pattern review · sewing

Pattern Review: Simplicity 8172 (Kimono-Style Jacket)

Overview

Featuring dolman sleeves and a bias-tape neck facing, this simple jacket is very easy to sew. I made it in a cotton voile with beautiful drape, making it the perfect piece for light Texas layers. The tapering bias and flounce mean it should also be a serviceable cover-up to wear while nursing. I made view D.

Virtues

True to its claim on the envelope, this jacket is quite easy to sew. The dolman sleeves are cut as part of the bodice, which not only expedites cutting and sewing, but gives an easy, loose fit that doesn’t require much fiddling. The sleeves and bottom flounce are finished with a narrow hem, and the only other finishing required is the neck facing, which uses one long piece of single-fold bias tape. The pattern offers several views, including two that don’t include the long flounce. The design wouldn’t work well with a stiff fabric such as quilting cotton, but for anything with drape, this is a lovely pattern.

I had a piece of cotton voile in my stash that I’d been saving for a special project, and the simplicity of this pattern recommended it. Voile is nearly sheer, so I didn’t want to use it for a dress (I do own a slip, but my millennial self hasn’t used it in years). However, transparency doesn’t hurt for a jacket such as this. Additionally, I thought the light, soft cotton would allow me to wear it even in Texas summers, when you may want an extra layer of clothing in the chilly grocery store, but don’t want to wear something that will feel stifling once you’re back in the sun.

Once finished, I was so pleased with the fit and drape. I cut a size “medium” based on my pre-pregnancy measurements, and it fits nicely. The cut of the bodice and flounce create a subtle waist shaping that provides a nice shape even in a flowing, loose garment.

Problems

I found no problems with the pattern itself, although I do sometimes find the ordering of instructions in Simplicity patterns odd. For example, I don’t understand why it tells you to hem the bottom of the garment several steps before hemming the sleeves, when it makes so much more sense (to me) to do like steps together if possible.

Knowing that my fabric would be prone to fray, I zig-zagged around every piece of the garment *before* I stitched a single seam. (If you had a serger, that would provide an even more secure finish). This will hopefully extend the lifespan of the garment and looks better than raw edges. However, because this jacket has no closures, the seams are going to show sometimes while I wear it, and French seams would have looked so much nicer.

If you use a very lightweight fabric, using a walking foot will be very helpful. Without the walking foot, my fabric was sliding all over the machine, but once I put the walking foot on, I had no trouble keeping my layers lined up nicely.

My only real complaint is that most of the seams in the garment are supposed to be 3/8″ instead of the standard 5/8″. This was printed on the pattern pieces, but I wish they would have reiterated it in the directions. I actually used 5/8″ seams for the sleeves before I realized my mistake, but the fit is forgiving enough that it didn’t really hurt anything.

Modifications

As I mentioned above, I wish I had made this with French seams. If I do another in a similar fabric, I will definitely plan on that. Also, I made my flounce from the same fabric as the main body, rather than in a contrasting pattern or color. I think the contrast would have looked nice, but I didn’t have any comparable fabric already at home. I might also add a button-and-loop closure so that I have the option to keep it closed. While I’m great with child, however, I think it looks nicer open.

Conclusion

From a “whole cloth” point of view, this pattern was a success: I used fabric I already had on hand, and my mother supplied the bias tape from her considerable stash of sewing supplies. Because of the jacket’s loose fit, I can wear it comfortably even at 7 1/2-months pregnant, but the drape will mean it should still look attractive when I wear it post-partum. Given the right fabric, I would definitely make this pattern again.

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