Product review: Soma sparkle pajamas

sparkle_jammiesBoy, it’s tough easing back into work life amid holiday upheaval, no? I thought to do it with a good old fashioned product review. This item was a gift from my SIL, a pajama set from Soma Intimates (from the same folks as Chicos & WHBM) and since I’m mostly pleased with the construction and patterning of it and you all have said it is instructional to know product strengths, I thought to detail some of that here.

Unfortunately as per my usual, I have to open with irrelevant comments of things that annoy me (there are two points) or I can’t even get to the review part of it. The first annoying thing is the product line name, namely “Soma”. Now, it’s good I got these as a gift because I never ever would have walked into a store called Soma considering its literary association. You know, Brave New World and all that. I mean, it would be horridly creepy if they also sold bracelets there, know what I mean? I’m sure you’re shuddering just like I am (I’m reliving the experience). Or passing the soma if you’ve got the good stuff. But yeah, I get it. Soma is close enough to somnolent or somnolence to suggest sleepwear but then -get this- they had other stuff in that Soma store (we went the day after to get a gift for someone else) that leads me to believe that sleeping per se was not wholly what shoppers are intended to have in mind. Maybe Soma is closer to VS for older ladies who’ve given up on being racy. You know, ladies like me.

The second thing that annoys me is they had to name every style. Do not do that. Soma, Chicos and big name brands can do that but please don’t start. It is very annoying. Style numbers are best especially if you’re a little guy. I feel like an idiot having to ask for “cool nights digi bloom”, “make the cut crop” or “cool nights mod dot reese” (seriously, I didn’t make this up. Numbers are really nice, they’re short and sweet.

Okay, irritations dispensed with, I would rate this pajama set as an A- or a B+. Rating piece meal I would grade the patternmaking an A+ (caveat on the facing width), the sewing an A, but the finishing is a bit off and gets a C. Finishing was the least of it, don’t let that sway you, I think this product is well designed and a great value. Especially if it is on sale ($69 each, pieces sold separately, buy one get one free). Before I forget, the colorways on site (I have the red set) are more accurate than the colors depicted in my review. My photos are orange-ish. Photos on the Soma site show berry-ish colored prints.

collar_stand_facingHere are things I liked about the pattern design. First off, the facing was cut large and deep, to full out the neckline when it’s on a hanger. This is important in better products. It was also stitched down into place -which isn’t always an option or even desirable depending on styling but was perfect in this case since you don’t want a facing becoming wadded up in sleepwear. The back neck seam was finished off with a bit of satin trim; the satin was turned under (no raw edges). The collar had a separate collar stand, virtually unheard of in even many women’s and men’s jackets. The neckline was a V and properly shaped. As I’ve mentioned before but can’t find now, a V neck should not be comprised of perfectly straight lines, they should be slightly curved. Of course this meant that the lower collar was not a revers but cut separately, meaning higher cost. Not that it would have been bad had the lapel (rever) been cut as one with the front but it was a nice touch that it was not. The only downside to the patterning was the front neckline facing. It was just a bit too narrow for performance. Meaning, the facing rolls out a bit into the neckline so it’s visible. This isn’t necessarily a fault of the pattern maker because it is possible that its maker was directed to reduce fabric costs by making facings smaller. An alternative to this could have been to stitch the front facing into place at least part way down, concealing the stitching under the roll of the collar.

The construction was very good on all benchmarks. These days it seems most sleeves and fronts/backs are hemmed before being joined to the garment meaning the overlocked seams finish raw at garment edges; this was not the case with this item. Top stitching was neat and even, the facings were tacked into place at the inside shoulder line. The sleep pants (which I’ve not mentioned yet) were also nicely finished. The pants featured a “draw string” tie (really a satin belt, turned to finish and neatly pressed) which were tacked at the center back of the pants. Meaning you couldn’t accidentally pull the belt out of the casing. Also, the waist line was finished with a row of narrow elastic but not pulled so tightly to be constrictive but sufficient to keep the waistline from bunching if you draw up the pant waist more tightly. OH, and I can’t forget this but the sleep pants had pockets! Not huge ones but sufficient for small items like keys or a cell phone. The pockets were also nicely made. The pocket line was finished off with a bit of self knit (again all raw edges turned under) which keeps the pocket from sagging or gaping open.

soma_buttons_bubblingFinishing was fifty/fifty. Finishing is that last bit of here and there stuff (like top stitching and attaching buttons) before the item is packaged. For example, the buttons weren’t spaced properly to line up with the button holes and because there were an inordinate number of buttons (= higher value) the misalignment was less easy to conceal. At right the photo shows a bit of bunching between buttons.

The other finishing detail that was off was thread trimming. There were little bits of thread hanging off. On the lapel. I do not understand why any sane person would start and stop the top stitching dead center of the focal point of a garment attribute. Start at the back neck or someplace less obvious than the center midway point of a collar lapel curve. I mean really, that’s like double daring for something to go awry. I don’t mean to sound like a crabby complainer because this was a very minor problem and considering the print and otherwise excellent product design attributes, not a significant impact on the overall product quality.

So, there you have it. Anything I failed to make clear, let me know. And, I look forward to catching up with all of you tomorrow after my house guests have returned to their respective homes… but then again Mr. Fashion-Incubator has the week off so who knows just how productive I’ll be. I’ll bet you know all about that. I’m thinking of putting him to work writing a post or something. Alternatively he needs a new coat and I’ve been threatening him that he’ll have to make his own this year. Wouldn’t that be fun? His vest projects came out great.

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7 comments

  1. dosfashionistas says:

    I think the collar is pulling the neck open slightly, there where the facing is showing. To do a “fake” revere like that is something I would tend to take points off for. Unless they joined the collar and revere to make a one piece collar, so that it would roll as one unit.

    Good sewing though. I would expect to see those collar pieces either slightly overlapped or with space between them half the time.

  2. Fiona says:

    Off topic question: Have you heard of Eshakti.com? It’s an clothing company with custom sizing & styling options, apparently made in India. For being custom-made, their clothes are suspiciously cheap and supposedly fast to arrive. But looking around for reviews online, I found a lot of positive ones. I thought this was interesting because they seem to be the only retailer in the cheap & custom niche. For now, at least. Here’s an interview: http://plussize.about.com/od/plussizedesigners/a/eshaktibasics_2.htm

  3. Marie-Christine says:

    Maybe it’s a bit less creepy – SOMA is South of Market in San Francisco, which used to be a fairly cool neighborhood to buy clothes at. Since these people don’t seem connected to SF at all, they may well have changed the case out of indifference/ignorance? Whatever. They look like nice enough pjs, but then I’m very spoiled in that dept :-).

    Definitely I’d put Mr F-I to work on a coat. This is the year he’s most likely to get good use of it :-). Maybe even if you don’t end up going anywhere before June. Besides I’m thinking of a coat too, and I’d love to hear whatever advice you feel inspired to dispense as you comment on his efforts. Poor guy though, to think some of us got to do pjs as beginning projects…

  4. Judy Vella says:

    I own a pajama company (www.soulsister.com – I think we may have communicated a while ago) and appreciate your comments about these Soma pjs. It’s evident that you are an expert in your field and your critique is very good. I should send you a pair of Soul Sister pajamas for you to review – perhaps I could be doing a better job! I’m assuming these Soma pjs are made in China . . . ?

  5. Kathleen says:

    Fiona -interesting. No, I had not heard of this company.

    M-C, I’m guessing they picked Soma as being related to sleep stuff. But who knows? Mr F-I actually went to the leather store today (unbidden). He liked the hair on calf and the goat skin. I told him most hair on is used for decor and he really doesn’t want to sew it. The goat… he can’t have and learned that the hard way because we have one cat who goes bonkers over goat hide and feels compelled to pee on it.

    Judy, only rarely do I do product reviews (unless it is for Refine My Line). It is possible you did email me once about it, your site looks familiar but I left as soon as the site loaded because music started playing so I didn’t see any of the styles. I am personally distressed by music on websites (I call it auditory ambushing) and don’t review products on sites with it. I know I’m weird but you might want to reconsider it for another reason; music discourages site visits because it can cue one’s co-workers that someone is surfing rather than working.

    I don’t know where the pajamas were made, I already cut the labels out (I always remove the labels from my clothing) but I’m guessing they were not produced in the US. More to the point, I’m interested in where their product development was done. More firms are bringing that back domestically.

  6. Judy Vella says:

    Kathleen,
    Appreciate your input. I’m currently working on a revamp of the site and that change will be made.
    If you want to just see the site, press, etc., you can go to: http://www.soulsister.com/home.htm – no music:) Check out the press part – you’ll see a lot about the company there.

    I’m sure the Soma line is produced in China. Their product development is done in Fort Myers, FL – that is where their corporate headquarters is located.

    Thanks again!

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