Pattern Hack: how to make the Mini Romper Dress

If there’s one look that’s the epitome of “fresh vintage” for little girls, it’s the 1950’s short dress with full skirt:

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Originally these styles were designed as two-piece outfits:

  • either a romper plus a wrap-skirt
  • or a dress plus matching bloomer

Recently this silhouette has been updated as a one-piece-circle-skirted-romper by coveted children’s-wear designers such as (Pinterest pics left-to-right):

  • Little Minis
  • KaiKai Creations
  • Liboosha   “Peggy”
  • Well Dressed Wolf “Innocent”

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Trueing the Waist: Sansahash “Imari” Shorts

I’m always on the lookout for a good kids’ shorts or pants pattern. Compared to the sheer volume of children’s dress and skirt patterns, pants are few and far between. Well-fitting ones are even more elusive. The newly-released Sansahash “Imari” shorts pdf is a very cute style which comes in bubble and regular versions. The pattern prints out and fits together perfectly.  However, the center-back seam is not trued at the waist, which makes it difficult to stitch on the waistband, and a challenge to fit smoothly along the back waist. There’s an easy fix for this, which I’ll show you.

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Why Indie Pattern Quality is Improving

Short answer? Competition       Reason? Style sameness

Does it seem that multiple designers release very similar styles, sometimes at close timing to each other? It does make people wonder if they coincidentally came up with the same concept, if they read the same trade magazines, watch the same fashion runway shows. I was thinking of this while pondering the new release of Bebekin’s “Robin” pattern.  I already had Ikatee “Stella” on my wish-list.  Did I need both? And if not, how to choose?

(left: Ikatee “Stella”, right Bebekins “Robin” just released)

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I’m sure that most times the similarities between patterns are a matter of “great minds think alike“.  Other times there are, unfortunately,  hints (even conversation screenshots) of questionable actions behind-the-scenes…inside info on who is designing what, which styles are in test mode, patterns that are rushed  to release before adequate testing.  It’s difficult to know whether style-sameness is accidental, or intentional. But here’s the good news: Competition improves Quality.  What’s true for airlines, restaurants, cell-phone services and schools, is also true for sewing patterns.

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Pattern Review: Duchess and Hare “Sweet as Pie”

In the movie “Working Girl”,  account executive Katharine Parker (Sigourney Weaver) and her secretary Tess McGill (Melanie Griffith) both claim to have come up with the same idea for an acquisitions merger.  When confronted by the owner of the conglomerate, Katharine has no answer as to where she got the idea . On the other hand, Tess can produce her notes plus the newspaper clippings that inspired her concept.

I thought of this when reading a blog post from Duchess and Hare. She  sampled what would become her  “Sweet as Pie”  pattern last year* ,  inspired by this dress from Nelly Madison:

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I say inspired by deliberately, because Duchess and Hare did not copy line-for-line, but rather studied the silhouette,  changed the bodice to a new shape, then created multiple style options.

*You can scroll back to a year ago on her IG to see the first sample dress.

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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:

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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:

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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!

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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:

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..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:

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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″:

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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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