects behind me right now. Come see some of the dresses I've sewn for myself.

  2. Kind of random but do you happen to still have the simplicity 2584 tunic pattern, and would you be willing to sell it to me? I love it and can't find it anywhere! I can figure out the dress part but I have no idea how to put the yoke on -
    Chelsey.brennnan {at}


designed with love by beautiful dawn designs