Tuesday, October 28, 2008

american vs. european (a very limited experience)

tonight i finished burda # 8094. i'm not sure i'm 100% in love with it. it was also not as free as the previous blouse, as i didn't end up having enough fabric for the entire blouse (the bottom print) and had to go get something to coordinate for the top. i also splurged on $2 worth of ribbon to offset the contrast between the top and bottom fabrics (to my eye, the top print is quite a bit lighter than the bottom) and, annoyingly, had to run out in the middle of the project to get 1/4" elastic, which i thought i had but apparently did not. man, i hate that.

overall i think it's cute, and it looks much cuter on my actual body than on the sewing body. it was significantly less work than the previous blouse as well - that one had 13 pieces including a two-piece collar and a two-piece sleeve with cuffs. not to mention the previously-swore-about 12 buttonholes. however on this one all the pieces except the sleeve are cut on the bias, which i suppose makes for nice give over a growing belly but feels kind of funny compared to the sleeves. maybe i'm just not used to longer-sleeved bias-cut garments. if/when i make it again, i think i'd also put in an underarm zipper. it's a little difficult to pull over one's head without it as there is only elastic across the back and not under the bust and not a lot of give overall in that horizontal seam. i can only imagine what it will be like when i'm feeling cranky and huge and unwieldy in my eighth month. maybe if i make it from a double-faced knit next time?

which brings me to the pattern itself: kind of strange. this is my overall love-hate feeling about burda patterns in particular and most sewing patterns in general. for example, this one had no facings along the neckline of those bodice pieces, but it did include an odd little bias strip to face the back neck edge. the directions were also not super-clear on how to attach it. and the bottom pieces were to be cut on the bias, on the fold. huh?? exactly. imagine how difficult it is to lay out your pattern on the bias to begin with (and how much fabric you feel like you're wasting). then multiply your frustration level by 86. exactly.

i find burda patterns tend to be a bit frustrating like this, in general. i like them because they fit extremely well and are easy to adjust for fit. they specify their model measurements and usually have about seven different adjustment lines where you can lengthen or shorten. i'm very lucky in that for the most part i'm built like a pattern model: b cup, not overly curvy or overly boyish, average height. i'm a bit shorter than patterns tend to be cut for (i'm 5'4"; most patterns assume a 5'6" model), my waist is a bit longer, and my legs shorter, so for me most patterns get lengthened about an inch in the waist and shortened an inch or two across the thigh. the better fit the pattern is to begin with (and the more adjustment lines built in to the pattern), the easier it is to fit. american patterns don't seem to have as many adjustment lines built in to them. mccall's patterns in particular tend to run large as well (vogue, butterick, and simplicity tend to run fairly true to size).

i find the instructions on american patterns to be a bit clearer as well. european patterns seem to assume you already know how to sew, even on an "easy" pattern. it's not a problem for me in particular, as i've been sewing for about 20 years and consider myself pretty competent. but there are still things that even i tend to shy away from (because i'm lazy, mostly). collars, for example. i tend to prefer wearing collarless garments and i sew accordingly. i also don't like to fuss with attaching them and i always seem to screw it up somehow, so it's nice to have a pattern geared to a more novice seamstress walking you through the steps of attaching the collar instead of assuming you understand the general concept. even on an "advanced" level pattern, american patterns will still walk you through it clearly.

man and these burda patterns are all printed in like 2-point font. my eyes aren't that bad, but even i have to strain to read the instructions. i can only imagine what it would be like for my mother to try to read them.

i'm also finding the european patterns tend to be rather obsessive about basting. lots of basting and then stitching. no thanks. i'd rather just pin and stitch. why baste the side seam in place and then stitch it when it's a pretty simple process? again, it could just be my laziness. i just don't understand the point of all that basting.

one nice thing about european patterns is they tend to not have a bunch of extraneous pieces and crap (with the notable exception of that weird bias neck edge piece in this one). american patterns tend to have separate pattern pieces for interfacing, buttonhole guides, and elastic guides. why can't we just measure elastic? why can't the buttonholes just be marked on the front piece (or the front facing piece)?

1 comment: