Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Metza Metz

That's my childhood Italian slang for so-so (which you say while rotating your hand back and forth), and my general opinion of the "blouse" pattern from Connie Crawford's Butterick 5053.

CC stresses that her patterns are designed, sized and graded so that you should pick your blouse/top size by your full bust measurement. My full bust is 47-48" (depending on the hour/day/week!) so I chose the 1X, which is one size larger than the pants pattern I made up yesterday. I made it up with no alterations whatsoever. Clearly, this bust circumference isn't working for me. My chest is being smushed and there are all kinds of unsewn dart folds radiating around the girls.

To more clearly illustrate that point, here's what happens when I lift my arms and don't immediately pull the top back down. It gets stuck on the "terrain." Nice, eh?

A good thing about this pattern, though, is that it does not have the linebacker shoulders you see when commercial patterns are graded up to larger sizes. My shoulders are on the narrow side. I always chop off at least 1/2" from other patterns (even after reducing for the linebacker factor). This one is fitting pretty well in the shoulders. And, as I guessed a few days ago when preflighting the pattern against one of my TNTs, it is definitely drafted for more square shoulders, as I have. I don't think I'd need to make any further "squaring" adjustment. I would still need to take in the shoulder width but that's my body, not the pattern in this case. If you do not have narrow shoulders, it should fit you here great.

Here's a shot of the side. The sleeve is a little too snug, and waaaay too long, but that's to cover up my unattractive arms, right? ;-) I've cut the sleeve on the hem line so this is the finished length. All of these problems are easy fixes. It is hanging pretty well on grain, though, so that's good. The armhole is a bit low, but not nearly as low as I see with Big 3/4 patterns. Again, another easy fix.

The back has problems too. It's too long between shoulder and waist, which is a problem I have on most other patterns as well. It's probably also too long in the front in the same area but it's harder to tell since it's too tight across the girls. It's not as snug as it looks here while I'm trying to take a back angle shot but since I chose a pattern that is one size larger than the pants I just made, I expected to have a bit more room at the hips. Wrong. It's at the verge of too tight. Why wouldn't the sizing be consistent across pieces in the same envelope? Speaking of envelopes and hips, this pattern in the smaller size range includes a side seam vent at the bottom with pattern pieces that jut out at the bottom, if you know what I mean. Not hard to make up myself but why doesn't the plus size pattern include this same detail as the smaller range? For heaven's sake, if anyone needs a vent at the hips, it's us with the bodacious booties.

Here I've pinned out a 1/2" tuck across the back. If I wasn't trying to juggle a camera and mirror, it would look a lot better and the neck wouldn't be gaping.

Now that I've covered the fit issues, I'll address the style problems. This is not sold as a tee shirt pattern. It's a "blouse" pattern for wovens. As such, it's way too plain and tent-y. It's almost a swing silhouette, which just billows out from a full bust. It would have even more of a tent factor if I went up another size, instead of doing an FBA, so it actually fit around my bust. The narrow scoop neck is frumpy and, frankly, any more narrow and I couldn't get it over my head. A more open neckline would be much more flattering on nearly any woman, plus or not. In a woven, this top needs sewn bust darts. All those wrinkles around the armhole are distracting and do not flatter full busts. The bottom hemline does have a slight curve, which actually is a flattering detail. Finally, one flattering thing. ;-)

Here's my TNT tee pattern on top of this blouse pattern. Yes, my pattern is for knits but it does not have negative ease. It's not too far off overall, but I don't need another basic top so I won't be fiddling with it. Because the shoulder area does seem to be a better fit than usual Big 3/4 patterns, if you don't already have a TNT, maybe it would be a good jumping off point for you?

And here endeth my experimentation with Connie Crawford patterns.


  1. Debbie, your posts on fitting are just wonderful and so helpful. I have been teaching myself to fit and sew for myself for many years, and am still learning and making sense of it all. A bit like a jigsaw puzzle sometimes! When the fit is good it's "couture". When it's wrong, it's "homemade". At least I have a few couture pieces in my wardrobe now!

  2. Thank you Debbie for the explanation of your thoughts. It is very helpful and gives me more confidence to make the alterations that I need. Elaine

  3. 'Preflighting,' what a great term. I appreciate these posts; it's nice to know not only what works or doesn't work on someone, but why and how it might turn out for me.

    I, too, haven't seen what the big whoop is for the CC patterns - haven't yet seen a garment that makes me think "wow, that's great." Maybe it's a better option than most of the Big 4 for plus sizes, but there are so many other choices out there nowadays (not least of which is altering a pattern to fit).

  4. Thanks for "taking one for the team."

  5. The top is even worse than the pants. If I were a plus size woman with little sewing experience, I would weep at the results of this outfit and wonder what was wrong with me! If one is marketing to this segment, one should take extra care to get it right--many new sewers trust the pattern and blame themselves when things don't work out. And that's a real disservice.

  6. Thanks for both of these entries, Debbie. I was just shaking my head at the real examples that CC uses on her website. I totally agree with Nanflan! Thanks for experimenting and giving us the scoop!

  7. Not worth the money or time. How can you fit a large bust without darts! No can do. This is a boring and unimaginative top that is badly cut to boot. Not worth the time to fix the problems. But, thanks to you we all know that now.

  8. This evening it is fruit tea that I almost spat onto my keyboard!
    First off I wonder how you got it over your head at all!

    I have a 46" bust so I'll just turn some of that extra fabric into the neckline and change the shape. The remainder goes into the hem.
    At first, I didn't intend to change the lines but now that I have seen it in 3D, I think I'll try to make it at least wearable, even as a PJ.

    This afternoon I worked on the pants pattern. I added some width to those horrid tapered legs...can't stand them myself. Then I turned the waist allowance down and found quite a bit missing in the allowance at the back side seam. I added paper and reshaped. It helped with the waves but there is still about a quarter inch of waves left. I'll just stretch while stitching since I'll be working with a heavy knit. The CF seam needed straightening too, a tad, like quarter inch. CB seam needed squaring off too. The error 'seams' to be in the truing of the shape of the back waist allowance.
    I true my patterns with a large right angled triangle and my french curves.

    Debbie, this has been really interesting. I am a bit disappointed because the patterns did seem so promising. I was always concerned with the 'frump' factor but tried to convince myself that it was only in the much larger sizes.

    Now off I go to cut through that pattern. Thanks again. It has been most revealing and entertaining.

  9. Debbie ~ I understand why you are doing the series on the CC patterns and appreciate the lessons on fit...however, I refuse to purchase these patterns. I think they are an insult to plus size women because they are basically big fitting tents! Who wears this stuff (and that's a kind word for it!) I totally agree with Nan that these patterns do a disservice to the beginning plus size sewist and it pisses me off that Butterick is passing this crap off as fashion!

  10. Debbie, I'm coming out of lurkdom to tell you how much I enjoy yr work. Yr such a talented lady.I never understood the attraction to CC patterns .Visually they're not flattering and look dated. I was hoping that the fit would compensate for there lack thereof.
    Thanks for saving me the headache!


  11. Thanks for this fitting "expose" Debbie!!! I too was getting kind of "bummed out" with her on the list -- not to mention the ppl yelling bloody murder if anyone even dared to *question* her assumptions! I have tried one of her patterns & had email correspondence with her regarding fit. She continues to ascertain that I should choose pattern size by full bust size --- and me with a DDD bust & ski slope shoulders... -- I *know* how to do an FBA, thankyouverymuch!!!! But she insists no, either stick with full bust size (and live with the results) -- or else stick to princess line patterns (her fallback position, if you've noticed). What if I want a t-shirt that doesn't come in a princess line version??????

    Thanks for *showing* what a lot of us have been *feeling*!!!


  12. Debbie, I know you do not know me but you seem to have great knowledge of fitting pants and I really need help. May I email you?

  13. Hi, Debbie, it's Jane in KC (from the old PMB list). So interesting to see your review of CC's patterns - and so enlightening! Thanks! Seems like CC has provided patterns that will go around the larger person, period. Kind of like my opinion of Petite Plus patterns, of which I've actually sewn up a couple. You are not really the size person CC designs for, in spite of what Butterick would have us believe, and you DO have a shape - hence your gripes about her pattern!) I have actually had better luck choosing "regular" patterns based on body type, a la Darlene Miller. That woman made more sense to me than anyone we've ever had as a list host.

  14. Thank you for posting your findings. Your post is a lesson on fitting! I bought a CC pattern a few months ago, but I haven't even considered using it yet. I don't think I'll be pulling it out any time soon. I think that top would work for you – as long as you didn't move! ;)

  15. Hi Debbie.I tried this same pattern after a long sewing drought.I was really fed-up with it very quickly,for all the reasons you have described.I have smaller 'girls' than you but I'm a bit bigger in the hip.This was THE most unflattering top I have ever made-and that's saying something after 30+ years of sewing!The tent effect was NOT flattering..... As some others have noted,there's a definite "Emperors new clothes" reaction to these patterns.

  16. Thanks so much for your CC report and pictures. I run like mad from a woven top that you pull over your head, it can be nothing more than a tent.

  17. Could I ask you whether you do a 'standard' FBA on your tops or do you have to start afresh with each and every one?

  18. I haven't read ALL the comments, so if I'm redundant, please forgive me.
    It appears to fit relatively well until you get to the bust.
    What if you did the full bust adjustment, and then rotated the increase into the arms eye - the dart would point southwest or southeast - I've found that dart really pulls in the fullness and then the garment lays relatively close to my body.



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