The other day I picked up one of the new HotPatterns that is now being carried in Hancock Fabric stores. The styles are very trendy and the patterns are being marketed as "No Sweat Sew Easy" patterns.
My goal was to test one of these patterns to see whether or not I would recommend them to a brand new sewer.
The instruction sheet does not provide a lot of detail but there is a large illustration of each garment that is to be sewn.
For someone who is not very experienced or only familiar with terminology from the Big 4 pattern companies, the instructions could be a bit confusing at first, but by following along as written the top will turn out as designed.
The one part that could be confusing for a beginner is the written instructions for sewing on the back facing piece and finishing the neck edge. The back facing is sewn to the back, turned, edgestitched and then placed over the shoulder seam encasing the shoulder seam and finishing the neck edge. If you've sewn a neck edge like this in the past you'll understand what to do.
Seam allowances are all 5/8".
The instructions also includes sections such as a skills list, how to use this pattern, and why you should make a muslin.
This particular pattern is described as "designed to have a slim but not-too-tight fit. Both tops have a deep hip-band and full sleeves."
As I noted the other day, there are only four pattern pieces for this knit top. The sewing of this top was as quick as I anticipated it would be - just over an hour.
However, there are adjustments that will need to be made on future tops, so I am calling this version a wearable muslin.
Keep in mind as I tell you about my experience, that I did not do any measurements to the pattern before cutting it out and sewing it up and there are no finished size measurements included on the pattern pieces. In retrospect, that step would have helped me choose a better size to use.
First of all, I was not familiar with sizing on this brand or how much ease was built into the design. Should I cut smaller and do an FBA or just begin with the larger size? I choose to begin with a size 12 and adjust from there. I based that decision on the description provided that said the styles were designed to have a slim but not-too-tight fit.
There is a lot of ease in this top. When I tried it on it did not have a "slim but not-too-tight fit". It looked sloppy. While the neckline has a wonderful full drape it was really deep. Beginning with a smaller size would have given me a better fit in the shoulder area and decreased the deepness of the v-neck. The top was quite loose in the body and the wonderful flutter sleeves were too long on me.
Based on the pattern illustration and the description of a "deep hip-band" I expected the top to end up right around my hip. In reality, it fell to the top of my upper thigh and looked more like a tunic.
I also expected the lower band to pull in fullness from the top creating a slight blouson effect but the lower band was almost equal in size to the lower edge of the top.
If you look at the line drawing on the back of the pattern envelope it gives a more accurate idea of what the bottom of the shirt looks like. As you can see in the line drawing the bottom of the top is not gathered, even slightly, into the hip-band.
After the initial try-on, I removed the hip band, took the entire side seam in by 1" and made the hip-band smaller.
The photo below shows the smaller version which still appears too large. The front of the top was longer in the front than the back by about an inch.
At this point I pulled out the pattern pieces and began measuring and comparing. As you can see, the center front is indeed longer than the center back.
Now I would have thought that my bust and the top's blouson effect would have taken care of the longer center front, but that wasn't the case. Perhaps by making the hip-band tighter and shortening the top so that it rides at my hip, rather than below it, the longer in front will not be noticeable.
I ended up removing the hip-band, cutting off the excess length and sewing the hip-band back on to that the bottom of the top was even all around.
The top was still too large and rather than continue to try and remove the excess fabric from the shirt, I asked my daughter to try it and see what she thought. She loved it and it looked great on her. She has a broader back and shoulders than I do so I know that I need to begin with a smaller size next time.
Here is the finished wearable muslin that has found a home in my daughter's spring wardrobe. She really liked the drapey cowl neckline on the top and she was planning on wearing it as a tunic instead of bloused as shown on the pattern cover.
She especially liked the flutter sleeves.
I'm not sure that I'll recommend this pattern line to the new sewer right now. I'm going to wait until she has a some experience under her belt. If she likes this line I'll help her with the instructions and the fit so she can use the pattern she chooses multiple times.
My final opinion on the Butterfly top? Its a keeper! In fact, I have another one on the cutting table for my daughter. She liked this one so much she requested on in black.
Its quick to sew, very stylish and only takes two yards of fabric - so splurge on a fantastic piece of knit for a top that'll turn heads.