Easy is not always Pretty

Vogue patterns have had an “Easy” section for years and it is supposed to encourage/fool the public into thinking that they are getting a high end couture pattern with perfect matching lines and complete instructions…Guess Again!

A very wise woman told me years ago that “Easy” means less pieces (although not always) and designer shortcuts like not checking pattern pieces actually can be sewn to each other. Maybe if I was in a hurry to crank out a dress to wear to a holiday dinner it would not bother me that nothing lined up front or back. Or if I was a beginner sewer and didn’t know that one form of good design requires that vertical lines match up to draw the eye up and down to make the sewer look thinner.

Enter Vogue Easy Options 8413 view D.

Now before you all go rush off to Pattern Review and check out all the blissfully happy sewers who have made this dress in one version or the other for the past 3 years my complaint is not ease of construction but results of construction.

I cut the size 16 and added at the side seams and also did a sway back adjustment of 1.5 inches center back winding itself around to nothing at center front. Other than those corrections I went with what was in the envelope except I did not cut the huge neckline facings. The following pictures show what was really bugging me:

Maybe this would not bother folks but when the back princess line on the bodice cannot match the skirt dart I think it is just plain LAZY! If I had cut a size 8 or 10, nothing would have even come close! I narrowed the back skirt dart a little so it was easier to scoot the lines closer together. Click on the thumbnails for a closer look.

If you are not in the habit of previewing your pattern tissue to discover really crappy design…now is the time! Who wants to find this out later after you have cut into really pricey wool like this project for a client. Below are photos of the finished back with lines matching…(how slimming and attractive) but imagine them off by an inch or so. BTW on the back of the pattern envelope the drawing has everything lining up…wouldn’t you know that! An artist’s dream! The white stitching is just the lining basted for the moment.

Please excuse some wrinkles as the model is a bit “stiff” today.

Here are the pattern pieces with corrections which allowed me to make the back fit so well: See how the actual excess is cut and overlapped from 1.5 to 1 inch at the side seam. Yes it is weird looking but if you don’t do this the bodice hangs below the waist and then causes the skirt to droop and buckle on the hips. Since I had made a dress for this client before, I suspected this would be needed again. OK, so what happens to the front pieces?

The excess is reduced down to less than 1/8 inch at center front since she has a full bust and needs the original measurement. Next I measure the front bodice against the front skirt. This puppy came with unflattering center meeting pleats on the tummy and where the princess lines SHOULD have met for that continuous vertical line. The client had tried on the dress and asked if the center-most pleats could be flipped inward to be more flattering. Why would a pattern company put those bulky fluffy poking out pleats over a tummy? Did someone run out of ideas?

So after re-drawing the pleat arrows I pinned the seams to see what the result would be…you know what is coming….

Let’s try to think of a more unflattering and fattening design…other than gathers…your eye is drawn to those lumps on the waist…and your eye stops at the front princess lines going nowhere. Maybe the designer thought “What the heck, they don’t meet in the back, why should they meet in the front?”

OK now onto the collar of view D. It is a lovely big folded bias rectangle that lies perfect on the neckline and should be able to be it’s own facing on the inside all clean finished like this photo:

But noooooooo…the pattern company decides to throw in 2 huge facing pieces…front and back to add bulk and complicate the construction.

There is no lining in the envelope so is this their idea of a nice finish? If one chooses to line the dress why would you want one more layer of fabric there?

The final touch for me is the collar….it is big, it is floppy, it is bias and on the back of the envelope it just lies flat thus distorting the front of itself and just looking sad. As a child of the 60’s, I remember Jackie-O style dress with high collars had hooks and thread eyes to hold center back together and give the back some lift…how simple, so that is what I offered to the client…let’s escape that homemade look shall we?

The final photo shows the cotton lining (not my first choice, wish it had been rayon Ambiance) that extends from neckline to hem and sleeves. Now all that’s left is for the client to come for her final fitting for hemming and possible tweaking and pressing.

If you are thinking about making this little honey soon, read the reviews, measure youself, measure the pattern pieces, check the finished measurements on the pattern front piece and decide if you need more ease somewhere.

If it ends up being a “wadder” and thrown in the trash…you have been warned…ha ha.

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7 Responses to Easy is not always Pretty

  1. Alethia says:

    Thanks for the heads up…you have done a beautiful job!

    • mrsmole says:

      I know from your work you check lines and seams before you cut into expensive client’s fabrics and produce magnificent garments! In addition to running a website like http://www.sewmuchtalent.com keeps you hopping!

      • Alethia says:

        A true seamstress or tailor is very critical of his/her work. So, I do check lines. I’m a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to my work. And, this is the very reason I do not like to shop and buy for myself because I am very critical of the workmanship and the prices attached to poor quality garments~ especially in popular, name-brand stores. 🙂
        Thanks for the mention!

  2. theresa says:

    It’s not just Vogue’s easy that can seem to be drafted by the three blind mice, the others must have the same mice working for them, or at least cousins. With new patterns I usually test fit on Rhonda although not as nice a job as you do. I also see Vogue has managed to take what is a big bonus for me, those large bias cut cowls not needing facing and ruining it!. I have a couple of Indygo Junction patterns that have the cowl, no zipper and work up nicely in tunic length although not quite as pretty and flattering as you have made that dress for your customer. Beautiful work!

    • mrsmole says:

      Yes Theresa there are some really badly designed patterns out there and ones that even leave out pieces like facings that are needed or cut them too short. Indygo Junction has pages of corrections to their patterns after customers have tested them and complained…me being one of the regular detectives. In my last year of design school we were told that if a graduate was not all that swift with their pattern making skills to be hired by a design firm in LA they could always get a job working for a pattern company as they are always hiring those “three blind mice” you mentioned.

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