I have recently started sewing myself knit dresses. They are casual and easy to wear, yet you look put together. The problem quickly became that of time. I am a busy gal living in a tiny house (well it wasn't this tiny until my yarn business started taking over the house). I don't have lots of time to devote to sewing and I certainly don't have the space to leave sewing projects out for long periods of time. Imagine my excitement when I stumbled upon SproutPatterns.com!
For those of you I haven't reached with the good news yet, Sprout Patterns is an offshoot of Spoonflower (yes, the people that digitally print your order of fabrics from indie designers). They had the brilliant idea that if they could digitally print fabrics to order, they could print pieces of sewing patterns to order as well.
Remember those Raggedy Ann dolls that your grandma would buy printed on fabric? She would cut them out and sew them up? Maybe a CareBear? Anywhoo... this is the idea but WAY cooler.
I browsed the patterns available on Sprout Patterns and chose to sew the Moneta dress pattern by Colette . (I had actually bought the pattern for the dress over a year ago but never got around to finding fabric for it.) I then chose my size using the sizing chart to fit my bust and waist (because the gathered skirt would accommodate my larger hips). I glanced at some of the dress patterns they had mocked up on the pattern page, but quickly decided that I wanted a custom fabric design.
When I was looking for fabric for my Anna dress, my first stop was at Spoonflower.com. They have a multitude of geeky fabrics (and other modern fabric too, but I think geek is chic). I fell in love with a pattern that featured books called So Many Books by Roby Riker. I loved it but guessed that due to my procrastination in deciding to start the dress it would not arrive in time to sew the Anna for my event. But the design would be even more perfect as a casual knit Moneta. The drop down menu suggested the fabrics that would work with this particular pattern and I chose a cotton spandex jersey.
I received my fabric in the mail with all of my dress pattern pieces printed for me. All I had to do was get out the rotary cutter and go to town. Where it usually takes me two mom days to cut pattern pieces ("mom days" allow for frequent breaks to pour milk, referee fights, and listen to stories about our stuffed animal elephants), the Sprout Pattern dress took 15 minutes to cut out. There was no print or taping the pattern pieces together. There was no fighting to line up the grain line with the pattern. I was not worried that I would accidentally cut a piece with the design upside down. It was freeing. I felt like half the battle was already won.
The pattern instructions were sent to me via my Sprout Pattern login so I could print them out and see what other notions I needed. I used regular elastic over the clear elastic (which irritates my skin terribly). Other than that, I was off to the races.
The dress came together quickly for my first wearable knit dress. I used my sewing machine with a regular presser foot and a lighting bolt stitch to sew the dress and then used my serger to finish the edges (though that could be done with a sewing machine and a wide zigzag or other edge finishing stitch if you don't have a serger).
Sprout Patterns is definitely worth a look! They are adding new indie sewing patterns all the time. You can sew garments or if you are concerned with your ability to sew a garment, start with a project bag. You can spend a whole day at work mocking up new projects in different fabric designs (trust me, I have spent hours mocking up a few dresses made with taco themed fabrics). The time saved in cutting pattern pieces and not second guessing your pattern placement is enormous. (Is this really lined up with the grain? Are all my pieces going to fit? Am I cutting the piece with the fabric design upside down?) It saves me time and gets me right to the good stuff.
One drawback is that because the pattern pieces are printed for you, your ability to customize your garment is limited. Some argue that the reason people sew their own garments is so that they can customize to their body and this printing defeats the purpose. I see where they are coming from, however, for the most part the pattern you choose can set you up for success here.
If you pick a dress that is fitted across the bodice and then flairs out at the waist, you only have to worry about fitting your chest and waist measurements because your dress will have enough fabric to cover your hips. Sprout Patterns has suggested ordering the larger size when a customization is needed and slimming down in areas where needed, though I hear they are working on a way to customize more precisely in the future. If you are very tall and usually need to extend patterns for length, this may be particularly difficult depending on the pattern you choose.
What's that? You don't sew? Don't want to? No time? No problem. Sprout Patterns has just launched their White Glove Service where they will sew it for you. This is only available for select patterns (of which the Moneta dress is one) and it does cost more, but if you really want those sheep themed leggings for Rhinebeck or Doctor Who themed dress just in time for your next geeky convention, this could be your ticket.
I found my experience with Sprout Patterns a great bridge to sewing the occasional garment. I would love to sew my whole wardrobe, but I'm just not there in my life yet. This is a great step towards that ideal though. I've already ordered another project: a sheep themed duffel bag to take to Rhinebeck.
This is a cool new idea and I'd love to hear your questions and comments.