Monday, February 24, 2014

A Lola Fail

Well, I said I would sew the Victory Patterns Lola this month, and I did.  But it's not a winner.  In contrast to yesterday's post, I have a fair amount to say about this :-)

I've wanted to make the Lola dress for a couple of years, and finally bought the pattern a year ago.  When Andrea and I were in Michigan in December, we came across some two-sided merino wool jersey we thought would be a good match for this pattern.  And although the fabric wasn't expensive, it felt "special," so I decided I'd better make a muslin before cutting into it.  I headed over to JoAnn's to find some sweatshirt fabric, and came away with a piece in NEON pink because it made me happy.

And then I got stuck for a while.  Here's why:  according to the sizing on the envelope I need:

size 2 bust
size 6 waist
size 10 hip

Yikes!  Grading across 5 sizes?!  And on top of that, I've never made a princess-seamed garment.  Ever.  I tried to do some research on the interwebz, but I only found a couple of projects where the makers said they'd graded the pattern.  However, they didn't say how, just that they graded from x to y.

I thought long and hard about how to deal with this pattern, and finally came up with a method that I thought would work for me.  That in itself is pretty involved, and I'm not going to share how I did it because the end result doesn't warrant it, IMO.  That said, if you guys are interested and want to see what I did, I don't mind writing a separate post about it.  Let's just say, it was a lot more mathy than I'm comfortable with.

In the end I went with a size 6 bust, 8 waist and 10 hip.  That enabled me to only have to grade across 3 sizes, and I thought it would be OK to have a slouchier look on a sweatshirt dress.  I was also worried about the armholes - my previous experience with the VP Anouk dress made me suspect that the armholes on Victory Patterns are drafted higher and smaller than is comfortable on my body.

Well, I managed to look moderately cute in this shot, but you can probably see that the upper bodice is just unflatteringly loose.


Same here.  And the sleeves hit me at a very awkward place just below the bend of my elbow.


I feel like I want to take a couple inches out of the front center:


And it's no better from the back:


And yet, despite all that excess in my mid and upper back and at the waist, the shoulders and under arms are tight!  Remember, this is 2 sizes above how I measure on the chart.


If you look closely above, you can probably see how the neck band is flipping to the inside because that little contrast triangle is too heavy to lay flat.  So I had to smooth it down:


So, in spite of all my hard work, this dress is a no go for me.  It's a little sad - I'd thought I could at least wear it around the house because this fabric is so soft and cuddly.  But when I had it on to take these pictures, I couldn't wait to get it off again.  The shoulders and armholes are just too constricting.

I could probably use all the information I gathered from this muslin to make the pattern work for me.  But you know:  I don't think I'll bother.  This is one of those cases where I was really fulfilling an old desire - I loved this style a couple of years ago, but I love it less now.  I'm finding myself wanting a sleeker, more classic look these days (probably for a reason which I'll post about on Wednesday).  I don't think this silhouette does me any favors - it makes me look bigger than I really am, and who wants that?

No regrets though:  I said I'd do it, and I did.  I learned some things.  And now I can move on :-)

69 comments:

  1. Bravo! I sometimes think we sewists don't know when to leave something alone, that no matter how much we like the pattern or the fabric or other people's versions, it just not right. I'm guessing you could make this work, but sometimes it is better to just walk away and spend the time somewhere else.

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    1. Yeah, I'm just over it. I was already sort of over it before I even started! No use spending more precious time!

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  2. Oh no! I'm glad you shared your "fail" because I sometimes get down on myself when all I see in blogland is success. I wonder if I'm the only one that puts myself into things only to have them fail.
    I agree that it is way to big in the bodice for you - but I do like the bottom half ;-)
    I'm glad you went for it and have the courage to walk away. I sometimes buy patterns on a whim, really love the design, and then never make the pattern.
    It was a successful "fail"! LOL

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    1. I always share my fails, if only because the internet is my #1 research tool and I think that's true for most others who sew. Adding to the pool of information is a good thing! The more we can see a specific pattern on different body types and read about the experience of the maker, the more informed choices we can make for ourselves!

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  3. Sorry to hear yours didn't work out. I'm sort of in the middle of trying to get this pattern to work. My first muslin looked great in the front but awful in the back. Haven't gotten the gumption to try the second one yet.

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    1. Even though this didn't work for me (as I said, my style is changing so I'm not that much into this look any more) I do think it's a great pattern. I've seen this dress look adorable on plenty of others. For someone who digs this dress, I think it would be worth it to do the work to get a good fit.

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  4. Aww, I’m really sorry that the Lola didn’t work for you, Gail!
    Adjusting the bust is really easy with princess seams: I just chopped some of the curve off the side panels on my Lolas. The original pointy curve looked rather ridiculous on me too. (:
    Just mentioning this in case you wanna try some other princess-seamed bodice. I applaud you for knowing what you do or don’t want to wear any more, and I hope you’ll find another lovely pattern for the “special” merino jersey!

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    1. Yeah, I guess it wasn't meant to be! Honestly, I'm not a huge fan of princess seams, style-wise. Even in RTW I tend to shy away from them. Too bad, because everyone says they're easier to fit than a darted bodice! I think what's going on here is that Victory Patterns' block is just too far from my body shape and I'm too inexperienced with princess seams.

      But I think we've already found a new idea for the special merino, and it's much more in line with how I want to dress now!

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  5. Aw man! I was going to try this potentially for "New to me pattern company". Hmmm.

    I hadn't looked at the sizing until now. I too span a bunch of sizes...4.

    Oh well. LOL!

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    1. I'm not done with Victory Patterns! Kristiann has such a flair for design. However, I will be making muslins of every single new pattern I try, and will probably be dealing with those armholes before I even start!

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  6. Oh no! I was really curious to hear how you liked the pattern because I've been on an unblogged Lola binge these past two weeks. I love the color combo you chose and think it looks really comfy, but I probably couldn't wait to take it off either if the arms didn't fit right :(

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    1. Oooh, do you mean you made one? I'm so curious to know how it worked for you. I remember us talking about making this dress in the fall.

      As a pattern I like it. I think Victory Patterns are always really well done - the instructions are clear and well-written, all the pieces match up like they should. It's just that (as I said above) I think she's drafting for a body shape far different from mine.

      That said, I have it on my list to try out the Roxanne and the Nicola this spring :-)

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    2. I actually made two :) I used a straight size 6 for the top and graded from a 6 to a size 12 on the skirt pieces. I think it fits well for me, but I'd probably try taking it in at the waist next time because it's just a bit too large there.

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    3. I'd like to compare notes with you about how you did that grading! Maybe I went about it all wrong!

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    4. I'll have to email you some pictures. I doubt you did anything wrong, and it sounds like your grading was a lot more complex than mine.

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  7. Oh what a shame, I love the colour combo on you, it looks super. I guess some patterns just aren't meant to be.

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    1. That's right! And it's just fabric :-)

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  8. I was going to make this soon but, after your experience, I'm rethinking. I mean, I'm not quite as multi-sized as you - and I do love princess seams for fitting - but I don't want to look like I'm wearing a sack and I wonder if the boobs, plus the blousey waist, will be a bad thing for me. Hmmm...

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    1. All this stuff is fixable, and this is a muslin, after all. If you love the design enough to work through it, I think it's worth it. I just don't think I do!

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  9. oh what a bummer! i love this pattern so much, but still haven't bought it. that is quite the sizing to grade across though. i do love many of the designs, hope to try a few this year!

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    1. Can't win 'em all! I am going to be trying out the Nicola and the Roxanne - soon, I hope!

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  10. Aw, man! Good for you for trying the ambitious grading. Tight underarms and shoulders are a no-go for me these days, too. I'll bet someone will love to receive this dress if you decide to let it go - the colors are lovely and it looks well-made! I have to lower armholes and bust points in almost every pattern I've used, so this is good information!

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    1. That's encouraging - I haven't really had to lower armholes in any patterns other than Victory, so I don't have a lot of experience with it. I might pick your brain about that when I get to my next Victory Pattern!

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  11. Oh no :(

    That pink neon fabric is so awesome and looks lovely on you! Buy more! Make something else!

    I have plans to make a Lola - it always makes me nervous when the internet does not have that many completed makes. Did you base your size on completed garment measurements or body measurements? I've traced the smallest size all over even though my body measurements put me at B=4; W=6; H<2. We shall see; we shall see.

    I have a theory that when pattern makers grade sizes down, they don't take into account that smaller women don't miniaturise. e.g. I still got normal armholes even if my hips are girl sized. Also, e.g. on the Cambie, the pockets get proportionately smaller. That ain't right! I might be little but I need BIG pockets :)

    I hope the new idea for the merino is a Kitschy Coo Lady Skater? Because that pattern is the bomb. :) And Amanda isn't even paying me.

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    1. Well, to be honest, I chose my size mostly because of the grading I wanted to do. But I looked at both the body and garment measurements when making that choice.

      No, it's not a Skater dress! I don't have that one, but I've made several versions of the Dixie DIY Ballet Dress, which is basically the same thing :-)

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  12. Awww man, I'm sorry that this didn't work out because your color combination looks amazing! Honestly, sometimes you have to just walk away from things that are more work than you want them to be. I just made the new Coco dress pattern, which I'm sure I could've drafted myself, but you know what? I don't really enjoy drafting, so I'd rather drop $10 on a PDF and save myself the time I would've spent grumpily fussing about with rulers and whatnot. Life's too short!

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    1. That's right - you've got to pick your battles!

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  13. Boo! Sorry it didn't work for you! I had to do some grading too (I think I did it all between the armscye and waist seam, so that the waist seam pieces would match up on top and bottom. I also had to slash and spread the sleeve piece to add more ease at the shoulder. I was using a really super stable sweatshirt knit at the time, so I figured it was just that the fabric didn't stretch, but maybe it was also a drafting issue. I also lowered the front of the waist and raise the back - I love the high-low seam, but it was too dramaitic for my curves!
    Hope your next project is a hit! :)

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    1. Yeah, that high-low waist seam made things tricky!

      Are you saying you did your grading in the middle of the side panel with a slash and spread? I did all mine at the princess seams, so maybe that was part of my problem! Princess seams just confuse me!

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  14. The fabric is fabulous, love the neon pink. But I can see exactly what you are talking about with the problems. I avoid princess seam patterns like the plague...well any fitted bodice pattern mostly. But only because I always have do soooooo many adjustments like you, that I sometimes feel I might as well have drafted the thing myself. I've learnt through experience that I can drape my own (fitted) designs on my mannequin (which is super easy - the non-fitted styles I'm not so great at yet) and they fit me perfectly. So sometimes a copy the bodice bits and use the skirt bits of a pattern like that. Thanks for sharing your troubles. Hopefully your next one will be a hit!

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    1. I will try a princess seamed garment again, mostly because I'm curious about how it works. But I'll start from a pattern that has measurements closer to my own!

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  15. Sad that it didnt work out, but I'm glad you're upbeat about it. You have a lovely figure, and sleek and classy sounds good!

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  16. I do love the color block look of the dress but I'm sorry the fit wasn't spot on. Seems to be the story of my knitting life at the moment!!

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    1. Sometimes things just work out that way! I don't expect to be 100% successful!

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  17. Thanks for your honesty about this pattern. I love it, but I don't think it'll work for me. I think the style works best for people who are teensy tiny. I have a large bust, and I think the extra hip action brought by the pockets would make me look huge all over.

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    1. Well, I do want to be clear that it's not the pattern's fault! I tried something different and it didn't work - it's all on me!

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  18. wow - Been there, Done That! I classify myself as a Pear, but really I'm more of a Triangle! Once I started sewing I finally figured out why I Hated trying to shop for RTW clothes. Because, it's no unusual for me to have a 4 size difference, top to bottom PLUS I'm tall. Buying clothes at the Mall? Fuggedaboutit!
    :-) Chris

    PS Check out my Giveaway, too -
    Vogue 8546 - Five Easy Pieces (8-10-12-14)
    http://sewtypical.blogspot.com/

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    1. Hahaha! Yes - at least with making one's own clothing, there's the possibility of getting a good fit!

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  19. LOVE THIS PINK!!! I just got the Lola pdf with the goal to make it as an around the house dress - I would have to size from a 4 bust to a 14 hips, soooooo yeah - still going to give it a whirl though - bummer that it didn't work for you! Thanks for the tip about the armhole! We'll see what happens ;)

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    1. I hope you're more successful with it than I was! Check JoAnn's - they had sweatshirt fabric in 3 different neon colors: pink, yellow and orange! I love them all, but the pink really spoke to me!

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  20. Huh, that's too bad! I love the peach and black together. I've not made this pattern, but have two of her other patterns and notice that the smallest size is too big for me, so I have to grade it down to an invented size 0 first before I sew them.

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    1. Oh my goodness, you're tiny! I'm not sure I would have the fortitude to do all that work of grading to a size not given. Of course, if it were the only option I might rethink that attitude!

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  21. How frustrating that its so big in the bodice but still too tight in the arms. I can understand you not wanting to bother with trying to get a good fit, particularly if your style is changing. I'm pleased you're not too disappointed. Can't wait to see what you have planned for the special fabric.

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    1. I know - I thought that was kind of weird! If you'd told me 3 years ago that I'd have more trouble fitting my upper body than my lower, I wouldn't have believed you! But my shoulders, back and arms really give me fits sometimes!

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  22. The dress might not be right, but those colours on you are fantastic!

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    1. It is a great color! If I weren't on the Diet, I'd consider getting some more! I have started to think about cutting the bottom part off and trying this as an oversized sweatshirt. But I think the shoulders and armholes would just bother me too much.

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  23. Oh that's a shame. That neon makes me smile. If you're happy with the bottom half you could make it into a lounge stretchy wear skirt with a black waistband? Or a scrunchie! (haha that was my mums suggestion as a teenager whenever I had wadders or left over fabric 'make some scrunchies')

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    1. Hahaha! That's funny! Mine is: you can always make a bag out of it!

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  24. oh it's sad for the fabric! and the time spent, but there are probably too many issues to tackle..
    I totally understand what you mean about fulfilling an old desire, it's a little like you really have to do it to find peace but somewhere deep inside of you, you know it won't work :)

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    1. Isn't it funny how those old desires can sometimes get a hold on you?

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  25. I do love that fabric .... boo to it not working out. this time.

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    1. I've had a lot of sewing successes lately - I guess I was due for a fail! Gotta keep the universe balanced!

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  26. I just made this! But I have different fit expectations at 17 weeks pregnant! That being said I'd be curious how I'd feel in the dress not pregnant. I too prefer more fitted garments.

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    1. Oh interesting! I hope you'll post yours - I'm curious to see how it worked for you!

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  27. The fabric is really cute, but you are right, this isn't the dress for you. Good to get it out of your system though! And I'm intrigued about your news.

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    1. Hehehe! It's not really a big deal. And yet, it is a big deal! How's that for intriguing?!

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  28. Sorry it didn't work out! But it is good to know when to let a pattern go, I think.

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  29. Oh wow, how interesting! Thank you for this post! I haven't yet started my Lola (but it's only Winter sewing list), but I'm going to have to do some detective work to see how it will work on me. I'm worried about the arm holes, because my arms are not very thin. Thanks again for the post and all the details and photos. Sorry about it not working!

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    1. I have a feeling this will look a lot cuter on you than it does on me! But do take some flat pattern measurements on the arms first - I didn't do that and it was a mistake!

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  30. Such a shame, I thought that would be a super cute dress on you. It looks like you need to go down about two sizes all over then maybe let the sleeves out some. But the sleeves themselves don't look tight just the underarm, so maybe lowering that might work? But I totally understand if you are done with this one and don't want to spend any more time on it. Plenty more patterns out there!

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    1. It does look really big, doesn't it? But it's actually just right at the hips under those pockets - that's how big my bum is!

      I don't know - I keep going back and forth. Part of me loves this color so much that I consider fixing it. But another part of me doesn't want to bother with something that would only be worn at home anyway!

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  31. Awww...but it's so cute. You can't take it in some?

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    1. Yeah, I could. Just not sure I want to spend the effort!

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  32. Awww... that's too bad. But if it's not your style then definitely not worth the effort i n making it work. Have you seen the short, sweatshirt version that Miriam Tribe made? This is what I had in mind for Lola as the dress version is so not me (though adorable on everyone else!) and I do love a good sweatshirt. I'll keep the narrow arms/shoulders in mind though when I do eventually dig into the pattern. As always, thanks for sharing the fail. Would the Ludivine be an appropriate substitute for the fabric?

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    1. Haven't seen Miriam's Lola - will look it up! Yes, I think the fabric is destined to become a Ludivine, if I can get past the muslin stage successfully!

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  33. Love the color! Great attitude!

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