Just one of the many reasons why I will not make an commissioned outfit directly from a mass produced pattern…
So, I fell into the trap. I admit it. I was at Joann’s fabric store. They had their patterns on sale, and I had a little time while waiting for my ride to pick me up… I got suckered. I found this sweet little rondo style skirt pattern through Butternick, one that I was trying to figure out through my own pattern draft skills, but I had a weak moment and decided to take the easy route and just purchase it.
The pattern is labeled “Easy”. So I figured on a good 1.5 hour project, it would be a good pick me up on one of THOSE days.
I honestly can see why someone new to sewing can be disappointed or discouraged by their first projects, especially if they think that the patterns they are following are always correct! Honestly I have yet to do a mass produced pattern without finding some significant errors in it! So you may ask, what pattern were you frustrated with today? It is a simple skirt, done in a spiral pattern. Elegant, sweet, and flowing. The perfect everyday accessory.
I took new measurments to determine my correct size according to the pattern. Cut out the pieces and lined them up on the fabric. With all the grain lines correctly lined up. I cut out the four pattern pieces and marked all the notches. Serged all the pieces… because I plan on using the skirt for a long, long, time.
That is where the easy ended.
I started joining the first two pieces, first flummox. The notch lines did not line up, by 2 inches in opposite directions. I sat back in my chair and said… hmmmmmm, that’s interesting. But looking back at the instructions I noticed I could start the seam at the top and wind my way down. I proceeded to attach all 4 pieces, making sure to press each seam as I went. But before I attached the back seams together I decided to try on the skirt… ’cause something just did not look right.
The waist was approximately 4.5 inches too short.
Well that sucked, especially since I picked up four different complimenting fabrics to use on the four different panels. Luckily I had a bit of fabric that did not look too silly to add in. So I proceeded to cut out a 5th pattern piece and attached it to the open seam. Closed up the back seam and tried the skirt on. The only problem is now the waist band no longer fit, by 1.5 inches. Eh, no biggy. I have short legs so doing a rolled elastic waist band actually makes the finished product sit at the sweet spot right above my knee.
The only part of the pattern that seemed to have worked out well were the instructions on how to do a rolled hem on bias cut fabric. The skirt has this sweet petal shape to the lower hem, I absolutely love it.
I have had many negative experiences with mass produced patterns, specifically Butternick, Simplicity, and Bucilla. I also know many other seamstress’s who have had irritating run-ins with bad pattern pieces or instructions. Luckily each and every one of them has had the experience, know how, and network to figure it out. I have found that Vogue and Oscar generally do not have these problems and when the pattern is followed verbatim you get a beautiful working outfit with out too many alterations.
So my advice to everyone, and a reminder to myself. If you are using expensive materials… or doing an intricate outfit, do it in muslin first. It’s worth the extra few minutes of cutting and basting.