UPDATE: After writing this post I emailed the ImageWear company with my concerns. We emailed back and forth a couple times and they were amazing at helping answer my questions and work on issues!! So I have added a few adjustments to this blog post to reflect that. I must say their customer service is fantastic and so quick! If I were to have any other problems while sewing one of their patterns I will just email with questions.
I've been curious about ImageWear and MyImage patterns for a while so I finally got a few issues. They are a pattern company in the Netherlands who print two clothing pattern magazines annually for women and two for children along with individually printed ones. They are all translated from Dutch to English, German and French. They've been around for about three years. I was surprised to see so little on the sewing blogoshpere and PatternReview. The designs are actually very nice. This dress I made is actually one of their printed patterns IW1001-- this came free with my subscription to their magazine. The description on their website says there is a U.S. size conversion table included... nope not so much. There isn't even a size chart included in the envelope. So I referred to their size chart found in their magazine. They also have the size chart on their website... so really it's not a big deal.
This is what came in the clear ziploc bag: the bi-fold color directions sheet in several languages and then the pattern on nice, heavy paper. At first glance, the directions looked terse but readable. The pattern pieces looked simple and easy to trace and cut. Each piece overlaps much like patterns found in pattern magazines.
There is no indication on the pattern whether or not there are seam allowances. After some research I found there are no SA's included, so I added the standard 5/8". I planned to cut a 42 on top and grade to a 46 for the hips. I measured the finished hips on the pattern. There is exactly 1cm, that's less then a 1/2", of ease for each size!! WHAT!? That's basically skin tight. Their size chart says: size 46 hip: 113cm. My measurements for size 46 is 114cm. I checked each size and they all have the same ease amount. The model on the envelope isn't wearing a hooker-tight dress. Am I supposed to add ease, too? Well, I had to. And I didn't realize any of this until AFTER sewing the whole dress up! Awwww geeez! I had to scrap the first bodice it was so wrong and after tearing the zipper with my seam ripper. It was for the best, the first bodice was made of a junky fabric anyhow (but it was cute!) I salvage the skirt luckily by taking the seams out and re-sewing them with a tiny seam allowance.
UPDATE: They are a company that says "the Dutch culture is a culture of short texts. At first we made our patterns for "die-hard" sewists, but we discovered our designs appeal to starting sewists too". They are working to elaborate on their directions. I'm so used to my hand being held by some American patterns. I'm still getting used to the European sensibilities of pattern writing.
The directions just plain suck. I was lost by step 6. I was shocked at how confused I was considering how simple the dress actually is to sew. There are no English translations on the pattern sheet. UPDATE: They have now added English translations to their newer editions! The words/abbreviations MA Stoff/HM Stoffbr and RVD/FL appear on the pattern... I assume they equate to 'fabric grain line' and 'cut on the fold'. I can't say which is which because they are randomly placed on each piece (i.e. the front bodice had the same words as the back facing... one you cut on the fold, they other you don't.)
Anyhow, I hate the non-user friendly approach this pattern has but it sure is a sweet dress in the end. I did some work on my sway back issues and it worked out better with this second version. I took no photos of the first since it was skin tight. I now see a little bunching next to the zipper on my back here but I am fixing that.
My first version had a really pretty pastel floral print. This is a sassy red with white polka dot poplin. The skirt is a midweight 100% cotton denim. I wanted to make the dress look more casual for everyday wear. A fancier fabric would make this great for an event or maybe the office.
And I used a contrasting zipper just for the fun of it. I finished seams with my serger. I feel like this dress was fair warning for my next pattern from MyImage and ImageWear. Now I think I see why folks haven't really caught on to this company. I like their designs well enough to use them again. Will I damn myself for that decision?!
UPDATE: Okay, I was frustrated with this pattern as I sewed but now officially would like to label this as a LOVE! Sewing is a process and sometimes you hit a few bumps... but then you email the pattern company and you get a really helpful, nice and wonderful person on the other end helping and answering all your questions.
They have added plus-sizes to their collections. They would really like some feedback on them if anyone has made them! There is a really cute shirred tunic in a plus size in their current issue that I wish was in my size!
I was told their magazine My Image is now available in stores in the U.S. and Canada! In the U.S. look for them in Barnes & Noble and Books A Million. In Canada, look for them in Chapters, McNally and Robinson and Reads. Or go to their website and order their goodies.
Hurray for independent pattern companies!