Before I get into the project I want to show here, I feel like I need to put it out there that I have come to the realization that the pairing of shirt with skirt in my last post was not a good idea. Neither me nor my new skirt were done justice in that post. I don’t think the skirt was the worst of the problem, but I’m not even sure I can be objective about that right now. Obviously the way I envision how things will look isn’t always the way they turn out in real life; I don’t think anyone really has that kind of ability to get outside their own head, not 100% of the time anyway. I’d like to give the skirt a second chance with a better top, better lighting, and some solid (not soaking wet) ground under me so I can stand up straight and pay attention to what I’m doing while photos are being taken. I don’t feel like I currently have a better blouse/shirt/sweater option in my closet, so I’ll be planning to make something. I’m thinking maybe a solid black, silky Sewaholic Alma, but I’m open to suggestions for patterns/fabrics if anyone has other ideas for styling that skirt that they’d like to offer up for my consideration.
Of course, I could just avoid the whole problem of trying to pair separates and make nothing but dresses all the time. I also wouldn’t mind it if I could always have plenty of sunshine to take pictures in. Since I’m in Oregon, it’s definitely dark and rainy most days this time of year. The pictures in this post were taken a few months back when we did still have sunshine and looking at them is making me miss summer with a vengeance, even if it was broilingly hot the day these pics were taken. This dress is the test version of the Jacaranda Dress, just released by Tenterhook Patterns.
Since this was a test of the pattern, I didn’t get fancy with fitting adjustments. This allowed me to give feedback to Amanda on her actual pattern without having to guess whether something was a certain way because of the pattern or because of something I did. She took all the information she got back from her testing group and decided to make some significant changes to the bodice of the pattern before releasing. Since she did make changes, this version isn’t going to be the best example of how the pattern makes up and I realize the bodice here does have some fit issues. Still, this is a dress I made and that’s what this blog is mainly about, so I’m going to show it. In the interest of full disclosure, I was sent a copy of the finished pattern in exchange for my feedback on the test version. No other compensation was offered, and blogging about the test dress or any other version of the pattern was not required.
To start, the first thing about Tenterhook patterns that sets them apart from many other patterns out there is the size range. It’s plus-size only, and I’m toward the lower end of the size range (about a size B on an A-G scale), so this pattern is being offered in sizes often overlooked by other pattern companies.
The instructions are very complete. Since I was testing the pattern, I actually read and followed the instructions. I wouldn’t say there is anything really ground-breaking in them that couldn’t be found either in other patterns or in sewing books, but considering how few plus-size patterns are out there, I think it is good that the instructions are very thorough so other references aren’t needed. I could easily see someone, frustrated with ready-to-wear options, wanting to make their own clothing and choosing this dress as one of their first projects. I’m not saying it would be an easy first project, but I could see a determined beginner choosing it regardless of the potential for difficulty. The finished pattern does include a short version of instructions for construction order for someone who doesn’t need the details in the regular instructions and doesn’t want to print multiple pages they won’t be referencing.
So, lets talk about what’s going on in these pictures fit-wise. As I said, I didn’t alter the pattern before making it up. I checked my circumference measurements to choose which size to make, but didn’t pay a lot of attention to length. You can see that the bodice is quite a bit too long in this version. It shows in the front, but is even more obvious in the back. If I were going to make up the test version again, I’d shorten the bodice pieces, but since the bodice length was one of the things Amanda changed for the final version of the pattern, I’ll compare the finished version to the old version before I shorten it any further. Looking at the sizing chart, I can make an educated guess that I’ll still have to shorten the bodice a bit when I make up my next one, since I am quite short-waisted. That said, if I can use a pattern where the circumference fits well, adjusting length is a much easier pattern alteration than doing the whole FBA and grading between 3 different sizes that I sometimes need to do.
The other major change that Amanda is reporting she made as regards the bodice has to do with the shaping. She says on the final version, the upper bust and back is drafted smaller than in the test version, though the full bust remained the same, so she’s describing it as drafted for a “D” cup. You’ll see the neckline on my dress looks a little loose and where the front/side-front seam ends there is too much fabric. I’d go back and take it in there, but with the bodice overall being too long, the odds are that I’ll mainly be wearing this dress with a jacket or cardigan thrown over it so it doesn’t really matter.
The skirt here is practically perfect. The pockets are the envy of all my female friends. They fit my phone without making it feel like it’s going to fall out at any moment, even when I sit down. The skirt is shaped, but not so much that it needs to have any kind of slits or fussy pleats in order to walk.
It’s fully lined, and the construction is such that everything can be done by machine. Here’s some weirdly colored pictures of the inside and the back zipper. Everything lined up pretty closely, even in that tricky waistband area.
I should mention the fabrics I used. The dress itself is a mint-green thick cotton brocade. It was vaguely reminiscent of a tablecloth when the fabric was all in one piece, but doesn’t really make me think of that in it’s current dress-shape. It has body, but very little drape, so it’s pretty much perfect for this structured dress. All those princess seams leave the pattern pieces small enough to fit into those awkward strips leftover when someone else cuts out a full circle skirt, so my fabric choice was partly motivated by wanting to use fabric I would have had trouble using for something else.
The lining is a piece of somewhat darker green crinkled polyester that I just happened to have in my stash. I’m pretty sure I didn’t buy the lining, it has a horrible feel to it and kept doing that thing where it wanted to make my machine skip stitches or make extra stitches, or fold underneath itself while I was sewing it. I think it took me 3 times as long to make the lining of the dress as it did the outer, just because of it’s tendency to misbehave. It’s great that I had the lining fabric and that there just happened to be enough, I just wish that if I have to have mystery lining fabrics sitting around they would behave better when I use them. Having things immediately available is one of the perks of having a large fabric stash. On the downside, those kinds of episodes make me not want to get rid of things because “someday I might need it. Just look at what happened with that green dress.”
Overall, I’m happy with this dress, despite the issues in the bodice. Considering it was a test dress made of scraps, the outcome for this one was good. Based on my experience with the test version, I’d recommend checking out this pattern. I have plans, now that the pattern is officially released, for several other versions. I’m thinking a leopard Jacaranda would be a wonderful way to celebrate Jungle January 2015.
Stash-busting Stats: 49/50. 107 1/2 yards.