Heeeere’s Hazel! (aka ‘interfacing experiment deemed successful’)

(The colour is a bit darker in real life than this bright daytime photo suggests.)

(The colour is a bit darker in real life than this bright daytime photo suggests.)

My lack of a home printer deterred me from using pdf patterns for a long time. The first time I bought one, I waited weeks and weeks to use it until visiting my sister so she could print it out for me! So while staying with family over Christmas, I decided to make the most of my temporary printer-access to print off two patterns I had my eye on for quite some time: the lovely, simple Sorbetto by Colette (blogged about here) and the very pretty Hazel dress by Victory Patterns. I like that pdfs offer the possibility to reprint all or some of your pattern if needsbe, but on the other hand, it would be better to print on a much lighter weight paper than standard letter paper because the inflexibility of the paper made it a bit trickier to cut the fabric.

I’ve been contemplating using comprehensive interfacing as a form of underlining on a garment for a while now, ever since I heard Gail Yellen talking about it in her Craftsy class. Well, this project seemed like the ideal opportunity for two reasons: 1. this burgundy-coloured silk georgette wrinkles if you so much as look at it, which I find mania-inducing, and, 2. this fabric is basically see-through. Which is fine if that’s the effect you’re going for and I have a few very light tops that I love but I reckon if I had a full see-through dress I’d just never wear it, or be plagued by an inability to find/make a suitable slip.

So, I attached a very lightweight iron-on interfacing. Clearly, this affects the drape of the georgette but I figured that, in this case, the trade-off was worth it. And (happily!), I really like the feel of the interfaced fabric, it’s much more substantial than the georgette would have been, even if it had been lined or underlined. I should point out though that I did not use interfacing on the necktie as I was worried it would make the neckline really bulky and make the ties too firm, instead of nice and floaty.

And the awkward from-the-back pose...

And the awkward from-the-back pose…

I’m really, really happy with this dress, especially as I don’t have anything like it already in my wardrobe. I’m definitely on board for making another one, though I’ll probably opt for the floaty lightness of a non-interfaced version for a more summery feel. You can see in the photo above that the sleeves are a tad tight on me at the back when I raise my arms so my next version will be amended somewhat there (if I can figure out how to do it…!).

Adjustments: Fusible interfacing throughout instead of lining the skirt as per pattern instructions. I initially thought I’d do the lower half of the sleeves without interfacing for a different finish, but thought it all looked a bit odd once I pinned it to check. In the end, I decided that the dress (in this case) looks better with a shorter sleeve.

Skills learned: Attaching a tie-neck collar, flat sleeve insertion

Recommend pattern?: Yes! I love the finished dress and found the directions very clear. I’ve had trouble attaching collars before, but this worked out fine. The only thing I would say is that I could have done with a photo or a couple of illustrations of how the neckline looks with the ties open (so I’ve put one below) – there aren’t any in the instructions and it made it a bit harder to work out if it was all going according to plan or not. Otherwise, a great pattern, albeit probably more suitable for a beginner who has a few projects under their belt already (eh, no fashion pun intended…).

With the necktie tied...

With the necktie tied…

...and untied.

…and untied.


Digital versus printed patterns: which is your favourite format?

Tilly's Mathilde print-at-home pattern.

Tilly’s Mathilde print-at-home pattern.

As the dress project I’m working on is on hold at the moment (eh, I did finally buy a zip but I’ve gotten distracted from it all!), I’ve been turning my attention to sewing separates and am currently working on both the Beignet skirt (by Colette) and the Mathilde blouse (by Tilly of Tilly and the Buttons). I’m working with the ready-printed copy of the Beignet, but the Mathilde is the first print-at-home pattern I’ve used.

Working with these two patterns has started me wondering about which format is more practical: digital or print?

The Beignet pattern directions come as a booklet, which is great for propping up in front of the sewing machine and makes a welcome change from those huge and unwieldy paper guides I’m used to. But having the Mathilde directions online (Tilly has a great step-by-step guide on her site), has allowed me to read over the next steps on my iphone whenever I have a few spare moments so I feel better prepared when I sit down to sew.

Then last night I came across the ebooks for the incredible vintage knitting collections by Jane Waller and Susan Crawford, on Susan’s website (vol 1 here and vol 2 here. And, yes, both are going on my Christmas list). Brilliantly, Susan provides a photo gallery of all of the projects featured in the ‘Stitch in Time’ books. (It’s so frustrating when you want to order a book online, but don’t really know what’s in it!)

I’m not sure it would make much difference to me to be able to work from a digital copy while knitting: I tend to write out my own pattern version anyway as I go along, to make sure that if I end up knitting it again, I have all my amendments easily to hand (and without completely defacing the original with numerous revisions). However, it could be quite useful to be able to reference a range of knitting patterns while out and about. Also, importantly, Susan notes that anyone who buys the ‘Stitch in Time’ ebooks now will automatically get the updated version when it’s ready to go.

In the case of sewing, I can see pros and cons to digital patterns. On the one hand, fumbling around with dozens of printed pattern pages can be tricky (and I personally only have limited access to a printer), but on the other hand, downloading the pattern means instant access instead of waiting for delivery – wahey! Price is also clearly a factor – digital copies are much cheaper for designers to produce and so tend to be a bit cheaper than the printed version, even before adding postage costs.

Do you have a preference for the format of your knitting or sewing patterns? How has your experience been so far of pdfs and digital copies?