Sprout Patterns is a new online retailer which just opened officially. They sell patterns already printed on fabric which comes from Spoonflower. By working in tandem with a number of indie pattern companies, they allow you to preview the design you’ve selected on the garment. Any design — including your own custom ones — that is available through Spoonflower is an option. Once you’ve chosen your pattern and design, you pick your size and any other options and order it!
I was excited to try out this new method of ordering patterns. I ordered two patterns: the Zippy Top by See Kate Sew and the Myrtle Dress by Collette Patterns. There are now even more options than when I ordered although I suspect I still would have gone with these two. I didn’t use my own fabric designs. For the Zippy Top, I picked a pumpkin print (designed by Maya Pletscher) figuring it would be perfect for fall and all the appropriate holidays. For now I’m just going to talk about the Zippy Top so I’ll share what I picked for the Myrtle later when I post it.
First off is the ordering experience. This is very very cool. Being able to visualize the design on the garment and rotate it around is amazing. Even if it’s not exact placement of the design, it’s so much better than my brain can do. It really helps you see if the design you’re picking is too busy or has too many repeats or doesn’t work with seams well. I loved this aspect. It’s so much fun to try out different designs on all the styles. I must have spent a couple hours just doing that. It really is awesome and you should at the very least try it (although don’t blame me if you’re tempted to buy afterwards :).
After picking my designs and hemming and hawing about the size, I ordered my items and crossed my fingers. Once you start sewing muslins, it becomes a little bit of safety net in terms of knowing that your pattern will fit. No muslins with this service. No size grading either. :-/ Needless to say I was a little nervous.
However, I’m really really pleased to report that Sprout just announced that they are now giving the full pattern along with each order! This is amazing. It means that if you want to make a muslin before sewing up your pretty fabric, you can! It also means that if you want to grade your pattern, you can order the size up and then do it once you get it. This is really great news! And definitely will make me less anxious about ordering next time.
Interestingly, on the Zippy Top instructions that they make available for download after ordering, there are additional sizing instructions. I’ve already recommended to Sprout that it would be nice have those when ordering. Fortunately, I did end up with the correct size, so it all turned out okay 🙂
Here’s how the fabric looked when I got it (well after opening the little tissue wrapped bundle):
When you first get the fabric it’s really cool. I’ve ordered several samples from Spoonflower but it’s a whole other thing to get yardage. For the Zippy Top I got the Poly Crepe de Chine fabric. It was quite nice to work with and the colors are very vibrant on it. My serger wasn’t a huge fan of it though, so I ended up finishing all but two of my seams on the standard machine and that worked great. But it ironed up just lovely, drapes well and suits the pattern. Oh, and it’s also really comfortable!
After getting my fabric, the first thing I did was toss it all into the wash on warm and then dry it in the dryer on warm. That way if it accidentally gets tossed in the washer and/or dryer in the future, I’m safe. The colors were just as nice after the wash/dry as before. This is in contrast to some fat quarters I had recently gotten from Spoonflower printed on their Kona cotton that lost color where it was wrinkled during drying. That was disappointing. Strangely, Spoonflower’s basic combed cotton also washed and dried fine, so not sure what was up with the Kona cotton. But the Poly Crepe de Chine and the Performance Pique that the Myrtle dress was printed on both washed up great as well and I would definitely order either fabrics again.
The whole construction took a little under 2 hours, start to finish including cutting, printing, taping & cutting templates, and sewing. I think that’s pretty good and about what I expected. I’m sure if I ordered another one it would be faster. I only had a couple of “bumps” during the process.
First, the Zippy Top pattern indicates that the front and back facing should be interfaced, but the pdf template that came with the instructions (at the time) only includes the back facing piece for cutting out the interfacing. I was able to trace my front facing piece to cut out the interfacing for the front facing, but it seemed like the template for the front facing should have been there. However, more disappointing was that I tried mailing Sprout about this twice through the online contact form, but never heard back 🙁 I know they were probably busy with a recent promo they ran on zipper purses, but even an automated “we’ll get to you soon” email would be good. Of course, now that the full pattern is included with each order, this is no longer an issue — you’ve already got all the pieces!
Another bump was installing the zipper, specifically the topstitching of the zipper. To me, it seemed that you should go over your previous topstitching but really you need to go super close to the edge to catch the zipper tape and it would have been nice if they had indicated that it should be a second line of topstitching. The diagram in the instructions makes it look like the zipper top stitching is at the same distance as the previous stitching. I think it actually looks nicer and works better with the super close top stitching, but I feel the instructions could have been clearer about this one thing. Otherwise, they were very good with nice diagrams.
My last issue with the process was in the layout of the fabric. There was so much extra fabric! I was actually able to make an entire other top and some gift bags. If you’re curious, I tried out the Sorbetto by Collette Patterns with some modifications to fit it on the extra fabric. I’ll post about it later this week, but it’s free so you can try it too 🙂 Anyhow, as someone who hates to waste good fabric (I’m still trying to figure out a decent scrap storage/organization solution), this was sad. I think they could have been better about layout, especially for smaller sizes. I understand from a software standpoint why this sort of feature wouldn’t be in version 1. I’ve expressed my thoughts to Sprout and hopefully we’ll see better fabric use in the future!
In general, it was a fun experience and I’ve recommended to several people that they at least try it. A great application for these patterns is for sewing classes. For example, have everyone in a beginner class order a zipper pouch of the design of their choosing. It’s a cool way to make it personal and I definitely hope to make use of it that way. Plus now that they include the full pattern, I’m more motivated to buy from Sprout when I can see what my fabric will look like and just order it, especially if I was going to order the pattern anyways. I’m definitely looking forward to using this service more in the future and seeing how it grows.
Below are some additional construction photos for those that are curious.
Marking where the zipper goes.
Attaching facing to neckline.
Zipper has been inserted and topstitched in.
Baby hem on bottom.
Serged side seam.