One of the questions I that often rolls around my head is how to decrease challenges and increase enjoyment, particularly when I’m sewing. I like sewing to be fun (in addition to clothing my body). Toward that end, I try to use the work I’ve put into a pattern I’ve tested to help me make decisions about a new pattern.
For example, I wrote about Simplicity 1878, a dress that has been tissue fit for me (with Marla Kazell’s help), and I am using as my woven block/sloper. The technical drawing shows flare in the skirt (indicated by vertical lines), but I’ve become skeptical of technical drawings. One person’s “perfect flare” is another person’s “overwhelming cascade” or “disappointing lack of style”. So, I thought I’d compare S1878 with Tessuti’s Bella dress. I have made a toile of Bella out of cotton lawn and know it is close to – if not spot on- the amount of flare I’d like in a skirt. (This is a personal preference only. I like enough flare so that I can sit in a car with a seat belt for an hour and get out feeling fresh, not crumpled.)
I matched up the center front and shoulder seams of each pattern. (As an aside, Bella has 1/2″ seam allowances, and S1878 has 5/8″ seam allowances, which should be taken into account when aligning the patterns. Also, S1878 has a center front seam with flare, so I matched up the true center front.) It’s clear to see that the Bella pattern has close to 4″ of additional flare at the side seams. I can measure how much flare that is added at different points along the side seam of the Bella pattern to help me make decisions about modifying S1878.
My plan is to copy S1878, add shoulder princess seams, and add flare onto each panel. I like the flare in the Bella dress, but I’d like it distributed around the garment. Adding flare only to the sides seams means that the drape will concentrate there. (Or I could cut the Bella on the bias, but that’s a whole other kettle of fish.)
In previous posts, I have touted my love for shoulder princess seams. This originated when I was sewing for a DD bust, and sewing a good dart that large was a challenge. Sewing a princess seam is much easier to get a nice dart since the dart is transferred to the seam line. I also like the long line, particularly with plain fabric. For those of you who sew a lot of plaids or stripes, the pattern matching may be too much of a bother on so many seams.
The point is that it can be helpful to using an existing pattern (that you have made and understand the fit) to evaluate a new pattern. You can compare sleeves, hem width, ease, etc., and this process can help you avoid wasted time and fabric if the new pattern doesn’t suit your preferences.