The Carefree Dress

Who doesn’t love a flowing, cool, maxi dress for summer? One that makes you feel like your on vacation even when your just walking around the house. This is what I choose for reconstruction make #4. Click here for an explanation. I don’t think any other type of garment combines casualness and luxury the way a long, loose-fitting, sleeveless dress does. I’m really excited to share this one with you.

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The pattern I used is McCalls 7404 which I purchased on sale at JoAnn’s for $1.99. I think it is a “new release” as the date on the envelope is 2016. When I first saw this pattern, I knew I would buy it. It fit my reconstruction criteria of loose and gathered above the chest. Additionally, I was attracted to the casual maxi dress idea as I didn’t have any in my closet. I made view D.

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The fabric I used is Joel Dewberry, Bungalow Rayon collection, specifically Dahlia Rayon in Maze. I purchased it from Hawthorne Threads and knew I wouldn’t go wrong this selection as I was super pleased my Joel Dewberry rayon I had purchased for The Triple Digit Dress. I bought 3 3/8 yards at $9.95 per yard. I machine wash and hang dry this fabric. It’s soft and drapey, yet substantial and easy to iron.

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The armholes and neckline are finished with bias tape. Long strips are included as patterns pieces. There is also a bias trim inset between the bodice and the body of the dress. The pattern instructions were to iron it up and top-stitch. I ironed it down instead.

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The back has a slit opening and hook closure. I can pull the dress on without undoing the hook. So while the opening is not actually necessary, it’s a nice design feature.

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There is a slit at the bottom of the center front seam.

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LET’ BE HONEST:

1. I cut a size Medium (12-14). It fits fine, except the armholes are very large. Before attaching the bodice to the body of the dress, I took in the bodice side seams 5/8″ to lessen the armholes, but that was not enough. I wear a “cami bra” with this dress to prevent from exposing too much.

2. Because I am not a tall person, I cut off 5″ off the bottom of the pattern pieces.

3. Because of how rayon stretches with gravity, the bottom was very uneven. I let it hang for a couple of days, then trimmed the bottom to even it out. And hemmed it from there.

4. In addition to cutting several inches off the bottom, I lowered the front slit about 2″. I really didn’t want the slit to go above my knee. Who wants to worry about a gust of wind or be careful when you sit down?

5. The most difficult thing about this dress was getting the rayon bias tape even and nice. I hand basted it in all three applications before machine stitching.

I have to say this is now one of my favorite dresses hanging in my closet. Wearing this dress is just so comfortable, free, and easy. What about you? Have you discovered a free and easy dress pattern lately?

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The Triple Digit Dress

I’m still sewing my summer reconstruction makes like crazy. Click here for explanation. We’ve got two, if not three, more months of HOT weather. With this being the case, I haven’t come close to maxing out on sewing for this season. However, I’m happy to take time away from my machine to share with you reconstruction make #3, a comfortable, cool summer dress.

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To belt or not to belt, that is the question.

The pattern I used is Simplicity 1668 which I got on sale at JoAnn’s for $1.99. I snatched this pattern up as soon as I stumbled upon it as it fit my reconstruction criteria perfectly – loose and gathered at the chest.

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The fabric is Tulip Rayon in Poppy by Joel Dewberry which I purchased once again from my favorite online store Hawthorne Threads. (I know I sound like a broken record always mentioning Hawthrone Threads, but I haven’t managed to get to Los Angeles for fabric shopping in several months. I am thankful for their great selection and great customer service.) I got 1.75 yards at a cost of $9.70 per yard. I love this fabric. I prewashed it in a cold machine cycle, and hung to dry. It’s soft, lightweight and drapey, yet not too delicate for everyday wear.

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An elastic casing forms the gathers at the middle front.

The gathers near the shoulder are sewn to a facing. The armholes are finished with purchased bias tape.

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There is a box pleat with top stitching at the back neckline.

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Curved hem is finished with a facing. Not the easiest thing in the world to do perfectly on a rayon. Mine is passable.

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LET’S BE HONEST:

1. I cut a size Small (10-12) at the top and graded a Medium (14-16) at the bottom. I also added 1″ in length by slashing the pattern pieces where indicated. The photo on the envelope showed the dress several inches above the knee on the model. I’m not tall, so I figured adding 1″ would fall at the knee on me. I’m happy with the overall fit and did not have to make any adjustments while sewing.

2. The pattern is labeled as “easy-to-sew.” I think that this can apply to the other views-elastic pants and shorts, and jacket. For the dress, I have to say the neckline with the elastic casing, shoulder gathers, and facings is a little fiddle-some, especially in a rayon. I wouldn’t recommend this dress for a beginner.

3. I interfaced the belt even though the directions did not call for it.

4. Now I’m going to talk the nitty gritty of practicality. I LOVE this dress. I think the pattern and fabric are a perfect match. And it couldn’t be more comforable to wear. However, I still find myself grabbing the same old shorts and sleeveless tops over this cute dress on a daily basis. Is it too “nice” to just wear around the house or a trip to the grocery store? I think the real reason I don’t throw it on more often is the fact that it’s care is “high maintainence.” First I have to accumulate a load of delicate wash cycle items to wash with it, then I will need hang it dry, and then I will need to iron it. This means it will be a long time before I wear it again once I throw it in the laundry pile.

What about you, do you avoid wearing some garments you love just because of their care requirements?

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Happy Coverall Dress

Except for some last minutes sewing details for my sister-in-law‘s wedding next weekend, I am madly focused on my summer “reconstruction” makes. Click here for explanation. I’m sewing much faster than I’m blogging. I’ve got lots to share. Stay tuned. Reconstruction make #2 is a simple grab-n-go dress that’s nonrevealing and has pleats in all the right places. It’s a great alternative to shorts and a T-shirt.

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This dress has been through the washer and dryer twice already.

The pattern I used is Simplicity 2147.  I bought it on sale at JoAnn’s for about $1. I was attracted to this pattern because of the loose fit and bodice yoke with pleats and ample chest coverage. I was not attracted to it because it says “Learn to Sew”, although that signals quick and easy – a good thing when your whipping out summer clothes. I made view B.

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The fabric I used is Robert Kaufman, Double Gauze Chambray in Indigo. I purchased it from my favorite online fabric store Hawthorne Threads. I ordered 2 yards at a cost of $11.70 per yard. This is my first double gauze experience. I have seen many makes with double gauze floating around the online sewing community and had been curious about it for some time. I love the characteristics of this fabric, it’s soft and lightweight while having a similar fashion aesthetic of a regular chambray. However, I don’t think it was the perfect choice for this pattern. I’ll explain below.

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Because of the loose weave of the gauze, the fabric sort of stretches over the shoulder and creates a wing effect on the edge of the sleeves. Not a big deal, but something I wasn’t jazzed about the first time I tried it on. Can I live with it? Yes!

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The side view is a bit unflatteringly “full.” I don’t know if it’s because there are also pleats in the back or it’s the nature of the fabric. What I do know, however, is that as the day wears on, you get a rear end sag from the double gauze stretching out while sitting. The dress appears freshly washed in the photo.

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The neckline is finished with purchased bias tape. The sleeves have a narrow machine hem.

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I like how the wrong side of the fabric is the “negative” of the right side.

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I did a machine blind hem for the bottom hem. The stitches are hiddened well in the crinkly, double gauze!

LETS BE HONEST:

1. I made a size 12 and graded out to a size 14 on the bottom half. I did not do this out of concern for my hips. I did this because I added 5″ to the hem. (View B is described as a mini-dress, which I don’t do.) I noticed that the body of the dress narrows slightly towards the bottom and I thought if I continued the inward angle following the size 12 line, it might feel a little narrow at the hem.

2. Hmm…what else can I say. Despite the winged sleeves and saggy rear end, I really love this dress and will continue to reach for it often this summer.

What about you…can you overlook disppointing details when the garment perfectly fills a need in your wardrobe?

 

 

 

 

 

The Kiomi Top

Eight weeks ago I had a double mastectomy because I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I’m not telling you this to shock you or for your sympathy, after all this is a sewing blog. I’m sharing this so you will know the true reason behind my choice of projects these past few months, and the months upcoming. But before I jump into sewing, I want to say that my prognosis is excellent, and I have the good fortune of not requiring any post treatments such as chemo therapy or radiation.

However, I am currently “under reconstruction.” My breasts are temporarily oddly shaped and uneven. That is why I am choosing tops and dress patterns that are loose and gathered above the chest. One week after surgery, I started to think about all the hot weather that is to come, looked through all my patterns, and choose The Kiomi Top from Lotta Jansdotter’s book, Everyday Style, as my first recovery make.

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The Kiomi Top from Everyday Style by Lotta Jansdotter

I thought this pattern would make up nicely in a quilting weight cotton fabric as I desired an opaque, more substantial weight fabric rather than a voile or lawn cotton which is my usual preference for a top or blouse. I ordered two fabrics from my favorite online store, Hawthorne Threads. (As much I prefer buying fabric in person, I think it’s awesome to purchase fabric online when you have drains attached to you, can’t drive yet, and really don’t want to leave the house.) I chose two fabrics – Iza Pearl Designs, Blush & Bloom collection, Floral Stripe in Aqua, $9.95 per yard, and Leah Duncan, Lore collection, Olympus in Navy, $12.95 per yard. I bought 1 3/4 yards of each.

After studying the photos of the Kiomi in the book, I decided I would prefer less flair for this semi-cropped top. Lotta Jansdotter looks taller and thinner than me, so she can pull off a more extreme A-line. I took out eight inches of width at the bottom of the top. I did this by cutting two slashes on both the front and back patterns pieces and overlapping the openings by an inch at the bottom. I found the width to be perfect and was very happy I made this adjustment.

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I made four slashes to take out a total of 8 inches of width on the bottom.

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I would not look as cute as Lotta in a top this swingy.

LET’S BE HONEST:

1. The size range in this book is XS to XL. I made a Medium (bust 36 – 37 1/2) and it fit fine even though my bust size falls closer to the Small measurements.

2. I had an issue with the neckline on this pattern. With my first top, I followed the instructions to pull the neckline gathers to 3 1/2″ for the size Medium before sewing on the bias tape. This was too much gathering. It caused the neckline to be pulled into a kind of soft “V” shape and also pulled armholes towards the chest area. I studied all the photo examples in the book, and none of the necklines looked like mine which leads me to believe the measurements in the book were not adequately “tested.” For my second top, I pulled the gathers to 5″. I found this to be a much more acceptable result and looked more like the rounded necklines in the book.

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Left: Gathers are 3 1/2″. Right: The gathers are 5″.

3. I had an issue with the instructions for the neckline bias tape. You are given a pattern for 2″ bias tape and instructions to iron it down the middle and then in on both sides 1/2″. This of course creates a 1/2″ bias tape which is to be used on both the neckline and arm holes. Looking at all the photos in the book and the illustrations on instruction page, the neckline bias binding is clearly wider than the armhole binding. In a couple of the photos the neckline binding looks like it could be as wide as 1″. There are no instructions that differentiate the binding widths of neckline and armholes. I like the way the wider neckline binding looks, so of course I made adjustments on my own to achieve that. However, small details are what make a simple design such as the Kiomi unique, and I think the creators of the book owe their followers instructions and patterns pieces which will enable them to create exactly what they see in the photos.

4. Despite my complaints above, I love actually these two tops and have already worn them both several times. They serve the purpose that was intended for them – in the hot weather, they hide my not so perfect chest AND I still feel cute.

5. This is my third project from Everyday Style by Lotta Jansdotter. I have a post on the Esme Tunic here. I also made the Owyn Pants. I haven’t done a post about them, but you can see photos of them in this post.

I am especially grateful right now that I can sew. I am able to create clothes that I feel great in post-surgery. What about you, when have you felt grateful that you can sew?

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Japanese Recovery Clothes

I am having some surgery in a short time and need some comfy clothes to wear during my recooperation. I figured why not try to be a bit stylish! My range of motion in my arms will be limited for a while, so I wanted to make some button-front garments to avoid to need to raise my arms overhead. I looked through my stash of patterns and two designs in my Japanese pattern books fit the bill the best. Cute, loose, and button-front.

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I wasn’t going to use this photo because I didn’t think this view looked flattering. I didn’t want to torture my husband to do a retake. But more importantly, I realized that this garment for me is about comfort and cover-up, and it is both of those things. So forget the perfectly staged photo!

 

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If you’ve been reading my blog, you know I’ve become quite a fan of the Japanese patterns in the past year or so. Now I’m even more entrenched! The first one is Tunic with Tie Belt – 8b from Simple Modern Sewing by Shufu to Seikatsu Sha.

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The second one is Button-up Blouse D from Stylish Dress Book, Wear With Freedom by Yoshiko Tsukiori.

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The fabric I used for the Tunic is from Mood in Los Angeles. I purchased it for another project a few months ago, but felt it lent itself well to this pattern. It is a light weight cotton and was $10 per yard. I paid for three yards, but really ended up with nearly four! They’re always generous. Thank you Mood!

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This tunic has 15 buttons! 13 down the front and one on each cuff.

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The cuff opening is made with a slash, covered with a narrow binding.

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The back has this cool loop detail. I think this garment was originally designed as a work shirt/cover up and the loop allowed the wearer to hang it on a hook in the studio.

Fabric I used for the Blouse is from The Fabric Store, also in Los Angeles, only five blocks from Mood. How lucky am I? This fabric, also intended for another project, was $10 per yard, but I hit a 30% sale. And like Mood, The Fabric Store is always generous. I paid for 1.5 yards, but ended up with close to two yards, and this fabric was nearly 60″ wide. Plenty for this blouse. I recently noticed from the print on the selvage, that this fabric is from Japan.

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For the cuff and the neck binding, I first sewed the right side of the binding to the wrong side of the fabric. Then I folded it in and top stitched it to the right side. You can avoid hand sewing with this technique.

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LET’S BE HONEST:

Tunic from Simple Modern Sewing:

1. This is my third project from this book, and continue to be impressed with the well drafted patterns.

2. The sizes in this book range from XS to L, bust 32 1/4″ t0 37.” I made a Medium and because of the loose fit of this pattern, I probably could have made a Small or even Extra Small and it wouldn’t have made much difference. I think it would be safe that if you fall  somewhat outside the Large measurements, you could still wear this pattern.

3. I was actually aiming to make a 7/8 length sleeve (just above the wrist) so I cut off about 2 inches before adding the cuff. It wasn’t quite enough, so I would probably take off another inch to acheive this style.

4. Here are the instructions. Typical for these Japanese patterns books. Sufficient if you have a background in the required techniques. Otherwise they are insufficient for a beginner as stand alone instructions.

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Button-up Blouse from Stylish Dress Book, Wear with Freedom:

1. This is also my third project from this book, and same as above, am continue impressed with the drafting.

2. The sizes in this book range from 6 to 16, bust 30 3/4″ to 40 1/4.” I made a size 10, and same as the tunic, I could have made a smaller size because of the very loose fit. So same conclusion, with this pattern, if you are larger than a size 16, you could probably still wear this pattern.

3. I did not make any changes to this pattern, and sewed it exactly as shown. (Actually, I did add a 1/4″ to the width of the bias binding. I was afraid it could fray or stretch and end up too narrow. I am of the philosophy that you can always trim off, but you can’t add on.)

4. If I were to make another one, I would probably use a lighter cotton weight with a softer hand.

5. Here are the instructions. Same comments as above. You are directed to another page for cuffs and buttonholes.

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I really like both of these garments, and I know I will continue to wear them after my recovery is complete. What about you, have you made garments to help you or someone else through a physical limitation?

 

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My pants are the Owyn Pants from Lotta Jansdotter Everyday Style.

 

 

 

 

The Jasper Sweatshirt

Even though we have said hello to Spring here in So Cal, I could not let the warm weather completely takeover before I share this fabulous winter make. The Jasper Sweatshirt, stylish, fashion forward and modern, looks like it could be a part of an upscale athletic RTW collection.

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The PDF pattern by Paprika Patterns is actually titled “Jasper Sweater & Dress.” I first discovered this pattern while reading a post from Mahlica Designs blog well over a year ago. I purchased it soon after, but it sat in my pile for quite some time. There is a Sweater and Dress view, and a collar or hood option.

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My catalyst to finally make the Jasper was this amazing fabric I found at Mood on La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles. The front side has a smooth texture with snazzy, verigated lines of blue, green and grey. The back side is a cuddly, soft, ribbed, grey fleece. I was obsessed with this fabric when I discovered it stuffed amongst all the sweater knits at Mood. It was $25 per yard, and I didn’t care. I loved it’s unique two sided-ness, and it’s promise of comfy warmth on a winter walk in So Cal.

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I top-stitched most of the seams with a stretch double needle.

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The welt pockets are probably the most intimidating feature of this well drafted stylish, sporty pattern. Once wearing the garment, you realize how well worth the effort they are. Who doesn’t love resting their hands in a comfy pouch across their belly?

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The bottom of the pouch pocket is not sewn into the bottom band. I was afraid it would sag or create bulk on the front side when wearing, but it doesn’t!

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The pattern features princesses seams on front and back which makes for a nice modern fit.

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The hood has a unique design. I like how it creates a wide opening at the neck and around the face.

LET’S BE HONEST:

1. I cut a size straight size 4 and I’m very pleased with the fit.

2. I shorten the sleeves by 2″ and narrowed the cuffs by 1″. I realize the longer sleeve and wider cuffs was a carefully thought out detail by the designer. But I wanted the sleeves to be a bit more practical for me, and not have the cuffs falling halfway down my hands all the time. (After wearing it, however, I have determined that I would put a 1/2 inch back on the sleeve.)

3. I was confused as to why the pouch pocket was longer than the main front piece, also, as to whether the bottom of the pocket got sewn into the bottom band. The instructions were not clear to me. I emailed Lisa at Paprika Patterns with my questions. I was very pleased that I heard back from her within a few hours. Those of you that follow her on social media, know she lives somewhere in France in a yurt.

Overall, I am very pleased with my Jasper Sweatshirt, and so happy I finally made it! My only disappointment is my days of wearing it are numbered as 80 degree days are here to stay. This is a pattern, however, that will not go out of style. So there’s always next year, and the year after…

Thanks for taking the time to read my post. I always welcome your comments. Have you been wanting to make a Jasper?

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This is my son named Jasper! That’s really why I bought the pattern!

 

 

 

Japanese Smock Blouse B

Japanese patterns…I’ve become mildy obsessed. With each project I make, I become a bigger fan. My continuing quest for more interesting tops was a great reason to sew up my fourth Japanese pattern.

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The pattern I used is B: Smock Blouse with Garibaldi Sleeves from Stylish Dress Book, Wear With Freedom by Yoshiko Tsukiori. This is my second project from this book. My first was Japanese Dress Y. I chose pattern B because of it’s simplcity and design features that would lend well to a drapey fabric.

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This book has 26 adorable patterns to choose from.

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Contrary to my usual habits (I am actually not a fabric horder, and have very little stash), I already had the fabric before I choose this pattern. It was part of my online Black Friday sale purchase from Hawthorne Threads. The fabric is Anna Maria Horner, Pretty Potent Rayon, Eucalyptus in Ruby. I purchased about 2 yards for $9.95 per yard. This is a nice quality rayon which came through a machine prewash and line dry beautifully.

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The neckline is finished with bias tape which I first machine stitched to the front, then folded over, hand stitched on the inside and then top stitched on the front side. The pattern does not provide explict instructions on how to do this!

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Here’s a Garibaldi sleeve. It has a partially gathered bottom piece with an elastic casing hem.

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The back neckline does not have gathers.

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I did a machine blind hem. One of my favorite finishing techniques for hem that have little or no curve.

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Inside peek at the stitch.

LET’S BE HONEST:

1. The pattern sizes in this book range from 6 to 16. I cut a straight size 12, and was happy with the fit. I probably could have made a 10 and been just as satisfied since it’s very loose fitting.

2. This pattern is well drafted and true to the picture. I have developed a trust in the Japanese patterns.

3. However, as with the other Japanese patterns I’ve made, the instructions are minimal. If you are a beginner, do not attempt one of these patterns unless you have some in-person support. Here’s Blouse B in it’s one page entirety:

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4. The instructions showed the bias tape cut at 1 3/8″ wide. I cut it at 1 5/8″ because I was afraid any stretching or fraying might leave it too narrow in places.

5. I think one reason I like these patterns is they are friendly/flattering to the pear shaped, small busted woman.

I only sewed with Big 4 patterns (plus Burda) for 40 years. I trust them and know how to work with them. Since starting this blog, 2 years ago, I have ventured to other resources for patterns. (Yes, you can teach an old dog new tricks.) I have discovered that well drafted patterns can come from just about anywhere. Still, I choose patterns from alternate sources because I find an appealing and unique design, and not because I want to jump on the social media bandwagon with the latest indie pattern.

What about you? How do you choose patterns?

Thanks for visiting and reading this post! Cheers, Lori

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It’s been such a warm February, our trees think it’s spring!