Less Than The Sum

simple pleat dress maker atelier

This is The Pleat Detail Dress from Maker’s Atelier, and I can’t help feeling that I’ve sewn myself not quite the most flattering dress! Which is an awful shame, because the pattern is super-lovely, so is the linen and so is the ribbon trim I attached to the neckline. In fact, there’s a lot to love here. I mean, look at this neckline!

collar ribbon detail

I had a lot of fun pinning that ribbon in place. It’s a detail I shamelessly copied from the samples on Maker Atelier’s stand at The Great British Sewing Bee Live.

And there’s a lovely back zipper placement, which I very much enjoyed sewing…

back zipper

Here’s the dress out in the wild. Yes, my suspicions are confirmed. A nice dress to slouch around in; not so great for dates/job interviews/school reunions.

pleat front dress

I think I could afford to go down a size and experiment with a fabric that wasn’t as hessian-like in colour and texture! I’d also play around with the neckline, which I’m not sure is the most flattering on me. I don’t know! What say you?

chocolate linen

simple pleat dress


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68 Responses to Less Than The Sum

  1. Becky says:

    This is lovely, Karen, but I agree about the neckline. I just don’t like those wide crew necklines on me. I think this is a great “day” dress, but it’s not dressy. It’s nice to have day dresses, don’t you think? I have grown to like them a lot this past summer. They are cooler than shorts or pants. This might be a great dress out of merino for winter. How do you think it would make up in cotton jersey?

    • didyoumakethat says:

      Yeah, I’ll probably wear this a lot pottering about.

    • Mairead says:

      Your suggestion of it being made up in a cotton jersey is interesting. When I saw this design first posted on Instagram by the Maker’s Atelier, I asked if it would be suitable for jersey fabrics, as I thought it would look much nicer in the sort of stable drapiness you get from a jersey. The reply was that it had been designed for a woven fabric, but I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who thinks it would be nice in a jersey!

  2. Clare H says:

    I think you are right. It looks very well made and I love the ribbon but you are right, in a nut shell, it’s not flattering you. Plus if I’m honest it’s reminiscent of school uniform. Maybe a brighter colour and a less crease prone material you’d be happier.
    I am in the midst of a sewing project that is not looking as if it will turn out brilliantly but I’m ploughing on ‘cos that’s what you do! And maybe we always set our sights very high.

  3. Lynn says:

    I kinda agree I’ve seen you in more flattering styles. 😏 Love your site ❤️

  4. Anna says:

    Hi, have you tried it with black or dark plum coloured tights? Boring I know but they are a failsafe way of streamlining a look. However, I agree with the others some of your fitted dresses are more flattering. Your hit rate is pretty high so don’t be too disheartened 🙂

  5. Lori Abraham says:

    Ok, so maybe the neckline could be less, full, maybe.
    However, I do like the sleeve style and very much the front pleat.
    I agree the style is more recreational.

  6. Ros says:

    I wonder if it would work better as a tunic – slightly shorter and worn over jeans/leggings? Or alternatively a couple of inches longer and yes, smaller/more fitted, as a dres.

    • Nikki says:

      I agree on the “shorter” part. I actually think it would be nice as a top. I love the neckline. As a dress, perhaps in a softer fabric that would skim the body more?

  7. Aileen Brown says:

    You’re gorgeous – you don’t need ‘baggy’! Bit more fitted suits you more though it does look beautifully made.

  8. hearthie says:

    The sewing is lovely. You did a beautiful job.

    But a sack dress is not going to look well on your figure, no matter what you do to it. You need something more fitted.

    Find someone shaped like Twiggy, hand them the dress and make their day… ?

    • didyoumakethat says:

      I agree. I think this is much more about my body shape than about the pattern.

    • JenL says:

      Don’t give up on sack dresses quite yet! I suggest subtle shaping. It is amazing what a small curve in a side seam can do, just under the bust to the waist area. Also, despite the volume of these dresses, anyone who normally needs an FBA should definitely do one, otherwise the front does not hang well.

  9. Kate says:

    I think the problem is with the pattern. So many Makers’ Atelier patterns look beautiful on the hanger but they are drafted to be very loose and – as someone else said – sack like. It’s not you, it’s them! I love the ribbon neckline but I think MA need to try harder.

    • didyoumakethat says:

      I think the Maker’s Atelier aesthetic and drafting are utter, utter and gorgeous perfection – but possibly not perfection for my body shape!

  10. Alison G says:

    It’s a great pattern but I agree it’s not flattering. Maybe a few inches longer, it looks like it’s not sure if it’s a tunic or a dress.

    • didyoumakethat says:

      I removed several inches from the length so that would be my call, not the pattern’s. But you’re right – I’ve possibly misjudged.

  11. I modified mine after I first sewed it as I didn’t think it was overly flattering on me. I lowered the neckline and lowered the pleat. Next time I make it I will take out the back pleat too. I like yours though. I think it looks great.

  12. Emma says:

    I was so glad when I saw you bought this, because I was hovering over the £22 pattern & we have similar body shapes. It looks incredibly comfortable and I love the way you style your clothes, plus at 50 I’m all about baggy: but it’s a no for me. Reminds me of the factory dress which looks great in the photos, I thought was marvellous when I made it but now is headed for the charity shop.

  13. Lynn says:

    The fabric and the cut of the dress just make the resulting garment very much a sack. I tend to agree with the idea of a jersey insofar as a softer, drapier fabric would lead to a dress with less of a tendency to just billow out in a less than flattering way.lse

  14. Deb Moyers says:

    I believe I would consider remove the stitching where the yoke and pleat meet and place gathers there or across the seam, and / or shortening the dress to make a tunic or top. Maybe you would get more use out of your make, which is really very well made.

  15. Elle says:

    Hmm yes, lovely parts, not quite lovely sum. I think most of us need at least some part to be fitted: shoulder, bust, waist or hips.

  16. Beremy says:

    Totally agree with you and appreciate your honesty. Just a shame as expensive mistake.

  17. Karen says:

    I made the top version in white linen with a black brass exposed zip and that works really well. Will try it as a tunic but not a dress, but I knew that when I bought the pattern

  18. Susan Bowdler says:

    The pattern is attractive, the fabric is beautiful and the dress is well made, probably looks lovely on a hanger but it’s true, it doesn’t do much for you sadly. Too ill defined. Definitely better in a softer fabric (that pleat needs to be soft and flatter) and with a different neckline, possible longer sleeves would bring a better balance to the dress too. Think we’ve all got beautifully made garments hanging in our wardrobes, unworn because the finished item just doesn’t suit us. The only draw back with hand made is that you can’t try it on first! All part of the learning process……

    • didyoumakethat says:

      Very true re not knowing until we’ve sewn. Maybe that’s one of the reasons that people cling on to Tried And Tested patterns…?

  19. Megan says:

    I actually really like it in the first photo… I was flip flopping about the colour but that colour does suit you. I like the neckline and the ribbon detail. However it does not look as nice with the cardy. I think you need to start walking Ella with high heels instead of joggers!

  20. Errant Pear says:

    Hmm. I’m in the camp that this one is the pattern’s fault. I don’t think it looks good on their model. The sack shape doesn’t do much for anyone, but then they went and added kimono sleeves which create extra folds of fabric that further disguise your figure. And on top of that the sleeves (to me) are an awkward length. Nice to see your lovely handiwork, though.

  21. Deb says:

    Well, I really like it.

  22. JenL says:

    My two cents… I think the dress is just fine, but this pattern might also be cute as a slightly shorter tunic, maybe with some slim jeans. Beyond that, I think the neckline is fine, but perhaps it is the balance of the higher/jewel neckline with the sleeves that might be bothering you? I’m curious how it would look with the sleeves folded up a little.

  23. kmom14 says:

    I think this is a perfect little weekender dress just to relax and runaround it just the way it is, but if you wanted to make it one for work you could for sure go smaller, but I love the folded ribbon detail and would keep that. Also agree with Jen that as is but shorter would make a great tunic with some slim jeans.

  24. Mary says:

    No intention of being insulting, so please don’t take it that way…. You have curves.
    If you look in the shops, some dresses are best advertised on a person, while others have “hanger appeal”. A dress that looks good on a hanger will most likely suit a flatter-chested woman better than a curvy woman. A dress style that looks better on a mannequin will most likely suit curvy women better than boyish women.
    It’s not bad though, its just not dressy. The colour is really wonderful on you!

  25. I would love to see the dress with sleek knee high boots which are very on trend right now. I’m not as fond of the trainers with it. I think the pleating detail you did is really lovely and I rather like the burgundy shafe of the fabric too.

  26. I’d salvage the lovely fabric and make something else from it- skirt maybe? I find this style of neckline is rarely flattering on anyone with a bust, the pleat isn’t falling at a good place, yadda yadda. PS the brooch makes it look very Star Trek lol
    Maybe in jersey, with a different neckline, blah blah. OK for lounging, but not much else going for it unfortunately. We all have misses. Nope, move along the bus please!

  27. bracken says:

    Its not so bad. Its a lovely colour and looks comfortable and warm for winter. I like it. But then I am a fan of loose dresses at the weekend. Makes for a comforable dog walking, shopping type of dress by the looks of it. I really love the colour and the ribbon is an idea I may nick from you!

  28. Sheree says:

    Looking at their web-site I see that the “V-necked Shift Dress” is almost identical. I am sure you will get plenty of use as it is, but I would be tempted to alter to V neck. Then, perhaps add a necklace and it becomes more flattering. Thats not to say I don’t like the pleat detail. Perfect work – just think it would suit another garment better.

  29. Victoria says:

    I quite like it. I don’t think you’re doing it any favours with the blue tights or a longer cardigan. Take in the side seams a smidge, wear with a shorter or even cropped cardi and black tights with heels and it’s a nice smart dress, even in that fabric. You may not want to do those things, I’m just saying that they would make it a smarter dress. I know you like lots of colours but this dress in that colour and fabric is calling out for classic in order to be smart. Otherwise it is more of a sack.

  30. Ms Deborah M Beddow says:

    I bought this pattern at the Sewing Bee too, glad you have made it as sometimes I make the same pattern changes you do. I’ll be trying a smaller size plus FBA and maybe a change in the angle on the shoulders. I did this with the True Bias Sutton and it worked much better.

  31. Jennifer White says:

    I’ve just taken to the charity shop all my blouses and jumpers I’ve had for years but hardly worn that have batwing or dropped shoulders because they are very unflattering on me – far too much fabric around the armhole and you can’t walk around all day with hands on hips!. I have small shoulders so set-in sleeves work best, especially if the body of the garment is loose fitting.

    • didyoumakethat says:

      Your comment about ‘You can’t walk around all day with hands on hips’ made me laugh out loud – and how do you hold your G&T?!

      • Clare H says:

        Your coming moment amused me but after long hard look at my life it has to change. I rarely stand with my hands on my hips. I’ve pictured a quizzical assertive look on my face and I want to live like that. 🤣 Thank you 😊 🍾To change

  32. erinalter says:

    If I were tweaking this I might widen the neckline to a boat neck, just because I like those more than crew necks. But way more importantly is do an FBA and use a drapier fabric, maybe a crepe. I think those of us with bustier figures can wear this style, if you give yourself enough room so that the fabric can hang… between, thus demonstrating the lack of a mono-boob. This hanging also shows that your waist cuts in, freeing up your hands for other duties. And drapey fabrics help emphasize this. Maybe a wool crepe? Something with lots of drape and also some body.

    • didyoumakethat says:

      I am tempted to try this again in, for example, a triple crepe.

      • erinalter says:

        ok. i was just looking at the line drawing for this pattern again, contemplating how i would go about an FBA given the kimono sleeves. and suddenly it can to me in a flash! have the darts come out of the CF seam! i think that would result in minimal changes to the original design lines of the dress. and might even be awesome.

  33. Helen says:

    For me, the charm of this pattern lies in the wedge shape. I think that got lost when you shortened it. So now it is an in between length – too long to be a tunic, too short for the intended shape of the dress. I don’t find the neckline unflattering. I rather like it and love the ribbon trim. I agree with the suggestions to shorten it to tunic length and wear it over slim jeans or enemy a slim pair of pants.

  34. I really like the dress! The colour is divine on you. I do like the styling with the heeled booties and without a cardigan. It is meant as a smarter dress. I don’t find it unflattering to your body at all. Here it is all about showcasing your gorgeous legs and the deep colour of the dress. 🙂 However, if you feel uncomfortable in it as is, I’m sure you will find a way to change it more to your liking.

  35. pjdavidson says:

    Put me down as loving the dress. I’m stealing the neckline trim idea; it looks gorgeous on you. Love the color too.

  36. Claudia says:

    I really like…
    That you put this up for discussion.
    I like learning from makes that are not 100% perfect/likeable.

  37. Alison says:

    I like the dress and especially the colour but feel it’s all happening at the top. What about putting the same trim on the hem or a patch pocket or two?

  38. strange yarn says:

    Gosh, that color really suits you. Chopping this into a shirt, with black trousers and some boots, would be a great transformation. A long gold necklace would complete the look. Otherwise, a closer fit at the bustline (by taking in the sides) could help the silhouette overall.

    I make a lot of a-line kimono sleeved tunics but they only work because of negative ease in the bustline and upper waist flowing into positive ease at the hipline. This balances the wide sleeve and hem very nicely.

  39. Sara says:

    I really love it and think it looks fab on you. You totally rock that look.

  40. Sue Leassner says:

    I think you executed the pattern well and I love the ribboned trim. I think dropped shoulders and dolman type sleeves add weight to any woman that is not very angular. They’re back in style and easy to sew but rarely flattering on most moderately curved women. I went to the Maker’s Antelier site and saw that most of their patterns are very loose or bulky through the bust shoulder area. If you look at the pattern drawings instead of the model photos you can get a better idea of just how wide they are above the waist. Nothing wrong with that for the slim and tall among us, but they aren’t ever going to be flattering on my ample shape.

  41. I think it’s still lovely, despite the more casual look. I adore the neckline, and the pleat detail.

  42. Barbara Waites says:

    Hi Karen
    I think it’s a lovely dress but it may be better in a heavier linen and a little long so the centre pleat hangs better ?
    Barbara x

  43. Barbara Waites says:

    That was meant to be ‘longer’ !

  44. Julia says:

    I have this pattern and am so glad I haven’t made it up before reading all the comments here! I was bowled over when Makers Atelier introduced their patterns – which look so wonderful in their fabric choices and on their tall models – but suspect with my very, very short stature I should reluctantly stay away from some of them!

    However, I think yours Karen would be fine with black tights and shoes? And no brooch, which detracts from the lovely pleat trim?

  45. Colleen says:

    If it’s any consolation I often have a problem with dresses and outerwear that are slouchy and comfortable to wear but not the most flattering propositions. It’s happened to me a couple of times with Merchant and Mills patterns. The drape of the fabric seems to make a disproportionate difference to how well the garment works when it’s worn. Get it wrong and comfortable soon becomes, well, a little bit drafty to say the least, especially at this time of year. Having said that, I do love the colour on you and I definitely approve of the blue tights. (And no, I’m not a West Ham supporter.)

  46. jocolumbine says:

    To avoid throwing the baby out with the bathwater, I think I’d shorten the dress to hip length and wear it as a top, then you can go for snugger proportions below to balance the fullness. I suspect that at even tunic length it wouldn’t work too well with your usual aesthetic. Having said that, I remember reading an article by Cashmerette (I think) on what ‘flattering’ means in common parlance: very often taken to indicate that ‘it makes you look thinner’! Perhaps that shouldn’t always be our strongest motivation to choose a pattern!

  47. Julia Wyatt says:

    Actually I really like the dress and material and think you look good in it but it needs to be kept sleek. Trainers and cardigan make it too messy

  48. I meant to comment on the last post about The Maker’s Atelier. I love the aesthetic. The patterns are glorious, but I really feel that they wouldn’t do anyone curvy a favour and would suit the flatter of chest a bit better. This made me very sad as I have been humming and aching over the book for months now.
    You have made a beautiful dress. Your sewing is always gorgeous but the shape is a bit boxy for you. What about a belt? It is such a gorgeous colour for the Autumn that it would be a shame if it is relegated to the back of your wardrobe. Xx

  49. Pamela Bowen says:

    There is so much to say about comfortability. The color suits you. The drape is a little stiff, perhaps a Crepe De Sheen would flow better. I love the length. For you to have chosen this pattern there must have been something that spoke to you…’I love it, I want this!’ Nothing is ever a loss in our sewing experience. We learn new techniques, such as the ribbon application. Wear it proudly, you created it! Success achieved!
    Pam Bowen

  50. Elizabeth Atkin says:

    I do think the dress suits you well, but don’t think the stockings, shoes and cardigan are working with it. Have you tried a more sheer black stocking and a low pump shoe with the dress?

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