As much as I love making dresses for the girl child, I have to admit she probably has enough for now. But shorts, on the other hand, she has hardly any of, and with the summer on the way she needs some for playing and going to the beach. These are the Elegance & Elephants Bubble Pocket Short pattern, Classic Style in size 3/4, made up in this coral and navy bubble-print fabric I bought at Ie in Paris about three years ago.
First things first: I love the design of these shorts; the big, gathered pockets are very cute & also practical for carrying the treasures that my little girl loves to pick up on her walks.
Second: The pattern gave me a giant headache.
On the whole I've been pleasantly suprised by the accuracy of the independently designed PDF patterns I've used, especially considering many of them are by self-taught pattern makers. And I don't like to be overly critical of someone's work, as I know a lot of effort goes in to drafting a pattern, but at the same time I do think that pattern makers have a responsibility to the people who have bought their product to make it as accurate as possible, because their customers are investing their money, time and materials in the pattern. I had googled this pattern and read other people's reviews before I started sewing, and several mentioned that the measurements given for the waistband facing (incorrectly labelled as the "back waistband facing" in the pattern - it goes all the way around) and leg cuffs were too long. As this is a PDF it would be simple for the pattern maker to correct the file - it's not a pattern piece that needs changing, just the measurements in the table - but the version I downloaded, several months after it was released, is still incorrect.
It wasn't a big deal to fix - I cut 3cm off each piece of the waistband facing and each leg cuff, but would be confusing for a beginner sewer. The pattern would also go together much more easily if it had some notches for seam matching. And I don't know why the side panel is in two sections, it could be cut in one piece which would mean one less seam - it isn't really decorative, as most of it's covered by the pocket.
The way the shorts are constructed was also very different to the usual way of constructing shorts or pants (but I couldn't understand why it was done so differently - I kept waiting for an "Aha!" moment, but there wasn't one).
The changes I made were:
- put basting stitches along the bottom of the pockets and gathered them before attaching them to the side panels
- basted the pockets to the side panels on three sides before attaching them to the front and back pieces. This meant the side panels and pocket were a single piece and much less fiddly.
- constructed each leg separately, before putting them together and sewing the crotch seam. This makes it easier to reinforce the central seam, and makes the legs sit better. The pattern has you construct the shorts in a cylinder, like a skirt, and then sew the two inner leg seams
- I encased the raw edges of the bottom leg hem inside the cuff, instead of attaching it like a knit band and overlocking, because it is no more work and gives a more finished result, and I thought the overlocked edges might be uncomfortable if they rubbed
So while I love the finished shorts, sewing them was a bit frustrating. The pattern is 43 pages long, with every single step photographed, which is not my preferred format - I like succinct instructions. I think the attraction of the incredibly detailed patterns is that they are helpful for beginners, but if it's aimed at beginners it's even more important that the pattern pieces are correct.
I noticed an error in a pattern by a different independent pattern company recently and shortly afterwards the designer sent out an updated pattern with an amendment to everyone who had bought it, so I would hope the designer of this pattern might do the same.
Anyway, all that said I will be making a second pair - I think having ironed out the gliches with this first pair, the next ones will be more fun to sew.