A State Of Bewilderment Brought On By A Dress

factory dress

I’m not gonna lie, guys. This dress really lives up to its name. If I was going on a first date, I wouldn’t think, I know! I’ll wear my factory dress. The one that goes really well with a hair net and safety boots.


I’ve worn it all day. When I catch sight of myself in a mirror, I don’t cringe away. I kind of like it. No, I do – I like it! Still, there’s no denying that it’s a pig to photograph. Which suggests it’s not that flattering in real life.

Factory Dress CollageOne error I made was being too literal in my choice of fabric. I thought this cotton suited the aesthetic of the dress. It does – and that’s the problem. I honestly wouldn’t look out of place clocking in to a war time factory to grease engine parts. But what if this was in a red linen or a bold print?

factory dress envelopeAnother error I made was in ignoring the envelope photography. The dress is swamping the model, so what did I think it would do to me? I did a lot of unpicking and sizing down – two whole sizes. And my dress is still roomy. Oh well, I know now – and so do you! Go down a couple of sizes. Trust me.

factory dress instructions

I didn’t find the instructions super-easy to follow. They’re fairly basic. The sketches suit Merchant & Mills aesthetic but I repeatedly found myself asking, ‘So, is that the wrong side or the right side?’

I’m not giving up on this dress. Get it right, and I have the perfect cool throw on for summer. I think. I hope!

I’ll admit, my issues with this dress are more than fabric and pattern alone can answer to. My body is changing – I’m in my mid-40s now. I’m trying to find what suits and sometimes I’m failing. I’d never have believed this transitional period would be so challenging, but it turns out it is. I’m not sure that sewing a factory dress helps!

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92 Responses to A State Of Bewilderment Brought On By A Dress

  1. senjiva says:

    I think the dress fabric is really great, but how about adding a few small, vertical darts in the waistline?

    • I’m done with this version, but I agree that some waist shaping (which isn’t in the pattern) would help! I’ll try that on a second version. Thanks!

      • senjiva says:

        How about just hacking off the bottom and then you have a cute, easy summer blouse with your Ginger jeans!

  2. ooobop! says:

    I would have totally judged that sewing pattern by the cover, I have to admit. The length and the fit has got to be all wrong on that model and I don’t like what the sleeves are doing. How on earth did you see past that? You’ve totally worked it, Karen. Fit and styled and I think your fabric choice is perfect. x

    • Yes, there’s a detail in italic in the sleeve instruction that I really didn’t like: ‘The sleeve end is slightly smaller to create a rolled up sleeve effect.’ Um, why not just draft a sleeve that sits well? It’s actually not too bad, but did irritate me. Meh, the designer probably just likes crunched up sleeves. Who am I to judge?

  3. Tanya says:

    I’ve just made the Camber dress, which I love, but I’m really glad I chose an octopus print rather than my first choice linen. Reading around I remember someone mentioned that M&M suited women of a certain age and I found myself cringeing. I’m not ready to look like someone of a certain age!

  4. Maureen van heusen says:

    Love your blog!

  5. lauriesannie says:

    It looks very comfortable and roomy. I wonder if the original WWII design was meant to go over other clothes. Sometimes one seems pictures of “chars” with street clothing or sweaters underneath some kind of overdress. And our grandmothers used to wear some kind of “house dress” in which to do their daily chores. So it fits its description. But I think it must be quite cool in the warm weather in the way that a shift wouldn’t be. Airy.

  6. fijones says:

    the photo on the pattern envelope really put me off, I think your dress is ideal for a warm summer day in the UK

  7. Jen Forsythe says:

    Your version is lovely, the fabric is a good choice. I just made it too and it’s turned out pretty big, I would definitely go down a size or two, although funny enough I have worn it and it’s comfy, would be great in warm weather. I know what you mean though, I’m not sure that in my late 40’s it’s really what I should be wearing?! I need clothes to flatter my good bits now (I think I have some still) – It does have possibilities though.

  8. Knitlass says:

    I’m mid 40s too, and have not had the benefit of a mirror in my house for the last couple if months (renovation underway). Yesterday I tried on some clothes – and was slightly alarmed by the body I saw in the mirror in the changing room. It doesn’t look like the one I have (had!) in my head!

    I love the idea of M&M patterns, and I love ogling their fabrics, but I suspect they would all look awful on me… Comfort is good, but I’m still not convinced 😉

    • Agreed on all fronts! I have to force myself not to buy Tessuti patterns. I really love what they do but I know I’d look like a sack of potatoes. Some designs call for the tall and lean.

  9. Ali says:

    I was dithering between this and the shirt dress, I made the shirt dress and it is huge as well, I should have gone down at least a size and chosen some more contemporary fabric. I think the photos on the packet always look cool and retro on a young, slim model but not quite so funky on a 40 something! But as others have said, it’s very comfortable, however, I don’t yet feel ready to prioritise “comfort” above style completely! Unfortunately we all judge ourselves too harshly and it actually looks much better than you describe!

  10. felicia says:

    As someone who has gone through several “body changes” and struggled for the last decade with how I’m supposed to present myself as a … I don’t know … middle aged old bag? … I’ve come to the realization that the body doesn’t change as much as the body image. And why should the body image change? There’s no point in looking like our mothers. Things have changed. I would ditch this dress (I hope that doesn’t sound too harsh) and go with something sensual and elegant, as befits a woman in her prime. And as far as I’m concerned, maybe I’ll be past my prime at 70, but even that I’m not sure of.

  11. sylkotwist says:

    Ooh Karen I’m with you on the going through a phase thing! In my head I’m still an art student and I so wish I could still carry off the boyfriend cardi, short skirts and docs look, but sadly, my body’s saying otherwise! Personally, I like the dress on you a lot and free of factory grease you look gorgeous!

  12. Ann Warner says:

    I think your dress looks great on you, but most Merchant and Mills patterns are designed to be loose and the ones I’ve seen made up in Linen fabrics are fab, perhaps going down two sizes is altering the fit and style too far away from its original design.

  13. karen says:

    You wear it well. You had on the Staple Dress at the Minerva meet and it looked so good on you I didn’t recognise it till later!! ps thought the fabric said prison at first, sorry K xXx

  14. Cherry says:

    Maybe ‘everyday dress’ would be a suitable name. I’ve had this pattern for a while and seeing yours and your comments I reckon I’d give it a go now. Fabric with a bit more drape? Maybe a soft linen. I like your version and I don’t see why a dress cannot be both stylish and comfortable. I am probably a certain age now but still have my stylish moments! Now is not as it was for our mothers and grandmothers.

  15. Helena says:

    I really like it on you and the fabric is a lovely shade. I have had the Camber Set pattern for a while and am going on a day course to make it in July. I think we are making it as a top. Will be interested to see if I have to size down as the designs are quite loose fitting. I love the styling of Merchant and Mills and am really pleased with my Uniqlo T Shirt that I bought after seeing it on your blog(I think).

  16. Ruth says:

    Love the fabric. I made this dress in a rust needle cord, and I looked like a 1970s teacher and not in a good way! I was hoping for a 1930s vibe. I think you look better in most other things you have made.

    • Jen (NY) says:

      Chuckle….I made a shirtdress in a gray pinwhale cord and I thought I looked like an Amish lady. Not quite sure how that happened.

  17. Chris says:

    I salute you for giving this dress a chance – the envelope photography is just horrible imho and I would not have been able to envisage the dress that you made in the end judging from the envelope.
    I’m glad you mentioned the transition period “problem”. Makes me realise I’m not alone in this and yes, in fact this IS normal.

  18. Ellen says:

    I’d have to say I would find it hard to believe that dress would be flattering on anyone! Maybe another fabric, but why bother. There are so many great fabrics and patterns, might be best to move on. I know what you are saying about body changes with aging, but that’s the beauty of sewing your own, you can make it work for you. Following your blog it is clear that you have skill, good taste, and a sense of adventure. Not only that, most of your makes are gorgeous.

  19. Jen (NY) says:

    Being in about the same age range, I understand the issue. Unintentional vintageness. (For this reason, I now avoid vintage-y styles that look like something my grandmother or mother might have worn). One thing, I think that hemlines and sleeve lengths really matter – A LOT. Whenever possible, or comfortable, a shorter length on both helps eliminate the Frump (or the Factory, as the case might be).

  20. helen says:

    Interested to see that you’ve made this dress. I’ve been looking at the pattern for over a year now and each time talk my way out buying it. I like the style but not sure how it would work in real life. I’ on the short side as well which I don’t think would help it. (Tilly from ‘The house of Elliott ‘ has just popped into my mind…)
    Actually I know that I look best in styles that define my waist (whilst I still have one) so I think this is one dress that I’ll leave for now.
    I do like the fabric though.

  21. Melody A. says:

    I think the dress looks really nice on you and I love reading your blog and seeing what you are making. Thank you

  22. sandra says:

    Your version is SOO much better than the pattern photograph.

  23. ellegeemakes says:

    I’ve misjudged a pattern by its cover sooooo many times. The fabric is great and if you find yourself not wearing the dress, you could refashion it. I’ve had to do that too many times to count (I never learn). One of my favorite things to do with dresses is to cut them off and turn them into cute tops/tunics that I can wear over leggings. Just a thought.

  24. Andrea says:

    I know what you mean. I am in my mid forties as well and really struggle with age appropriateness versus what actually suits me. I find I absolutely have to have waist definition or else I look frumpy. I would definitely shorten this to mini dress length and wear with leggings

  25. I love the idea of the merchant and mills patterns, they just swap me. Don’t think I’m ready for the baggy dressing of a lady of a certain age. Having said all that, in the heat of summer, perfect for walks in the park!

  26. Ligi says:

    You sewed a really pretty dress that you are ” rockin” in the photos. I like a commenters idea of making a short version in a crepe or drapery fabric! ( I saw a similar rayon dress with a bird print, and belt).
    I am in my 40s too, and I made a similar shaped dress. Loved it for hot days, but eventually I realized I just reached dor my shaped jersey dresses with lots of ruching or draped details, or my silk cowl neck tops (sewn) with my (sewn) skirts,,, sigh sillhoutes are not easy to pin down.

    You have great taste, and you style your outfits so well. It sounds like in your post you can make your makes look great on you, but how hard do you want to ‘work’ for them? Hope this makes sense. I know I often have worked hard on a skirt or dress, and eventually, I just don’t want to work for it any more– I want it to work for me!

  27. So reassuring to hear so many commenters echoing your thoughts about transition. I feel as though I’m going through the same changes as my teen and pre-teen only in reverse!

  28. Sarah says:

    I truly don’t know who this dress would suit. It’s based on a style that was designed to be a generic one style to fit all and be able to work in but not necessarily flatter….. If you are comfy and cool in it then fab but you have made many other frocks that are far more stylish – I really don’t think it’s you or your age, it’s the fact that it’s basically a uniform! go put on the red lace dress and feel fabulous again!

    • LinB says:

      I also cannot imagine whom this dress would suit! Prison matron? Resident in a masonic orphanage in 1947? I think Our Karen is far too lovely to wear what truly looks like the sort of thing that was forced upon women in prison in the 1930s. It could sub in for the dress that Maria wore out of the convent to go to her interview as governess to the Von Trapp family, in “The Sound of Music,” one supposes. But that’s just one woman’s opinion.

  29. Philippa says:

    I am 44 and everything has been heading south since about 38! I long to wear styles like this and look cool and uncontrived, but having a bust gets in the way somewhat. I have been wondering recently if I should just dress my curves instead of fighting them. It’s so interesting to learn others have similar dilemmas and to see what their conclusions are! I like the refreshing honesty in your blog x

  30. Lorna says:

    I like it on you – but I totally get what you’re saying. I’m 47, and can’t wear this shape without, er, looking my age! Not ready for that yet. Isn’t it difficult to accommodate body changes? I’ve been a beanpole all my life, but an expanded middle-aged midsection has completely flummoxed me. That said, fabric and colour do make a huge difference, and I think a red linen version of the Factory dress would be lovely. If you don’t feel good in this version, why not chuck it in the washing machine with some red dye and see what happens? Xx

  31. Kathy says:

    I like your dress. But I really liked your commentary, so funny!! I’m in my early 50’s and share some of the same concerns. And you said you like the dress too. Maybe not for a night on the town. But for a day at home or walking the dog, it’s great.

  32. tinygoldenpins says:

    I like this dress but I’ve only worn it once. I used a linen pretty much like the one selling the pattern and I made a mistake and cut the fabric in the wrong place so ended up hiding it by putting my pleats too far inward. And, it’s big. And, I don’t know. I like the IDEA of it more than the finished dress. I’d love to see you try to jazz it up some. However, I LOVE your fabric (I wish I used more quilting fabric these days because I pretty much love everything Parson Gray does….

    Yeah….red linen!!!!

  33. Melissa says:

    Interesting post. Obviously it has touched a nerve with many people. Our bodies changing is a tough phase we are all dealing with. I am trying to define my new style as my body shape changes!

    I recently made the Factory Dress but as a top only. You’re right in that I could’ve gone down at least a size. I didn’t make the dress precisely because I thought I suspected it would not look good on me. I like the top part though.

  34. Elle says:

    I know you have a sense of humor and hope you won’t take offense where none is intended, but no, no, no. You always look beautiful in your clothes, but that factory dress has managed to frumpify both the model and you. Perhaps the original factory owners encouraged dowdy duds so that the workers would concentrate on their tasks, rather than than being tempted to cast appreciative glances toward one another.

  35. i think you look lovely in that dress.

    • helen says:

      I made the camber dress and it’s loose but comfy. I also shortened it considerably and used a bright modern linen print which takes away from the wartime workhouse vibe !

  36. Carolyn says:

    I actually LOVE dresses like this too, and they’re perfect for our long hot summers. So comfy and cool! If you find you’re not wearing it much you could always lop it off hip level; voila, tunic!! Loose tunics look really chic with a little fitted mini skirt on underneath 🙂

  37. Karen I hear you! I have always had challenges dressing myself, but the 40s are a funny time when I found myself wondering, should I wear that? The good news is, at 50, I no longer care! I wear exactly what I feel like. I brazen it out. I heartily recommend fast forwarding and napalming that field of f**ks, lady. xoxo

  38. I’ve made this dress a couple of times now, once in a super crazy fabric from the market (think leopard print, roses, zebra stripes and hearts and you’re almost there!) and once in a plain khaki almost diaphanous cotton. I love it. It’s nice and roomy and easy to wear. It may not be the most flattering but with my shape I kinda like wearing baggy but stylish baggy! I think your dress looks lovely but maybe go with the size it tells you to make for the next one to see how that feels? It doesn’t swamp me, it just looks relaxed 🙂

  39. Geo P says:

    I learned I need to run away as fast as I can from dresses with no waist shaping. That being said, I love the details on this pattern and I almost bought it several times. I am not sure what it is, but it keeps calling me and I have to keep resisting. It could be a very nice dress with some additional shaping.

  40. paloverdeblooms says:

    If you were aiming for matronly, then you’ve hit the jackpot. You’ve made some gorgeous clothes that are very flattering. Seek one of those out instead.

  41. Michelle says:

    Also in my mid-40s, and it’s hard finding styles and colours that don’t make me look frumpy! By rights this should have worked with the waist join at least, but you’re right – there is not enough shaping. Try it in an orange linen – would be perfect for a summer throw over!

  42. Claire says:

    Oooo, how many of us here commenting about how to dress in our 40’s and beyond. I’m 44 and love so many styles but do wonder if what I make is actually flattering? So often I’m pushing things around in my wardrobe feeling meh! A post on style for 40 – 50 somethings who don’t wish to dress ‘older but don’t want to look like mutton dressed as lamb would be interesting…

  43. Roobeedoo says:

    Very interesting! I made this dress last year out of a dotted chambray and I have never worn it. It looks too much like a dinner lady overall. I blamed the fabric. However, I also thought it needed to be over-sized so that it skims rather than touches. If you fit it too well through the bust it gets awfully top-heavy looking, which is not a look I feel comfortable with. Totally with you on the changing body shape thing (even if it is all in your / my mind!). Did you see that Lucky Lucille made it with ties at the back to give more definition? That looked good, I thought.
    Have you seen the new Merchant and Mills Workbook? Lots of potential there I think.
    It occurs to me that there is quite a large cohort of mid-40s to mid-50s sewing bloggers out there – maybe we need to start a movement!

  44. heathermltn says:

    I think the dress looks great on you and I love the fabric!

    I’ve had this pattern for a while myself and have had a lot of the same worries about it. I’d also like to remove the pleats at the waist, but I’ve only been able to find one tutorial on how to do this (coletterie – Sorbetto). I’m not sure if it’s applicable to the factory dress. Any ideas on how to do this? Thanks!

  45. I like it, I feel it would work well in jersey as a super comfy summer dress!

  46. Caroline says:

    I like this dress and I think it looks good on you because you made a much smaller size. Though I think it would look better in a floaty viscose or a drapey jersey – I prefer these fabrics for dresses of this style – the secret is in the drape!

  47. Colleen says:

    I know just what you mean about Factory Dress. I used an old curtain to try it out and look just like I’ve stepped out of a wartime factory, great for working around the house and wearing on the allotment but not smart in the least! I suspect that there’s something about getting the ratio between the dropped waist and the skirt right as well as using fabric with some drape. Not sure that I’ll ever get as much use out of the pattern as I have out of M&M’s Camber though. I’m a big fan of the Merchant and Mills’ aesthetic, but think they do themselves no favours with the photos on their patterns. The Strand Coat for example looks grim, but having tried a toile on in their shop in Rye, decided to make a lined version from wool and I love it.

    Really interested to read all the comments about transition. Physiques and attitudes do change with age and there is a need to experiment. Unfortunately when you make your own there’s always the chance that the final product doesn’t quite deliver your vision. Clothes have to make us feel good and if they don’t. well, time to say goodbye.

    Thanks for hosting such a stimulating sharing of views. I don’t comment often, but always enjoy popping in here.

  48. Deborah says:

    I made this dress last summer. I am a fairly novice sewer and found the instructions tricky to understand (so your comment made me feel much better), and I made it much smaller too. All that said, I do love wearing it! It is so comfortable and have had lots of positive comments when wearing it. I certainly intend to make another.I think your fabric choice perfect and you look great in it!

  49. Katie M says:

    My totally honest opinion … You’ve done a great job with this dress, but I’m not terribly keen on the pattern. While I appreciate comfort, I’m not a fan of baggy styles that don’t flatter the figure. Over the years you have made so many wonderful, totally flattering makes. I agree that you could put in waist darts to shape the dress, but why bother? You have made a nice, wearable dress, but if it were me, I would just move on to another pattern that looks great straight out of the packet.

  50. Karen, I think the problem is the pattern…it’s too shapeless and it won’t look good on everyone (would look dreadful on me). That said it looks nice on the envelope…not on the model though. That said it’s a matter of personal aesthetics…yesterday I saw some women proudly wearing an indie designer’s pattern and it looked like a sack of potatoes on all of them. Similarly…I nearly bought a shirt because I liked the print…thankfully I tried it on beforehand…hideous on me! Sometimes we judge things from the cover and can’t picture them on us…! Another honest opinion ;o)

  51. What a fantastic post! Attention-grabbing title, personable writing, fun topic. I love it. I think the dress looks perfectly fine, but if there were more of a waist, it’d pop more. Katie M may be onto something about finding a pattern you like right out of the packet. But maybe tinkering is part of the fun for you?

  52. Confession: I cannot bring myself to buy a pattern from a company where the envelope art always shows the finished garment crumpled on a floor. I’m not sure what kind of aesthetic they’re aiming for overall–a friend once called it Coal Miner Chic, and I think that comes closest–but I cannot understand all the fuss about these patterns.

  53. KimP says:

    I love this dress pattern because it is in the style that would have looked so fantastic on me in my 20s. (I was skinny. Real skinny. With a tan. Because we didn’t know better back then.) But I resisted because I’m over 50 now and I am now not so skinny. I love it on you and now I’m reconsidering. : )

  54. birdmommy says:

    I love Merchant and Mills – in theory. In practice, the amount of pattern alteration I’d have to do so I don’t look like ‘a credenza draped in bunting’ (thanks, Erma Bombeck!) would basically eliminate the whole M&M look. I think their designs may be best suited to waifish young things who look like they found a treasure trove of their great-grannies old clothes.
    As I am busty and middle aged, it would take a time machine and significant plastic surgery for me to carry this look off.

  55. Melanie says:

    I like the dress a lot. And if nothing else your writing made me laugh! This beauty needs to live in her factory state, which I adore for the reasons you stated. And I like it on you. If you’re not happy with how it looks, I suppose you could exercise the ‘tude with red heels and a big colourful scarf or some colourful neck pieces, something along those lines.

  56. @morecheerful says:

    I’m almost 48. I made this dress last summer out of an orange chambray, and really like wearing it when it’s hot. It’s smart but easy to wear. Huge, though (but sometimes i like huge). I then made the trapeze dress which looks TERRIBLE. I look like a weeble in it. This has put me off further M&M patterns 🙂

  57. Sarah says:

    This dress certainly suits a certain style of dressing. One of the women that works in M&M looks absolutely fabulous in the factory dress, and I believe she’s probably in her mid 40’s. She was wearing it with a long sleeve top underneath, coloured tights and chunky boots. I loved that look. I love the pattern but am put off making it after making the Strand coat earlier this year, and definitely struggled with understanding the instructions somewhat!

  58. Sheree says:

    I always think that if the pattern looks unflattering on the model, what chance do the rest of us have. At your age ( I am older than you – please take my advise!) you have absolutely no worries about what to wear. You always look great in your makes and style them perfectly. This dress is a departure from that – unfortunately. Nothing to do with your shape or age – it’s the style.

  59. thewallinna says:

    First off, this pattern would look completely different in silk jersey or any other lightweight knit fabric! With a belt! I am also struggling with transitional age/style idea/image perception and I am experimenting with what I wear vs. what others would rather see me wear. Overall, I think trials (and errors) are a good thing: we learn so much about ourselves regardless our age, backgrounds and statuses. Keep on trying!

  60. i’m 40 and struggling somewhat with what to wear. i work with a lot of trendy people who have just graduated and none of them dress like me (however they all dress much like each other, which isn’t something to aspire to in my mind). the M&M look is not for me and neither is the yummy mummy type look that relatively fashionable 40 somethings seem to favour (leggings/ skinny jeans/ tunics/ boots). but then i think about some of the fabulous examples in the sewing community like ooobop and nicole needles who have a signature style and always look fabulous. so i am sticking with the vintagey style i worked out through wardrobe architect!

  61. KW says:

    I think I may just at the age of 61 be beginning to have an idea of what suits me and what I look best in for this decade! As a pear shaped size 14 (on a good day) I am happiest in slim leg trousers, fairly simple but interesting and not too voluminous tops / tunics and my favourite leather biker style jacket. Almost a 60s shape but updated. So knowing this I continue to make the occasional dress that I feel like a child in and loose cardigans that completely hide any shape I may still have! I think I have to fight the dressing up element of sewing that still appeals so much – although it would be dull to always do that. So if this dress gives you doubts don’t make it again but you haven’t lost anything from experimenting. On an aside I found looking at the MMM 15 flicker pool interesting for identifying styles of dress I found most appealing.

  62. Oh my goodness what a debate. I too love the style of all things M and M except their patterns!
    If you love ‘granny chic’ this dress is a winner. Unfortunately I do not relish looking like a granny just yet!
    I do how ever love your fabric choice…
    best d xx

  63. That is exactly what I would look like in it. Whoops! Jo x

  64. Inder says:

    Great discussion! I love the “sack dress” look and some of my favorite bloggers totally rock it! I think you look great, and there’s no reason for you to “cringe when you see yourself in the mirror” because you look totally comfy and fine. But if it’s not your thing it’s not your thing, that’s okay too. I’m 38 and I understand what you’re saying about transitions – my body is different than it used to be, and styles have changes, and I struggle a bit to embrace my inner hipness and find the shapes that work best for a changed body. It’s hard! Some of it is trial and error and it can be painful to spend a lot of time sewing something that you’re “just not that into” but that’s a learning experience too.

  65. Leslie says:

    I’ve had my eye on this pattern for ages…I like it on you. Probably not great for a date, but…. It doesn’t read granny to me at all. In fact, it reminds me of something my gorgeous grandmother would have worn as a young woman in the late ’20s or early ’30s and she looked fab. She wouldn’t have been caught dead in it at my age (57) but then…she wouldn’t have left the house without her girdle on, either. I still haven’t figured out what to wear.

  66. This dress is nice but I think that it could suit some bright colour for the Summer, vivid orange or red linen or a big print would be fab. Yes, I am now thicker of waist and lower of boobs since I hit my 40’s. Bit of a fitting challenge but so glad not to care anymore. Having the confidence to not give a shit is the best bit of getting older.xx

  67. Sewniptuck says:

    I’m sorry, walk away from it now and save your sanity. My reaction when they released this pattern was “oooh, just what I’ve always wanted – a sack to make me look like a 1940s factory worker’! I have a similarly ugly dress I wear to death in the hottest part of summer mind you. But if the doorbell rings I duck for cover! In white it would look very fetching on the ladies lawn bowls team though?

  68. Joyapple says:

    What an interesting post. You said you’d picked fabric that seemed to fit the mood/style of the pattern. I think our fore-bears wouldn’t have had a great choice of fabric so might have added some detail to brighten/ring changes on an otherwise serviceable garment. I could see a nice plump cherry brooch on your dress to make it more fun.
    Maybe we all need a ‘personal pattern picker’ along the line of a personal shopper to help us honour our changing bodies.

  69. Polly Pierce says:

    Oh Karen! You’ve done a lovely job on this dress, but it is exactly as you’ve described it and wouldn’t go amiss in a WW2 munitions factory! That said it does look super comfortable and you could always jazz it up with a self-belt…

  70. Gabrielle says:

    I love this style of dress, but sadly I don’t think it’s very flattering except on the sort of willowy women that look good in anything. So it’s not you, it’s the dress!! I think the dress either needs lots of flare for a grand a-line shape that fits at the shoulders and swooshes around the legs (too late for that, I know) or to be cinched in at the waist. Could you add wide elastic or a drawstring to the waist of the dress? There are a couple of patterns (the utility dress and the holiday top) on the Maker’s Atelier site that look similarly plain but with cinched in waists, and it makes a huge difference…

  71. Like any garment that you are making for the First time, I always suggest to students that a toile is made first, lots of my students (as do I ) use the Merchant and Mills patterns, very often we may make a few changes, a tuck here or there shorten or lengthen or maybe nothing at all, as for sizing you can never be sure with any pattern, I find normally too small which is far worse than being too big, especially if you didn’t make a toile. Merchant and Mills patterns are easy to follow ( maybe read them twice) and have some interesting construction techniques, that I sometimes take and use for other garments.

  72. I’ve made a few of these and they’re great, best in a solid. If you get the ease and length right the dress just fades into the background and focus falls on the wearer and accessories. In winter I wear over longleeved t shirts or a colourful hip length cardi, and opaque tights and boots, you can create different looks with the same dress. I secretly refer to them as my Tenko dresses, a much earlier prisoner series that you’re far too young to remember.

  73. lindamartha says:

    I’ve also tried this dress and the bodice is hanging up nicely next to the skirt-it fits nicely but I decided to make it in some kind of wool checked suiting that an elderly neighbor gave to me and its summer here. I’ll complete it when it cools down again. Like you my concern is finding the right fabric. I have a really sweet pink cotton that I need to do something with and nearly made it in that initially-but it would of made me look like an icecream parlor queen. Some of the instructions got me as well.
    I do like the dress on you and the fabric you chose is nice.

  74. Pingback: Serious Summer Sewing | Feature Zip

  75. Luzmín says:

    I just started sewing this and I am in my mid 40’s and yes my body is changing. I can certainly relate. This is one of the reasons I picked this dress, and also because it looks like the ones my grandmother used to wear. I’m finding the instrucrions very sparse and I already had to look for images and I’m just at the pocket. Yours looks lovely on you and I do like the choice of fabric. The first paragraph made me lol. Thanks for the post!

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