Wednesday, April 6, 2016

I've been testing patterns for over three years now, and in that time I've learned quite a lot about sewing, and the testing process in general.

I still occasionally take a risk on a new designer if I see their sample pics and the garment looks well made, and the size chart looks like they've got the measurements done accurately.

I don't take on a lot of tests at once, because I hate being overwhelmed.  But mostly, I have a few designers that I have tested for multiple times and I feel like they constantly push my experience levels and teach me new things and stretch my creativity.  Muffin Head Patterns is right at the top of that list, so when Frances asked if I would like to be part of a blog tour about testing patterns for her, I was very happy to oblige!

I've been sewing since I was a kid.  I had a great Aunt who lived down the hill from my grandma who taught me to sew squares into simple quilts.  Then there was the very simple hand sewn stuffies in middle school home ec class.  My first clothing projects were a pair of stretch satin PJs when I was like 12 and then a prom dress when I was a sophomore in high school.  Go big or go home, right?

Frances likes to make me perfect my techniques with her patterns though, and I love it.

This is the Vintage Baseball Uniform pattern - and I had SO much fun making this pattern.  Obviously I didn't do it baseball style, because I wanted a dress that I'd wear all the time.  This was actually the first woven garment I had made myself and I think by the end of it Frances was probably ready to smack me because I may have asked about 100 questions about adjusting the fit around the chest.  I think it makes my waist look small though, which makes me smile.  And I love the style so much.  When it was time to test the girl's version of this pattern, Inara was all over it.  In fact, we ended up driving an hour and a half to pick out fabric.

I love how Frances lets me go wild with my prints on these things... She's got such a classic pattern style that I love, and here we come with a sushi print and she just smiles and tells me how pretty my kid is.  I have to say, this pattern taught me to make a fantastic collar though, look how perfectly popped that thing is!

This is one of the older, now retired Muffin Head patterns - Coco... I'm sharing this one, because it has a funny story that goes with it.  Coco is supposed to look like the top picture - made of woven fabrics.  Which Inara clearly loves (note the smile), but Alyssa does not follow directions well sometimes (sorry Frances) and so I said, "what if I do it in know with a binding on the neck instead of a facing?" and Frances said "would you knock it off and finish the woven one first before going off script, The neck will be too wide with a binding." except she said it much more politely than that.  So I did both and clearly I should have done a neck band, not a binding, which she said, but I didn't listen, BUT, Inara wore both of these dresses until her hips got too wide to squeeze into the woven skirt anymore.  She loved the simple lines and called them her "rock star dresses."

Let's talk about Kimmie for a moment.  This is the nursing version.  There are various size options available for this pattern, but when we started originally, I giggled because there was NO way this was fitting me, and there was NO way I had any idea how to make this.  But Frances insisted I could do it. I was convinced I was going to fail.  The cool part here was that since we were sort of doing a bit of trial and error at the beginning, I took the straps/hooks off of an old bra that no longer fit, so it saved money that way.  Since it was a nursing bra I decided to line it in flannel, because it seemed like it might absorb a little, and you can even add a hidden layer of PUL, or just do the outer layer of the bra in PUL if you wanted and add a second hidden layer of flannel for a little extra absorbing.  Anyways, I had SO much fun testing this pattern.  I must have messaged Frances "Ummm..." about 10 times with a picture to make sure I was doing various steps right along the way, and I am really proud of the result here.  Who would have ever thought I could make a BRA!

There is also the Carol's Care line, which I jump on the chance to test whenever it comes up.  The patterns in this line are designed to benefit children and adults with special needs. The top left pattern is the Go Along Sensory Mat, which both of my kids actually love playing with.  I was truly impressed at the time and care that went into designing all of the activities in this pattern, and the marble maze is SO COOL!  I definitely went outside my comfort zone learning to sew some of the thing on this pattern.  The center and bottom patterns are both the Rock and Roll Adaptive Pants, which are designed for children who need help dressing, or are in wheelchairs.  I actually learned a lot about clothing for special needs kids when working on these pants, and I feel like it was something I hadn't considered at all before this pattern.  And the top right pattern is the Blair Adult Bib, which I actually took to the local assisted living center once I was done testing and they really liked it, so I think that the size is great and its nice to be able to personalize it for people you care about.

These ones are way cool... and I learned that cardboard is a useful thing to keep around! AND both of my kids now have their own Imagination Stations (center and bottom pics) and I LOVE my Sew It Goes  (top left and right pics) for when I have alterations to do.  These were so much fun to sew and I'm glad Frances reminded me to take time to sew for myself.

Okay, so let me show the ones I am really super proud of recently... and here is why... I feel like Muffin head patterns make sure that I always use proper technique to make and finish my patterns, and because of this Inara who has sensitive skin, will happily wear this woven patterns, which she often will not wear woven dresses (there are only like a handful of designers who I make woven dresses from because I know their techniques will ensure a comfy wear for her without me having to fiddle too much).  So now that I have technique down, I get to play more with fabrics... so here are some Muffin Head Patterns in more *fun* fabrics... which again, I'm sure makes Frances shake her head, but she always smiles and tells me how lovely my daughter looks and discusses all my feedback with me, so maybe she just thinks we have a weird eye for colors over here.

 This first one is actually NOT a tester, but it required a bit of mentoring from Frances, so I'm going to include it anyways.  I was part of a blog tour about women in history where your partner chose your person, and I was given Jackie O.  So I modified the Jackie dress... with some help from Frances.  She helped me make the dress into a V neck and we used the gathered skirt front and instead of gathering just made a big pleat in the front to re-create a Jackie O look.  I think for me, knowing that there is a designer there who I can nit-pick her brilliant brain like that makes me really happy.  She knew exactly what dress I was going for and helped me get the look I wanted.

These next two are tester favorites.  First up is the classic version of Jackie, in a sort of fantastic black satin with silver foil.  I'm really trying to get better at sewing with slippery fabrics, and this one was a little stiffer, so it seemed like a good one to work with.  I really love the finished dress, and so did Inara.  I feel like this pattern just has SO many options to go so many directions and its perfect for all sorts of occasions. I really love how Frances is okay with Inara being herself even with the classic style of her patterns... it lets us bring a little modern flair, while still having the clean classic lines that we love.

The last is Carol.  With it's clean lines and gorgeous pleats, this dress is a lovely holiday dress in pretty florals... or if you're us... you decide that it's time to get better at sewing with brocade and satin and you make it look like this.  There may have been some swearing during construction, but I really wanted to push myself with this pattern and I am so happy that I took the chance, because I just love the outcome.

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