Category Archives: Pattern reviews

Bundle Up Blog Tour: Jenny Dress by Sisboom

Time to bundle up, ladies! PatternRevolution is sponsoring a women’s PDF pattern bundle,and you are the beneficiary of this awesomeness! The way this sweet deal works is you get to pick the set of patterns YOU want. In order to get the bundle pricing you need to buy at least 6 patterns, but that won’t be hard since yo have 13 to choose from. Pants, shorts, dresses, tops, a purse‚ÄĒplenty o’sewing goodness.

Patten Revolution Bundle Up Tour by Sew Maris

I joined the fun blof tour, and chose to make the Jenny Dress by Sisboom for my DD. She has <an almost> new job that requires her to dress up a little more than her previous job, so I am trying to help out and add a few items to her closet.

Sisboom Jenny by Sew Maris

Originally I was going to make the Jenny maxi dress, but knee length is much better for the office, right? She preferred the sleeveless option, rather than the cap or flutter sleeve available on Jenny, so sleeveless we did. I think sleeveless dresses are really practical, even if you get cold, because it is so easy to add different cardigans or jackets to vary the look.

Sisboom Jenny by Sew Maris

As usual, I was under a deadline to get this dress completed, so I raced to Stitches in Seattle and found several options that were within the right “weight” range that I thought she might like. The wonders of modern technology! I sent her a few pictures of fabric choices from my phone, and when she texted me her fave, I just took the bolt to the counter and paid. Nice, eh? ūüėČ

I took a¬† few measurements and made a bodice muslin, and it was a perfect fit. I really appreciate it when the pattern fit corresponds well to body measurements. I don’t expect perfection – too much variation in human bodies – but I do appreciate getting on first base at least. Nice work on this one, Jennifer!

Sisboom Jenny by Sew Maris

This dress is really quite easy to put together. The only design changes I made were 1) to shorten the front and back waistband by an inch (could have taken another inch or so off to suit my DD’s preference), and 2) add contrast piping to the top and bottom of the waistband. Did I mention I was under time pressure to get this done? Um, yes, I do know how to complicate a project, thank you! The side zip keeps the back looking clean and neat, and I chose to put in an invisible zip. The 1/2 inch SA isn’t really sufficient to do a nice centered zipper IMHO, and besides, invisibles look better! I also like the two little bodest insets under the arm‚ÄĒyou can’t really tell in this fabric‚ÄĒbut a different (and nice) design detail.

Sisboom Jenny by Sew Maris

Action shot! Even a little twirling!

If you hurry you can get in on the PatternRevolution Bundle Up Sewing Bee and Giveaway! First prize is a a Brother 1034D serger!You have until midnight Sunday, June 29 to enter, so get busy! Get some inspiration, and see what the other bloggers have been sewing on the rest of the blog tour.

Happy sewing!




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Selvage Designs Presents the Foxglove Top for Women

I am a joiner. I hate to miss a party or be left out of most anything. Especially anything that involves dark chocolate, sewing, or espionage thrillers.

So naturally I was thrilled when Lauren Dahl of Selvage Designs asked me to test her latest pattern for women‚ÄĒthe Foxglove racer back top. Well, I was thrilled until I saw the pattern. My first reaction? “Oh that is a darling top‚ÄĒfor the younger gals.”

Selvage Designs Foxglove Pattern Review by Sew Maris

Color me surprised. I made this top up and I.Love.It.I find it is a great layering piece to throw over a T, or to wear all by its lonesome on the <2> scorchingly hot summer days we have here in Seattle. <LOL>.

Also, did you notice the lovely, hi-cut armholes? I am totally not a fan of arm-boob, so the drafting  in this area pleased me.

Selvage Designs Foxglove Pattern Review by Sew Maris

The back of the Foxglove is cut in in typical racer-back style, so you will definitely see your bra straps. If that bothers you, a close-fitting T underneath would do the trick.

Selvage Designs Foxglove Pattern Review by Sew Maris

Did I also mention I am not a big hi-lo fan? But the shaping on this top is subtle enough that I actually really like it. Of course, because you S-E-W, you can straighten the hem or make other pattern variations to suit your personal preferences.

As originally drafted the Foxglove is supposed to include a center front and center back seam with topstitching details. I detest topstitching ITY jersey. So the pattern variation I decided to implement was to cut both the back and front on the fold, eliminating the center seams. Who would see the topstitching in this print, anyway?

Selvage Designs Foxglove Pattern Review by Sew Maris

Another design line I adore on this pattern is the neckline. Nicely done, Lauren! Yes, it is rounded, but in kind of a V-like way. I think it is just a particularly pretty design line. During the pattern testing there was some chatter about changing this line, and I screamed a vehement NO! She heard me. ūüėČ

OK, here are the technical details of this pattern review IMHO:

Pattern Drafting: A+.

This pattern fits together beautifully, including the curved hemline matching. I am a stickler for quality drafting, and Lauren passed with flying colors.

Pattern Design: B

Very nice simple, design. In parlance ‚ÄĒa great wardrobe builder. The Foxglove may not be the most exciting design I have ever seen, but it is a darn attractive top that is wearable on many body shapes and sizes. And ages, too. ūüėČ

Pattern Instructions: B+

Very well done with plenty of pictures and detail.

If you love supporting Indie pattern designers like I do, Selvage Designs is definitely worth a look. Check out the Foxglove pattern testing roundup so you can see the variety of body shapes and fabrics used during testing. I think you might agree this pattern has a place in your collection. Make up a Foxglove for yourself‚ÄĒit will only cost you a few hours time. You certainly can’t convince me there isn’t at least one piece of knit fabric in your stash that would work nicely for this top! ūüėČ

I received a free copy of the Foxglove draft and final pattern for testing; the views expressed are my own.

Happy sewing!




Two dresses from the Vogue Summer 2014 Collection

What do you think about the Vogue 2014 summer pattern collection? It has been out for a little while, and I have seen a few postings around the blogosphere chatting about it, but certainly not a firestorm of opinions. I am not exactly overwhelmed by the collection as a whole, but I am definitely drooling over these 2 summer dresses!

I love,love, love the big collar and topstitching on this simple wrap dress, Vogue 8992. I think it would be great in navy or black linen, or possibly a silk/cotton/linen-type fabric. I definitely want it to be a solid colored fabric. And since summer days in Seattle are limited, the fact that it would sew up in a snap is a plus in my book. It’s got a touch of drama, don’t you think?


I know, you have seen this dress before. But Vogue 8997 has a deep V in the back which caught me eye, and POCKETS. Practical, pretty, and could be dressed up or down depending on fabric. And since I (am pretty sure I) don’thave anything like this in my stash, so it might make it onto the summer 2014 dresses-to be-made pile.


My vote for the worst pattern in the collection? Vogue 9012. Bleah. That is all.


Do you have any favorites in this collection? Any haters?

Happy sewing!




Fall patterns fall flat

Someone else must be  inhabiting my body.

I love patterns. I have storage boxes full of them. I love to pore over every design line, dream about the precisely right fabric for each garment,  and imagine a closet full of new clothes every season. New patterns are new beginnings. Getting every detail exactly right. When looking at a fresh pattern collection, I never think about  ripping or correcting fitting problems. I only dream about the possible.

Odd then, that I am very “meh” about the new fall collections¬†from Vogue, McCalls, and Butterick. Maybe I have finally reached my pattern collection limit, or possibly I have collected every design line ever drawn. It looks to me like this fall I will be sewing some of my TNTs (tried and true), or adding a few more independent pattern designers to my¬†collection. Maybe the true innovation is happening with some of the smaller pattern companies, just like in other areas of business.¬†Style Arc? Sewaholic? Oliver & S?

What are you excited about sewing this season? Any new patterns you love? How about fabrics? Tell me about what dreams you have for your wardrobe right now!

Happy sewing!

Maris Olsen

Vogue Fall 2012 pattern collection review

Wow. Double WOW. I have not been this impressed by a pattern collection in a l-o-o-o-o-o-n-g while. First off, LOVE the styling of the sample garments. Finally, models for sewing are projecting a hip, modern, urban vibe. Thank you.

Now, the patterns. I am a sucker for pretty dresses, and sheath dresses are my favorites. Love this look from Rebecca Taylor, but with all the contrast pieces sewing precision will be critical, or it will look Becky Home-Ec-y, IMHO.


More sheath love from Donna Karan, and with an exposed zipper to step it up even a little more. Totally wearable, and totally stylish.


Ruching does wonders for disguising a few lumps and bumps, and I can see this simple dress from Tracy Reese in a bold graphic print, or even as a LBD. I would shorten the sleeves to 3/4 tho – I think a little wrist and arm showing would be much more flattering.


This might be my favorite dress of all. LOVE.


And this Issey Miyake coat? Swoon! Not that I ever actually make coats. I just collect coat patterns. ūüėČ


Elegant blouse and very interesting skirt patten by Donna Karan. I don’t know if my short-waisted body can wear this combo, but it is calling me, for sure.


A classic pant suit, with some interesting shaping on the jacket, and a feminine, pretty blouse. This would be a great addition to my wardrobe.


Cute, trendy hi-lo top that would be a nice knit top addition.


Thee are plenty more great patterns in this grouping, but I included a few of my favorites here. How about you? What else appeals to you in this collection? Are you in the mood to sew for fall yet, or still enjoying summer sewing?

Happy sewing!

Maris Olsen

Aack! How did I miss it?

OK, my bad. I missed reviewing McCall’s summer sewing patterns. But since I live in the PNW and we only have 15 minutes of real summer weather I can be forgiven for that oversight. However, missing Diana Rupp’s first pattern for McCall’s in the summer collection is definitely a venal sin, if not a mortal one. Aaack! Please forgive me, Diana!

Look how adorable this sundress is.


This pattern is offered in the street length shown here, as well as a maxi length and a tunic top. And lucky for you the pattern is rated as easy, so even if you live in climate with a minimal  no summer you can still complete this cutie and enjoy it. So what are you waiting for? Just do it!

If you want more from Diana, be sure to check out her awesome book, S.E.W. Sew Everything Workshop. I reviewed this book last June, and gave it the 2 thumbs up for beginning students. If you already own S.E.W, I’d love to hear your thoughts about this sewing resource.

I hope we see more of you in the months to come, Diana, and happy sewing!

Maris Olsen

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Vogue Spring 2012 designs

I normally am thrilled with many patterns in new Vogue pattern collections, but the Spring 2012 collection is, well…..a yawner IMHO.¬† I thought most of the designer offerings looked like they had been sketched on the back of a cocktail napkin, although I do think both of the Anne Klein designers are total winners.

I really love this sleek, polished jacket and slim pants from Anne Klein. I could see this in wool crepe for fall/winter,and linen for spring would be smashing. Maybe in the new Tangerine Tango!!













Love, love, love this feminine and sophisticated blouse, also from Anne Klein. Silk chiffon, a pretty voile – YUM.

Vogue 1294












I would totally dig wearing this sweet little vintage reproduction – UH-dorable. Classic styling that could be dressed up or down depending on fabric.

Vogue 8788












Big, face-framing collars on jackets are a sure-fire hit with me. Wouldn’t this easy, breezy jacket look fresh in a bright poplin?

Vogue 8794













I am a little obsessed with making jeans right now, so maybe I will break down and try a pair of classic 5-pocket jeans for my DH. Cuz his $15 Lee jeans are really only suited for yard work. ūüėČ

Vogue 8801












What do you think of this new collection? Is it a winner, a big flop, or somewhere in between? I’d love to hear your thoughts – send me a comment!

Happy sewing!

Maris Olsen

A definite home run for Sewn Square One patterns

Sewn Square One Swing Shift pattern

I am a big fan of Sewn Square One patterns. Not only are they fresh, hip, and ultra modern – they are WELL DRAFTED! There is (almost) nothing I hate more than paying good money for a sloppy pattern. I expect those notches to line up, all the pieces to fit together accurately, and good grading between sizes. You get all that, and more, from Sew Square One. Good design and well-written instructions, too!

The first Sewn Square One pattern I worked with was the Go Anywhere Dress. One of my students made it up in a grey chambray and it was darling. When I saw the Swing Shift pattern, I could instantly envision it on my eldest DD (she even looks a bit like Elizabeth, the Swing Shift designer!)

Amazing as it may seem, I did not have two coordinating cotton prints in my stash, so this project required a trip to the fabric store.  I love this Marimekko-esque print by Brooklyn designer Lotta Jansdotter for Windham fabrics, and the coordinating uneven check was perfect for the collar and pocket details. Look at this cute little spring jacket! IMHO, the fabrics, design, and mis-matched buttons all combine to give this garment a really fun, arty look that I think DD will really like.


I love the asymmetrical collar shape – this feature alone could have sold me on the design – I am a sucker for asymmetry.


More of the check (and buttons!) on the pocket flaps.


The back has a cute little vent and is a perfect spot to add a couple more buttons – just for show.


There is also an optional pleat detail on the sleeves, so you know I couldn’t pass up the chance to add more buttons. ūüėČ


This pattern is a keeper, and I plan on making it again. Maybe even for myself!!


Happy sewing!

Maris Olsen


Pattern Review Day – Seattle 2011


Yes, I know I am late getting this post up. Sorry! But in case you missed the announcement, Pattern Review celebrated 10 years this month, and several cities around the country hosted a PR Day get-together on November 19th. We were lucky enough to have someone step forward to organize one for Seattle – thanks for all your hard work, Jacqui (pretty lady standing in the pix above)!

It was pretty much an all-day event, tho I was only able to hang out with my fellow sewing nerd friends in the morning. We started at Nancy’s Sewing Basket at the top of Queen Anne hill in Seattle.¬† We were entertained and informed by two lovely young designers,¬†Gina and Elizabeth, from SEWN Square One. In case you have not seen these patterns yet, you are definitely missing something. This new line is a division of Lorraine Torrence, and these patterns are very well-drafted, are fresh, modern designs, and have excellent instructions to boot. One of my students made the Go Anywhere Dress, which was designed by Gina. Adorable. Could successfully be made up in a wide variety of fabrics and be suitable for a range of occasions. Of course, I had to purchase a couple of patterns on the spot – the Swing Shift which was designed by Elizabeth, and the Upline Jacket. I am going to make the Upline Jacket in an “ikat style” print denim I have in my stash, and I am not quite sure about the Swing Shift yet. I do have to say tho,¬† it is so refreshing to see such hip, trendy YOUNG people interested in the art of sewing. These bright young designers definitely have their game on.

Below you can see Elizabeth is holding several of the SEWN patterns, and Gina is on the far right…almost out of the shot. Ooops. Cute, eh? ūüėČ


Here Gina is holding some of the sample garments while Elizabeth is describing the design features.


After learning more about SEWN Square One, I headed to lunch with a pal from ASG, and then sadly had to head home. The rest of the gang went on to Seattle Fabrics and Pacific Fabrics in Northgate. It was definitely a fun day, and I hope to attend more PR events in the future.  If you are not a PR member, join us!


Happy sewing!

Maris Olsen

Vogue Winter/Holiday Pattern review

The Vogue¬†Winter/Holiday collection¬†is just out, and I think there are some real gems in this collection. Here are some of my favorites from this offering…¬†

Oh,¬†I wish I was 20 years younger (who I am kidding? more like¬†30!!) so I could rock this gorgeous Badgley Mischka dress at my husband’s office holiday party. This dress is pretty AND sexy, and¬†beautifully styled to boot. Emerald green satin – smashing!


Kaye Unger is known for her feminine dresses, and this one is adorable. I think it would make the perfect LBD, or I’d love it in any holiday jewel tone, too. The front tucks and the pleats on the sleeves add¬†distinctive detailing to¬†this basic sheath¬†shape, while still retaining the clean lines Kaye is known¬†for.¬†¬†


I know Belville Sasson had a wedding dress years ago with a very similar shoulder treatment, but this dress is pretty and very wearable. I love the back V-neckline, too.  


I love the element of surprise in my clothes – ¬†take a look at the back of this Pamela Rolland dress. Don’t you love that swingy back skirt attached to¬†the slim sheath front?


Koos Van Den Akker is a bit of a one-trick pony, but I do like both the scale and shape of this reversible coat.


I double-heart this Guy Laroche wrap dress. I’m not sure I can wear something quite this boxy on the top, but on the right figure shape this would be dynamite.


Here is a new jeans pattern for non-stretch denim; possibly even with a rise that is high enough for those older than 14 to wear.


If you are into the vintage vibe, I think dress and jacket suit is as sweet as can be!


Marcy Tilton has a lovely collection of new bags, and any one of them would make a beautiful gift.


IMHO these are some real goodies that will¬†add a bit of spice to your wardrobe¬†this holiday season. Of course, personally I am attracted to all the lovely holiday dresses. Too bad I have only one or 2 events a year where I could wear such pretties! How about you? Does anything tickle your fancy in this collection? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject,¬†so sign in and add a comment!

Happy sewing!

Maris Olsen