As some of you know, I teach sewing classes in my little neck of the woods. I've been having trouble finding a good pattern for my second level class for those who now know how to use their machine but need to learn to read patterns. Especially since my students are, inevitably, either pregnant or male. Seriously. I did have two who were female and not pregnant ... but they were in grade school. So the standard PJ pants bit is out (besides, I always hated those so I'm letting my bias steer me away from them) and robes just take up so much fabric. So for my latest class I tried out Simplicity 2824, a sewing for Dummies apron that's sized for both kids and women and, I figure, men can use it too. Or just suck it up and make it for someone else because, really, I'm tired of trying to work with every possible contingency. Ahem.
V was my only student for this class which was great for testing out a pattern. I'm still learning to read instructions as a newbie and have that bad habit of filling in instruction gaps with my own experience, something a newbie can't do. So while it looked like a good pattern, it's always helpful to have someone else who isn't used to interpreting sketchy instructions go through it. And V found some problems...
By and large it's a good pattern, very basic, very little fabric required, and very simple with a lot of the steps building on previous ones to really help the beginner learn. However if Simplicity is going to market these to total newbies (and I figure that's what the Sewing for Dummies label is targeting) then they really need to get the instructions just about perfect. Case in point: for the little tab that holds the D ring for the top strap it tells you to fold the little rectangle piece "lengthwise." Dictionary.com defines this as being along the length of a piece. Ok. Except in this case you're NOT suppose to fold it that way. You're supposed to fold it with the short edges together. And nothing beyond just looking at it and realizing that gets you the right size and shape indicates that they're wrong in the instructions. It's a small point but, when you're helping a newbie who wants to get each step just right, it's important.
Fortunately beyond that the pattern went together smoothly and V absolutely loves her new apron and was talking about other patterns she'd like to tackle so it looks like she's hooked. :)
For those considering this pattern I would recommend going with a lighter weight cotton for the ties and regular for the body - V chose the opposite and had a tough time turning the thin straps and ties inside out. And I would never try making this from heavier fabric - it'd be an utter pain to get those edges folded and sewn. For that much work I want a fancier apron to show for it!
Still, it worked out well beyond those notes and I'll be using it in the future for other second level sewing classes. And it does sew up quickly and makes a great gift for all those chefs on the list so for that it's a win. :)