Saturday, February 20, 2016

Finished Object (and Failure): Simplicity 1716 - Plus, A Sewing Recap

I just finished Simplicity 1716 and promptly threw it in the garbage. It's just not a nice pattern (as drafted) on me. It's very unlikely I'll ever make it again but, just to torture myself for an additional 30 minutes, I revised the pattern pieces to suit my shape. At least I think I did. One never knows until one tries.

My pre-sewing, standard alterations worked pretty well. The issue wasn't with the armscye or sleeves. There was enough room in the bust, but not too much. The length was pretty good. And yet, what a failure...

Here's what was wrong with it (on me):

It's simple: The proportion of the front band. The way the pattern works is that an upper front piece attaches to a band (folded in half) which then attaches to a lower front piece. These three pieces form the front of the top. The band forms a seamed segment in the middle of the front piece:
It's tough to see in the tech drawing but those wings that culminate at the the centre knot (views A, B, C) are actually seamed to the upper front and lower front pieces. In that pic, the wings seem like an overlay on top of a ruched front. It's not the case.

My issue is that, given projected boobs, the lower seam (the one attaching the lower piece to the lower band) falls half way over my bust apex. It's super unattractive. IMO, that lower seam needs to either fall above the bust apex altogether - or entirely below it. The issue (seam over bust), which I see on women all the time, just SCREAMS horrible fit. Ladies, listen to me: If you have any kind of empire seamed top that doesn't lie flat at the underbust, give it away. It just makes you seem like you don't know the size of your boobs. Frankly, it's disrespectful to the bust line.

I considered having the band fall entirely above the bust - I think that's how it's meant to be worn - but it was bulky with seams in an area where my body is proportionately short. Also, the upper front, as drafted, is too long from shoulder to upper bust on me, so I'd have to shorten the upper piece in order to get the entire band to lie above the bust.

The way I "fixed" the issue was to put the lower seam below the bust by adding 3 inches of length to the front band piece (may still not be enough because that piece is folded in half when you sew the front together). The piece is an odd, oblong shape that wasn't conducive to this alteration so I had to get spatial. We know how that goes. To compensate, since the rest of the front fit fine, I had to carve 3 inches of length out of the lower front piece. Lord, does it all look weird. But I walked the seams and it should fit together correctly. The only issue is whether or not I added enough length. I suspect I did not but it's dangerous to go crazy with huge alterations. Furthermore, I'm never going to make this again, so who cares? It was more an exercise in conceptual problem-solving than anything else.

To complicate matters (do I ever stop saying this??), the band is the piece that contains the segment that form the centre knot. Those pieces are already too bulky (see below). So my newly altered (and untested) front band looks completely different than the original. If my alteration were to work, I could actually easily modify the "knot" part of the piece to be quite a bit less bulky while maintaining the volume over the full bust. I could describe this in detail but I just don't care enough to.

Point is, I don't like the end result enough to spend a bunch of time on it. This construction mandates a very thin fabric to work at the centre knot and ruched upper bust. (Really there's a lot of fabric bulk drafted into this pattern.) But thin fabric is flimsy over one's less-than-willowy midsection.

Here's what's wrong with it (in general):

The upper front and band pieces, as mentioned above, create a bulky knot which is just not attractive, particularly if you've got an ample bust. Mind you, even if you don't, the bulkiness feels kind of "home sewist". It's not sleek enough.

Also, the knot doesn't come together nicely at all. This pattern is so Twister that it took me a long time to figure out how to get the specifics to come together in such a way that it looked right. I got the concept, but the wings that form the centre knot are too wide and it creates a messy join.

The pattern just isn't designed for a projected bust of any size given the aforementioned seamed front. Projection (not size, specifically) is what torques the lower seam. A wider frame with a wider bust would fit this top better.

The fact that one must use a seriously thin fabric to get the knot to work is at odds with the average woman's interest in wearing knits that slim and hold (i.e. those with more substance).

To Close the Loop on my Recent Sewing Venture:

I sewed 3 garments: The v neck version of the Jenna Cardigan, Simplicity 1716 (discussed here) and Vogue 8323.

Jenna Cardigan: The only wholly successful outcome was the cardigan. I wore it to work this week and got compliments. I don't love the hand of the fabric, frankly, but the fit is good and I can see that, in another fabric, my altered v neck version is going to come in very handy. One can never have too many of these and the pattern comes together easily with a yard of fabric.

V8323: I'm going to give myself half marks for V8323. It's not there yet but I know it has potential and I'm pretty close. Just wish I hadn't wasted the expensive fabric on what turned out to be an unwearable muslin. To mitigate this potential occurrence in the future, I went to FabricLand and got 3.5 yards of very adequate mixed-fibre T shirt knit in the remnants section. The lot cost me 20 bucks, including tax. I just don't get that place. Similar fabric (not in the remnant section) is listed at 24 bucks a yard. That's high on drugs, IMO, since I pay that amount on Queen Street for the good stuff. Well, at least I did a few months ago. Lord knows what the prices will be next time I go to restock. Fucking dollar.

The fabric I got isn't high-end but nor is it inferior. It would make a very nice T shirt, if not an upscale one. I think it's worth about 12 bucks a metre. So I got a very good deal and I can use it with abandon. At 5 bucks a metre it's muslin-priced. But who on earth would pay $24 bucks for it? BTW,  Gillian's the one who taught me to look in the remnants section. Since most of the offerings at FabricLand are shit (I mean really, really cheap) and the decent ones are over-priced, this is really the only way to go at that store.

Long story short, you'll be hearing more about this garment, likely in the near future.

Simplicity 1716: I enjoyed taking on a new pattern and I do think that this top looks lovely on some others who've made it. But it's a full-on failure as far as I'm concerned and I wouldn't recommend it unless you're on the small-bust end of the spectrum. Sure, you can alter it, but you can alter anything. I'd start with a pattern, the construction of which seems less homemade. There are many cute knit tops that'll work more easily for me. I'm going to spend my efforts on them.

So there you go. That's my weekend so far and my latest sewing expedition. Any thoughts on Simplicity 1716, if you've made it? Did it work for you? Let's talk!


  1. All hail the remnant section! I swear, they sometimes get single bolts of really nice stuff that goes straight to the remnants. Must come from somewhere better than their regular suppliers!
    Looking at that knot pattern, I wonder if Jalie or Style Arc have a perhaps better proportioned style for you? I totally agree about seams cutting across the bust - it's just never good. Shame it didn't work out!!!

  2. And when the bolt is almost full, you can buy 10 yards of it, if you feel like it! I do agree that it's not coming from the regular suppliers because the quality is much better. I'm pretty sure both Jalie and StyleArc have something very comparable - and better for boobs. (Probably much more "RTW" constructed too.)

  3. This is sort of unrelated but I just read this post via closetcasefiles on getting a custom drafted bra pattern from Erin of The Emerald Studio (in Belleville,ON). It looks like a great experience:

    1. Thanks so much for the link! Gillian (the post author) and I are friends (we live close by in the scheme of things) and I think we might make a pilgrimage to Belleville this summer!

  4. I've always avoided knots at the bust because, Lord knows, I don't need any bulk there. I'd be interested to learn if you find a pattern that does have a sleek finish because I love the look!

    And I'm with Julie....if I was on the same landmass as Erin I'd be hotfooting over for a bra pattern and hang the cost!

    1. I don't really know what I was thinking - but I actually think this could work if it were drafted less bulkily. I'm with Julie too. I've got to get together with Erin.

  5. Sorry, I've been terrible at keeping up with sewcial media lately, so I keep commenting way late.

    If you *really* want to try this sort of shape again, what about this one from Lekala ( It's not exactly the same, but theoretically it's made to your measurements. And gah, I'm apparently turning into a serious Lekala fangurl...oops.

    1. Thank you SO much for that link. It's an excellent suggestion and I may well purchase that pattern. Kxo

  6. Well I understand why it didn't work for your proportions. I'm, on the other hand, as flat as can be (OK I just read the "no bust adjustment" on seamworks, obviously it is not my case, but I'm AA which is the smallest cup size so...). I think this pattern is a good idea for all of us small chested gals wanting to add some structure to an area that supposes to attract visual attention. The soft drapes and knots can transform an otherwise severe looking sharp boned area into a rather faminine and soft upper part. If only these patterns were easily accessible in PDF form (or reasonably priced in Israel)... I do find it difficult to come up with more formal outfits because the usual button-up shirt or a simple knit tee will have me end up looking like a 15 year old teen.

    1. If only they did the pattern downloads, I agree. You think they'd have more than enough infrastructure to make it happen. Buying the Vogue patterns in Canada is expensive (unless you get them on sale) so I can only imagine how much they would cost in Israel.

  7. LOL - I'm catching up on blogs. For a girl who swore she was never going to knit, it's rather amusing that I had to go back this far to find a sewing related post. Your knitting is gorgeous too.