Trialling Designer Stitch Patterns: Donelle Top and Harper Pants

I had seen a few of the tester makes of the Donelle Top by Designer Stitch and I’d been tempted by the Harper Pant before. They are a Aussie pattern co, which is nice to see, so I decided to give them a try.

Normally I’m a but dubious about seeing heaps of tester photos, all with glowing reviews, when a new pattern is released. They strike me as being more promotional than actually testing the pattern. So many of the Indie pattern companies use this model. Usually, that is a turn-off for me. I’m curious if you feel the same?

Pricing, Sizing

This is an Australian based pattern co, but the pricing is in USD. Go figure? Patterns are around the USD$10-13 mark and have multiple design options within the pattern, making them quite good value.

Sizing is based on 5’6″ height and from (AU/UK) 6 – 26 (bust 80-130cm or 32-52″). The sizing chart is quite comprehensive, eg crotch and bicep measurement, and are given in cm and inches. Selected finished garment measurements are included in the instructions. The top included pattern pieces fro B- DD cup sizes.

They state that the “patterns are designed to be “true-to-size”. There is not a lot of extra ease loaded into the styles so please choose the size that is closest to your own body measurements.” Based on my experience from these two patterns, I would size down. I also found the lengths quite long, much more than I’d expect for the 5’6″ draft.

Printing and Instructions

The pattern PDFs are provided in A0 and A4/Letter formats, with layer options so you can choose with sizes to print. There is a trimless file included. I tried this for the Donelle Top and found that my printer didn’t always print in the same place on the page. This made it a nightmare to put together. I used the trim file for the pants and although using more paper, it went together a lot faster. The layout has been well thought out, and doesn’t require all pages to be taped together.

The instruction booklet is a bit chaotic, eg fabric requirements aren’t listed anywhere near the pattern sizing or “shopping list” section. The actual sewing instructions are well written and very well illustrated.

Donelle Top

I was really looking forward to making this. In my sketch it looked so good. I’d planned to use a cerise rayon knit to make the top, but as luck would have it, I didn’t have enough fabric to make the top. It uses a LOT of fabric. An when I say, I was lucky, that was because the top ended up way too big, both in length and width. Of biggest concern, was how deep the front neckline became. Well past the bust point, and I’m wondering if some of the testers would have needed to tack it closed.

Another thing I found odd is that there are no notches for the placement of the “ties”, instead you need to measure 5cm above and 7cm below the waistband to find the placement. Fiddly.

The top was a bit of a flop and I wouldn’t bother making it again. I plan to repurpose the fabric somehow and also recover the buckle. I found it hard to get one locally and didn’t want to mail order one, so Dear Hubby made one for me. It turned out really nice, so I’m hoping to use it on another top, Butterick 5484, sometime soon.

Designer Stitch donelle top – failure

Harper Pants

These are a ponte pant with elastic waistband, faux fly and faux back welt pockets. Front pocket options for a jeans style functional pocket or faux slant pocket. Straight or slim pant with optional front pintuck and belt loops.

As these were more of a trial pant, I opted not to do the front pockets. I went with the straight leg and had planned to include the pintuck. The instructions for the pin-tuck were not clear, so it didn’t get done. For fitting, I basted the waistband and used this to adjust the front and back crotch height at the waist.

I’m quite happy with the result and will make these again.

Designer Stitch Harper Pants – back false welt pocket

Sewing Project Score card

About these ratings

11 thoughts on “Trialling Designer Stitch Patterns: Donelle Top and Harper Pants

  1. I agree with you that all those tests with enthusiastic reviews just sound fake. The only useful part is if I can find a body twin among the testers. Glad these pants worked out here, and it’s a shame about the top..


    1. I agree, it’s hard to tell if the comments are genuine and how much assistance they received. On the bright side, I have a cunning plan to rework the top using a different pattern. Stay tuned…


  2. I usually wait until I see a “real” person use a pattern before I buy from a new pattern company. I usually don’t have to wait long to see someone make it on a blog or on pattern review. Sorry this didn’t work out for you!


  3. “The sizing chart is quite compressive,” Did you mean to say comprehensive? If not, I don’t understand.


  4. Greetings my friend. Ann from Designer Stitch. I am always available for help. The Donelle is designed so it is 4cms smaller than actual body measures so not sure why yours ended up so big as you wrote. All my contact details are on page 2 of the sew instruct. Cheerio.


    1. Hi Ann, thanks for your offer. I’m not sure what happened with the top either. I chose the sizes based on my measurements and had the recommended fabric. I do love the pants – wore them to work yesterday – so comfy


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