A couple of months ago Amy, the editor of Love Sewing Magazine, got in touch to see if I’d like to review one of the upcoming free patterns. I was happy to give it a go as I’d been in the sewing doldrums and hoped a bit of a challenge would bring me out of it. I was a little concerned about getting a half decent picture when Amy asked if I would like to go and do a proper photo shoot; hair, make up and everything! They wanted to showcase readers makes but also show them on real bodies. I must admit to being a little apprehensive, it’s one thing taking a few photos in the back garden to put on a blog but being in a national magazine (the UK’s No 1 sewing mag) took it to another level. But my family encouraged me to do it, saying I’d never done anything like it before and may never get the chance to do it again!
So one bright morning in February I ventured across the Derbyshire Peaks to their studio in Stockport. Amy was first up modelling her Vogue eve appeal dress which looked stunning. Meanwhile, Nina did my hair and makeup. I’d worn black tights and taken my blue wedding shoes to wear but Denise the shoot director persuaded me that blue tights and blue suede heels would look better in the pictures (I was worried I’d look like a Smurf but looking at the photos she was so right, I could really do with her restyling me every morning before I leave the house!) Then it was my turn in front of Renata’s camera.
Who knew modelling could be so difficult? I quickly exhausted my blog photo poses (hands by side, hand on hip, I couldn’t do the usual hands in pockets as I didn’t have any!) I was at a bit of a loss what to do so went to my default setting of giggling and messing around. The problem was I screwed my eyes up when I laughed so I had to try and master smiling with my eyes open. I was a bit worried they wouldn’t get a single shot of me with a straight face but after taking umpty nine photos (along with some of me and Amy giggling) they were satisfied with what they had. (Renata also took a couple of head shots which now grace all my online profiles, I only wish I could use it for my driving license!)
Anyway, here’s the review and loads of photos. (I’ll post the full text of the review afterwards in case the snapshot is unreadable)
I’d just like to say a big thanks to Amy, Nina, Denise and Renata for making me feel so comfortable and making it a day I’ll never forget!
Here’s the review:
I think it’s sometimes easy to be put off a pattern due to the way it’s been styled on the front of the envelope. Bearing this in mind I wouldn’t have initially been drawn to this pattern but going by the line drawing I could see that it had potential.
The fabric I used was a midnight blue animal print Crepe de Chine from the Fabric Godmother. Very lightweight and floaty with a lovely drape to it. After a test sew I decided to use a size 70 needle and a slightly shorter stitch length to minimise the risk of puckering, which is one of the pitfalls of sewing with fine fabrics.
Although my measurements (42-34-42) put me at size 20 I know from experience that Butterick patterns come up large on me so decided to size down to an 18.
I made a quick muslin before cutting into the good stuff and although the fit was fine around the yoke and bust there was a lot of ease in the dress and it came up very large. There’s no shaping to the dress so it’s straight up and down. The pleats at the back also produced a lot of volume which is a place where it isn’t necessarily needed. I decided to tweak it a little and add a bit of shaping. I graded right down to a 12 at the waist and then graded out to a 26 towards the hem to give it a bit of flare around the bottom.
As the fabric was very lightweight I used Vilene superfine interfacing on both the yoke and yoke facing which gave it an extra bit of stability. I used French seams throughout and it came together very quickly. The most time-consuming part was sewing the yoke.
The grading between sizes seems to have worked quite well and I am much happier with how the dress falls now. It has also pulled in the back a little across the waist but there is still a lot of volume above. I think pinching out a couple of the pleats at the back might help reduce this.
Advantages: quick and easy to make, no fastenings so easy to throw on.
Disadvantages: a lot of extra ease and unnecessary volume at the back (but these can be fixed with a bit of tweaking).
It’s quite a difficult dress to fit as you go along, it’s impossible to try it on until the yoke is attached (by which time the dress is essentially finished) One option would be to only sew the top few inches of the side and back seams and then add the yoke. This gives the opportunity to tweak the fit of the dress before finishing the seams.
It’s an ideal dress for summer, the loose fit is perfect for hot days when you don’t want to be restricted by anything fitted. There’s also the option to shorten the dress into a top, which is what I plan to do with the muslin I made. I think fabric choice is key to making this pattern work, it really needs to be fairly lightweight with plenty of drape, anything with a bit of body could have the potential to look bulky. I would add in seam pockets next time, one of the best things about sewing your own clothes is the opportunity to add pockets to everything!