Thanksgiving Break Sewing

If I don't sew over Thanksgiving then it seems like somehow I must have wasted my time. But here it is Saturday of a Thursday thru Sunday prized four day weekend and I am just now starting to sew. In fact, this is the first time I have sewn anything since the move. I can't say the sewing area is aligned as neatly as I would like, but everything is within reach. 

Vogue V1412,  a Rebecca Taylor tunic style blouse  

I just happened to be in the local fabric store when there was a sale on Vogue patterns last week. I need to update my wardrobe with beautiful blouses at this time and I needed something that would be quick, and forgive figure flaws. Rebecca Taylor's tunic blouse has several features that looked like it would make this happen. Vogue is very good about providing a lot of help on the outside of the pattern that can make these choices easier.

Picking the pattern

First is the photo image. Many patterns are illustrated with the designer's drawing. What is intended and what is really patterned do not always match the illustration so I look for a photographic image of the finished garment. It is common for the drawing to elongate and thin the figure so it looks very flattering. In real life wide hips, narrow shoulders, short torso and little or no waist will not look the same with the necessary alterations. 

This image looks flattering. It is long, made of a light weight fabric that has nice flow and drape. It does not have a defined waist and also has gathers in places that will make some alterations easier. This pattern has gathers across the front shoulders and at the back neck. This can add a little fullness through the hip and waist while staying smaller at the shoulder, slightly more gathers will make the shoulders a little more narrow and still allow for plenty of fullness at the bust with very minimal alterations. 

Clues on the pattern envelope


One of the first things you need to know is the size the pattern comes in and how close the standard pattern measurements match your figure measurements. Sizes and measurements are usually listed on the top flap of the pattern. If you are lucky your measurements will be very close to the sizes listed in only one column. If they are not, I would say you are normal. Measurements for standard sizes are the "ideal" more often than the norm. It is common for personal measurements to fit into two columns and some of us pick from three columns. Some pattern companies include all sizes in one envelope and other companies will have small through 14 or 16 in one envelope and 14 or 16 through about 22-24 in another envelope. Unless you are dealing with sizes that are included in both envelopes, say a 14 bust and a 16 hip then it is a pretty good arrangement. Shoulder and bust adjustments are usually harder to make than the hip/waist adjustments so I purchase for the shoulder and bust measurements and plan to alter the hip waist if needed when making blouses and dresses. When making pants I usually purchase for the waist and alter the hip, but that plan may not work with all figure types. 

Difficulty level

Vogue labels their patterns by difficulty. Something with a lot of fitting like a jacket or designer wedding dress may be labeled expert while something with simple style lines and only a few seams may be labeled very easy, or easy. They also have average and difficult. This will let you know if there will be lots of pieces, seams, very accurate fitting or special skills needed. Some of Vogue's very easy patterns are also very stylish. So don't pick up the expert levels if you are a novice, but if you are stretching your skill level a bit Vogue has great instructions and illustrations. Just take your time and follow step by step. The pattern I have picked is average but I think that is because of the gathers in the back neck line, front shoulders and the odd neck features plus the fact that they have provided a full front pattern piece instead of the usual half piece that would normally be cut on the fold. On the muslin I am making I traced it and will be cutting it on the fold. When I make the fashion cut I may use the full extended front pattern if I need to match the fabric carefully. I am making a muslin version as I plan to alter the height between bust and shoulder, alter the back neck just a touch and change the hip size. 

Fabric and Notions

The back of the pattern will also tell you suggested fabrics to use, how much fabric for the size you plan to make, information about notions you will need, buttons, zippers and trims, interfacing and the finished length of the garment. If you plan to make it larger you may need to add a bit of extra fabric, likewise if you are planning to make it shorter you may not need quite as much fabric.  

One last hint about right pattern choice

Vogue has a little guide that lets you know if the pattern you are choosing will look good on your figure type. It is the little series of silhouettes in the four boxes on the back of the pattern, the inverted triangle, regular triangle, rectangle and hour glass. This is their representation of the figure types the pattern was designed to fit. Earlier I said if your figure measurements are in two or more columns it was normal, well this is how Vogue lets you know if this pattern will be flattering on your figure type. If your largest measurements are your bust and shoulders and your hips are the smallest then the inverted triangle is the symbol you will want to see on patterns you pick. If your bust measurement is smaller than your waist and hip then you want the standard triangle to be on your envelope. The rectangle is for those who have a hip and bust measurement that are fairly close but also do not have a smaller waist and the hourglass, well, that is the desired figure that most patterns are designed to fit. If you pick up a pattern and your silhouette shape is not on the envelope that is a clue that even with alterations you may not be able to get the desired results; look for another pattern. Rebecca Taylor's design should look good on all figure types. 

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