January 24, 2013

Review: Simple Modern Sewing pt. 2

I have to admit that I put off the rest of this review. It's hard to be so down on a book that I had so enjoyed perusing. You can read the gushing in part 1 of my review. First the positive:

The photography and layout of the book is great. The instructions are adequate for experienced sewists. The patterns are printed on sturdy white paper.

And then when you pull out the pattern sheet, this is what you get:

As you can see, nearly all the pattern pieces and sizes use the same exact black line. It would have helped to at least denote the different sizes with different line types and colors for different styles in the same way that Burda does. You have to really look carefully for notches, because they are easy to miss despite extra notations on the pieces. And in just this one snapshot of one part of the pattern sheet, there are 5 pattern pieces that overlap.

The issues with the pattern sheet are relatively minor though, especially if you are comfortable with Burda patterns. I did manage to trace everything off for the wrap blouse and dress. I had to select the large size since that matched up with my measurements best. There did seem to be some discrepancy between the measurement chart, printed finish measurements in the pattern instructions, and the actual pattern pieces. I didn't take the time the track it down and it could be just differences in how one measures. For me, it resulted in a bit more room (which was actually needed) than I expected. One good thing is that the shape of the armhole and sleeve was along the lines of what Kathleen recommends.

A bigger issue did present itself once I started checking the pattern. There is a grading error on the shoulder seam of the bodice pieces of the wrap blouse for the medium and large sizes. In order to fix the large size, you will need to pull the shoulder point of the back shoulder seam in about 3/8 inch. The other smaller sizes match up just fine. I debated whether this was indeed a grading problem because sometimes the back shoulder is eased instead of having a dart. On boxy, loose fitting styles there is no easing or dart, which is what this style is supposed to be. Since the smaller sizes matched, there could be no other explanation. No other bloggers have mentioned the same problem, so I'm not sure if it is just an anomaly on my copy.

After correcting the pattern and adding seam allowances, I proceeded to cut and sew and got this:

DH said it looked like a medical scrub, except it didn't even fit that well. The dart points in the wrong direction, which means I probably should have done a FBA or something else. The skirt part of the blouse has an extremely small gather ratio, less than 1:1.25, which makes the gathers look like a mistake. The result of all of this is that it looked terrible on.

I probably could spend the time to fix the pattern and try again.

But it would take too many iterations.

This project caused me to loose my sewing mojo. Who else hates spending time on something with such disappointing results? I think I can now understand beginning sewists frustrations.

Having said all that, I can recommend this book only for its design and styling inspiration. Go elsewhere for patterns which are similar.

I cannot recommend this book to beginning sewists at all. If you have more experience altering patterns and don't mind endless fiddling, then maybe this book is for you.


  1. Thanks for this review! I just did this pattern last week and ran into the exact same problems. The finished blouse looks less than flattering, and I was dissapointed. Good to know I'm not the only one!

  2. I fully agree! I did the same blouse and ran into the same problems - pattern sheet is extremely hard to use with all these same-looking lines; the gathers were virtually non existent (the lower part is only about an inch wider than the upper - what's the point of gathers, please?), bust darts went off to somewhere my bust is not... and the whole thing looks like a bag, totally unfitting and unflattering. I was disappointed since I really like the style and the looks of the book.