Posted in sewing, sewing patterns, Style

Maybe I Should Have Paid Attention to the Pattern Reviews: Sewing Vogue 1663

Can we talk about sewing pattern reviews? Do you use them? Love them? Hate them? Or not even know they exist? As for me, I usually forget they exist.

I am a member of the online pattern review site, cleverly called―you guessed it― I have posted exactly one review. This is odd coming from a woman who has a lot of opinions. Yet, I seem unable to make more of a contribution to this site, which, in my view, is doing all of us sewists a great service. All you have to do is plug your pattern brand and number into their search engine, and you’ll see a list of reviews of that exact pattern. They include a wide variety of pattern brands from Vogue through the rest of the major brands and such an extensive list of independent brands that I have to conclude they have most of them covered. That isn’t to say, however, that every single pattern has been reviewed. But I’ve never found one from a major brand that wasn’t there.  With all that to consider, why do I find pattern reviews so problematic? Let me introduce you to Vogue 1663.

This pattern is a Kathryn Brenne design that captured my attention not because of its shawl collar and belted waist but because of its back detail. I loved those tucks, so I decided I’d consider adding this style to my winter wardrobe.

I bought a length of sweatshirt fleece, one of the pattern’s recommendations. If I had paid closer attention to those fabric suggestions, I would have noted that they also suggested boiled wool. And a fabric with a 35% cross-grain stretch factor. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never known a pure, boiled wool to have that much stretch. No single pattern design can be executed equally as easily―and with equally good results―in both those fabrics. Anyway, my fabric did meet the requirements vis-a-vis stretch, but that was just the beginning of my concerns about overlooked issues in this pattern. Let me begin with what others have said about it.

The reviews of this pattern were consistently good. The reviewers liked the design, the sewing and especially the outcome. Well, that was the moment I should have seen the error of my ways in selecting this one. One of the specific questions that reviewers are supposed to answer is this: “Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?” All the reviewers said yes.

Well, when I look at the pattern envelope, I see a sleek yet casually cozy sweater/jacket (a swacket, perhaps?). Then I look at the finished products on the review site, and I see a bathrobe. I should never have been so cocky as to think I could do it better. I thought that if I chose a more appropriate fabric than that selected by several of the reviewers, I could do a better job. Not so much. I mean, once you see it, you can’t unsee it, and that‘s what I saw all through the construction process. *sigh* It’s a bathrobe. Anyway, I began.

First, there were a few funky things about the pattern instructions. Everywhere, it kept telling me to finish the seams with pinking shears. What the―?! Dear god, pinking shears on sweatshirt fleece. It’s just so weird. Of course, I didn’t do that. I used a serger, but you could just as easily use a zig-zag stitch. Just step away from the pinking shears. Then there were other funky things.

There was the funky finishing instruction for the interior of the big facing and a strange instruction to stitch the pockets on with a 5/8-inch top-stitch. First, this would look awful. Second, if you use a 5/8-inch top-stitch, wouldn’t that mean you might not even catch the seam allowance in it?? And how ugly would that be to have the edge flapping? Needless to say, I didn’t do this. A 3/8-inch top stitch did very nicely.

Another thing that seemed to be missing from the instructions was any suggestion that applying reinforcement to the shoulders would be in order. In my view, this is crucial to any kind of success with this pattern. It is designed to be made in a 35% stretch, and it has a lot of fabric in it―I mean a lot. That means that there is considerable weight pulling down on those shoulders. I applied iron-on interfacing to the shoulder seams and to the centre back facing seam. It really helped.

Of course, there’s the inevitable mid-project existential crisis when the half-finished object is hanging on Gloria junior. I am looking at the piece dubiously when my husband walks in and says, “What is that you’re making?” But I know what he really means is, “WTF is that thing you’re making?” WTF, indeed. I have to admit: it did look pretty scary.  N’est ce pas?

As I examined the half-finished monstrosity, I realized that it was long―far too long. And, contrary to what the pattern reviewers said, the finished product wouldn’t look anything like what it looked like on the pattern envelope. How tall was that model?? I am five-feet-seven (okay, maybe I’ve lost half an inch over the course of my later life) and wear a thirty-one-inch inseam. This length looked godawful on me. So, I chopped off two inches. (Of course, that made pocket placement a bit fraught, but that’s another story).

Were there any things I liked about this pattern? Yes. I really liked the design and construction of the belt. That may sound silly, but the idea of making the seam down the middle of the belt rather than at the edge really worked in this fabric. It also meant that the top-stitching was done on only two layers rather than on two layers on one side and four on the other, giving it a more consistent look.

So, I finally finished it. It’s marginally less ugly than it had promised to be mid-project. But will I wear it? I predict it will either languish in my closet, only to be picked out on the odd occasion, or become my go-to, at-home warm-up on those cold winter nights. What do you think?

Website for the Sewing Pattern review site:


...a Toronto woman of a ‘certain’ age who writes women’s fiction and business books...deeply interested in fashion, but mostly style, which as anyone knows is not the same thing...designs patterns, sews, reads style books...Gloria Glamont is my pseudonym.

18 thoughts on “Maybe I Should Have Paid Attention to the Pattern Reviews: Sewing Vogue 1663

  1. Good morning! I think your final project looks pretty good considering all the challenges with the pattern. I can see with the FT it will be cozy on a cool day, either around the house or going outdoors. I don’t think I’d make it myself after reading the challenges but you did well & I think it looks nice for a casual outfit. Jean

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well, I enjoyed this.

    Did you send a pic of the finished product?


    div>I’ve taken a Kathryn Brenne live class. Her patterns aren’t for everybody.  Now I have a $2,000 dollar shirt hanging

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Nora. Yes, there are four photos of the finished product at the end of the piece. I think that the email server left them off when sending it out to subscribers. If you go to, you’ll see them. So happy you enjoyed this!


  3. I love love love the look of the back pattern, plus I love a shawl collar. The model looks good in it. Unfortunately, it does have a bathrobe element to it. Once made the shawl collar is way too big/wide/heavy looking, the sleeve cuffs also add a heavy look, and unfortunately, the fab tucks in the back aren’t prominent enough.

    I hope you give it another try with another type of fabric – something to wear outside or a heavier knit. I’m thinking boiled wool is too heavy for that kind of back detailing?? I’d also narrow the shawl collar.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the ideas, Sandra. I also toyed with the idea of narrowing the collar. In the end, I did a tissue fit and it seemed to be okay. *rolls eyes* Clearly, I was wrong! I totally agree with you on the collar issue and the fabric concerns. Maybe next year…


  4. I have this pattern and was also worried about the bathrobe reference, but more importantly I noticed the line drawing didn’t match the sewn model interms of length and pocket placement.  And that’s exactly the probl

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Can I tell you how much inspiration I draw from your occasional blog posts? I am a very new sewist (seamstress?) and I have learned so much from your posts. We share similar taste and I am also tall, but larger framed and bigger busted — leading to many fitting challenges.

    I learned about moulage and Suzy Furrer from you, and took that class this past summer. It was an excellent exercise in learning how patterns / drawings translate to the figure, although I am still struggling a bit with how to put that knowledge into practice.

    I aspire to someday make something that actually fits! So far, lots of wadders, but I’ve purchased cheaper fabrics and kept my expectations low.

    Thanks again for your fashion sense and for sharing your experience. I also use Pattern Review, but have found that my results vary widely — so much depends on body / figure vis a vis pattern, figuring out what really flatters my figure, and integrating into the mix that I am a perfectionist and have really high standards for my clothing. I figure if I’m going to take the time to sew, I’d like it to fit perfectly and be something I love — so way too ambitious, especially for my level of sewing skill.

    I continue to enjoy the learning curve and just signed up for a Palmer / Pletsch course this coming summer on sewing and fitting knits.

    I just wanted to say how much I enjoy and benefit from your blog!

    Lynn Eugene, OR


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for your kind comments about my blog. It’s a labour of love! I’m a writer who sews rather than a sewist (sewer, seamstress- yes a bit of a label issue!) who writes, so my posts tend to be stories rather than instructions. If you have gained any insight into sewing from them, I’m delighted! If I might be so bold as to offer an observation. The problem you’ll begin to see with usng cheaper fabrics is that you can never really achieve the fit and/or finish you’re seeking. This can get frustrating. At some point, we all have to take a deep breath and make somethgn from a fabric that we absolutely love – that silk, that bamboo hersey, that wool blend – all of which can be more expensive than what we think our sewing skills demand. A demanding fabric can often take us to new sewing heights! Thanks again for stopping by and I look forward to having you along. ~ P. (aka GG)


  6. Not the most glamorous garment but it looks handy and cozy\a friend took a course from Kathryn Brenne and said she was obnoxious and refused to answer peoples questions, had a very high opinion of herself. Based on what my friend told me I boycott her patterns, bad vibe.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are so right! Not so glamorous! I’m so sorry to hear that about Kathryn Brenne. I dont’ usually like her designs anyway, and maybe I shoudl stick with my first impressions. Happy sewing!


  7. I keep forgetting to do reviews on Pattern Review.
    I like your jacket. I think if you hang it in your closet it will come out in the early spring. I like it.


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