Let’s Be Honest

Another blogger, Julie of ReadyThreadSew started a Bitchfest 2013 in order to ask if women wanted to hear real honest comments about their clothes photos. I guess it all depends if you are new to sewing and need a pat on the back or a veteran who needs the truth.

My gripe is always bad fit….loosey goosey,airy linenΒ comfortable/baggy clothes that have no shape and worse yet…a pregnancy shape which does not work on a woman over 50.

One of my dear custom clients brings me great fabrics she finds along her travels and this week she dropped off this pairing…the pattern Vogue (Very Easy) 8090 and this fabric V8090

fabricΒ  Simple top, one button, 3/4 sleeves….what could go wrong? I told her that I would like/insisted to make a muslin to make sure this pattern would suit her and lay flat in the front. Here is the muslin and can you see what is going on here? I have outlined the body shape in black dots and the red line should be following the red parallel line but it isn’t…how charming!


Hands up…who thinks this is good fit? Want more photos? Here are the rest: 2-back3-right-side4-front-darts

Now from the look of the pattern envelope and the title Very Easy you might think…Hell yes, I can crank out this top in the recommended fabric (linen, gabardine) and wear it to some uber-chic gathering/school function and won’t the folks think I bought this in a fashionable boutique where cool ladies/Jennifer Aniston shop. I think not…the best they might think is that you are wearing your pajama top. Or they may think you are 6 months pregnant and doing a good job of covering that up. Either way what other sewers will see is the horizontal bust seam line is hiking up in front causing drag lines and screaming “DART ME!”

This top is a classic box, rectangle sleeves, no shoulders, shapeless no dart example of what is out there in RTW with labels like Eileen Fisher and J. Crew…they work if you have no bust and square shoulders…basically 12 year old girls and cross-dressers.

Can this top be fitted properly and salvaged…yes, and I will attempt that when my client gets back into town the following week. I would like her to look as carefree as the model on the envelope…now where did I leave my magic wand???

This weekend will be filled with planting seeds for beans and peas and checking for snail damage along with bridal sewing. My vest man is coming next week for his try-on and I have some changes in the collar I drafted to share with you. Enjoy your weekend!


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51 Responses to Let’s Be Honest

  1. Cindie says:

    I’ll be interested to see what you do to make this pattern work as I bought it a few years ago and haven’t made it because I am not flat chested and thinking about it later I wondered if it would really would work for me.

    • mrsmole says:

      Okey Dokey, Cindie…keep watching as it becomes becoming instead of maternity wear! Thanks for checking in!

  2. Elle C says:

    Oh my. That is one baaad pattern. I don`t like my clothes fitted, as that look doesn’t flatter me at all, but that loose? No way. Sometimes Vogue does suck one in, those illustrations are sneaky.

    Count me on the side of less than honest opinions. Unless asked for, then release the hounds. Perhaps we need a badge for blogs, indicating whether honesty or cheerleading is requested. 😎

    • mrsmole says:

      Honesty is always welcome here…I learn from mistakes and gain from opinions…then they are sifted together to get a final product. Vogue must hire some darn good illustrators or pin out the back of their clothes to make them hug the body like lots of other independent pattern companies….no names mentioned.

  3. karen viser says:

    I’m also waiting to see how you make this pattern more flattering. I like the funky details on a lot of these garments – but they’re always on boxy shapes. I guess what I’m aiming for is fitted funkiness! Thanks for this post.

  4. Jenn says:

    Totally agreed! The pattern appears flattering, but on those with a bra size bigger than ‘a’, most will look like they are wearing a maternity top! So, I’ll buy it and put it away for when my married daughter is ready to have a baby!

  5. Minuit1 says:

    I personally prefer people to give me honest feed back on my sewing, particularly on fit. Sometimes the items bravely shown by fellow sewers/bloggers make me itch to suggest they try another fabric rather than craft cotton, not pick both a heavily patterned fabric and a intricate pattern design, or perhaps that yet another top heavy frills, bells and whistles outfit really wont suit their shape. But then I remember the effort they put into their sewing and blog and see the look of pride and satisfaction and I figure – it’s just my opinion…and when I am brave enough to put my efforts out to the public then perhaps I can start offering suggestions.

    • mrsmole says:

      Well said…but if you wrote privately in a friendly tone they might listen instead of what I do and shout “Drop your crotch”…not too subtle but they do try on the next pair of pants…yes they do and you know who you are!

  6. Marsha says:

    Not being tall, thin, flat-chested, or 20 years old, I know this pattern would look like a nursing smock or hospital gown on me. I really wish that pattern companies would show actual pictures of the garment on a variety of women. But then they wouldn’t sell as many patterns.

    • mrsmole says:

      You got that right…in fact this top may look better worn backwards…you never know! You can click on the link and read reviews (patternreview.com) of real people who made this pattern but beware, sometimes they have all caught the same rave fever and post photos of themselves in awkward poses in front of their bathroom mirror along with their glowing reviews. I think the ones who throw it in the trash don’t bother to make a review.

  7. eumoronorio says:

    I like the dart idea. Are you going to lift the shoulder seam? That is a pretty fabric. I hope your client bows to your wisdom again and lets you tweak the hell out of that sack.

    • mrsmole says:

      My client is a dream to work with…she recently lost over 20 pounds and left me her custom pants to make smaller and more stuff to whip up. Sometimes we go out to lunch…not many clients will do that. Everything will depend on her body. I have bags of special shoulder pads from Wawak to put in all her clothes since that poor dear has shoulders like mine…narrow and sloping. Thanks for dropping by, Teresa.Tchau!

  8. Tia Dia says:

    That’s a pattern I would never give a 2nd thought to because it’s so completely unflattering, even in the line drawing. *shudder* But if I was making it, I’d actually be tempted to lengthen the front through some FBA sort of alteration to make those red lines hang horizontally like they’re supposed to, which would also make the garment hang perpendicular instead of swinging away from the body like the toile does at the moment. I am most definitely not an A cup, and when I do make a loose fitting tunic type that isn’t cut on the bias, I’ll always do a “cheat” FBA to get the garment to hang properly. BTW, have you seen the new Vogue patterns out? They actually have the models posing in proper “toile” shots: front, back and sides. Interesting to see how some of those garments hang on super skinny flat-chested models!

  9. Angela says:

    mrsmole, I learn so much from your posts! Wish I could be a fly on the wall and watch you work for a few weeks… πŸ™‚

  10. Great lesson on the importance of making a muslin – especially on things like this! The model looks so easy breezy…but this garment on your client would have been a disaster! Can’t wait to see the finished product πŸ™‚

  11. Alethia says:

    This is what most people don’t understand about professional seamstress and those that “just sew”…we are customer fitters, experts at what we do, and our job is to make things fit correctly. The only way that outfit may work is in a very lightweight fabric that glides over your body. But, that linen will NEVER work as is because it is not a conforming fabric. You would definitely have to dart the top or reshape it. Insisting on a muslin was a very smart idea…many times seeing is believing. For some reason clients have the bright idea that no matter what size you are that picture is gonna look the very same on them (hmmm…wink). You do a fabulous job…can’t wait to see this baby when it’s done!

    • mrsmole says:

      Alethia, you master fitter, the great thing about my client is that she will change her mind once we have a real good look at the fabric and decide it will not work. She brings me lots of gorgeous silk scarf material which I make into those sheer wrap jackets that she wears over T-shirts I share from time to time. I am excited to get my hands on some scissors and pins to make this pattern lay flat when she gets back into town! See Alethia’s creations and more on her website: http://www.sewmuchtalent.com.

  12. Andrea says:

    Mrs. Mole the miracle worker!
    Can’t wait to see how this one ends up….
    I prefer honest comments, especially when I ask for them. You’ve helped me a TON telling me to drop the crotch, so keep it coming!
    As far as when I see issues with other’s garments, if they seem particularly proud and happy with the result of their efforts, then I try to find something positive to say, but I do not lie and say the fit is great if it is a poor fit. If the person posting asks or indicates they wish honest feedback, if I think I can offer something then I do.

    • mrsmole says:

      The best photos are the ones where the sewer says, “I see where I would change it next time” either with the fabric choice or fit…you know they are on the right track. Some photos just blow me away…intricate patchwork or lacework or leather purses….there is just so much out there to delight and amaze all of us. It is like having a best friend who sews want to share her projects.

  13. Gjeometry says:

    Uh oh. I just made a rather boxy tunic. It was for a sewing class project. BUT, it does have bust darts, that start low and go high as they come toward the front. I thought it was odd to have them pointed this way, but they seem to work. Other than that, yup, rectangle. However, I am rectangled shaped (tube shape, they call it) myself and have broad shoulders. I will blog the tunic next week, look forward to hearing what you think of it! Lol.

  14. I tried that pattern years ago – and a similar Burda one (call me a slow learner – Duh!) and came to the same conclusion. It helped me realise that to look stylish I need to wear much more fitting garments no matter my size – all hiding the smoosh does is make me look like a behometh. Love your blog!

    • mrsmole says:

      Thanks, Jacqui…we can all be slow learners in lots of things…some with patterns, some with cooking and some with dating/marrying the wrong men over and over. It is what makes us optimistic women and got us out of the cave when the men went out hunting mastodons. I try to share patterns that just don’t work from the get-go so you don’t have to waste your time and money.

  15. theresa says:

    I did not fall prey to that pattern, although I will admit to my fair share of Lagenlook styles. Often I find Vogue patterns fit me so strangely, it is best to just leave them in the store. As to the looser styles maybe not the most flattering, but then again, when I’m working with horses, dogs or on the one of the big floor looms I appreciate the feel and comfort, the addition of pockets and the fact that they are not crappy old sweats. So, a step up for me. πŸ™‚

    • mrsmole says:

      When I am working, aka pinning hems on the floor, I wear loose clothes too like you but at least when we stand up our clothes still hang right. If when we lay blouses/jackets flat on the table and you cannot tell the front from the back and it resembles a “T” shape with no shoulder shape…then this is the silhouette you get on a real body and adding shape is something the designer should have done back in the beginning stages. The fact that the side seams hang straight tell me the front has most of the problems. Wearing crappy old sweats make me feel bad when I see myself in the mirror…the reflections says, “crappy sweats = crappy day”…ha ha Have a super time on your vacation, Theresa! I will miss checking in on your blog!

  16. Gwen says:

    I am the exception, rather than the rule on this one. I made this as a jacket, in bright yellow suit-weight fabric, trimmed it out with black piping. I changed the dropped shoulder to a set-in sleeve, eliminating all the bagginess caused by the dropped shoulder. Then I made my usual sloping shoulder adjustment. I reduced the ease until it just skimmed my body, but keeping the cut straight. 3/4 length sleeves with cuffs and piping. So although, it’s not form-fitting, but a straight silhouette, it isn’t oversized and sloppy. I call it my “bumblebee” jacket, and get compliments on it every time it’s worn. Good luck with the one you’re working on.

  17. TinaLou says:

    I’ll be watching for your solutions too … I’m having a similar problem with a *simple* tank top. I’ve done an FBA and made a few tweaks to the back and still my side seams are swinging forward. Very frustrating! I noticed that the Vogue pattern in question doesn’t feature a real-person photo on the envelope. I know several sewists who have decided to use this as an indicator that the finished product might not yield many – if any – photo-worthy results! Love your blog!!

    • mrsmole says:

      Tricks like pinning out the back of a garment for the photo shoot makes such a difference and not having a live model is a good indication of something not right although it could just be a matter of cost cutting. The other thing they could try that would be great for all of us is have someone who has a normal body weight and boobs and hips model something other than the smallest size…but like you say, that may not sell many patterns…ha ha. Side seams swinging forward says the front is “borrowing” from the back. It could be your fabric from center neck to hem needs more length but not at just the hem…probably across the bust needs a slash from SS to SS. Send me photos to surroundedbywhite@gmail.com and I will see if it is an easy fix.

  18. BeaJay says:

    Great post! I am really starting to look at the lines of a pattern instead of just the pretty picture on the pack. I then close my eyes and try to picture it on me. Still learning – it is a process. Your post clearly shows how the shape of garments can ruin the human silhouette.

    I like both the flattering comments (need the ego boost you know) but also the critiques – as that is a great way to learn and often others can see what you can’t. I find that the commentators on my blog can give great critiques that are also morale boosting. And I really appreciate it.

    • mrsmole says:

      Every body has issues and the more issues we have the more we need real “You Go Girl” moments when garments manage to attain what we were hoping for. Custom clothes can make us feel wonderful and ready for action. Your clothes on your blog say I am ready for anything and you have such nice color choices and flattering styles!

  19. jillybe says:

    I hope your client lets you switch fabrics; at least you’d have a bit more of a fighting chance at making it work!

    I’m one who appreciates honesty (constructive honesty, tyvm), but even when I’ve posted pics of Fails (some) people claim they think it looks good so perhaps “the eye of the beholder” thing is part of the story…

    Add me to list of those who would come and cook and clean for you for a few days in exchange for some of your knowledge! Your posts are always both educational and entertaining πŸ™‚

    • mrsmole says:

      As long as you live on the West Coast it is possible our paths will cross. I see you had a super weekend in San Francisco and I would love to spend time sewing with you to get tips on how to be more joyful! Even our “fails” may look good to others who are just starting out…we know how critical we are of our own work.

  20. Monique says:

    It reminds me of a bed jacket :-). And I agree that it’s difficult to translate such a flattering drawing into real fabric and real bodies. So it’s always helpful to know your shape and learn from experience as to what flatters and what doesn’t. This model in a stiff fabric would make me look and feel like a hippo, as I’m also not so tall. And over 50…
    I’m sure your talent for styling will be put to good use by willing clients. πŸ™‚

    • mrsmole says:

      Making this pattern in a soft fabric with some lace edging would make a nice bed jacket! Lord knows we don’t want to look and feel like hippos in our clothes! making clothes for others really makes you realize how different clothes sit on your curves. I have tried on my clients clothes from time to time and they try on mine…we have a laugh and realize just because we may share the same measurements…nothing else is related.

  21. prttynpnk says:

    These patterns always suck me in and I forget while shopping that I am…pear shaped with slopey shoulders and all of a sudden I look like a chubby smuggler. I always appreciate your comments because they are thoughtful, needed and respectful- some can’t be constructive without being catty- you don’t learn from that. Feel free to do a boxy garment intervention on me anytime!

  22. mrsmole says:

    Well Anne, the more we all can recognize who the designer had in mind with the latest pattern we can steer clear of the ones not right for us. This designer was producing styles for say a water cooler or small vending machine…flat front and back, straight sides, square shoulders…not for my shape either.

  23. Gabrielle says:

    I don’t think this kind of square pattern is the optimal look for anyone. I made up a similar Vogue pattern last year from some handkerchief linen and it was a massive disappointment – easy, yes; attractive, no!

    I wouldn’t mind getting ‘top tips’ about fit or whatever else I’m getting wrong in my comments or via direct email… just nothing too confrontational~!

  24. Darla in PA says:

    I had this very same problem with a very popular indie pattern. I have sold so many of them that I decided to try it myself. I will say that I just made it with the recommended fabric wanting to see how it would turn out. I used a cotton batik. A rayon would have had more drape and may have been more flattering. I would love to savage this project but I don’t know if I can put the darts in after the fact. It was very tent-like just like your picture. The rest of the jacket was a fairly good fit right out of the packaged. Thanks for all the great posts.

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  26. ceejay says:

    You have raised 3 very pertinent points here – honesty in responses, how to achieve shape without darts and unrealistic croquis. How often I have a fallen prey to my wistful thinking about a drawing- only pattern, and I know there’s lots of us who won’t consider one unless it has a photo. I’m definitely going to chase up your revision of this pattern, even thought it’s too boxy/baggy to appeal to me anyway.

    As to honesty in responses, I’m just a newbie to the internet sewing community, and I’m constantly frustrated with the mismatch between my sewing skills and my perfectionism, so any comments on improving fit would be wonderful. But even when I see something I don’t think is well executed, I haven’t thought it wise to comment – if you can’t say something nice don’t say anything etc.

  27. mrsmole says:

    When I leave comments I like to balance my suggestions so if I say “drop your crotch” it would be nice to say “lovely pockets” or “perfect looking fly or waistband facing”. It can’t all be bad. Not having an envelope photo is not a bad thing as Coni Crawford patterns are drawings but I always have great success with her Butterick 5222 pants pattern on all my clients. I think on photo shoots many garments have the excess clamped out at the back. The last point is no shaping, no darts…Vogue “very easy” titled patterns do not mean “very easy ” for the sewer…I have come to believe it means the lack of pieces, lack of darts and lack of notches and decent directions means it was pretty darn easy for the designer to leave those things out…less things to check and speedy production. Thanks for checking it, Ceejay.

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