Hummingbird top and skirt

This is the second pattern from that I’ve tried, with less than satisfactory results.  I’ve learned one valuable lesson from these patterns, avoid kimono sleeves!  So far, all her patterns have kimono sleeves, the three main garments plus the two “Riff” tops, as well as the fourth pattern that I was invited to beta test.  It is very difficult to alter a kimono sleeved bodice to fit narrow and/or sloping shoulders.  It also makes it difficult to do a petite fold between the bust point and shoulder seam without changing the fit of the sleeve itself.  I am now certain that after I finish the beta test garment, I will not be sewing any more of patterns unless they have a set-in sleeve.

I have also learned that there is a lot of ease built into these designs.  It was most evident in the Hummingbird skirt, probably because it was designed for wovens.  Because her sizing is based on actual measurements, not on random numbered sizing and because my lower half does not contain my “problem areas”, I chose to not make a muslin.  This was a big mistake.  After it was assembled and the zip installed, but before I put in the waistband, I decided to try it on.  I was able to pull it on and off without unzipping.  I asked about sizing on the Hummingbird flickr group and the response I got was “there is extra ease built in for alterations”.  I ended up trimming 2.5 sizes worth of “extra ease” and now that I’m wearing it today, I realize that’s not enough.  Some people may like to have that extra to play around with, but it made me angry.  If I could have cut 3 sizes smaller from the beginning, I would have been able to fit the pattern pieces on less fabric and saved money.

The top also has a lot of ease built-in.    The instructions say to choose your size based on your full bust, which is fine because it’s designed for knits with good recovery.  When I’ve done with that other brands, say Jalie or KwikSew, it’s resulted in a well-fitted top.  This one is not.  The kimono sleeve means that all the ease is under the armpit.  On my first muslin of the top, I tried redrawing the curve under the arm and it resulted in a too tight armscye area and weird folds above the bust.  On my second muslin, I tried a petite tuck between the bust point and the shoulder seam and was left with too tight sleeves and popped underarm seams when I moved my arms in circles.  The red top is when I went back to the beginning and cut it as drafted.  There is freedom of movement, but lots of bunch around the armpit and the feeling that the upper chest around is HUGE.  The only way to save this pattern might be to cut a size smaller and add an underarm gusset.

The end result is an outfit that I do not feel good in.  I feel like the top draws attention to my tummy and the skirt makes me look rectangular.  I normally don’t like straight skirts on me, due to having narrow hips compared to the rest of me.  I should have gone with my first instinct and skipped this pattern.

Hummingbird front


Hummingbird back


About andreahg

I'm a stay-at-home wife and mom to two boys, a cat and two rough collies. I love to sew and knit with vintage patterns, primarly from the WWII era.
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9 Responses to Hummingbird top and skirt

  1. Susan says:

    The back of the skirt is darling – I can see why you chose it. On the whole, this does not suit you as well as most of you outfits. How frustrating!

  2. Rita says:

    So annoying when a pattern or pattern company just does not work. I have patterns from companies which just do not work for me. Frustrating This top does you no favors – maybe it can be given to a thrift store so that someone might get use out of it. However, you can feel good that you tried everything possible to make it work and know it just does not work for you.

  3. karen Hughes says:

    Thanks for posting this honestly. This kind of review is really helpful to me as someone who sews occasionally and on a budget. I love when something comes out well but if it doesn’t I like knowing why it didn’t and if there is anything I can do about it. Maybe you can pass the top along, as someone else mentioned. The fabric is great. Better times ahead with your next project.

    • andreahg says:

      Based on the flickr group, the Hummingbird top seems to work best on the very slim ladies, unlike the Tiramisu dress, which looks great on everyone.

  4. Sandra says:

    I was so excited when I saw the post title on my feed, as I’ve been working on the hummingbird sewalong. I can see exactly what you are saying and the outfit doesn’t have your usual beautifully put together, sharp tailoring look. My first version of the top hasn’t quite worked (, but I am very keen to make another one, especially as I loved the tiramisu dress. I also really hope Steph will bring out a pattern with a set in sleeve.

    • andreahg says:

      You’ve got a good fit on yours but I think it would look better in a jersey. Ponte di Roma is a stable knit, more suited to a sheath dress or a pencil skirt.

  5. prttynpnk says:

    A serious thanks for posting this. I hate that it didn’t work for you, but you’ve helped alot of other people with their versions, I’m sure. I saw this after your most recent post- when you recover, baby you recover in style- I love your latest!

  6. Josephine says:

    It can be so frustrating when something just doesn’t work. I’d have to agree the top is a no go but there is something about your skirt that I love. I think it’s because it nips in at the front bottom and then has that cute flare at the back (I hope that makes sense). I’d love to see the skirt with some of your more successful tops before writing it off all together.

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