Beth also thought I might appreciate this pattern as part of the Amazing Fit collection. There are four different cup sizes included as separate pattern pieces – a godsend for my ongoing fitting issues with my upper chest. The pattern instructions are also unusually exhaustive for a modern pattern. This would be great for someone making a dress for the first time.
The pattern goes together unusually, in that all the front section is sewn together, all the back sections sewn together and then the two are joined at the side seams. This makes it much easier to adjust. (Often, the bodice is constructed, the skirt is constructed, and the two are then sewn together at the waist. Fine, if you know your fit is accurate.)
I began making this dress as a ‘wearable toile’. I had in mind another fabric, but the fabric was so utterly beautiful I wanted to check fit first.
I had shed loads of this polyester crepe stuffed in a side cupboard so decided I could happily sacrifice some to a toile. But the deeper I got into the make, the more it felt a crying shame not to do a good job on this. So I listened to my mother’s voice ringing around my childhood head: If a job’s worth doing, do it properly. Yes, Mother! (Seriously I think that mantra has carried me through most of my adult life…)
So I started taking things seriously. The polyester crepe had quite a bit of drape and a certain amount of stretch. Without a lining it would have looked awful, clinging to parts I wouldn’t want it to cling to. So I pulled out the polka dot lining fabric I bought in a collective organised by Handmade Jane:
I did a lot of tweaking as I fitted, and would transfer adjustments to the paper pieces for my second make. I cut out a size 16, but then had to take it in quite a lot. I slowed down my sewing. When I want to take a make seriously, I hate pushing myself. You really need time to mull things over – and so it was with the pockets on this dress.
Because of the drape of this crepe, the pocket panels kept drooping. This drove me insane. I would not have droops when I’d worked so hard! I thought and thought. I probably didn’t touch the dress for a week. If I’d known this would be an issue, I thought. I’d have interfaced those pieces… But now they’d been sewn in and the seams overlocked. Then I had my lightbulb moment! Why not add some hindsight interfacing? I cut some panels, overlocked the edges, and fused them onto the rear of my pockets. (Actually, what you see is some fairly heavy duty fusible interlining.) This was a risky moment. If my plan didn’t work, I’d just ruined a good dress. But it worked!
This does make me wonder if my dress is now destined for the dry cleaners rather than the washing machine. Time – and recklessness! – will tell.
Even I am prepared to admit, I think the dress is very flattering to my figure…
And the details are so cute! Those pockets.That collar. The ickle bow…
Beth definitely chose very well for me! I think more of us should do this – spot a pattern we think would suit someone and gift it to them. I always really enjoy being taken out of my comfort zone.
And talking of comfort zones… The one disappointment of this dress is that my sleeve head insertion is heinous. Just awful. I could have cried. It took five attempts to insert one of the sleeves, and in the end I didn’t have the strength to keep trying. I felt so, so isolated. I’ve read blog posts where people lament the death of family teaching and I fully concur. Yes! Why couldn’t I call on a parent or grandparent to show me what to do? Why did Beth, my lovely sewing teacher, live in San Francisco instead of London? I wanted to kick a wall!
So, I know I have some learning to do on that front. I’ve read lots of blog talk about unnecessary fullness in sleeve heads. If anyone has any hints or tutorials to flag up, I will love you for ever.
On the plus front, my invisible zip is performing magnificently and I managed another lovely insertion of a hook and eye:
It really makes a big difference to sew these between your layers of fabric. The closure works much better. I know some of you have asked for a ‘how to’ on this, and I will do one – it’s just that when I was inserting this hook and eye I was wild eyed and in my dressing gown. Not really in the mood to slow down and start taking photos. But I will, I will!
My one last note is that I think my fabric choice was 80% good, 20% bad. It’s a fabulous colour and the softness of it works excellently with the collar, bow, and pocket flap details. But elsewhere, the drape became problematic – on the pockets and sleeve insertion, for example. But as a dress that started its life as a wearable toile, I’m pretty happy with the outcome. It’s very, very comfortable to wear.
So, that’s your lot! It’s a great pattern, I recommend it. You’re going to see it again in a totally different fabric – and I suspect the next make is going to be much more straightforward.