Tuesday, November 20, 2007

New Simplicity Project Runway Patterns

Judging by the chatter on sewing boards, these poor patterns just aren't getting any love. The general consensus seems to be "that's it?" I understand where the fuss is coming from - when Simplicity announced they were doing PR patterns they never said what aspect of PR they were inspired by. So many hoped that this would be a new version of Hollywood patterns where experienced sewers everywhere could recreate some of the most memorable looks that we saw on our personal silver screens. Or fuzzy with red bleed screen, if you're at my house. We need a new TV. So when, instead of a flowing Uli beach dress, simple but fab Laura Bennet gown, or fabric version of Austin's corn dress, Simplicity instead delivered these patterns ... yeah, frustration was bound to happen. But you know what? I like them. Yes, Simplicity SHOULD have, from the start, showed their hand and said that they were releasing "be your own designer" patterns whose chief tie to PR is the DIY nature of them. But even so... step back, let go of the preconceptions you had, and approach these patterns as what they are - designs made specifically for the Craftster type who'll make a dress out of a pillowcase and spare ribbons. The type who use a pattern as a template for their own designs, who'll ask "why can't it be done this way" and attempt a crazy alteration without any formal training or even sewing experience.

Looking at it from that perspective - I submit that these patterns are, if not brilliant, at least very, very, bright. These patterns have a "you can do it!" vibe to them that I LOVE. Granted, that's probably because I have an inner craftster so I am part of their target audience. Still, they're good.

I bought this one last week at the $1.99 sale at Joann's. I love it! Neatest of all, they include a design sheet with a croquis and all the pieces you need to design your own dress for her. It reminds me of my childhood when I'd make outfits for my paper dolls. The instructions look very clear and easy to follow without being condescending. There's also some very nice touches, like how they have you face the underarm part of the sleeveless dress with bias tape instead of the standard fabric facing. I also love the inclusion of pockets. I love how this dress could be made up as a first project and worn out that evening. I've never gone for the standard beginner projects of pillowcases, pj bottoms, and the like. My first sewing project was my graduation dress for HS. It had darts and a zipper. I didn't know how to do either but, well, I learned. Anything easier and I wouldn't have cared enough to try. So for those with my learning style this dress is fantastic.

I was severely tempted to buy this one as well, though I managed to resist. Those front pleats are just too much of a 'what not to wear' on me. Still, cute design. Fitting, which frustrates more beginners than anything else, I'd bet, is at a minimum with this, as with all the PR patterns. Very, very smart.

I'll admit, I'm less enamored by this one. That square neckline is simply too harsh. But I'm sure someone who likes that look will take this design and run with it. Good for them.

Honestly this who short, boxy jacket trend has me confused. It's mutual, at least... all the short jackets I've tried look equally confused on me. Oh, well. I like how they give various closure options for those of us who can't do a four-step button hole to save our lives. Great idea. And, according to Lucky, these little hobbit jackets are terribly trendy and you need to get one yesterday. Right. I'll stick with classic jackets that keep me warm, thanks.

They remembered our curvy sisters! And they remembered them with a stunner of a pattern. Look at that - just get the fit right and you've got a whole closet full of looks. A satin evening gown, cute summer halter, little black dress, nice print work dress, it's all there. I'd love to see that slit-neck version done with some lovely hand-worked embroidery along the neckline and sleeves. Great dress!

They remembered our future designers as well. Seriously this pattern could win for most versatile. Look at all those options for dressing it up, dressing it down, embellishing, and just generally rocking this pattern. Fantastic!

Overall a nice collection. My ONLY suggestion for improvement would be to replace that second misses dress with a more fitted garment along the lines of the woman's or girl's. We like showing our figure as well! But really, that's it. As a line of blank canvas patterns waiting for a new designer-in-training to own them these patterns all wins, in my judgment. Disagree if you like, but I'm a fan of this line.

Though I do hope that one of the PR4 challenges is to design a wardrobe for Simplicity. I'd love to see what they could do!

1 comment:

Carla said...

Totally agree with you! My experience as a seamstress has been coming up with a crazy halloween costume idea, finding a pattern that most closely resembles my idea, and calling to my mom if things go horribly wrong.

This year, with some spare time on my hands I decided I should expand my horizons and try making some stuff I might be able to wear on a normal basis. Project Runway Simplicity Number 3507 caught my eye. I haven't finished it yet (got it today) but I'm loving it already. My only problem was when I tried to figure out how much fabric I needed at the store. The experienced employees who tried to help me were frustrated with the pattern, so many different options, difficult to judge exact lengths needed. I'm not fussy though, so I just over estimated. Next time I'll determine my lengths before I start picking out the fabric.

Oh and I love that I could probably make 3 different dresses that I like with the same pattern. Anyways it might be premature to say all this considering I don't have a finished product yet but I just wanted to say I passionately agree with you! :)

(And I also loved Project Runway, although only saw the first season.)