Monday, March 28, 2016

Cosplay by McCall's Pattern Reviews: General Pattern Line and Cloak X

After the last time I posted about the new line of Cosplay by McCall's patterns, I was contacted by a representative of the company, who offered to send me all three of these new patterns, no strings attached.

Of course I jumped at the chance, not only because I wanted these patterns, but because I was excited to review them for my readers.  Since these patterns aren't available in stores, and carry a price tag of $17.95 each (plus shipping) I figure that people want to see exactly what they're getting before they buy.  I admit I buy most sewing patterns in the big fabric store sales when they only costs a few dollars, so these represent quite a big step-up in price over normal Big 3 patterns.  On the other hand I do spend more on specialty historical patterns, so how does this line compare?

One note about reviewing patterns first: obviously the proper way to review a sewing pattern is to actually use the pattern to construct a garment.  Without putting the pattern together you don't really know how smoothly the pieces will go together or how successful the finished item will be.  And I haven't made any of these patterns yet.  So I can't speak to the more technical aspects of whether these are good patterns or not.  I'll be talking strictly about what I can tell just from looking at them and reading the instructions, etc.

First impressions of these patterns is positive.  The upscale packaging is really lovely.  The envelopes are large and made of nice cardstock.   They're significantly larger than standard pattern envelopes as well (pictured).  This means one important thing: no more struggling to fit your pattern pieces and instructions into envelopes that are way too small.  You can pretty easily get everything back in these envelopes!

The back flap opens and shows the typical back-of-pattern information, along with a "Cosplay Tutorial" that is different for each pattern.  The cloak features tips for working with faux fur, the coat has tips for working with synthetic leather and the wings has "Tips for Wings."  These tips are pretty useful to know before attempting these projects and range from the super basic and obvious to some nice notes many won't have heard before.

The instruction pages are printed on whiter, nicer quality paper than typical pattern instructions.  The images seem to be larger and nicely drawn.  The language is typical of Big 3 pattern instructions and seems to be written following the same guidelines.  There are frequent tips about how to reinforce different areas or how to turn small pieces inside out, etc.  In general I'd say the instruction sheets are pretty close to normal Big 3 instructions, but whereas quality of instructions can vary widely from pattern to pattern in the normal lines, these are on the high end of the quality range.

The pattern pieces themselves are printed on bright white tissue in nice, clear blue lines.  The tissue is probably significantly thicker and better quality than most pattern tissue, but it's still tissue.  It's not going to hold up to that many uses unless you transfer the patterns to other paper or somehow preserve these tissues.  But the printing is nice and clear and easier to see than your normal black-on-tan patterns.  The actual pattern pieces don't seem to have any differences from normal patterns.  The same markings and style of lines etc are used.

So that's it for the line in general, now let's get into the individual patterns.  The simplest is Cloak X, which is very clearly a copy of the cloaks from Game of Thrones.  After this pattern was released I went back and watched GOT from the beginning and was really interested to notice the unique x-strap closure of the cloaks for the first time.  It's a fairly ingenious way of holding a cloak on, one this pattern recreates.

There are several variations possible with this cloak pattern.  You can have a plain cloak with a hood, or one with a faux fur cape at the neck, or a studded shoulder cape.  Or possibly alternate combinations thereof, though instructions aren't given for mixing and matching the looks.  There are also two thicknesses of X-straps.  On the show, the women's cloaks close with thin cords and the men have thick straps and this pattern includes both styles.

What I really like about this pattern, other than the closure, is the fullness of the cloaks and the hoods.  Game of Thrones cloaks have a distinct fullness to the gathering at the throat and this pattern captures that luxurious look better than any other commercial cloak pattern I've seen.  And the hoods are WAY oversized, to give that lovely fantasy look.  Due to the fullness, this pattern requires between 6 and 8 yards of fabric, plus any trim and lining.  (I believe only the capelets are actually lined.)  Which brings up a good point.  The instructions aren't really complete, since they don't recommend any way of finishing the seam allowances which will be shown on the inside of the cloak.  It just shows them pressed open which would lead to fraying and unattractive interior of the cloak if you don't do something to them.

The capelets can presumably be worn alone or be attached to the larger cloak.  This is done according to the pattern with sewn-in snaps.  I would be a little nervous about having a large fur capelet attached with only three snaps, but I guess it might work.  And I guess it gives you multiple options for wearing.

So overall, I think this is a very nice cloak pattern, and one I'd definitely look into if you want an authentic Game of Thrones look.  On the other hand, cloaks are fairly easy to self-draft, as cosplayers often do.  But again, if you want to fullness to look right, this is probably a good option.  So whether or not you choose to buy this pattern will probably depend on how tight your budget is and how experienced you are in cosplay.

In a few days I'll have a post on the next Cosplay pattern: "Trenched."

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