I did spend an inordinate amount of time looking for a dress that would suit my figure. Which is an out of shape pear of sorts. I may not look disproportionally huge but believe me, my measurements are proof to the contrary, often I have to go for the largest size possible. I found a bloggers collective, the Curvy Sewing Collective, which is a good place to start looking for a woman with my challenging shape. It is such an inspiring site and if you are on the large side, or of an unusual shape but still would like to make your own clothes, you should definitely explore it.
To cut a long story short, I eventually came across this pattern: The Winifred Dress by Bluegingerdoll. I liked the look of it. There are lots of images online of women wearing the dress. They are of all shapes possible. The pattern is advertised as fitting a D cup. I was hopeful. The photo above is what inspired me. Doesn't the model look great? Busty and sexy. What could go wrong? Clearly plenty.
I ordered the pdf pattern because I wanted to get started immediately. As you do. I already had the fabric, a gorgeous ruby red linen/cotton mix I bought here. It is soft and drapey and I imagined it would flatter me a great deal.
The pdf pattern is not great. Not all of the 60 (!) A4 sheets of paper fitted together perfectly. This is not unusual for a pdf pattern but always annoying. I carefully measured myself (with help) and chose to blend two sizes together to reflect my shape. Smaller at the top, tapering out to a larger size for the bottom half.
The pattern is 'for beginners'. I am not sure what Bluegingerdoll's idea of a beginner is but it is certainly different from mine. In my view, a beginner needs detailed and clear instructions. A beginner also needs explanations why things are done they way they are done. I don't think I could have managed this pattern as a beginner. Don't get me wrong, it is not difficult to sew this dress. Not at all. It is cleverly constructed from four pieces and the construction is simple. I am not convinced by the finishing, which could be improved considerably. The pattern instructions are clear but there is some guessing required. Not good for a beginner. Take the collar. The instructions tell you to pin the collar facing and collar right sides together and stitch along the entire outer edge. Fine, not a problem. You then trim and clip and finish the seam, turn the collar and give it a good press. Fine. But then what? We are instructed to tack the collar facing to the shoulder seams and front opening, on the inside of the dress. Fine. But then you move on to sew the belt. There are actually raw edges on the collar facing at this stage! Seriously. The sew along on the blog suggests you can finish those anyway you like, even using pinking shears. I am not joking. I am not sure about you but I would have liked some tidying up, attaching the collar to the inside in some way, even with iron on facing if need be. I don't like flappy bits on my clothes. I handstitched the collar to the back of the dress but it was a bit of a pull and tug. When worn, the flappy parts of the collar show. I couldn't bear seeing raw edges and made a neat narrow hem. No pinking shears for me. It still looks wrong on the inside. It looks fine from the outside.
I am work accurately and carefully and I am fairly certain that I didn't mess up with the pattern, in fact I checked and rechecked when I noticed that the shoulders of front and back didn't match. The pattern instructions tell you to sew the shoulder seams, then ease the collar in place, which kind of works but it is not very satisfactory. There is a slight gather. I did actually email the designer, as suggested you do when you encounter a problem. There was no reply. The length of front and back are not identical in length. Not a problem of course but it annoyed me all the same. I went for just below the knee, lengthwise.
After I finished the dress, it looked just wrong on me. I measured my natural waist and adjusted the waist accordingly but the elasticated back waistline somehow sits to low, causing the upper part to bulge, a bit when like when you tuck in your shirt and then pull it out a bit (like we did in the 80s). It actually might look nice on someone with a waist.
The pretend box pleats in the front are a great idea but don't do me any favours.
I do like the belt that covers the back elasticated waist. I found a lovely mother of pearl slide buckle. The dress looks best on a hanger. Don't get me wrong, with a bit of pulling and holding in place it looks ok. But not great.
Lessons learnt? I should have made a toile and more importantly, I should evaluated my body more honestly. Would I make this dress again? No, not without major changes. Mostly to my body. And so my quest for a great dress pattern continues. Maybe I'll explore maternity wear patterns next, my tummy is rather large these days :-). If you have any suggestions, please let me know.
The fabric is as gorgeous as I expected, although it frays easily (linen/cotton) and an overlocker would be grand for a neat finish.
I didn't have the heart to pose in the dress, hence some close ups and hanger photos. Please forgive me.
Otherwise life is just grand. The ironing is piling up, the kitchen floor is sticky, the fridge is empty and the children unwashed. But we are happy. I hope you are, too! Cxx