Tuesday, 10 July 2012


As if my brain doesn't have enough to do at the moment, what with reading bad handwriting in the thankfully dwindling exam paper pile, figuring out what a student means to write as opposed to what they actually wrote and should I give them a mark or not; in my downtime, I decided to give the German Pattern Company a try. As the internet shopping parcels arrive regularly I had the pattern and the fabric ready to go and choose this rather delightful summer dress (British weather be damned!).
First up I must say that the pattern pieces from this company are well marked and printed on a paper somewhere between printer paper and tissue - so not too damaging to the fabric scissors. Each pattern has a full colour photograph of the finished garment - no cartoons or sketches - and so provides a good visual reference. This is absolutely necessary as the instructions look like this..... not a diagram in sight!
 Between my schoolgirl German, google translate (crap) and teenage son's school dictionary, I managed, I think, to get the gist of what to do.

The pattern pieces are printed in colour too - all you do is choose your size and cut on the appropriate coloured line. I'm purple.

This dress turned out to be a jigsaw puzzle. Here's all the necessary pieces cut out and hopefully matched up before sewing. There are also two ties, each 150cm long, that are attached to the front opening and wrap around the dress, more for decoration than functionality.

Strange thing with the sleeves though: see the three pieces towards the window? The cap of the sleeve is a separate piece. With my limited translation powers I wasn't sure whether I should have patched the pattern pieces together and then cut out as one or did as I did and cut out separately.

I was a little disappointed with the fabric though. It is the beautiful shade of cornflower blue with little flowery motifs but it is polyester and as such rather stiff and 'flat'. I carried on regardless hoping that a good pressing and a wash would soften the fabric down into a flowing cotton. I really do expect too much from my washing machine!

I sewed all the bits in assembly -line sewing and this really sped things along. Each seam is also topstitched. I used stitch size 3mm for this and did this in assembly-line style too. Pressing as I went.

The result is somewhat disappointing though.

The fabric didn't soften and sits out from the body like cardboard.
The dress pulls across the bust, partly because it is a smidgeon too tight and partly because there is no give in the poly.

It is completely see-through too and reminds me of something utilitarian -like a housework frock, rather than a romantic summer dress.
 I may not give up on on the pattern just yet and regard this blue affair as an unwearable muslin. A bit disappointing for my first precious sewing time these days but live a little learn a lot.

There are always good things to come out of any enterprise:

  • My German is improving
  • My topstitching was even and straight(ish)
  • I figured out the jigsaw puzzle
  • I know not to buy 100% polyester for a summer dress
  • I like the German Pattern Company.

Thanks for reading. Ruth


  1. Did you add the seam allowances? Or were they included? It would be typical German NOT to include them. :-) (And very typical German to have only German instructions... :-))

    1. Hi Anne, yes I managed to translate the bit about 1cm seam allowances being included. Perhaps I was too lax about my bust measurement !

  2. Oh Ruth, you certainly don't pick the easy ones!

    I'm sure it'll be easier and quicker the second time around and I think the cut suits you very well so do give it another go in some softer fabric.

    But yes, maybe check about the seam allowances...

  3. Thanks for the encouragement Marianna.

  4. I cannot imagine jumping into a pattern with no illustrations and in a language unfamiliar to me. You are so courageous! (or reckless, ) I like the dress lines and think you will get a wonderful summer dress from your next attempt.

  5. I tried to add a smile after "...or reckless..." but my HTML is rusty. :-)

  6. That is a nifty design- I hope you and your bust don't give up on it! The color is also fab on you- I envy anyone who can wear blue without looking liver damaged! Do I need to send the dachshunds over to help translate? Very helpful!

  7. You are definitely brave to tackle something this complex in a foreign language! I'm sure it needs an FBA. (So happy I learned how to do that for my own garments.) However, you probably would have needed to put the puzzle pieces together at least once to figure out how to do that in this dress! It has a bit of a medieval/modern vibe going for it, don't you think? Pretty in blue - too bad the fabric isn't working for you.