Step Aside HP1189 – I have a new favourite T

It’s Hotpatterns 1121 Riviera Cote D’Azur.  It’s a little more involved than HP1189, and I can’t make one in two hours (yet?), but after making one, I liked it so much I cut out three more on a lay.

  • Size range (with measurements) – 6 – 26; 26 is 52B/44W/52H
  • What size did you make? – I chose a size 20 based on my high bust measurement of 46″, then added a 2″ FBA.
  • What are your measurements, height, and body type?
    • 5’3″; 50B/46-48W depending on the time of the month/54H; I wear a 40DD bra
  • What adjustments did you make and how long did they take?
    • I did a 2″FBA.  For my muslin, I just left it as is with a dart created; for my FOs I rotated the dart into some more tummy room, plus deeper gathers at the bust.  On most hotpatterns, the FBA adds enough room through the front that I don’t need to add more tummy room, but this one seems to be cut a bit slimmer through the waist
    • I added 2″ to the biceps by lowering the opening on the cut-on cap sleeve
    • I have a longer than average torso, but I found the cut line for the T-shirt version made it very, very long on me.  I shortened it 4″, and might shorten future versions another 2″
    • I would say I spent under an hour on alterations
  • What fabric did you use?
    • A beefy cotton T-knit for the first one (only OK) and super-soft viscose jersey for the next three (delicious)
  • What was the construction process like? Did the instructions make sense to you?
    • Construction was straighforward.  The instructions were very clear.  I really liked the method for creating nice, even gathers at the center front, and for creating a nice pointy V in the neckband.  I did run into trouble with the neckband though, it seems very, very short compared to the neck-hole it has to bind.  After quite a bit of fighting and puckered necklines and seam ripping and cussing, I gave in and recut my neckbands 2″ longer and then they worked fine.
  • How do you like the pattern’s fit? Do you think the design works well for your particular body shape?
    • The original pattern was designed for somebody more hourglassy than me, but it was easy enough to adjust it to work for my shape.  The style, once you get the fit working, is likely to be universally flattering.
  • Will you make the pattern again? If so, what fit or design changes will you make?
    • I will make this again and again and again.
    • I might reduce how much I increased the bicep space – maybe just add 1″ instead of 2″?
    • I might shorten it another 2″
  • Do you have any advice on this pattern for other curvy sewers? Are there any resources (blog posts, fitting books, tutorials) that helped you sew this piece up?
    • Cut your neck band about 2″ longer than the pattern piece, unless you’re working with something ridiculously stretchy.

Rating:

Size Range (1-5) – 3.  Looking at it specifically from the perspective of plus-size sewing, I would really like to see a higher size range.
Instructions (1-5)  – 5. Super straightforward
Construction Process (1-5) – 5. Super straightforward
Final Fit (1-5)  – 5. Once I adapted the pattern to my shape, it worked great.  The center front and back seams, and the bust gathers, make it easy to adjust.
Overall Rating (1-5) + Explanation – 4. I would almost give this pattern a 5-star rating, but the issue with the neckband takes it down half a notch, as does the somewhat limited top end of the size range.  Nonetheless, I highly recommend this pattern, as long as you cut the neckband longer than the pattern piece and test it before sewing it in for real.

Pattern Review: 5 out of 4’s Agility Tank

I have a tradition that when I go on vacation, the night before I leave I start on an ill-advised last-minute project.  This vacation, it was the Agility Tank swim top from 5 out of 4.  I didn’t get it done in time for the trip, because it took a bit of practice to get the hang of the elastic edges and my rule for late-night sewing is, if you make a mistake that will require significant seam ripper use, go to bed and do it in the morning.

I finished it the day after getting back though, and I’m really happy with how it turned out.

The top is a sports-bra (with options for T-back or strappy shoulders), with a gathered tank top overlay that hangs off it – options to cut the underarms so that they hang close to the body, or so they hang lower and show skin.  There are maternity and nursing options as well.

It comes up to a size 3X which is for B50″/W46″.  I didn’t make any alterations and 3X fit nicely on my B50″/W48″ self.  The crossed straps, combined with a lycra swimsuit fabric with a fairly firm stretch and recovery, gives pretty good bust support.  I like how it works with my figure, because it draws attention to the bust, and doesn’t suck into the belly and back-fat rolls.  It’s modest, but not frumpy, and I like that too.

Construction was straightforward – this was my first venture into swimwear and elastic bindings, and while it took a bit of practice to get the hang of applying the elastic, understanding the instructions wasn’t a problem at all.  It just takes a bit of dexterity to handle three layers of bra, the elastic, and the fabric that covers the elastic, and stretch only the layers that are supposed to be stretched while holding the other layers unstretched.

The only part I found particularly tricky was attaching the straps in the back – I would highly recommend an assistant to help you decide where to attach the straps and how long to make them.  My husband is a great photographer, but not so good at pinning things, so I had to do it all by myself, and there was a lot of trying on, getting stabbed with the pins, twisting to see my back in the mirror, taking it off, repinning, getting stabbed with the pins, checking the mirror again, cussing, taking it off, getting stabbed with the pins, and cussing under my breath.

Something I particularly liked about this pattern was that it is a pdf with layers – you can click to choose which size(s) you want to print out, so instead of a tangled nest with all the sizes, you can print just what size you need.

I highly recommend this pattern for curvy sewists, as long as they aren’t super-busty – I’m not sure the sports-bra design would provide adequate support for larger than a D/DD Cup.  I don’t have a lifestyle where I need a lot of swimsuits, so I don’t think I’ll make another one any time soon, but I might make just the strappy bra part, to wear under tops with low or wide necklines.

Rating:

Size Range (1-5) – 3.  3X isn’t particularly large, and with the caveat I mentioned about cup size, there’s no reason it couldn’t come larger.
Instructions (1-5) – 5. Very easy to understand.
Construction Process (1-5) – 5.  Straightforward.
Final Fit (1-5) – 5. Forgiving without being baggy, supportive, sporty and fun.
Overall Rating (1-5) – 4.5.  This is a really excellent pattern, with lots of useful options, that looks great and should work for a variety of body types.

 

Pattern Review: StyleArc Courtney

StyleArc’s Courtney is a great top that deserves love and attention.  It dresses up, it dresses down, it lends itself easily to all sorts of colour blocking fun, and it works great for t-shirt upcycling.  The design lines in the front mean it would be easy to tweak the fit for a larger bust (though it fit me right out of the envelope so I didn’t have to myself).  The difficulty is rated medium, but I think it might be a bit easier than medium.  I’ve made three of them now, all different, and I’m really pleased with all of them.

For the first one, I had a remnant of argyle print cotton knit, not quite enough to do anything with, but I had to buy it because I have this unholy obsession with argyle.  By combining it with another remnant, I was able to get a whole top and make it look like I’d planned it that way.

 

Next, I decided it was time to do something about the shirt I bought to commemorate an awesome concert I’d been to (VNV Nation’s 20th anniversary tour).  A standard men’s XXL t-shirt, and the fit was terrible:

I cut the center front pattern piece from the front of the t-shirt, and pieced the back from the back of the t-shirt plus some other fabric.  I was able to squeak the neck and sleeve bindings out of the concert t-shirt, and then I used other fabric for the front side panels and the yoke.

Super happy with this one!  Now I have a stylish shirt that I’m proud to wear!

And finally, the pattern is described as suitable for a knit or a woven, so for completeness sake I had to try a woven.  This fabric – sections of ruffles and pintucks, joined by lace insertions –  had been in my stash for about ten years, waiting for something suitable.  I decided to bust it out and give it a try.  Courtney works great in woven too!

The Details

Style Arc patterns come in sizes 4 – 30; a 30 is 58B/50W/61H.

My body

I’m 5’3″; I don’t know what fruit I am.  I describe myself as looking like the Venus of Willendorf.  My measurements are 50B/48W/53H.  My high bust measurement is 46″.

How this pattern worked with my body

In a nutshell: great!

I didn’t know what cup size StyleArc drafts for when I purchased the pattern (turns out it’s B), so at that time I bought the 22-24-26 grouping of pdf’s from their Etsy shop.  I might have gotten an even better fit if I’d used a size 20 (B46.5″) and done a FBA, but I started with a size 22 (B49″) because that’s what I had on hand.  From measuring the paper pattern, it looked like there would be plenty of ease in a size 22, without doing any adjustments.  So, for maybe the first time in my adult life,  I made this top right out of the envelope without any changes.  And it worked!!!

Construction Process

The pattern is beautifully drafted, and everything lines up perfectly.  A real pleasure to work with.  I guess that’s the upside of the pattern coming with one size in one layout, rather than the sizes nested: there’s lots of space for lots of markings and no confusion about what notch or circle is for what size.

The instructions, though… very, very sparse.  There’s a diagram showing how the pieces fit together, and a couple sentences about finishing, and that’s it.  You need to already know roughly how a top goes together, or be really, really good at assembling Ikea furniture from their pictograph instructions.  I’m both, so it was no problem for me, but a novice would definitely need help.  It doesn’t say anywhere which pieces to interface, or where to topstitch, or anything like that; I just used my judgment.

One thing I did differently for the knit tops (but not the woven one) was, I did a double-layer yoke and attached the front and back using the burrito method, rather than doing a single layer.  It gives a nicer, more professional finish.  I would have done it with the woven, too, but I didn’t want to mess around with lining up the lacy bits across the layers.

The Verdict

Size Range (1-5) – 5
Instructions (1-5) – 3
Construction Process (1-5) – 5
Final Fit (1-5) – 5
Overall Rating (1-5) – 4

This is a really great top that I think would work on all sorts of different body types.  The only reason I don’t give it the full five stars is the instructions, and the lack of nested sizes on the pattern sheet.

 

Pattern Review: HotPatterns 1152 Origami Knit Top

https://i2.wp.com/cdn1.bigcommerce.com/server2300/41513/products/388/images/989/HP_1152_FF_ORIGAMI_KNIT_top_env_f__82576.1360946575.500.659.jpg

The story

A few weeks ago, I was going to sing a number at a cabaret, and I wanted something a bit different to wear.  I decided to go with HotPatterns #1152: Fast and Fabulous Origami Knit Top.  It definitely had to be fast, because it was about noon the day of the cabaret, and the call time was 5PM.

Because of the unusual shape of the main pattern piece, it didn’t look like something easy to do a FBA on, and I didn’t see any point in doing any other adjustments because it has an adjustable tie waist that was big enough to go around me.  It’s not like there was time to mess with it anyway.  So I made a straight size 26; the only adjustment I did was to attach the waist ties higher, because the narrowest part of my torso is just under my boobs.

The instructions were clear and simple , and the construction process should have been super-easy (all you have to do is attach two tubes into two holes for sleeves, attach the back ties, and sew one other seam.)  Even including printing and taping the pdf pattern, I really should have been able to get it done with plenty of time to shower and do fancy makeup.  Unfortunately, I rushed, which resulted in me sewing one sleeve on upside down and inside out.  And then unpicking black thread on black, somewhat-delicate (lightweight ITY knit) fabric.  And then my sewing machine jammed when I went to carry on.  So I wore something else to the cabaret, and finished this a week later or so.

I’m really happy with it and have worn it a few places and gotten lots of compliments.  The only reason I don’t think I’ll make another one is, it’s very unique and much dressier than I generally wear for everyday, so I don’t think I need more than one.

The details:

Size range: 8 – 26, roughly corresponding to ready-to-wear.  A size 26 is 52B/44W/54H.  I would rate the size range as 3 – good but could be more extensive.

My body: I’m not sure how to classify my shape. When I was thinner, I was definitely a pear, but now I have boobs and a belly and heavy upper arms too.  I’m 5’3″, 52B/47W/54H.  I wear a DD or D bra.

How my body worked with the pattern:  Great, if I do say so myself.  I might have done better with a bit more room in the sleeves, but other than that, it clung to my boobs and showed them off, and skimmed from there on down.  The tie waist made it really easy to adjust.  I would rate the final fit a 4.

Advice:

  1. The instructions didn’t say to, but I sewed clear elastic into the neckline to prevent wardrobe malfunctions.
  2. Because of the shape of the main pattern piece, you MUST use a wide fabric.  There’s no way the main pattern piece will fit on a fabric much narrower than 60″.  I got away with 55″ but it was close.

Verdict:

I really like how this looks on me.

The back is really unusual with fabric draped interestingly. You could probably see it better in a not-black fabric.

Size Range (1-5): 4.  This design is limited by the width of available fabric, so while 26 is not the greatest upper limit, it’s the biggest you can really make this top unless you get super lucky with extra-wide fabric.

Instructions (1-5): 4. Great for anybody with a grasp of basic techniques, but doesn’t hold your hand.  An absolute beginner would need help.

Construction Process (1-5): 5. Super easy, super fast.

Final Fit (1-5): 4.  Almost perfect; could have used more room in the arms.

Overall Rating (1-5): 4.  Overall, I would rate this pattern a 4.  It’s fast, easy, different without being out-there, and easy to adjust to flatter a variety of body types.  It falls short of a 5 for the limited size range, and the slightly sparse instructions.

 

 

A Paean to HotPatterns 1189 the Shirt-tail T

Can I just say how much I love this pattern?  I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve made it, and at this point I can get one done from flat fabric to photo ready in under two hours.

hp1189

It does what it says on the envelope: a dead-simple t-shirt, with some clever variations.  Great for showing off interesting knit fabric.  And no set-in sleeves to worry about, but the cut-on cap sleeves are long enough that I don’t feel self-conscious about my upper arms.

Here are just a few versions I’ve made:

hp1189-1 hp1189-2hp1189-3 hp1189-striped

I’ve got plans for (yes, another) argyle version – with contrast neck and sleeve bands, and possibly another directional stripe one in a lavender and white linen blend (if I don’t use it for something else).

And then Trudy Hanson, the mind behind the designs, made herself one with 3/4 sleeves, and posted a diagram of how to turn the cut-on cap sleeve into a dolman.  So I had to do it too!

hp1189-sleeves hp1189-sleeves2

Construction notes:

  • This top fits very, very loose.  The first three (swirls, space print, pink argyle) are a size 24, which I selected according to the measurement chart and my full bust measurement.  For the final three, I went down to a size 20 (despite the fact that my high bust measurement would put me in a 22) and I would say 20 is about right for my preferences.
  • The version with the directional stripes really, really calls for precision and pickiness.  Every tiny waviness in your stitching lines will show.