If you've read any sewing blogs the last few days, you've likely heard Colette Patterns released a mini bloomers pattern that is free to download. Last night, after cutting out Simplicity 2443 (and realizing I had miscalculated yardage for the skirt by 1/4 yard) I decided to switch gears and start on these sweet little bloomers. I used some leftover voile from this dress, cut it out quick with a rotary cutter and cans of tomato paste as pattern weights, and got to sewing.
The instructions are easy to follow and clearly illustrated, and the whole project came together in a couple of hours. The most time-consuming parts: threading the elastic and ribbon (I used twill tape) through their casings. This took no more time than usual, but would've been quicker had I trimmed the seam allowances enclosed by the casing. I struggled to negotiate the safety pin (pinned to the end of whatever I was threading) through at every seam intersection! To be fair, the pattern suggested trimming. I just didn't do it.
It seemed like a beginner or advanced beginner pattern to me. No extraordinary skills or know-how are required--just a little bit of patience! All the raw edges must be finished, so if you have a serger or pinking shears, use them. I zig-zagged the edges but I suppose it would've been faster to pink them.
One weird part: the front and back crotch seams don't match up perfectly. When it comes time to sew that seam, you'll notice that either the front or back piece (can't remember which; I think it's the back) is drafted so that a very angular piece extends beyond the opposite half. Does that make sense? Anyway, this is inconsequential. Once you sew the crotch seam, you can trim that little triangle so that the front and back edges form a continuous line.
What few modifications I made were out of necessity: I didn't have any 1/4" ribbon on hand, so I made a wider casing to accommodate the twill tape. I also did a few steps out of order because I thought it'd be easier. (Rather than sewing the elastic casing, then threading the elastic, then sewing the ribbon casing, then threading the ribbon, I stitched all casings and threaded last. That way the garment wasn't gathered and puckered while I was trying to sew the leg seams.) Also, be sure you stabilize your buttonholes on lightweight fabric! I used tiny scraps of light- or mid-weight fusible.
On a real person, pardon the lighting issue:
Next time, I think I'll change a few more things. I cut the pattern according to the sizing chart measurements, and I was the smaller of the two in one size category. The chart covers bust, waist, and hip but not badonk circumference, which would've been helpful. That happens to be my most girthsome measurement (about 13" larger than my waist), and much of the gathered effect was lost in the back because I filled it out. I'm not sure what will remedy this, although I think a slightly higher rise and strategically decreased seam allowances would help. Or maybe just cutting a larger size. Just a caveat for all you ladies with proportions like mine!
So, if you haven't already downloaded the Madeleine Mini Bloomers pattern from Colette Patterns, get to it! And if you make a pair, I'd like to hear how they turn out. I like how they feel and drape in Little Folks voile. If you use this fabric, I recommend a smaller needle, either 70/10 or 75/11.
Note: I tried to be very aware of framing the issue of fit. Like a lot of women, I have more going on in some parts of my body than others. So few of us can sew a pattern straight through without making alterations. Sewing for my body can be frustrating because I usually can't just pick a size and go, but it's also a welcome challenge and has helped me feel more comfortable with myself.