Simplicity Spring 2013 Pattern Collection


 I  have just finished looking through Simplicity Patterns latest release, and as usual, have added far too many patterns to my wish list.  They do seem to be fairly consistent with keeping their range wide, so as to appeal to a broad spectrum.  They also stick to a solid core of designers, which does add a certain look to their brand overall.  It might not suit everyone, but it does me.  Of course, I will always have a weakness for Vogue designer patterns, but then, my wardrobe has to cover a wide variety of situations, and different pattern companies fill different voids.

I haven’t yet made a pattern from the Amazing Fit range, but do have quite a few on my must-sew list.  Many of them seem to have a retro feel, which appeals to me.  I also like how each pattern has a number of variations, because once you nail the fit, this means you have an easy go-to pattern, which can be varied according to your needs.  I particularly like the photo version here, not least because it is sleeveless ( a bonus when you live in the sub-tropics), but the detailing at the waist is a nice touch, and I can see how it could be adapted to a number of trims.

Another Amazing Fit design, this time with a mock wrap effect, over the waist.  This detail is a boon to those of us with less than perfect tummies.

While I am always amused by the photography of the Cynthia Rowley designs (the models always look gawky, but that may be the intention), I do have a weakness for the actual clothes.  This particular one would be more wearable for me than most ( i.e. wearable for my particular body – while I love most of her patterns, many just won’t suit me).  The top stitching detail is also very attractive.  BTW, speaking of models, is it just me, or do many of them – across all the Big 4 – seem to be bow-legged in the last year or so?  Perhaps it’s just the amount of biomechanics I’ve studied, but these details really spring out at me.

Simplicity 1644

I find a lot of the patterns in this range to be not me, but this one is different.  Of course, I think the fabric choice is fabulous, which helps a lot.  Since it is a knit, and there are no buttons or zippers, it would be fairly quick to sew as well.

Simplicity 1657

This dress is cute, but not normally what I would go for.  i included it however, to make a point.  In a number of their patterns, Simplicity have included photos of models in both skinny and slightly larger sizes, which is a good marketing tactic.  However, I would like you to compare the larger model here, with the following pattern (both appear to be of the same girl, which makes the comparison more valid).  I think that the girl above is wearing a very flattering design for a larger woman.  Whilst the dress itself is very fitted, the sheer overlay hides a multitude of sins, and allows a larger woman to get away with some shiny satin underneath (supposedly a no-no, according to dress-to-flatter gurus).  And every woman needs some shiny satin in her life.  Overall the look is cute, flattering, and youthful.  Now go to the next pattern.

Simplicity 1659

While this style looks fine on the skinny girl, to me, the dress on the larger girl shrieks frumpy.  And this is despite it being a darker colour, all one fabric, and with design elements dragging the eye up and down…all of which are supposed to be good things on the larger woman.  Compared to the previous design, there is no doubt in my mind which look I would go for.  And, having said that, I am now looking at the previous pattern with new eyes (having said before it is not a style I would normally go for).  Just seeing the difference between the two different styles on the same model, makes me wonder what Simplicity 1657 would look like on me.

Not that I actually need any party dresses at the minute, but if I did, this would be my first choice.  I’m not discounting the fact that the colour may be swaying me…if it was pink, I’d have moved on immediately.  I do like how the sheer overskirt allows one to have the illusion of short and slinky, while actually drawing the eye away from the dodgy bits.

Simplicity 1665

I would have liked to see a photo of the dress sans jacket.  I’m going through a colour blocking phase at present, and this dress intrigues me.  But, I really love the tunic and pants ensemble.  The outfit has a very upmarket sixties look, probably because of the fabric.  But tunic over the hips, and long skinny legs…I like!

Simplicity 1664

I quite like the look of the pants and top combination here.  But what concerns me is the visual difference between the pants in the photo, and those in the fashion sketch.  The pants in the fashion sketch look quite wide (something which is reflected in the technical drawing which follows).  It always makes me nervous when there is a disparity like this.  It could simply be that the photo version was made up in a stiffer fabric than the sketch anticipated (and since the photo version also has a centre front crease pressed in, this supports it being a stiffer fabric, and might account for the pants not appearing to be flared).  And it’s not that I have an aversion to wide legged pants.  It’s just that if I buy a pattern, and have a particular vision in mind, I want the actual pattern to live up to the vision, and not turn out to be something else.

Simplicity 1664 – technical drawings


McCalls Spring Pattern release


I have found a lot to like in the latest pattern release, just as I did in Butterick’s Spring release a few weeks ago.  Of course, this is in part because they have a lot of dresses, and I am a dress junkie.  But there are a few other intriguing patterns as well.

First cab off the rank is M6698, which is a Fashion Star pattern.  I like that they include suggestions on adapting the pattern to suit individual tastes.  I don’t know that I love it as evening wear, but in a suitable fabric, I think this would make rather a nice maxi summer dress, for everyday wear.  Of course, I live in the sub-tropics, and don’t party much, so I am always thinking in terms of appropriate daywear.

Another dress, with an attractive contrast feature at the waist and vent at lower skirt edge.  I have a myriad of similar patterns, so doubt if I would buy this one, but I could certainly use this one as inspiration.


Another maxi dress, again by Fashion Star.  This one looks very cool and simple to put together.


This has to be a very expensive bike they are using as a prop – I know the pricey ones are ultra light these days.  I’m in two minds about the actual dress though, depending on the photo.  It has ruffles, for which I have a weakness, and looks cool and breezy…I am just a little concerned it may look like a shapeless sack on me.


This is another dress, although in this photo it has been styled as a tunic.  According to the technical drawing, this dress is colour-blocked, but I am having difficulty seeing it, unless it is possibly bright white, and slightly less bright white.  Maybe my monitor is failing to do the colour blocking justice?


Honestly, do I need another retro look shirt-dress? (Actually, the answer is, I can never have enough!)  I am taken by the white eyelet version, despite my stuggles with wearing white (it doesn’t stay white for long with me!).  Wonder how well it would really work riding a bike?


This pattern utilises both colour blocking and godets, which means swingy skirts (not in the maxi version).  Don’t think I would be game enough to ride a bike in the maxi version though.


This collection is really pushing all my pattern buttons (and I have to admit, the bike is working for me as well).  This pattern has four versions, with variation and sleeve lengths.  And draping at the waist.


And then we have this number.  Of course, this is the ideal gown to go cycling in, haha!  Actually, I felt quite nostalgic when I first looked at it, because it reminds me very strongly of a dress I made about 20 years ago.  There is a ballerina length version, which I could possibly persuade myself would be a summer dress in a vivid cotton print.


Now onto tops.  I am rather taken with this aqua one, primarily because it uses lace, and makes a very basic  garment shape rather dressy


I really like the technical drawing of this next pattern, but the photos don’t follow through.  I am wondering if it is simply that the sample on the model is too big?


So now we have a skirt and a top – although, according to the photos, you don’t wear them together.  Which doesn’t surprise, because. given the piecing techniques used, both items together might look a bit too patchworky.  Actually, I am not sure whether or not the skirt is already over the line.  I guess it is one way to use up all the scraps though…



And yet again…the bike.  I dismissed this pattern at first sight, as it was a little too vivid even for me.  But looking again, I realised the pattern includes a little petticoat to go with the skirt, which would at least guarantee the skirt would stay full.


I’m not a big jacket person – the sub tropics see to that, but I did like the pleat in the back.  A little bit dressier than wearing a cardigan.  A Palmer Pletsch design as well, which means the pattern comes with their extra helpful tips.


And finally, my pick of them all.  A pair of skinny leg pants/capris, with colour blocking…in exactly the right spot!  Brilliant way to visually trim some inches (assuming the hips and thighs are your problem area).  This one is definitely going on my to buy list!



The McCalls Spring Lookbook.

Dress Patterns – the new investment strategy


I admit it…in my sewing lifetime, I have purchased many, many dress patterns, far more than I have ever sewn.  The same goes for Burda magazines (which I first used to buy when the magazines were only available in German!).  For many years, I faithfully stored them, and took them with me when I moved.

Of course, when I met the ex (in his first mention here, you already know he is doomed) he took exception to what he considered to be my packrat ways, and constantly nagged me to  whittle down my collection.  On one big interstate move, an entire carton of patterns mysteriously disappeared.  Then, strangely, in another shorter move, two boxes of Burda magazines also vanished without trace.  And still he nagged me to shed more.  This was the same person, incidentally, who in the entire time I knew him, carried around a kayak with a hole in it, without ever making any attempt to mend it or use it.  I have to tell you, in terms of volume of space occupied, his kayak rivaled my pattern collection.

Time moved on, and so did I.  My patterns and I found a new home, and free of the constant griping, I began to fill the gaps in my collection.  Then, a few years later, another interstate move happened, and still plagued by residual guilt, I made a big effort to cull my collection, shedding patterns and pattern magazines.

As mentioned in a previous post, the last few years, for various reasons, have been a sewing hiatus for me, and I am now reacquainting myself with all I have missed.  This includes the realisation that suddenly, vintage patterns (I have trouble seeing the eighties as vintage, but never mind) are eagerly sought after by all these new, enterprising sewists.  They are in fact, something of a goldmine.  When I trawl through ebay, and some of the specialist vintage sites, I feel quite faint when I see an item I once owned now retailing for substantially more than I paid for it years ago.  When I recollect the patterns my mother discarded, I have to stop and lie down for a bit…all those precious jewels from the sixties, fifties and late forties.  Aaarrgghh!!  And that is not to mention the pattern magazines also eagerly sought after online…the older the better.

Obviously, the drive to have all the latest pattern collections, even if one never actually sews them – in fact, it is better if the tissue remains pristine and uncut – was an unerring financial instinct.  And the grief felt when patterns were lost, or I was guilted into discarding the excess, was in fact grief at being forced into unreasonable financial decisions.  It is clear, if I had hung onto them all (better yet, hung onto my mother’s collection!) today, I would be an extremely wealthy woman.

You better believe I now have a new retirement strategy…one that involves watching out eagerly for pattern company sales, and subscriptions to a myriad of pattern magazines (including the ones printed in French, Italian, Spanish and even Portugese).  It also involves promoting sewing amongst young children, so that in twenty years or so, when they are in possession of their own income, they can eagerly divest it on ebay auctions, where I will be feathering my own nest.

My sewing world


Having spent nearly three years with little or no sewing in my life (thanks to moving twice, travelling overseas, and going back to uni), I have reignited my passion for dressmaking in the last few months.  I am looking forward to the extended summer break from uni to seriously indulge in that passion again.

I see that in the last few years that home sewists have seriously invaded the internet, and since I am something of an internet junkie, why should I be any different?   I don’t know if I have anything different to offer, but since a large part of this blog is about motivating me, I guess that doesn’t matter.

When it comes to sewing, my particular loves are formal wear, Vogue and Burda patterns, retro designs – particularly the fifties – rich colours,  florals and paisley.  I am almost anal about fit and finishes – which isn’t to say I am perfect at either, but do drive myself crazy about things other people never notice.  I collect way too many patterns, and with the internet, access to new pattern sources is never ending!

I also believe very much that sewing should be fun, and that is why there was a huge slump in people learning to sew from the seventies onwards.  There is no fun in learning to sew a skirt  that is identical to what all your class-mates are making.  Not to mention that skirts can be nightmares when it comes to getting a good fit.  So another aspect of my passion for sewing is to try and impart what fun it can be to everyone that I can.