I should preface this by saying I’ve never used an Indie pattern to sew clothes before, so when I embarked on this sewing voyage, I wasn’t sure what to expect (as cliché as that sounds). I could only trust that the curators and organizers of Sewing Indie Month and this contest would have done their jobs and only selected the best of the best in emerging pattern companies to represent this market to potential new customers, so as to entice these new customers to keep coming back for more.
To put it bluntly, that was not the end result for me. My experiences throughout this contest have pretty much made me want to never again use an Indie pattern and would make me think twice about recommending anything but a Big 4 pattern to friends and family, which I’m sure was not the intention of the contest. However, this post is not meant to be a critique of an individual pattern or pattern company, or even the Indie pattern industry as a whole (which I don’t presume to have enough experience with to make an educated critique of), but rather an individual entry into a contest, so having said my bit, I will dive right into it.
Pattern Used: Skinny Bitch Curvy Chick Moto Chic Jacket
Contest Category: Pattern Hacking
Total Cost of Materials: ~$35
-Shortened sleeves to ¾ length
-Added cuffs to sleeves
-Added zippers to sleeve cuffs
-Added shoulder yokes
-Added front welt zipper pocket
-Eliminated lining and added back facing
-Eliminated CB seam on “skirt”
I had a pretty good idea of what changes I wanted to make to this jacket before I even ordered the pattern. I knew I was taking a risk in choosing this particular pattern since there were no reviews for it on PatternReview.com, and since it’s only available in hard copy (not PDF), but I had a really clear vision of what I wanted. Once the pattern arrived, I did a thorough read-through of the directions and promptly tossed them into a drawer. As a professional tech designer in the fashion industry, I disagreed with many of the designer’s choices of construction methods (such as mitering the “skirt” section to the center front panels instead of sewing the skirt panel on first and then sewing the center front panel to the body) and I decided to instead use my own knowledge of construction to put the jacket together.
After making the initial fit changes and styling changes that I wanted to the pattern, I realized I might be in over my head given the tight time constraints; this pattern had more problems than I initially thought.
To start with, there was a MASSIVE balance problem on the jacket, something just adding a yoke would not have created. Per the flat sketch, the waist seam should be angled down at the front, but as you can see from the photo, if I tried to force the waist seam into the correct position, the back neckline would be so far up the wearer’s neck... it just wouldn’t work.
I sliced the back neckline and pulled the body forward to see how much I needed to adjust the pattern but even when I got the waist seam where it hypothetically needed to be, then the back started hiking. Oh, boy. So it was back to the drawing board and on to a 2nd muslin to just play around and see what I could do.
The 2nd muslin came out a little better but it was still hiking in the front. Ugh! I also noticed at that point that the entire back neckline shape was extremely triangular, which wasn’t helping my situation.
I made my corrections and moved on to the 3rd muslin. At that point I decided the clock was ticking and I needed to start working on the sleeves too. To be honest, the sleeves were the one bright spot in the pattern- throughout the entire process the sleeve pattern pretty much gave me no problem at all and I wish I’d taken photos of the sleeve muslin before I began hacking it to show you how nice the pattern was drafted... it hung to the front, had a good amount of ease, did not give me a lick of trouble (especially compared to the body).
When it came time for construction of the garment, I started having trouble, AGAIN. My fabric was horribly off-grain and I ended up going back to the fabric store for more.
Other than that, the most difficult part of the construction was how many layers I ended up having and how hard my poor little Viking had to work. It was a heavy reminder of how much I want an industrial strength sewing machine.
I do want to show off a little on the front interfacing. What I’ve made is basically a heavy duty casual tailored moto jacket, I guess you could call it. The front interfacing has horsehair hand-sewn into it in neat little 3/4” spaced lines. The back facing has bias-cut facing sewn into it, and the cuffs have horsehair interfacing as well.
This is a durable jacket. I like to think you could go sliding across gravel while wearing a motocross helmet and between the helmet, 4 layers of denim, and 2 layers of horsehair, your front is gonna be just fine.
Like I said at the beginning of this post, this was my first foray into Indie sewing patterns (for clothes- I’ve used Indie patterns for quilts and bags and stuff, but that’s beside the point). I’m not sure if my experience has just given me a more critical eye and lower tolerance for what I find to be confusing instructions and pattern drafting mistakes. I don’t mean to say I’m perfect- there are definitely some flaws on my jacket that I will fully admit to if called out on them. However, the big difference is I’m not slapping a price tag on the things I create and saying they justify that price. I know my critique will probably dissuade anyone from wanting me to win this contest- after all, why should I win if I’m so critical of Indie Patternmakers? But to be truthful and honest is far more important than to be, as my boyfriend likes to put it, “blowing sunshine up anyone’s skirt”.
I hope to, at some point, make the Skinny Bitch Curvy Chick Moto Chic Jacket as is, without any pattern changes, to verify whether or not the problems I saw in this rendering were the result of some mistake I made in transferring, grading, or adjusting the pattern, or whether it really does have all those balance problems I observed. I truly hope it was a mistake I made, and not something wrong with the pattern itself.
Still, I hope you’ll agree that the end result was a durable and cute jacket! I know I’ll be wearing it this Fall! If, after all this, you’d still like to vote for me in the Sewing Indie Pattern Hacking contest, you can do so by following this link. Voting is October 5th-11th and I appreciate every single vote! Thank you!