|Pattern Description: Lined dress has forward shoulder seams, bias front, fitted bodice with shoulder pleats, raised waist, semi-fitted skirt, right side pleats, bias back pleated midriff, invisible back zipper, and slit. Note: No provisions provided for above waist adjustment.|
Pattern Sizing: Sizes 10-26. I cut a 12, tapered to a 10 at the waist.
Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes. I changed some design details but what I kept, looks like the sample.
Were the instructions easy to follow? I have to admit, I sew while listening to audio books so my reading comprehension goes way down hill, but there were a couple things I got a little stumped by on the muslin, that I'll share with you in case you tend to gloss over things too.
In the smaller size pattern, the front bodice piece has mismarked dots up on the left (as worn) shoulder. The dots are marked 18-26 instead of 10-18. Those are the dots to which you need to clip after doing your initial stay stitching, and there's a whole lot going on in that section because of the pleat for the cowl. I suggest marking the dot either by referencing the location of the dot on the other shoulder, or by determining which dot would apply to your size by its location in relation to the other dots.
The other thing that was all my own fault but I'll just mention because it's easy to overlook, is that the pleats on the skirt should be pleated on the inside, not on the outside. When I first sewed the muslin, I assumed they were like the pleats on the back midriff and should be external and the end result was depressingly unflattering. I would describe the look as, "half deflated tire." Not the effect I was hoping for. If you look closely at the pattern envelope, you'll see they are definitely sewn to the inside and that's far more flattering.
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
Likes: I love love cowl necks and this is a beautiful one. The raised waist is subtle but I think it helps to elongate the legs (mine are stubular, to use the technical term) and the pleats add some visual interest to an otherwise simple dress.
Dislikes: While I used the first recommended fabric on the envelope (ponte knit) I could not get the back midriff pleats to play nice. I could have topstitched them into place, I suppose, but when I simply pressed them, they got all hinky, in any position but when they were laid flat so I just worked a basic back midriff piece instead of the pleats.
I also ditched the sleeves. The poly ponte knit is scratchy and fairly stable so the sleeves felt constricting and itchy and tended to pull at the bodice when I moved. Because I'm so short, I also felt they made me look really top heavy and unbalanced.
Dress with sleeves
If I had long legs for miles, I think I could rock this and feel comfortable, but it just felt like too much on me.
So I ditched the sleeves.
Fabric Used: Polyester Ponte Knit from Fabric.com. I picked this because I was originally planning to wear this for NYE for an event where the likelihood of being spilled on, or worse, was pretty high, so I wanted a fabric that could be washed and that, if destroyed, wouldn't be a total loss. I ended up finishing the dress with sleeves, the day before the event and I felt so uncomfortable with the sleeves that I decided to wear something else. It was only a few weeks later that I ripped out the sleeves and lining and reworked it into its final form. The poly ponte is a good washable material but it's pretty unforgiving. As you can see in back, it's shiny enough to highlight every crease in the fabric when you move. The front does the same but it doesn't stand out as much. The lighting in my photo is particularly bad for this. It's less noticeable in the sort of lighting I'll normally be seen wearing this.
The lining is power net. I would have loved to use black, to match the dress, but flesh-ish tone was what I could find and had to suffice. I did a lot of pick stitching around the neck and armhole to keep everything in place.
Back lining: This was before I took the sleeves out. To make it sleeveless, I ripped the sleeves, undid the shoulders, undid all the fell stitching around the zipper, and used the lining to face the armscye, reassembled the shoulder and re-stitched the lining around the zipper.
Front lining: The square in front is the weight for the cowl. This power net feels great and makes the garment very comfortable to wear.
Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: Along with losing the back midriff pleats and sleeves, I lengthened the bodice by an inch and tapered the waist. Be careful when you stitch the lining around the back vent. It tends to cause the back hem to pull up, if it's too snug. I actually ripped out my stitching and have it loose.
Oh the other thing that surprised me about the pattern is that the first two of the three recommended fabrics are knits but two of the pieces are to be cut on the bias. I didn't see any benefit in that so I cut all the pieces on the straight of grain.
Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I might sew it again, without the sleeves, in a nicer fabric. I feel like this has a lot of potential to be a go-to LBD, but not in this cheap ponte knit fabric. If you like the dress, I would definitely recommend it. but do a muslin and check the fit of the sleeves. I find them particularly long and thin.
Conclusion: My New Year's Eve dress never made it to the party but I'm sure I'll put it to good use eventually. It's an easy project that could be very elegant in a nice fabric.