Wednesday, September 7, 2016

An Adventure in Mishaps OR This Shark Shirt Bites.

They say life's not an adventure until things start going wrong, and if that's the case, this was one adventurous shirt. I knew I wanted to make a fun new shirt for my shark-obsessed daughter, who recently grew out of her My Little Pony Peasant Top. She's an active kid, so I wanted something feminine but practical, and Etsy is full of dress patterns that are easy to modify into tops. Or so I thought. This shirt was a lesson in *not* purchasing your pattern at the start of your allotted sewing time.

No, I will not be linking to the maker of this pattern. You'll see why shortly.
The pattern I selected was the Reese Dress by Pink Poodle Bows - the simplicity of it, and the practical-but-feminine shape appealed in photos. But as soon as I downloaded it, I knew I had a problem: the pattern itself is terrible. First off, the size chart on the dress is determined by length. Length! Not as in "here's what the length should be for it to fall at the calf, here's what it should be for the knee or ankle." but "if you want a dress this length, you should make size 4T." Uh... length is easily the least critical parameter I use when selecting a dress for my kid. What about chest measurement? What about arms? Stuff is way easier to hem than adjust the sleeves on, I'm just saying.

You have to admit the print is beautiful
But, the kids were out with my husband, and this was my opportunity to work, so I pressed on. I cut into a beautiful ($15 a yard, legacy) Robert Kaufman shark print, and hoped upon hope that the pattern's sizing was reasonably close to storebought. Which, it wasn't. Well, maybe on average it was, but the body was way too big, and the arms were just about right for my child, who is a little on the skinny side. If the whole *thing* were big, that'd be liveable - too-big clothing is a problem time can solve in kids. But having sleeves that fit now and a body that will probably fit later... that was no good. Time to modify!

Anyone who's been following this blog for any length of time knows I have made exactly NINE articles of clothing from a pattern in my life. 5 of which were actually variations on the Tie Dye Diva Peasant Dress, leaving my experience limited to 4 unique patterns and an add-a-strap tutorial. So point being, I am not exactly a master sewist. But I don't have infinite time or infinite amounts of this limited-run fabric, so into the woods I went.

Yes, little A, that is the appropriate face to make
The end result involved some pintucks, a major shortening (which was to be expected when transitioning from dress to shirt), a grey contrast band to hide the part of the shirt I couldn't bear to cut off and so pleated for future growth potential. All things told, I'm pretty happy with it. But I will never, EVER be buying a Pink Poodle Bows pattern again! Lesson learned, read the reviews on etsy, don't just look at the star ratings for everyone who's happy the PDF came quickly. At least it came out cute anyway, and I get some of the design credit this way.

And, we got a smile in the end.


  1. Just look at the smile on her face sitting there on the white swing. She is incredibly happy with her sharks and that is what is most important. If the body is too big, well, it shows off the large scale print better. At least you got to express some of your creativity in the tucked hem and leaned a lot about pattern adjustment - er, pattern overhaul. I remember a time when a certain college seamstress made the costuming for a pregnant queen in a Shakespeare play with no pattern at all. She did a darn good job, too!

  2. It turned out super cute! Thanks for sharing at Sew Cute Tuesday!

  3. Well, you are certainly quite talented for pulling this off! In the end, I hope you got a sense of accomplishment. Autumn clearly got a shirt that she really likes!