This is the second pattern from http://sewingcake.com/ 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 http://sewingcake.com/ 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.