Ready To Write My Review

Cheongsam and Skirt
The top is Simplicity 5098 and the skirt is Kwik Sew 2743.

I hemmed Burda 8665. I fussed over the buttons for a while before deciding they weren’t the right color. My buttons are more green than the top, and I’d rather have a bluer button.

I’m cutting out Simplicity 4910, the monkey from a quilting cotton. It’s printed with trees, but I thought it would give the costume a furrier look than a solid brown broadcloth. It’s too hot here to make one out of faux fur or fleece.


Pattern Review for Contest:

Pattern Description: 
This is a pattern for cheongsam (Asian style tops). I made view E, woven fabric, cap sleeves, faux wrap front, zipper in back. This review is for the Plus Sized Sewing Contest, and they requested that we do a new review for our entries. That’s why there are 2 reviews for this pattern by me.

Note: the dressform is a duct tape double of me, so the fit on the DTD is the same as on me.

Pattern Sizing:
I made a size 18 which is for a 40 inch bust. My high bust is 41.5. The size 20 is for a 42 inch bust. I always use the smaller size when I’m between sizes. I think this is typical of Simplicity patterns; i.e. they run large.

This is my third iteration of fitting alterations. For those of you who are struggling with alterations, I want you to know that sometimes it takes a lot of trial and error to get the fit right.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
I think it does.

Style Considerations
Cap Sleeves: I doubled the length of the sleeve. I like cap sleeves. Supposedly, it’s not the greatest style for those of us with fat upper arms. However, I don’t like short sleeves that cover my upper arms because that means they end at my bust line, and because the gigantic ones are … well, gigantic, I don’t think my bust line needs additional emphasis. That means lengthening sleeves to 3/4 length, and it’s just too friggin’ hot here for 3/4 length sleeves in the summer. In addition, I think it’s silly to say that I would look slimmer if I cover my upper arms. I am fat, for pete’s sake, and I’m going to have large, flabby upper arms, no matter what. That being said, I decided the very short cap sleeve was not the most flattering look on me, so I doubled the length of the sleeve. I used Burda 8665 to determine the sleeve length.

High Neck: I love the look of the wrap top with mandarin collar. I don’t know that it’s the best for me. Style guides say that thos of us with big boobs do better showing off some chest, but I think idea behind that is to break up the large expanse between the breasts and the neck. I’m hoping that the details on the cheongsam style top ( the wrap line and the buttons) do the same thing AND that those details draw the eye up to my face. I’m hoping to get a picture up with me in the outfit, and you-all can tell me.

Were the instructions easy to follow?
Mostly. Unfortunately, there were a few mistakes. They called the undercollar the facing at one point. That threw me, but with the pictures next to the instructions, it’s pretty easy to figure out. This isn’t a difficult top.

Note: I did not put in a zipper, so I can’t comment on those instructions.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
LIKE: I love the style.

LIKE: I like the idea of the faux wrap. It looks like the genuine article, but it’s much easier to construct.

LIKE: This top has side bust darts, waist darts, and back darts. That makes it much more flattering on me.

LIKE: The collar isn’t too high on me.

DISLIKE: The facings. I didn’t put them in. Instead I used bias binding around the neck seam.

DISLIKE: The instructions say to put in the cap sleeve in in the round. This is the third version of this that I’ve done, so I’m now sure that the sleeve doesn’t match the armhole. The cap sleeve must be put in in the flat if you use the pattern as is. If you don’t, you’ll get a pouf at the top of the sleeve, instead of the sleeve continuing flat off your shoulder. So put them in flat and cut off the extra sleeve length. You can do this because the cap sleeve is basically a bias strip.

DISLIKE: The zipper is ridiculous. The pattern calls for an 18 inch zipper. I used a 4 inch placket with snaps. Even with the gigantic ones, I have no trouble getting the top on and off with the small placket at the back of the neck.

DISLIKE: The instructions for the buttonloops are terrible. First, instead of telling you how long and wide to cut a piece of bias, they give you a pattern piece. How stupid do they think sewers are? I don’t know why, but I’m always offended by this and by elastic guide pattern pieces. Can’t they just give the lengths in the pattern? Anyway, they tell you to cut the loop into 3 pieces after you’ve turned it. That results in very, very long button loops. I guess they are assuming you will be putting 1.5 inch wide buttons on your top.

Fabric Used:
I don’t remember if this is rayon or rayon/acetate. It’s moderately heavy and has nice drape. If you are doing the view with the cap sleeves, you must have good drape in your fabric or the sleeves stick out. If you are using the regular sleeve, a crisp fabric works well.

The other 2 versions that I did were made with cottons. One was crisp, and one was drapey for a cotton. All three versions looked nice thru the torso. It’s only in the sleeves that the fabric hand makes a difference.

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made:
As noted above, I lengthened the cap sleeve and used a 4 inch placket with 2 snaps instead of the zipper.

By accident, I sewed a vent in centerback in addition to the sides. This was not intentional, but I decided to leave it. It’s better finished than perfect. Well, the vent was perfect (of course). 

I used bias tape instead of a facing around the neck. Usually when I do this, I stitch the bias tape down all the way around the neckline. Well, that looks really funny on a mandarin collar, so I took that out and understitched like I would have for a facing. It’s working well.

Full Bust Alteration. I added 2 inches per side to accomodate my 46 inch full bust. It took 3 iterations to get this right.

Because the front is cut on the flat, I altered the side that had a shoulder, folding the pattern in half at center front. Once I’d finished the alteration on one side, I folded the pattern down the middle again, taped an extension onto the unaltered side and cut out the alterations on that extension.

I had to add to the back, too. I checked this pattern against a Burda woven top that fits well, and I added 1 inch at the sides for the back. That meant I had to add 1 inch to the back of the sleeve. It much easier to add the extra inch to them than to the traditional sleeve.

On top of that inch, I need to add another 1/2 for my high hips. This is one place where the DTD really helped. I’m not sure I would have noticed this fitting it on me.

I made my own ball buttons!

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I love this style, but I’m tired of this top. I like to try patterns, and since I have a cheongsam style pattern from every brand of patterns, I’m going to try another one next instead of doing this one again. I might make this one again. It will depend on how it compares to the other brands. I will be trying both the knit versions in this pattern.

I do recommend this top to others. It’s easy to sew. I’d get rid of the zipper and use a placket tho.

Conclusion
If you like the cheongsam look, this pattern offers you lots of options, and it’s very easy to sew.

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