Well hello, my friends…
Yes, I had a fabulous birthday, thank you for asking 😁 As I mentioned in my last post, one of the things I did to celebrate my birthday and the first anniversary of The Fair Stitch is making myself a special dress; a dress from a pattern that I’d not made before, in a style that I’d never tried before – kind of, basically just to take a step outside of my comfort zone.
I reviewed the magazine a few weeks ago and I expressed my reluctance to trace the patterns, even though I was in love with the patterns offered, especially this one – the Little Rabbit Dress. I took my time tracing the pattern, I think I only traced (and added seam allowance) one piece a day to keep my sanity, ha! There are 7 pattern pieces for this, all nested on this giant paper along with another garment’s pattern pieces. You really need to concentrate to find your pieces, but I found that it was more daunting to think about it than doing it. I mean, once you have found your line, it isn’t that difficult, really. Just remember to double check the notches, darts, and other markings. I did a bit of research to see how people trace the pattern, a lot of them seem to suggest going over your line with a marker or crayon. I used felt tip pen on my first piece but then I found out I was fine without, and I didn’t want to ruin my original pattern much. I always use this tracing paper that I got from Amazon (it is not an affiliated link), I love it as it is sturdy and really see through. Yes, it rolls but ironing the pattern pieces after you’ve traced and cut the paper helps flatten them. It is retailed for around £16 for 20m (841mm wide) of paper. My studio is never without it.
The instructions for this pattern, and for all the patterns in the magazine actually, are very minimal. Definitely not for the faint hearted, nor the non-experienced. I have made quite a number of dresses before, but there is a technique required here that I’d never tried, and as you are about to see I ended up giving up on it – I am usually not a quitter, but the time pressure got to me, I only had two days to finish this dress. Yes, I know, who would do that, right? Actually, a lot of us sewists do haha. The instructions don’t explain techniques at all. They were more of “do this, I don’t care how you do it, just do it”. They are more useful for the order of construction, I think. But if you’ve made a dress in this style before, it shouldn’t be too challenging.
I said in this post that I wanted to make this dress for my birthday, in maybe viscose crepe as that’d have been easier for me to find. I ended up buying a See You At Six viscose from Sew Me Sunshine for this project, only to find the fabric was too luxurious! I have sewn with Atelier Brunette’s viscose before, and for the price I thought they were the best there is, but alas… this one I bought feels better, sturdier, is somewhat thicker and not so see through. I love it so much that I couldn’t bring myself to use it on a pattern that was basically new to me. So I decided to buy new fabric for this project.
So the fabric I used to make the dress is polyester crepe from Fabric Godmother (non-affiliated) retailed for £3.50 per half metre, I used 2.5 m (150cm wide fabric). It has got nice drape and is very opaque. It is a bit textured as crepes are, and a little bit of a pain to sew – and cut for that matter.
The sewing process.
I had problems with skipping stitches when I tried sewing with my universal needle, so I bought a set of Microtex only to find they didn’t work either. Out of frustration, I decided to try quilting needle and lo and behold, it worked! I didn’t expect that. I even used the smallest needle. My stitches looked nice and neat – except for the bits where I suddenly forgot how to stitch straight and veered off a bit. I’m not telling you where they are. 😛
Seriously though, if you have skipped stitches when sewing polyester, try these bad boys if you have them in your sewing box. I have no idea why I had those, I don’t even quilt. I only thought of using the quilting needle because I thought they were supposed to work on layers (so sharper?), and as they say Microtex are extra sharp, so I thought maybe these would be good enough, and they were. Obviously, always test first on fabric scraps.
Another thing I found challenging during the sewing process is how slippery the fabric was. Also how difficult it was to press. I really struggled with the inner collar stand as this piece isn’t interfaced. The inside of my collar isn’t the best I’ve ever done, but for now I’m happy enough.
As you can see, my sleeves are short instead of lovely long puffy sleeves with nice wide cuffs. Well, that’s because I really struggled with the cuff slit. The instruction only says, ‘make a tiny hem’, and tried as I might I couldn’t make my tiny hem neat enough to save my life! I then tried continuous lap technique, only to realise I needed more time as it was also way too fiddly. So I chopped the sleeves. I found this video on YouTube on continuous lap if you’d like to try this technique. I am definitely going to revisit and practice it in the future.
- I chose the sleeve pattern for another garment in this magazine that were less wide (the Hazelnut shirt) and shortened the sleeves.
- I french-seamed e v e r y t h i n g, yes including the sleeves and bodice-skirt join. No raw edges visible in this garment, woo-hoo! French-seaming gathers is basically the same as regular french-seam, just fiddlier.
- I shortened the skirt by 4 inches.
- I think the dress was drafted for a B cup, as I didn’t need to change the bust based on my toile. I did however found there was way too much ease on the waist for my liking, so I took the side seams in.
- I added waist tie. I baste-stitched the ties to back bodice piece, positioned them 2cm above the bottom edge and continued with the french seam.
The dress has back shoulder darts, which I thought was odd. I never came across these before, I thought that maybe because the dress was vintage inspired? I volunteer at a charity shop where we sell vintage dresses and I noticed a lot of them have back shoulder darts.
Regarding the fabric, I thought I’d hate it because I never liked wearing polyester as they don’t allow your skin to breathe, I always feel too hot in them. But on my birthday, we went out for a meal and I didn’t feel too uncomfortable in this dress. I also love how I can wear tights without worrying about my skirt riding up.
I love the fit of this dress, also the length of my skirt. The dress isn’t too tight but it isn’t as loose as the photo of the finished dress in the magazine.
Changes for future make(s).
- Obviously I want to try the long sleeve again.
- I’ll try to change the button placement. I’d be happier with extra button on the bust area. It’s my fault really, as the pattern actually calls for 6 buttons on the bodice – though it doesn’t have button placement marked on the bodice piece.
- I am still toying with this idea, and I don’t know if it’d work, but I’d love to add waistband to this dress.
- I want to try Peter Pan collar with this bodice, I think that’d be cute.
You know, I’m actually not sure how many stars I’d give this pattern. I love the finished garment, even with the chopped sleeves. As I said the instructions were minimal, but the pattern I feel was well drafted. The challenges I encountered were more of my lack of expertise/technique, fabric choice, and rushing.
To be completely honest, I feel compelled to give this pattern a 5 out 5 stars, because I think this pattern didn’t over promise nor under deliver. You go in knowing that you’d need to trace and manually add SA to the pieces from the jumbled mess and very likely would not get much support from the designer(s), along with very brief instructions. But I could’ve easily made the dress without the changes and I’d end up with a dress that’s pretty much like the photo in the magazine and based on my toile, I’d not end up with fitting issues. The changes I made were because of my personal taste. And to think that the pattern comes with 18 other patterns in a bundle for £10, talk about value, eh? Yeah, why not then…
I realised that not everyone has access to this amazing magazine from their local shops, I got mine from a local WH Smith, so I am going to give you a link to the Ottobre online shop, where you can purchase the magazine including the fabrics that they used for the samples in the magazine.
I hope you enjoyed this review, maybe got inspired to sew something similar? Please hit the like button below if you did, if you have any questions just leave me a comment below and I’ll get back to you ASAP. Subscribe to my blog for more posts from me. I’ll be back next week with even more exciting stuff. 😉 See you again soon.