It’s funny how some things come about isn’t it?
I wasn’t going to go to the Spring Knitting & Stitching show at the beginning of March originally but then I saw that Gabby Young of the Gabberdashery blog/vlog fame was organising a meet up on Friday so I decided to pop along after all…and I’m so glad I did.
For one thing it was lovely to catch up with Gabby (and her chocolate brownies, I accidentally ate 2!) as well as some of the ladies I’d first met at the Sewing Weekender last August including Klarke, Megan and Elle along with some delightful new sewing peeps. We knitted (!) and chatted for ages before I finally went for a proper look around.
I was wearing my Moneta dress-which I blogged about here-and blowing my own trumpet a bit I had lots of strangers comment on it and ask about the pattern as I made my way around the show, deeply flattering!!
Eventually I arrived at the Fabrics Galore stand (of course!) and quickly fell in to chatting with another lady who was drooling over the fabrics too (again, of course I did, it’s a sewing show, right?!) That person turned out to be Juliene who is the Creative Director for Zierstoff patterns who are based in Germany… I was initially slightly confused because Julie is actually from the US not Germany at all! Now I don’t know about you but I wasn’t familiar with Zierstoff at this point. Anyway chat chat chat and we swap business cards (ooh, get me!) We move on to eventually selecting fabrics and head around the corner to get them cut and who should be manning the stand that day but the lovely Kate from The Fold Line.
So, back to the story. Julie invited me to test some Zierstoff patterns, which are all PDFs, to see what I thought of them and this is how I got on….
Zierstoff have a bright and comprehensive website, in English or German, and the patterns are very reasonably priced in Euros, Sterling, US, Canadian and Australian Dollars. The ‘Sue’, which I selected, was just £4.85 [One thing I don’t know is if the prices fluctuate according to exchange rates or whether they are currently fixed prices] They offer a range of ladies, babies and children’s patterns as well as a few bags and home accessories. There are also a variety of free patterns to download too. They don’t currently have any specific mens patterns but because there are quite a number of T-shirt styles I think they could easily be made up for boys or men. I was particularly struck by the super-cute babies and children’s styles, and especially the car seat blanket and bath towel poncho-sadly I don’t have anyone to make these for at the moment (I might have to find a willing baby to try them on!)
The ‘Sue’ is a T-shirt top with two neckline variations and I opted to make the contrast shoulder version.
When you download the pattern there are a number of pieces of information you’ll receive including the instructions HOW to go about it and a test print. There is also an Overview page with an image of how all the pattern pieces should look when assembled. Because the patterns are available in the US as well you get the option of A4 size or US letter.
So far so good….this is where I came unstuck (entirely down to my limited tech ability I think) I printed the pattern off once according, I thought, to the instructions but when I came to try to put it together I couldn’t make head nor tail of it. Ok, back it up a bit…because I didn’t have the settings on correctly each page had auto-rotated instead of being printed landscape so it was never going to work as parts of the pattern were missing off the page!
Zierstoff also use a different system to any other PDF pattern I’ve used so far. They use a system of numbered rows and columns, and the pages are sticky-taped abutting one another exactly so there’s no trimming and overlapping to join pieces. Once I’d printed the pages correctly the sticking system was a breeze although there might be places were the printing doesn’t run right up to the edge of the paper.
You might notice that the pattern is printed in colour because there are lots of size options. You could decide to print in black and white but you’re advised that not all the lines will show up by this method. However, if your preferred size is one of the darker colours the you might get away with it but I’d suggest you print a single page first to check.
Ok, now I’m back on track! now for the sewing…
Once printed, stuck together and cut out the next thing to do is make the contrast shoulder sections. These are clearly indicated and there are instructions for using it. I opted to make new separate pattern pieces for them to simplify cutting out the fabrics. I traced off the front and back ‘yoke’ parts and the sleeve head. It’s VERY important to remember to add seam allowances, don’t just cut along the line!!!
Once I’d got the contrast parts I could fold the corresponding sections on the main pattern out of the way while I cut out the main fabric. The printed fabric was one I’d been gifted recently and there was nearly 1 metre of it.
I decided I’d lengthen the sleeves to give them a gathered cuff similar to the ones I’d seen at the Burberry Makers House show recently.
To do this I pinned the sleeve pattern onto the fabric and then added 6cms extra to the cuff directly on the fabric. This was simple to achieve using the trusty Patternmaster and air erasable pen. If you try this out don’t forget that the extended cuff needs to remain the same width as the original, if you just extend the sleeve downwards without maintaining the width the cuff might get so tight that you can’t get your hand through it!
And so to making….
Zierstoff provide an ebook with each pattern of the making up instructions which you can either print off or follow from your device, which is what I did. It features full-colour photos of each stage so this makes it simple to follow. [There are also a number of videos to follow for various patterns which might make it even easier although I haven’t checked if Sue has one specifically]
I simply joined the contrasting parts together first, then the shoulder seams after which the sleeves go in. The various notches seemed to go together correctly which is always a bonus.
So here’s Sue in her Sue! I’m pretty pleased overall but my cuffs didn’t work quite right, they were just too long and dangly, not nicely ruched.
I put this right by sewing some stretched elastic onto the seam which puckers it up much nicer.
Since I’ve got my borrowed Brother set up with a twin-needle I can now have some proper twin-needle action on the cuffs and hem, at last.
Overall I’m very happy with my first Zierstoff PDF pattern and I have a few observations to make about this top-none of them super-critical though.
- I will slightly narrow the chest area when I make another because this one in a little bit broad for me, otherwise the fit is good (possibly even go down a size but I don’t want a T-shirt too tight)
- I had some initial trouble with printing off the pattern. Given my general ineptitude with technology I eventually worked this out for myself without the input of the young (Young?) people so it can’t have been that serious. I wonder if a novice sewer would also have this trouble or was it just me? There’s plenty of help online from Zierstoff though which is very reassuring.
- The system for joining the pattern pieces (when you’ve printed them correctly) is very simple, the rows and columns make a lot of sense and was very quick. However, because there’s no overlap you’ll have to use sticky tape not glue sticks.
- You may not want to print in colour for cost reasons but check your own size ‘colour’ before printing the whole thing because it might be a colour that’s visible in B&W
- If you’re more used to brands that have greater degree of finesse to their PDFs you may not be that keen on Zierstoff but given their inexpensiveness I think that this particular pattern is a good product. It’s simple in it’s design and execution and you although have to do some of the work for yourself (contrast neck pieces) it’s not difficult to carry out.
- There’s lots of information re:sizing, fabric quantities etc on their website as well as provided with the pattern once you’ve downloaded it. The online reviews seem to be universally positive too.
I should say that although I’ve been provided with this pattern for nothing all the views expressed are entirely my own and I’m not receiving any payment for them. I have a couple of others which I’ll be trialling, including a skirt, over the next few weeks so watch out for them too. Have a look at the website for yourself, if you have children you may like to try out some of those patterns, or you could try a free pattern first to see what you think.
I’d like to thank Julie for inviting me to try Zierstoff patterns after our chance meeting at the K&S show, I’m very flattered. I also notice that Zierstoff has recently been added to The Fold Line pattern resource.
Let me know your thoughts if you’ve ever used one of their patterns before, or as a result of reading this review.