I’m back at work full-time these days for the first time in years, and despite having grand plans, it is taking its toll on my sewing productivity. I’ve been less willing to take on more ‘serious’, involved projects and drawn more to fun and fast sewing that I can work on in an hour or two in the evenings. Enter Sprout Patterns! As you may have heard, they’re an offshoot of Spoonflower who print pattern pieces directly onto fabric yardage, meaning no prep required – just cut and sew. Caroline at Sprout contacted me to review the offering, so after spending way, way too long going through a million options of fabric and pattern, I settled on the Colette Moneta dress in this incredible Memphis inspired print.
With several indie pattern brands signed up, coupled with the entire Spoonflower library of prints, there’s an awful lot of scope for playing designer on Sprout. You can see a shortlist of my favourited prints here, and I’ve already dipped back in for more orders. I especially like that as you’re designing your project you can see a 3D preview and move around the print placement to your liking. My order took a little over a month to arrive from the US but that’s atypically long; I think it got holed up in customs somewhere. Shrinkage value is factored in so I threw the fabric into a delicates prewash and let it air dry before getting sewing.
Here’s what the pieces look like – a thick white border makes it foolproof to see where to cut and each piece is labelled here too.
In the interest of sewing science, I timed exactly how long it took me to do each stage of the construction.
– Cutting the pieces with my rotary cutter: Seven minutes
– Main overlocker construction (incl a couple of baste-and-try-on sessions): 32 minutes
– Finishing (hemming sleeves and skirt): 12 minutes
So that’s a dress fresh from prewash to finished in well under an hour!
One clear issue with Sprout for some is that obviously that you can’t do flat pattern alterations, as the pieces are already printed onto the fabric. Hence why I picked a knit project as they’re much more forgiving in the fit department. Fortunately the Moneta dress in straight size M fitted great, which was honestly quite a surprise – I was prepared to hack around with seam allowances if needed. I’ll probably make more Monetas sometime as I really like the shape – a Sprout bonus is that you get the full PDF pattern included with your order.
Even given the prescriptiveness of a cut and sew pattern I did make a couple of tiny style alterations. One was to add a band to the neckline rather than turn and hem it – I don’t think turn and hem is a good solution for knit necklines, no matter what Colette thinks. There was plenty of spare printed fabric around the pattern pieces to cut a neckband from. I also left off the pockets because they seem useless and bulky in a knit, making things even faster. Finally I turned back the sleeve hems to the reverse white side for a touch of contrast.
Overall I’m pleased with the quality and handle of the fabric – my first experience of a Spoonflower knit. This is the Modern Jersey substrate, a poly/spandex knit, which is medium weight, drapey, nice and soft, and easy to sew both on machine and overlocker. The print is sharp and vibrant, though not quite as saturated as I was expecting from the screen swatch. If i was being picky it does seem to show a bit of the white backing colour through where it’s under stress at the seamlines (see above), and I’m interested to see how it holds up with repeated washings, but so far so good.
Overall, it’s certainly a thumbs up from me on Sprout. I love my crazy cosmic 80s finished dress and it was such a lovely fast and stress-free project – exactly what’s needed sometimes. I’ve placed a second order for some Grainline Lark tees for me and my sister already in some equally excellent prints – watch this space.
Here are some final pros and cons of the service to consider before making your own Sprout order:
Why’s it great?
– Serious corner-cutter for the time-poor and/or lazy (of which I’m both)
– Endless possibilities of amazing prints and patterns
– If you pick a TNT pattern or if the pattern is easy to adjust as you sew there’s few worries about fitting. Also for kids’ clothing or accessories, where fit isn’t much of an issue, it makes total sense.
– Good value, considering you get all the fabric you need plus the reusable pattern included.
– You can’t make significant pattern alterations or grade between sizes. I wouldn’t be able to buy most woven dress designs as I’d need to make considerable flat alterations before cutting my fabric.
– On complex patterns you’ll still need to transfer dart and other markings.
– Shipping to the UK is around $30 and you may get stung with a customs charge too (though I didn’t) so it could work out expensive for non-Americans. I used a free shipping deal for my Lark order and there’s a discount code below!