Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Roscoe Dress and other pattern difficulties

Pattern difficulties are rare for me. Mostly, there's nothing in the simple sewing patterns that I attempt to assemble that puzzle me. If there is some piece or instruction that doesn't fit, it can be worked in, or worked out, one way or another.

Most likely, the fault is my tolerance. There's always anomolies, some that I tolerate, some that I don't. My issues with the toile of the Roscoe dress pattern are minor. The fabric is 4 yards of a 100% cotton twill. (Brown Herringbone Cotton Calico, 44" wide, 4 yards, $19.56 at HL after 30% off, plus 33" of same, in a sierra red purchased as a remnant for $3.84.) This is very light, would be good for hot weather. That should be enough for the dress, in fact there should be about a half a yard left over. Since I had nearly a yard of the same fabric in another color, I was hoping to get both the dress and the short sleeve version of Vogue 8877 out of the total 4 1/2 yards. The anomoly in the fabric is that it shrunk to under 40" wide after washing! That's what I call short of fabric. The anomoly in the Roscoe pattern is that the straight lines do not match a straight line. They are not off by much, but they are off. What could cause this printing problem? Tissue paper? wrinkles? humidity? a crooked ruler? I don't know. With these little issues, this project was kinda getting on my nerves.

My work arounds were: cutting the front of the dress on the selvedge edge;(Yikes, I know, I am reckless.) and cutting the back ruffle a couple of inches narrower than it should be. Even though the sleeves could have been a little longer, I settled for just adding 2" to the 3/4 length sleeves to get them to be long sleeves. After all that, there was only about 3/4 yard of uncut fabric left.

Once past the cutting, there was the pattern itself. The neck band is cut on the bias but the sleeve bands are cut cross grain. The neck band stretched out to be a couple of inches longer than the the pattern piece. Perhaps it would be better cut cross grain? Either way, both the neck band and the sleeve bands wriggled out from under the needle when I tried to stitch in the ditch. That was a frustrating process, with a lot of starts and stops to secure the folded bands. With the band and the added length, the sleeves are still short, so a proper cuff would be good, or enough length to allow sewing a casing and putting elastic through it to avoid gathering. Another issue is that the folded and sewn down ties attached to the neckband twist. The folding and sewing was a bit of a surprise. Usually these type of ties are sewn from the wrong side into a tube that is then turned right side out with a bodkin. Alternatively, the entire neckband and ties could be replaced with a casing twill tape. That would avoid gathering.

Regardless of these small issues, the dress is good, especially in this fabric. It has enough drape that I could have cut a 10 instead of an 8. However, I prefer that the Roscoe, with its lack of pockets and lack of pizazz as a dress, should just be cut as a blouse. In that case, the size 8 it is now cut to will work well in a variety of fabrics.

Next came Vogue 8877. First there was the toile, the first time I attempted the pattern. This pattern does have a lot of ease and could have been cut smaller. However, the size block I have starts with a large size. Truthfully, the large is probably the best size, as long as it is cut a bit smaller in the bust and on the cut line at the hips. The only fit issue with the large size for me is that the yoke is too deep. After the toile, I adjusted the yoke to be an inch shorter. Using the the remaining brown fabric plus a little less than one yard of the same fabric in an unfortunate pink/orange (salmon) color was enough for a second toile of Vogue 8877. Less than one yard of each color is not really enough, forcing me to cut a yoke and a body of each color and mismatch them--the front has a salmon colored yoke with a brown body while the back is reversed. Since there was more of the salmon fabric, the back is cut a couple of inches longer than the front.

That's the big reveal. I think it is cute, and that Vogue 8877, for all my angst, is just fine. The only thing to discourage repeated sewing of this pattern is that color blocked patterns mean changing thread, if I care to match thread color across colors. In the end, my sizing insight from this whole experience: for patterns that must fit on top, buy the smaller size and adjust the bottom. For ones that must fit on bottom, reverse that, and buy the larger size. In sum, buy larger sizes in skirt patterns and smaller in tops and adjust accordingly.

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