Monday, May 21, 2012

Simplicity Sewing


I just got back from a wonderfully PatternReview.com weekend in NYC.  One of the activities was a tour of the Simplicity pattern company.  The suggestion on the trip discussion board was to wear something made from a Simplicity or New Look pattern for the tour. I looked though my pattern stash and was surprised to find I have quite a number of Simplicity and New Look patterns.  Most of them are what I call wardrobe patterns.   On the tour I learned they are called “lifestyle” patterns....the ones that include pants, top, dress and jacket in one pattern.

Simplicity 2443
For my tour outfit I made the very popular Cynthia Rowley jacket from  Simplicity 2443, and a top from a lifestyle pattern. The jacket fabric is a chartreuse cotton/silk woven. One of those impulse buys from Fabric.com, which when it arrived, was nothing like I imagined.  It had a shifty grain and a stiff hand for such a light weight fabric. Washing it created lots of little wrinkles which I could not iron out. It was like the cotton fibers shrunk, but the silk did not. I decided to use the texture as a "design feature".  I interlined the jacket bodice with Bemberg rayon to make it a little more stable and easy to slip on over tops.  The closures are supposed to be tabs and ties.  The ties reminded me of the strands of fluttering banners around a used car lot.  So I omitted them, and wore the jacket in NY without buttons. I stopped by the MJ Trim store and found the perfect buttons there.

The top is Simplicity lifestyle pattern  3505. It must not be a very popular pattern, as the only review on PatternReview is for the shorts, back in 2009. 

The top has a lined yoke with shaping done through released princess seams and tucks.  The fabric is a silk twill print of gray bubbles on a molted chartreuse/olive green background. It reminded me of how liquid mercury beads up when it is not contained. The fabric appealed to me because of the odd colors and unique print.  Most people would probably look at it and say “ugly!” for the exact same reasons.  I wear a lot of sleeveless print silk tops under jackets in the summer. I will definitely make this  top again, but will raise the bottom of the armhole about .5 inches for a bit more coverage.
Simplicity 3505 Front
The tour guide did recognize the jacket I was wearing as the "first Cynthia Rowley jacket"  She also mentioned they do read the reviews on PatternReview, and they do fix legitimate pattern errors when contacted about them.  Other tidbits learned on the Simplicity tour:  The New Look patterns are designed by a woman living in England, which they feel gives the designs a different aesthetic.  She sends the design sketches to NY and they turn them into patterns.  New Look patterns will fit differently than Simplicity patterns in the same size. According to our tour guide,” the New Look form is larger, but the fit is closer”.   I have found that New Look patterns do fit me differently than Simplicity. Though not in a bad way.  I love New Look knit top patterns because they are very close fitting and often have a center back seam for shaping the back. I don’t have to remove gobs of fabric in the bust and arms like I do with Simplicity and McCalls.  On the other hand I have to check the measurements of the New Look pants pattern pieces very carefully, and often add fabric in key areas because the pant fit is every bit as formfitting as the tops.
Walmart is definitely back in the fabric/sewingsupply business.  Simplicity participated in a big joint promotion with Walmart recently that required all kinds of overtime and weekend work.  That sounded familiar.  When Walmart says "Jump!", most suppliers will ask “How high?”  Walking around the Simplicity office, I was happy to see rooms with fabric on shelving is untidy stacks, just like in my sewing room.   Simplicity will often work with Jo-Ann’s or Walmart and make the garments shown in the catalogs out of fabrics being sold in those stores. But they also buy fabric “on the street in NY”.   Their lead time from conception to pattern is, I believe, around 6 months, but if they see a trend on the streets of NY they think will be big, they will expedite a design through the process.   They have a library of sewing techniques they use to create the pattern instructions.  If the pattern requires a unique construction method, it will be written for that pattern’s instruction sheet.

As for the PatternReview weekend, it was fabulous, as they always are. There were great group activities set up by hardworking volunteers. It was so exciting to meet old  PR weekend friends and other bloggers.  You could talk sewing as much as you wanted,  and no one got bored. There were so many shops selling fabrics, trims, notions, tools, and books, that we were only able to visit a fraction of them.  I was restrained with my fabric purchases, just a few select pieces.   But I bought quite a few German and Italian pattern magazines at the Around the World magazine shop.   And the latest Marfy catalog and several pattern drafting/fitting books at the FIT bookstore.  I now have lots of great reading material for the car travel time of my upcoming Memorial Day holiday.

26 comments:

KID, MD said...

Beautiful pieces! I love the interesting release tucks on the top. What a fun way to shape it! It sounds like you had a wonderful weekend.

Tia Dia said...

Love your PR outfit, Audrey! And that tour of Simplicity sounds amazing. Thanks for posting about it. It was a very interesting read.

Carolyn (cmarie12) said...

Love the picture of you in front of the Simplicity sign! Glad you had a good time!

meli88a said...

What an interesting behind the scenes tour! Thanks for sharing your notes.

Sue said...

The information you shared about the Simplicity tour is really interesting - thank -you! Great jacket and I love the colours in the jacket & top.

Kyle said...

Deborah didn't talk about the Walmart connection during my tour, so it was interesting to read about it on yours! I also liked seeing the metal shelving in offices with fabric stacked around.

I might need to make that CR jacket now!

liza jane said...

Gorgeous! I wouldn't have looked twice at that top pattern until seeing your version. It's so pretty.

prttynpnk said...

What a great post, a pattern review and an enviable tour. I love that top style, I wonder why it doesn't get much love?

cidell said...

Oh, that's good to know about Wal Mart. I have other fabric store options locally, but my Joanns has just about killed off their fabric. It'll be good for another option and for friends of mine who want to sew, but find 'fabric stores' intimidating.

Irene said...

Such a lovely top and jacket. You always have such interesting fabrics.
Thank-you for the information about your tour. Very interesting.

Karin said...

You look fantastic! You must have made them feel very proud at Simplicity. It sounds like a very interesting tour. Thanks for sharing some of the details with us.

Beth (SunnyGal Studio) said...

What a great post, so much good info for us. Particularly the info about New Look patterns, fit and sizing. I will have to give a NL knit top pattern a try. That photo of you in front of the Simplicity sign is great. I hope to meet you at PR weekend next year in my home town, San Francisco :)

Rachel said...

I love your outfit. The color combo is beautiful.

Vicki said...

Thanks for the insight to how the pattern company works. Interesting. Great pieces too. The green is really nice.

SewBarbie said...

I love the jacket and top, you look like a young girl standing in front of the Simplicity sign.

Lisa said...

What a beautiful outfit the colours are gorgeous.

The Slapdash Sewist said...

Thank you for the detailed review of your visit to Simplicity. That sounds like a real treat, I'm sorry I missed it. The New Look info is particularly interesting--I do find the fit all over the map in NL (I made a NL dress a couple months ago in my normal Simplicity size and it is quite fitted, but my usual experience is NL is huge).

I just love your jacket! So chic and crisp. The fabric texture definitely looks like a design element, not an unpleasant surprise.

Uta said...

I adore your jacket and top; I'd steal them in a minute! The jacket is a pattern I've admired from afar (never got around to buying it, though) and I think the top print and colors are gorgeous, not ugly at all. I believe a print that's "pretty" in a picture is very different from what's flattering in a garment, and this is the kind of print that's just interesting enough while making the person waering it look good.

Carole Mellin said...

I'm so glad you made it to PR weekend! I wanted to go, but have just returned from NYC so I thought it would be too extravagant to go back so soon. Maybe next time for PR. I'm happy you had such a good time! You look great as usual.

Joy said...

It's so interesting to read about how business is done at a pattern company.
The jacket is great. The details are fun but the interesting fabric is a bonus, too.

Gail said...

Your sewing is always stylish and appealing. I bought the Cynthia Rowley pattern ages ago but hesitated making it because I thought it might be too young. Not at all! So thanks.

j.kaori said...

I love your tour outfit! Thank you for the review of the tour and your PR weekend -- sounds like you had a great time. Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend!

SEWN said...

Your jacket and top are just beautiful. It was a pleasure seeing you at PR weekend. :)

Goodbye Valentino said...

I just discovered your blog and just read your PR weekend review.
First of all I really love the cute jacket! Secondly the weekend sounded like a great time for all!
Thanks for all of the information and I look forward to upcoming posts.

ladyoftheloom said...

Your blog was recommended to me by Sandra at the weekly knit night here in Midlothian as we were talking about sewing. I love your inspiring projects. Maybe I will do more sewing!

Zoe said...

I've been a fan of this jacket pattern for a while and I think yours is the most awesome version I've seen xxx