Sucked into a Simplicity Service Screw-up

I used to wonder why Fabricland, the largest fabric chain store in Canada, refuses to carry Simplicity patterns. Now I know.

I just spent more time than anyone should have to spend fixing a problem with patterns I ordered from Simplicity, and so I need to rant. The short story is this: don’t order from Simplicity.com because it’s a clusterfuck and their customer service motto seems to be is something along the lines of “Whatevs”. If you want the long, boring story that I need to get off my chest, it’s below.

But first, have you had any problems with Simplicity? Does your fabric chain carry their patterns? When I asked at Fabricland why they didn’t carry them the woman rolled her eyes and said something along the lines of they were such a pain in the ass to deal with that they just decided to stop carrying them.

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I ordered two Simplicity patterns from their website. Total for patterns: $14.96. Shipping cost: $9.79. I always check how many patterns I can fit into an order before the flat shipping charge goes up to the next level. $9.79 was steep — this is in American dollars after all, which is somewhere in the ballpark of $7,987.63 Canadian — but spread across two patterns I figured it was acceptable.

A week later I get one pattern in the mail. I always forget what patterns I ordered so it’s kinda like finding Easter eggs I hid myself when I get the package. Except this time was disappointing because there was only one Easter egg. So I checked my receipt, and then sent an email to Simplicity asking whether the other pattern was being shipped separately or if this was a packing error.

“After reviewing your order, the reason as to why you did not receive that Jumpsuit pattern is because it was on backorder and we unfortunately are not able to send backorder to Canada.  You would need to keep watch for when that pattern becomes available/in stock again and replace the order for that pattern> [sic]”

Ok. Not sure why there might be some arbitrary ‘rule’ about ‘not being able to send backorder to Canada’, but whatever. We’re used to being treated arbitrarily when it comes to shipping from the US. I wrote back to say that there was no indication at the time I purchased that the pattern was on backorder (in fact, my receipt is clearly marked as having it “in stock”), and that I would not have agreed to pay $9.79 to ship just one pattern.

Second email from Simplicity: “When yo9u [sic] are on the pattern page where it indicates the price as well as the area to select your size, there is a box where it does state Status.  Where it states Status, it does indicate on backorder-expected in stock 6/1/15.” — Nothing addressing my complaint about paying too much for shipping. So I email back to remind them that the website and my receipt clearly showed the pattern as being in stock, and that when I hit purchase I was agreeing to buy two patterns and pay shipping for two patterns. I tell them they had better fix this problem, because I am not happy that they falsely represented what exactly I was paying for.

I suggest two possible solutions to them: either refund me half the shipping cost, or agree to send me the backordered pattern when it becomes available with free shipping. Simple, right? Either way, we’re talking a cost of LESS THAN FIVE BUCKS to mollify a pissed off customer.

Third email from Simplicity: “Thank  you for clarifying your complaint. According to the invoice, this original authorization was 21.76,  which was both items and the shipping.  Since one item was not available, the actual charge was  $19.37.  This was the difference in shipping. The cost of shipping is actual  international rates.  This is calculated as you check out according to the billing and shipping address involved. Our inventory is not LIVE.  It does not update as each customer is shopping.   It may take  a while for the system to update after each order is processed.   We do apologize, but this is not an exact science, and things change very quickly.   We do see that this order was kicked into our corrections program to take off the back ordered item as we are not able to send back orders to Canada.”

Setting aside the factual error (that the lower price charged was the difference in shipping; the difference was the price of the pattern they didn’t send me), WTF? It’s my problem that your website doesn’t talk to your database? And that I should just be OK with it if I agree to pay for one thing and get something different? So I’m really fucking pissed off at this point. You’re really going to make me spend ALL THIS TIME chasing you down to fix this minor problem that is so easily fixable? I mean, I really don’t give a shit at this point about the lousy $4.90 but now it’s about the principle of the thing.

My next email to Simplicity said, among other things: “You have engaged in a bait and switch scheme when I checked out at your website — you indicated I was purchasing one thing, when really it was something else. How is a customer supposed to judge value for money if you do not inform them that you are going to give them something different than what they agreed to pay for? Not only is that bad business practice, it is entirely unethical.  I’m rather certain it’s also illegal….If you will not refund me half the shipping cost, or send me the second pattern for no shipping cost, then I will insist you take back the one pattern you did manage to get to me and give me a full refund for the pattern, the cost of shipping, as well as my cost for shipping it back to you. You let me know which one of those three options it’s going to be….Please don’t make me keep chasing you down for a solution to this problem that you can very easily fix.”

The solution came when I got on the phone with them. After some arguing, they finally agreed to refund me $4.90.

Cripes. I need a drink.

Unfortunately, a drink is going to cost me more than $4.90. 😉

K, What About This?

Still questioning the validity of satin ‘joggers’, although feeling pretty propped by all the encouraging comments on their debut post. Thanks for weighing in! Commenter Barbara J had a valid point when she wondered whether dressing them up with high heels was, y’know, a bit twee…

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….so I thought I’d try styling them more casually, pairing them with a plain heather gray T-shirt and metallic silver oxfords:

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Whaddya think? Does it work? Or am I just trying to polish a turd? 😀

The Hammer Pant debate rages on…

Look Who’s Wearing Hammer Pants

Alright, they’re not quite Hammer Pants per se, but these are definitely way outside of my usual trouser universe. The question is: should I wear them?

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I’m not sure what madness gripped my brain when I saw Burda’s “jogging pants in floral sequin fabric” and thought, “Good Idea!” — because, no. No. Nooooo.

Burda 05/2015 #111 Long Blouse #114 Joggers

And then I saw this pretty satin fabric and thought “Jogging Pants!”, naturally, because jogging is the first thing that comes to mind when fondling shiny satin fabric.

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Obviously no jogging is going to get done in these pants. But as a rule no jogging is ever going to get done in any of my pants unless someone else is wearing them. (That sounds like a weird euphemism, doesn’t it? “No jogging in my pants!” Say it with different intonations and it gets pretty funny.) Anyway, I don’t run — pants or no pants — unless someone is chasing me with a weapon or Lenny Kravitz was just spotted down the street. In the latter case it’s possible I’d be running with no pants on at all. K, this is getting weird…I’m gonna stop with all the pant and running imagery now.

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The whole time I was sewing these I was thinking, this can only end in tears. Or laughter, actually. And here they are done and there are no tears, just a bit of laughter, and a feeling I can’t shake that I might actually wear them. Like, out in public. Or even around people I know.

The laughter came after I put them on last night before going out to dinner and asked my husband if he’d be embarrassed to be seen with me if I wore them. Without hesitating he gave me an emphatic yes, which was the answer we were both expecting. Since we were just going a few blocks in our own neighbourhood, I thought it safe to give these pants a test-walk. Turns out I liked wearing them! They’re comfy and kind of sophisticated — but I could be willfully deluding myself on the sophisticated bit.  And not one person pointed and laughed! Well, except my snarky husband. This is a good sign, no?

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There is a bit of unfortunate pattern placement as I didn’t realize when I laid out the pieces for cutting that parts of the fabric are more heavy on the dark colours. It just randomly turned out that the two back pieces wound up much lighter coloured than the two front pieces, as you can see in the next two photos. I wonder if this makes me look like a court jester. I mean, beyond the fact that I’m wearing satin Hammer Pants.

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So, what do you think? Wearable? Or shall I just chalk these up to some more sewing experience under my belt? Or below the belt, as the case may be; these are the first pants I’ve sewn.

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Fiddling with Size While Rome Burns…or Falls to Ruin, or…um…Something Like That

I’m pleased to report that this top survived multiple reduction surgeries to emerge in wearable form! Thank goodness, because I just love this floral-and-roman-ruins fabric.

Baggy Roman top

My cat is not impressed with my handiwork. The only way she could appear more disdainful is if she were wearing a beret and smoking a Gauloise.

It started off as Burda’s Keyhole Batwing Blouse (05/2015 #111) but you’ll notice my version doesn’t really look anything like it, starting with the fact that there’s no keyhole anywhere to be found.

Burda 05/2015 #111 Long Blouse #114 Joggers

Burda’s version is incredibly long. My first mod was to shorten the pattern pieces by 10 cm/4 inches at the hem but once I sewed it together I shortened the bottom even more.

The next thing I discovered was that at least two of me could fit inside the shirt. So, I resewed the side seams to remove at least 10 cm/4 inches from each side of the top. After that it was still very baggy on me but at least it looked like it was meant to be a baggy top, rather than looking like I borrowed my obese great-auntie’s muu-muu.

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Next I realized the neckhole was a giant gaping maw. Bra straps just hanging around in public like nobody’s business. No way was I going to add a keyhole to this already precariously revealing over-sized mess. As I looked at myself in the mirror, thinking this was destined for the ‘donate’ bag and feeling rather sorry for myself, I started pinching and pulling and stabbing with pins at the neckline and I was all like, “fuck you, neckline!” and came up with a total hack.  This is the kind of hack one might do when one has no idea how to sew or how to remove existing seams to properly resize something. Because I was too irritated to do anything properly at this point! But this non-sewer’s hack actually turned out looking alright: I ended up gathering in the front of the shirt on either side of the neck at the shoulders, and folded the shoulders down over the gathers and stitched. Turned out looking sort of like epaulettes while adding some nice drape to the front of the top. Triumph! So fuck you, neckline! 😀

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Has that ever happened to you? That moment when you realize the neck opening has already been cut way too big? What do you do?

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This top might look nice with a tie-belt as shown in the pattern photo, but for now my preference is to wear it tucked in.

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If you’re curious about the fabric I wrote about it in this previous post.

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I also notice in the last two photos that the zigzag stitch I used on the arm and back seams is kind of obvious — the seam doesn’t have that nice neat look you get when using straight stitches. Normally I would have used my serger on those seams, but no word of a lie I was just too damn lazy to rethread my serger from black thread to beige thread. So zigzag it was.

What is your go-to method of sewing seams on knits? Serger? Zigzag? Twin Needle? What do you find works best?

Thanks for reading!

McCall’s 6752: Oversized top with cowl neck

McCall's 6752 baggy top with cowl neck

This is McCalls’ 6752, a super-baggy top with a cowl neckline and gathered waist with zipper.

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I made it with “Patriot Blue Ikat Cotton-Viscose Jersey” I ordered from Mood. I thought I was getting 2 yards but I got 2 ‘panels’, which meant two separate, small pieces of fabric that barely made this top. I have a love/hate relationship with Mood. Love the fabrics. Hate the expense of ordering from them, and I especially hated the surprise of receiving this fabric hacked into two measly little pieces. It made it really difficult to not only find a pattern that I could eke out of it, but also to work out how to place the pattern pieces to fit them all in while still having some sense of order as to where the stripes would fall on the top.

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Have you ever seen Lily Sage & Co’s blog? It’s a must-view — Debbie is a garment engineering genius, not to mention that she always looks drop-dead gorgeous in her photos. She makes unique, gorgeous garments, often self-drafted or at least heavily modified versions of commercial patterns, and always finds the best way to show off a patterned fabric. Look at her Chanel-inspired dress using the same fabric I used:

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“Chanel Inspired Dress” by Debbie of Lily Sage and Co. Photo used with permission.

Read through her posts and have a look at the other two dresses she made with the same fabric. I’m such a fan. Everything she makes is breathtaking. The only drawback is now that I have made something using the same fabric that Debbie has used, I feel a bit like the “nailed it!” side of one of those Pinterest Fails pictures, you know, like this:

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While I have worn this top a couple of times and I’m happy enough with it, I feel like it might have been more successful in a solid fabric…the gathered waist area is too busy and although I did my best to pattern-match given the limited fabric, it’s all just a bit wonky.  The zipper detail gets lost in the chaos. I realize now how I could have altered the pattern pieces to avoid having those stripes at the waist sitting at an angle. But hindsight is 20/20, and I chalk it all up to part of learning how to work with patterns & stripes.

McCall's 6752 baggy top with cowl neck

Here’s a little more hindsight for ya:

McCall's 6752 baggy top with cowl neck

I do like the design of the top, and the pattern itself has four options: two tops (this one and a crossover front top) and two dresses. Great summer options for lightweight knits, and easy to sew.

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I added this top to the Link Up that Helena of Gray All Day kindly hosts each week as part of her challenge to “Sew it Chic in a Week”. Go check out what people are sewing each week!

A Tour of my New Fabric Stash, in Which There Are No Fewer than Two References to Farts

I picked up a few new fabrics! Let me take you on a tour and maybe you can help me decide what to make. I found them all at Designer Fabrics on Queen Street West here in Toronto while on a BLIND FABRIC DATE with someone from Vancouver! I’ll keep you in suspense about that until the end of the post. 😛

Also, hello and welcome to new readers who kindly popped by this way last week for a look, after Rhonda of Rhonda’s Creative Life did a lovely review of this blog for her Wednesday Showcase. What a wonderful surprise that was! 🙂

Right, so let’s tour the latest additions to my fabric stash:

Some new fabrics I bought recently

1. “Dolce & Gabbana” rayon knit with Roman floral print ($10.99/yard).

Just turn your head sideways to enjoy this. 😉

I’m almost finished sewing the Burda Long Blouse below (05/2015 #111) with this material.  The blouse turned out to be a 4-person tent and needs some serious reduction surgery, so pics to come once it has come out of the operating room. (I’m also in the midst of sewing those “joggers”, which I can tell already I’m going to regret…but there will surely be a laughable sad-sack blog post to come out of it.)

Burda 05/2015 #111 Long Blouse #114 Joggers

But I still have plenty more yardage! I went back for seconds when I discovered how hard I’d fallen in love with it. What on earth will I do with all that loud fabric?? Perhaps an actual tent is not a bad idea.

The fabric was labeled as Dolce & Gabbana in the shop, but I’m guessing it’s simply some non-designer fabric “inspired” by D&G’s Spring-Summer 2014 collection, which featured images of roman ruins, roman coins, and florals:

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I’m thinking I might make a summer dress with a bit of swing in the skirt. Not too many seams so as to show off the print to its best advantage, yes? But I don’t have anything in mind yet…do you have any suggestions?

2. Black, white & pink lightweight polyester knit, $6.99/yard. I’m thinking I’d like to incorporate a panel of this into a mostly black garment…maybe use it for the side panels of V8871? Or maybe just do the whole dress in it? It would also make a nice infinity scarf. I love the pops of bright pink.

3. Off-white textured stretch polyester, $6.99/yard. This one’s got a bit of body to it. The textured, blocky pattern made me think “mod”, so maybe a short 60’s-style shift dress? I do have this vintage pattern which could work:

But I think I’m leaning towards making another one of Burda’s popular Wrap Blouses (04/2014 #115). The one I made below is 4 inches longer than the pattern calls for, but perhaps I’ll make the white version more cropped & boxy, as I think that might suit the fabric better.  Never mind whether or not it would suit my aging pot belly better! But I’ll keep it covered with a white t-shirt underneath anyway, as those front flaps fly in fluttering flatuses*, flagrantly flashing flabbiness otherwise.

4. Black and white textured “animal-ish” print, which  is definitely going to turn into this diagonal-seamed shift dress, complete with exposed zipper, from Burda Easy magazine Autumn/Winter 2014 #4G:

5. Japanese printed cotton. Sorry about the wrinkly pic! This has an almost hand-painted look to it and was $13.99/yard.

I’m not usually a big fan of sewing with wovens (it’s more about wearing than sewing, actually — I much prefer to wear knits) but this fabric was pretty inspiring, especially because it has two ‘good sides’ with slightly different colours on each side. Immediately I thought of this halter dress that exploits both sides of a fabric in the design — most of the dress is wrong-side out except for the swoopy thing across the front & shoulder. I’m not sure this style of dress is something I’d be comfortable wearing, but I’m tempted to just sew it anyway because I’m feeling inspired.

If I chicken out on the halter dress — and I probably will; who needs to be farting around with strapless bras in a summer heatwave, anyway? — I think this Lynn Mizono pattern, V1410, would suit the fabric quite well. This is one of those patterns that I bought precisely because it’s a bit weird. Which is also precisely why I am unlikely to wear this one either, but highly likely to sew it.

Right, so the BLIND FABRIC DATE.  Vancouver Barbara is someone who comments on this blog every once in a while. She wrote that she fell so in love with the fabric I had used on this dress that she called up King Textiles in Toronto to buy some, but it turns out they wouldn’t agree to ship any unless she bought some huge amount like 12 yards or something. So she did! I thought that was awesome — she’s a woman who knows what she likes! Anyway, Barbara was passing through Toronto recently on her way to exciting places in Europe, and decided to invite me out for a coffee. Am I ever glad she took the chance! What a lovely lady. We chatted about our shared interests in sewing and art and jewelry and then popped into Designer Fabrics and the Workroom to ogle fabric. She was wearing an extraordinary patterned grey & black jacket she sewed with hot pink topstitching all over the intricate pattern — what a showstopper! Anyway, it was great to have the opportunity to meet up with a fellow sewing enthusiast and have it turn out to be such a delightful time. Perhaps when Barbara returns from her travels I’ll convince her to send me some pics of her jacket to share with you.

Thanks for reading! Do let me know if you have any suggestions for what to sew with these new fabrics!

*Most dictionaries will tell you this means fart, but I found one that gives an alternate definition of “a puff of wind”. I was desperate to milk that alliteration for all it was worth. 🙂