Pattern Review: Violette Field Threads “London”

Some say there’s “nothing new under the sun” in fashion, and that it’s all been done before. However, style evolves constantly.   Case in point: the classic tie-shoulder girls dress.  If you regularly sew children’s clothes, chances are you already have the Oliver and S “Popover” or The Cottage Mama “Picnic Dress” (both are free downloads). You may have a vintage pattern for a similar style.  I’ve had this design in my little Etsy shop for so many years that my once-little models are now in Middle School:


Violette Field Threads new “London” dress pattern is a classic in the same vein as all of these, however it is updated with a twist: an enormous sweep, perfect for twirling:


Could you take a pattern that you already have, and increase the sweep?  Of course…but since this pattern is free (if you join the VFT Facebook group) why bother with all the calculations?  Why not just get this one?

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Pattern Review: Chalk and Notch “Cascade”

This review is dedicated to the critics who say that I am too hard on indie pattern-makers. My goal is to be as objective as possible. As always, I receive no compensation in any way, and I have no personal connection to any designer.  If this review seems more “glowing” than others, it is purely due to a superior product.

In my quest for boho looks, last September I purchased the “Cascade” maxi-dress from Chalk and Notch (girls sizes 2 through 12). I’d never heard of this designer, however every tester photo looked great.  No gaping, tugging, pulling….and I don’t even personally like high-low hems!


What I found intriguing about this design is that it could not have been flat-pattern-drafted from measurements…because of the bias-cut and the hi-low hem, it had to be designed by draping a muslin on a dressform first and then transferring the results to paper (or computer) pattern.  This indicates a level of professionalism not always found in pdf-world. Sadly the pattern went into the “some day” pile. Yesterday I finally pulled it out.

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Pattern Review: Pickle Toes “Daisy”

Here’s a quick review of an even quicker pattern!

The criss-cross back jumper/apron/pinafore is a classic style that I remember from my childhood.  I lost my vintage paper pattern for it while working on a project making art smocks for my child’s school, and then acquired this McCall’s version somewhere along the way:


..however the fit is way off.  It looks like it’s falling off of the model’s shoulders!  Fixing the fit on this style has been on my endless “to-do” list…along with grading it for a more extensive size range…and then this week Pickle Toes released their “Daisy” pdf pattern, in sizes Preemie through Girls 16:


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On Objectivity and Pattern Reviews

Yesterday  I was accused by an individual in a public online forum, of being biased against 3 specific businesses whose products have disappointed me.  It got me thinking…who is being biased here? The person who says “But I know this patternmaker personally and she’s so nice!” Or somebody like me, with no affiliations whatsoever?

I’m not a tester, or a brand rep, or on any “teams”.  I don’t accept advertising. I receive no free patterns,  I’ve never met any of the indie patternmakers, and I keep it that way to remain objective. (Every patternmaker that I know personally works in the garment industry, not the pattern industry). I never critique the designer, only the PRODUCT. Since when did product reviews become emotional?

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Pattern review: Striped Swallow “Canyon” Bib and Bloomers

Looking for a quick and easy sewing project?  Need a fast and simple baby gift? If you’re a mom to a baby these days, you’re surely aware of the “Boho Baby Bib” trend…and if you’re not, then a quick Google search will clue you in:


Truthfully I don’t quite understand the  “fashion baby bibs”.  My baby is in college now, and back when she WAS a baby, bibs were purely functional: an absorbent top layer and a waterproof underlayer, meant for feeding and drooling, and absolutely positively machine-washable. Mostly they came in pastels with stuffed-animal prints, and they certainly did not need to coordinate with an outfit. Fast forward to the era of Trendy Tots and Instagram, and you’ll see the Boho Bib everywhere, made in tasteful neutrals to be worn as an accessory, often embellished with fringes and tassels. They retail for $20 to $30 each (!) I’ve done my due diligence, and was a bit confused:

  • washing instructions are often “spot clean only”….with a caveat that these are NOT for feeding times.  These are  “photo-prop” fashion statement pieces.  I just really think that baby clothes need to be washable.  Babies are messy!
  • since they tie at the neckline and are a choking hazard, a warning usually says to not leave child wearing bib unattended, and never let them sleep wearing the bib (although the same sellers often post photos of babies napping while wearing the bibs)

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Why are patterns graded so “jumpy”?

Have you ever used a pattern that “jumps up and down” in the grading between sizes?  Recently I was trying a pattern that had grades jumping between 1/4″, then 1/8″, then 3/8″:


Since I come from an industrial background where this would never happen, it  makes me wonder not only why this is, but how did it happen? Grading is a simple matter of sliding the master pattern up-and-over by a consistent measurement “rule”, so why are there inconsistencies?  After all, garment industry patterns have consistent grading, Big Four paper patterns have consistent grading…..the grade may be smaller within the smaller section of sizes, and larger within the larger sizes, but never jumping up and down. Why does this happen so often in indie pdf patterns? I have a theory…..

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Pattern Review: M4M “Isla”

If I had a dollar for every time over the past 4 years that I’ve been asked to copy the dress from this ultra-popular Pinterest photo….well let’s just say I’d be financially comfortable:


From barn weddings to beach weddings…..this has been the “It” dress for years. Trouble is, I don’t copy other designer’s work…I advise customers to  purchase the original “Chloe” dress from Tea Princess.

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Pattern Dieting? How to make good decisions

Previously I blogged about fabric dieting….the logical next step is pattern dieting, right? I need another pattern like a whole in the head….UNLESS it is truly unique AND something I will absolutely use in the very near future.

But there’s no need for me to write about this, because the lovely Tibeca Yao  of the blog “Sewing by Ti” already read my mind.  So grab a cup of coffee, settle in, and  go here for a logical analysis that will help you stay on track: 5 Steps to Deciding to Buy a Pattern. Print it out and tape to your sewing machine if that helps. We all need a bit of budgeting support at times, and differentiating your “wants” versus your “needs” is the first step.  Thanks Ti!




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Quicker Fix for Coachellas

It’s snowing (a LOT) here in Massachusetts but in warmer areas people are anticipating spring, which means sewing shorts, yay!  Last summer I posted about how to correct the “crotch bunching” in the adorable Coachella shorts, by extending the crotch curves and trueing the inseams. Here is a simplified method (although if you are really interested in all of the analytics, they’re in the original post).

This isn’t technically perfect by any means (“real” grading uses grade-points and grading measurement scales), but it’s quick and easy, and results in better-fitting shorts. I’m going to show the least amount of pattern possible, under Fair Use Doctrine (the laws that make product review possible)….all you need is pattern page #3 . Here we go:

Cut out the front and back crotch shapes, glue them to printer paper. Gather a French curve, straight-edge, and pencil…also 3 colored pencils or highlighters:


Looking at the pattern, you can probably see the three areas of inconsistent the sizes increase:

  1. The crotch curve gets more shallow, so that will get corrected with a French curve.
  2. The rise lengths get shorter, so the lengths will be increased for the larger sizes.
  3. The  inseam angle gets more acute, so that will get trued with a French curve.

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“Sewing in-between Sewing”

Sewing in-between Sewing” is a term I picked up yesterday on Instagram from a post by the lovely Alicia, an Australian designer who has a sewing story all her own.  She creates and sells unique children’s-wear to raise funds for cancer research…you can follow her on IG @a_tropical_daze. She has already reached 75% of her $10,000 goal, using up-cycled vintage materials that she sources from “opportunity shops” (we call them thrift shops in New England). Alicia is inspiring for so many reasons (I’ve posted before about how “Bohemian style” is out of my comfort zone!) but for me at this moment, it was her simple idea of “Sewing between Sewing”.

Schedule sewing projects is a huge struggle for me, so her post intrigued me. It showed a sneak-peek photo of the project she was working on, explaining “Needed a quick break from sewing orders to sew something a little bit amazing!


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