9.04.2017

Pattern Testing: Chalk and Notch Fringe Dress


Disclosure:  I received this pattern for free in exchange for my honest feedback. No blog post or promotion was required and all opinions are my own.

Side note: I currently have "Let's Get Ready to Rumble" stuck on repeat in my head. Well, really just the beginning.  I don't know why. Buuut, I thought I'd share :D

Anyway... so, back for fit notes are ya?  Alright, I can do that.

As I mentioned in my blouse post, the fit on this dress is just a little different. But, the good news is, Gabriela took everyone's feedback and made a few minor but very effective changes that I think minimized the alterations that would need to be changed by most sewists.

This dress is meant to strike a balance between loose enough to get it on without needed additional closures (read: the dreaded zipper) and fitted enough to show off your silhouette.  There are optional ties if you want to wear it a bit more fitted through the waist. Personally, I'm torn on the ties. I rather like the fit as designed, but my fiance prefers it nipped in a bit more, so I added them to the dress and will likely add them to the next dress I make with the pattern. Oh yes, there will be more. I can always tie them a bit loosely as a compromise, right?

As for altering the pattern itself, here's what I did:

  • I cut a straight size 10, based on the size chart. Yes! You read that right... a STRAIGHT SIZE! Excuse me while I have a little dance party, because, as a pear, that NEVER happens! But, my measurements fell in line with a 10 perfectly and the skirt has so much room that I didn't need to blend up anywhere.
  • I shortened the bodice at the l/s line by 1/2", because despite being tall, I can run a little short-waisted in some patterns and this put the waistline at a more flattering spot.
  • I also shortened the bust darts by 1/2", because I am "tall" from my bust up, so my bust point is a little lower than the pattern is drafted for.
  • Despite lengthening the skirt of the blouse version of the pattern, I opted not to lengthen the dress.  This was partly due to a desire to save fabric and partly because I tend to find I prefer my hemlines a little above the knee, particularly in summer.  Not that I think longer hemlines are unflattering, I just find I hate the feel of fabric on my knees when walking in the heat haha
  • Also, not fit related but I tacked the sleeve at the shoulder seam and underarm seam after folding it up, to hold the fold. 
So, very few changes on this one and I'm very happy with the fit! It's roomy enough to be comfortable in the heat (or after a big meal), but not excessively so. And the silhouette of it appears to be universally flattering. I have yet to see one that doesn't look great or a sewist that doesn't look great in it! I've even gotten in-person compliments from strangers, which is always a good sign in my book :)

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Oh, one last thing. About the fabric. It's not available anymore (I think it's been in my stash for 4 years!), so I won't bother specifically bashing it, but let me just say that it turns out there is a range of quality of rayon challis too, just like any other fabric. To be honest, I've bought big box store quality and "designer" quality before and both levels were different, but good, easy to work with. But, this stuff! I would have rather sewed chiffon! The fraying, the stretching, the tearing... it was horrible.  I'm pleased with the dress now it's done, but the scraps went promptly into the textile donation bin because I can't be bothered trying to do anything with them again. So, what I'm really trying to say there is, if you don't have experience with rayon challis and you hate working with your first one, it shifts a lot, it frays, it just doesn't sew well, it may not be you! Don't give up! Step away from that fabric and try another from a reliable shop. They aren't all created equal and a nice challis will be relatively easy to work with and is a dream to wear.

In fact, who wants to guess what my next project is made from? You betcha! Nothing can tear me from my beloved rayon :)

Tell me, do you share my love for it?

Happy sewing! xo

Dress: Fringe Dress, Fabric: FabricMart (sold out)  //  Necklace: vintage  //  Shoes: Hush Puppies (currently on sale!)



8.31.2017

Pattern Testing: Chalk and Notch Fringe Blouse


You guys, I really love Instagram. I mean, I hate it, with it's nonsensical algorithms and shadow banning, but for discovering new sewists, fabrics I have to have, and pattern companies, there's just no beating the non-stop, ever-encouraging "sewists of Instagram".  It has also meant I get to try amazing new patterns like this new one from Chalk and Notch.  The second I saw the post featuring this dress with a call for testers, I pounced.  I immediately fell for the mix of utilitarian-look sleeve tabs with the dainty curved hem.  And let me tell you, those are still my favorite features!

Right, so I pounced.  Then, I was lucky enough to be chosen as a tester (obviously) and was added to the Facebook group where I discovered that Gabriela (the designer/owner of Chalk and Notch) is amazingly detailed, organized, interactive and seriously helpful and friendly.  She tests her patterns in phases, ensures the range of sizes, as well as views, are covered, and gives prompt feedback.  It was so fun watching the phases progress and see the little changes that went into making this such a great pattern!

The top I'm showing here is phase 2, but I've got a dress coming that I made using the last phase and can attest that the final version is even better! But, more on that in my next post.  This top was actually my "wearable muslin". My fit garment, so I could give thorough feedback and get Gabriela's as well, regarding the fit.  But, I sewed it up exactly by the instructions, which are so, so thorough by the way, and it's fully finished inside and out.  And, who doesn't love a breezy white blouse in the summer?  Particularly in rayon challis!  I just don't recommend wearing it with a black skirt, as I did for the first set of photos I sent in.  Can you say waitress hahaha!  I expect I'll typically wear it like I did here, with a more casual bottom.

I won't go into the fit with this one, except to say that the recommended sizes seem spot on and I'm 5'10" (all legs) and I lengthened the skirt of this by 1.5".  The fit of the bodice changed slightly between this one and the next, so I'll go over my alterations in my dress post.

What you do need to know about though, are the instructions.  The whole instruction packet is so well organized and illustrated and if you're someone who likes to use the instructions on your computer or tablet, rather than print them out, there's an additional feature for you.  I was genuinely impressed when I saw it because I've never used a pattern that had it.  There are links at the top of every page so you can easily navigate to the sections you want to read (including an abbreviated set of instructions, if you just want an overview).  The pattern file also has a handy adobe feature.  Each size is set as it's own layer, so once you pick your size, you can select and print only the size (layer) you need.  I love this feature because it really speeds up the cutting process.  No "wait, which kind of dots am I again?" haha.

All the categories at the top of the page are actually handy links :)

And, of course, the pattern itself is just as good as the instructions.  Everything came together easily and just as it should, making it an easier project than it seems.  And as a bonus, for those who are concerned by sewn on button bands, this one is more an illusion.  The band is just a facing on the inside of the top, top-stitched in place. Also, the sleeves are set-in flat. So basically, this is a deceptively easy shirt haha.

I’m sorry.  You know I love a balanced pattern review, but I just don’t have anything negative to say about this one! Unless you don’t like cut-on/drop sleeves? I don’t know.  What do you all think?  Are you in love with Fringe yet?

Stay tuned for the dress view and full fit details in my next post :)

Happy sewing! x

Top: Fringe Dress (View A Blouse), Fabric: Hancock Fabrics  //  Shorts: Simplicity 1808, Fabric: Hobby Lobby (blogged here) //  Necklace: Vintage  //  Bag: Sanctuary via TJ Maxx  //  Shoes: Clarks

8.14.2017

Makers Gonna Make! A New Look and a New Name


Hello Friends!

Today, I'm finally making a change I've been thinking about for quite a while. I'm changing my name! Well, my online name that is.

When I first selected Ms Jenny Homemaker, I expected this blog to go in a different direction. I had only recently discovered the "blogosphere," and had done so through blogs that offered things like recipes, home-related product reviews, and DIY home cleaning tips. Brandon and I had just moved into our first real house together and I expected to share similar things, from the point-of-view of a new homemaker.

I had no idea how much I would end up loving sewing my own clothing or how welcomed I would feel by the sewing community!  Thank you so much!

I'm sure you've noticed that these days, my blog is almost exclusively dedicated to sewing, with the occasional knitting or such project thrown in. So, the homemaker label, though I am still a homemaker, just didn't feel right. It felt limiting and in a direction I don't often discuss.

Then, it hit me. I am a maker. A home maker. A clothing maker. An accessories maker. A decor maker. The list actually goes on. But, the common theme is making. It's an idea I am no longer me without. So, I dropped the "home" (and the Ms., because who needs that formality when it's no longer a play on "Miss Susie Homemaker"). So now, I'm simply Jenny.  Maker.

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Now, about my outfit.  First, I have to give a huge thank you to the always lovely Josie of LA Finch Fabrics for generously sending me this awesome tee shirt with my last order!! Isn't it great?!  (And 100% cotton, which is so awesome and, seemingly, rare in a printed tee.)  To complete to weekend comfort factor, I paired it with my always in-and-out of the wash modal twill Southport skirt.  I knew the Southport would be a good pattern for this because the fit would be the same, moving from a drawstring to an elastic waist.  

To make it a skirt, all I did was cut the two skirt pieces (obviously haha), and a single-piece waistband, large enough to encase my elastic, plus seam allowances.  I made two buttonholes in the waistband, about an inch and a half or so on either side of center front, then sewed the waistband ends together. Next, I sewed the two skirt pieces together and attached the waistband as one piece to the skirt, leaving a 3" opening to thread the elastic through.  After feeding and sewing the elastic, I stitched the remaining 3" of the waistband on/closed, then serged it all the way around.  To finish it, I topstitched the waistband, stretching it flat as I went around, with a zigzag stitch ~3/8" from the top and bottom of the waistband.  This created a channel for the drawstring and gave it a more finished look, in my opinion.  For the drawstring, I used black cotton twill tape and fed enough through so that even if I stretched the skirt to the max, there would be plenty of tape left out so as not to lose an end.  Don't you just hate it when a garment decides to eat the drawstring?  I'm still undecided about the hem... Here, I've serged it and turned it up about an inch, but I think it may need to be shortened a little.  What do you think?

Tee: Finch Fabrics (c/o)  //  Skirt: True Bias Southport (modified), Fabric: Jo-Ann  //  Handbag: Sanctuary via TJ Maxx  //  Shoes: Hush Puppies (currently half off!)  //  Watch: Vintage

Happy sewing! xo
8.10.2017

Pattern Testing: Halfmoon Atelier Midi Skirt Roma


Disclosure:  I received this pattern for free in exchange for my honest feedback and styled photos, not a public blog post or promotion.  All opinions are my own.

Halfmoon Atelier is a new-to-me pattern company, so I was unfamiliar with this pattern, the Midi Skirt Roma. But, when Meghann contacted me about testing it before its rerelease (August 15th), describing it as a midi skirt with the "je ne sais quoi," of course I was intrigued!

As you can see, the "je ne sais quoi" refers to the cute curved slit, created by overlapping the two hemmed edges. A simple enough detail, but one that definitely does add a little something to an otherwise very plain skirt.  The version I did was V3 and it almost doesn't get easier than that.  The skirt is one piece, hemmed first (and Meghann has included a great tip for hemming the curves), then overlapped, topstitched, and then a "waistband" is created by folding the top edge over elastic, cut to length.  That's it!  This is definitely a fast project for anyone with any experience.  Need a skirt tomorrow? Tonight even?  This might be the skirt for you!

That said, my actual experience with this pattern was still a bit of an interesting one, particularly for such a simple design (did I mention it's all one piece, save for the pocket!). I thought by now, I had a firm grasp on "ease," how much I needed, and what styles would need adjusting. So, when I saw this skirt pattern only has .5"-1" of ease, I admit, I panicked a little. "How will I sit? That's not going to be flattering... I'll look like stuffed sausage."  Meghann, the designer, has a very different figure from me, with significantly less bum haha, so I was immediately concerned. But, there was no need to be and my panic resulted in a slightly too big skirt in the end. This is why we muslin (with $1 remnants, like this one, when able!).

The size chart for this one put me between sizes, but originally, we didn't have finished measurements (not to worry, they're there now) and I could see it was meant to be fitted, so I chose the smaller size.  Well, it turned out, the finished hip measurement of that size was exactly my hip size. That wasn't going to work.  Then, I was hesitant to use even the next size as that had only 1", so I went up another and then tweaked the side seam to end up somewhere in between. (Instead of stacking the two hemmed edges, I nestled them beside each other, taking in the sides by ~1/2".  The resulting skirt is a bit loose, which surprised me, and my fiance! Granted, some of that could be due to the nature of linen (it definitely does grow with wear), but since it was loose from the start, I suspect I could have used the smaller size afterall, especially in a fabric like this one. It's not that I don't like the fit as it is, it's just something to keep in mind.

Another thing to keep in mind is where you how you like to wear your skirts.  As you can see in my photos, I chose to wear mine roughly at my waist, because as a "pear," I tend to find it more flattering to show that I do have one. But, Meghann intended for it to be worn more a little low on the hip, for that laid-back vibe. Wearing it lower would have also given me more of the "midi" hemline that I was supposed to have.  But, wearing it lower also makes this one feel even looser.  It would probably be a good idea to pin the side seam and try the skirt on at various levels to see what works best for you.  Luckily, no matter you decide, it's a very easy adjustment.

Here's a summary of what I did:

  • My hips were 44," so I chose between sizes 8 and 9 (overlapping the side seam hems, rather than stacking them)
  • I'm 5'10" but I opted to test the length as is for this one. To get the designed length, I would need to add 3-4" but I find above and at-knee skirts a bit more practical anyway
  • I cut the elastic to 2" smaller than my waist measurement, rather than exactly my waist measurement as recommended (because I was wearing it higher) Side note: if you can find "soft waistband elastic" I highly recommend trying it. It's far more comfortable than your typical stiff knit elastic.
  • I reduced bulk and added a little extra size to the, already very generous, pocket by turning the hem in only once. If you need a pocket for carrying your phone, this one works well! My iPhone 5SE fits with room to spare.
  • Next time: I think I'll try an actual size 8 for a bit less ease.
So, minimal skirt, minimal instructions, right? Surprisingly, no?  Never having worked with a Halfmoon Atelier pattern before, I didn't know what to expect and was pleasantly surprised by some of the detail that was included, particularly for hemming the curve. Even a newbie is going to be able to turn that with ease (no pun intended). I haven't yet seen the final draft of the instructions, but especially after the tester feedback, I expect them to be thorough. And as a bit of a bonus, not only does the pattern have a "hand-holding" section, the last page contains an abbreviated set for those with more experience who don't need illustrations.

Overall, I was pleased with the pattern and my finished skirt.  It's a nice throw-on for running errands or walking CoCo and its simple shape and elastic waistband fits right in with the current, more minimal, trend.

So, what do you think? Do you like a quick, beginner-style project every so often? Or do prefer to stick to the more complex?


Top: Pattern: Ogden Cami (review to come!), Fabric: Fabric.com (no longer available)  //  Skirt: Pattern: Midi Skirt Roma (pattern release set for 8/15), Fabric: Fine Fabrics USA  //  Handbag: Vintage  //  Shoes: Hush Puppies (currently on sale!)  //  Bracelet: Alex and Ani
Awkward pose, yes, but when you're taking photos in under 5 minutes in the rain, you go with what you got haha!

8.07.2017

FrenchNavy Orla Dress in Linen/Cotton for Summer

Dress: Pattern: French Navy (Free!)  Fabric:  Jo-Ann  //  Handbag: Coach (vintage)  //  Bracelet: Fromm (similar)  //  Necklace: Kate Spade  //  Sunglasses: Ray-Ban  //  Shoes: Clarks


What do you think when you read "free pattern"?  

There are usually two answers, right? 1. Yay, free!! :D and 2.  Why is it free?  What's wrong with it?  Am I going to waste supplies?

I've seen, and experienced, this concern in sewing and in knitting.  As sewists/knitters, we know how much time goes into making a garment and we know that pattern making requires even more time, skill, and effort.  So why wouldn't someone charge for their valuable time, right?  The answer could be, of course, that the designer is inexperienced and just wanted to share something or it could be that the designer has experience, but wants to expand his/her/their customer base and/or as a thank you to existing customers or to the sewing community at large.

FrenchNavy has two patterns currently on offer.  The Forsythe Dress, which I've reviewed here, and The Orla Dress, which is up for today's review.  The Orla Dress, FrenchNavy's free pattern, was released first, so it could have been either option, right?  Let me assure you, it's most definitely the later!  This is how you do a free pattern!

After such a positive experience with The Forsythe Dress, I decided to be bold and cut directly into the fabric I wanted to use. No muslin! I can't tell you the last time I opted not to make a muslin on a zippered dress.  Granted, my fabric is a simple linen/cotton from Jo-Ann, but I would have been rather disappointed if it hadn't worked out.

And, to be completely honest, I second guessed myself halfway though.  I started thinking, "It has sleeves! No way a sleeve is going to fit well straight from the pattern. Ugh, it's going to pull... I won't be able to move my arms... I'm going to look locked in and it's supposed to be slightly loose..."  But, after finishing the bodice, I took a break, took a shower, then came back to try it on. And I was so pleasantly surprised.  There was no reason for doubt.  Sarah knows how to draft a sleeve.  If you look at other free sleeve(d) patterns, and honestly, some paid patterns, the front shoulder curve and back shoulder curve tend to match.  In fact, you could ignore the notches and put the sleeves in backwards and it wouldn't matter. Not The Orla's sleeves.  Now, that's not to say they'll work flawlessly for everyone, since none of us have the same shape, but they are actually shaped for a shoulder, which is, of course, a big positive.  Her size charts and corresponding ease are spot on too, so, since I chose the recommended size, of course the bodice would fit.

The final dress is exactly what it was described to be: a semi-fitted bodice (meaning it skims your lines, but doesn't actually hug you) with a slightly raised waistline, short sleeves, and a gathered skirt. I'd say it's a nice balance between the typical fit-and-flare style and the modern, looser looks that have been released a lot recently.  It definitely still gives the impression of a waistline and has feminine lines, but it could also hide a large meal haha.

Now, it wouldn't be a fair review if I didn't point out the only two points I can think of that make this pattern "not for everyone".  The first, the instructions are text only and more pared back than on The Forsythe Dress.  They're more than enough for anyone with experience, but I would recommend a beginner find a few YouTube tutorials (applying bias binding, setting a sleeve, inserting a zipper) to help. But, I do love that it includes mention of pressing and understitching, so it still sets newer sewists off on the right foot.  Second, the size chart only goes up to a 97cm(38") bust/79cm(31') waist/103cm(40.5") hip. (FrenchNavy expanded the range a bit with her second pattern.)  But, the amount of ease in the pattern gives that chart a bit of wiggle room.  My hips actually fall outside of the chart, but I cut the XL and am happy with the amount of ease.  Also, since the darts are at the waist and the skirt is a gathered rectangle, it would be easy to size up the waist and hips a bit.

On that note, here's what I did:
  • I'm currently 37"/30"/44", so I cut a L bust, blended to an XL at the waist, and cut an XL skirt.
  • I'm 5'10", so I added 2" to the skirt hem, but on my fiance's advice, I used a 2" hem, so I effectively added only 1.25".  I do love a deep hem, don't you?
  • I substituted continuous bias binding for the single piece the pattern recommends, just because I like to use small scraps.  In fact, the ~7" square piece I cut from the linen turned out to make exactly the right amount of binding to finish the neckline. Seriously, I was amazed when it lined up perfectly with both edges. Something that's never happened before and will likely never happen again haha
  • Next time: I think I'll add pockets.  (I know I've said before that a lack of pockets aren't a deal breaker for me, because I nearly always carry a purse, but I do still appreciate them for things like walking our dog or taking a stroll downtown with my fiance, where I don't want to carry one. Fortunately, in-seam pockets are such an easy addition. Maybe I can add patch pockets to this one... What do you think?) 
It's so nice to be able to sew a dress straight from a pattern, particularly if one is trying to build one's wardrobe with great, everyday garments and has a rather long queue.  Guilty haha  This is a great throw-on-and-go dress that can be dressed up or down and is very practical/wearable for everyday life (well, so long as said everyday life can include dresses at all).  It immediately joined my Forsythe and Southports as a dress I'm going to reach for on a regular basis, without having to give much thought to where I'm headed or "how to wear it".

Can you tell at all that I really like this dress?! Haha  Just wait until the linen is a bit more broken in and sunfaded... 😍 Then, it will really be love!

So, what do you think about free patterns?  Are you going to give this one a go?  If so, I'd love to see it!

Happy sewing! xo

7.13.2017

Pattern test: Seamstress Erin Ultraviolet Tee


Disclosure:  I received this pattern in exchange for my honest feedback (not a public post).  All opinions are my own.

If you follow me on Instagram, you may be noticing a bit of a trend in my recent projects.  I've finally listened to past-Jennifer's Me Made May thoughts and I am thoroughly on a solids, and separates, kick!  I've also been indulging my casual, basic side more lately.  Flowy dresses, knit tees, lots of modal/rayon/tencel and linen...  So, when I saw the line drawing for Erin's new tee pattern, I knew it would fit right in!  Conveniently, I've had a length of semi-sheer navy linen in my stash just waiting for the right pattern.  Deciding this was it, I dove right in.  Side note:  HOW did I not already have a solid navy top in my wardrobe??

If you read Erin's release post for this pattern on Instagram, she calls this pattern a love letter to her belly, because it has changed since having a baby.  I think that's a beautiful reason for creating a pattern!  I can absolutely see wanting to wear the curved hem option to have a little fun with a new shape.  Having my own insecurities regarding my sides, however, I chose the straight hem woven* option. Though, I might try the curved view once I master planks!  It's less flirty than the other option, but I thought it had an effortless look about it, reminiscent of some of the sustainable brands I've been eyeing lately, who specialize in comfortable-but-pulled-together basics.
* This pattern has options for wovens and knits.

Note: In addition to two hem shapes, the pattern also comes in two cup size groups.  There's an A-C cup pattern that does not include a dart and a D-F cup pattern which does have a dart (or gathers for ease in knits).  I chose the D-F cup pattern piece so I wouldn't have to do a full bust adjustment. So convenient!  That means though that my experience with this pattern is based solely on the darted option, so please keep that in mind if you fall into the A-C cup range (please refer to the size chart - the ranges are not based on standard cup sizes) or if you simply choose the dartless piece. (Something also to keep in mind if you choose the dartless option, the front and back are the same piece, save for the neckline.)

Caveats out of the way, here's what I did:

  • cut a size 4, darted bust / 12 waist / 14 hip, based on the size chart. Note: Be sure to read all of the helpful sizing information.  There's a fair bit of ease in this pattern, so unless your sizes are drastically different, as mine were, you may not need to grade at all! (But, particularly as a tester, I always select the sizes recommended for my measurements so I can test the designed ease and style lines.)
  • added 1" to the bottom hem (for reference, I'm 5'10")
  • used self-fabric continuous bias binding instead of ready-made because I thought it would work better with my linen. This is now included in the fabric requirements!
  • re-positioned the pocket because on my shape, it was too close to my arm (but, I do think it has been moved on the final draft, so just check the placement before you attach it).  Side note: I really appreciated that Erin included 3 different pocket sizes to coordinate with different size ranges, so that the pocket looked proportional.  Since I cut a size 4 at the bust, I used the smallest pocket option.
  • for my next one, I think I need a bit of a broad shoulder adjustment because it does catch there a bit, but it doesn't affect my range of movement (The sleeve is split evenly between the front and back, so if you commonly make shoulder adjustments, you may need one with this top, particularly if you sew it in a woven.)
So, you may notice this is a bit outside of my comfort zone/what I typically sew.  But, I think it's great to branch out every now and again and I've worn this tee more than once since I finished it!  To be honest, it hides a fair bit (haha) yet it looks on-trend at the moment, so it doesn't feel sloppy. I also think it would be really fun to cuff the sleeves or lengthen it into a tunic with side slits, particularly in a nice linen.  And, of course, I plan to try out the knit option (which has more fitted sleeves) at some point.

Given it's simplicity, built in fba, thorough instructions, and modern look, I'd say this would make a good beginner pattern.  If you're concerned about being overwhelmed by the available options and what to print, Erin has added a great decision tree to help!  But, with two hem options, and the versatility of woven and knit options, it definitely has something to offer for more experienced sewists.  

Be sure to keep an eye on Erin's blog for the tester round-up. There was a really great range of testers, so you'll see it on a variety of bodies, which is always helpful! And, of course, if you do give a go, I do hope you'll share!

So tell me, how often do you sew outside of your comfort zone?

Happy sewing!

Jenny xoxo

Top: Pattern: Seamstress Erin (c/o), Fabric: Hancock // Shorts: Pattern: S1165 (review coming soon!), Fabric: Jo-Ann // Earrings: Masop // Watch: Carriage // Shoes: Sofft


I'm including this one not because of the wind-machine hair, haha, but so you can better see the ease.
Clearly not my best angle ;) but again, ease (and realness).
7.05.2017

Pattern Test: French Navy Forsythe Dress


Disclosure:  I received this pattern in exchange for my honest feedback (not a public post).  All opinions are my own.

You know those people, sewists, on Instagram who you follow because you hope that doing so might allow some of their effortless style to rub off on you?  One of those people for me is Sarah-May of @frenchnavynow.  If you don't follow her already, do so now!  I'll wait.  haha.  But really, upon stumbling across her feed, I followed her immediately.  I absolutely love her color palette, her sense of proportion, and how she makes loose shirts and trousers look so cool.  It was exactly the kind of polished but casual daily style I'd decided I needed more of.  Sure, I'll never pull it off quite like her, but that won't stop me from trying!

So, you can imagine my excitement when I came across a call for testers for her new Forsythe dress pattern.  A loose (but not too-loose) fit, woven dress with cool turned-up sleeves and comfy pockets, perfect for the modals and linens I've been obsessively buying up.  (The pattern recommends a light to medium weight woven with a soft hand.)  My go-to "wearable muslin" fabric these days is a simple black modal twill from Jo-Ann.  I knew it would be perfect for this design!  Drapey enough to not look like a tent on my figure (I'm normally weary of dresses without a defined waistline) and opaque enough to not need a lining, a fact I am loving in this Georgia humidty!

But, let me step back for a moment.  I know some of you are very curious about the pattern testing process.  I've tested for half a dozen or so different brands and, in my experience so far, there are two kinds of processes.  You have some designers who email the draft pattern off a few weeks before the scheduled release, give you a deadline for feedback, and may or may not apply feedback to the finished pattern (though, as far as I know, all the ones I've worked with have).  You have others who email a draft pattern and ask that you not only submit feedback via email, but prefer to have their testers join a Facebook group dedicated solely to discussing the pattern, applying feedback as the testing process goes along, possibly even sending out a new draft (or drafts) to be tested before the release date.  That's not to say one process works better than the other, or that the former's designers don't really take feedback to heart, but the second does make a tester feel more involved and allows us to watch the pattern transform.  Sarah is definitely one of the later.  To start, the call for testers I saw was offered when she realized her volunteer testers didn't cover a wide enough range of sizes.  She wanted to ensure that her pattern a. worked on a wide variety of bodies and b. (with our permission, of course) could be shown on a wide variety.  Once in the group, I saw how involved she was with the testers.  She took every ounce of feedback to heart and consulted us regularly regarding possible changes.  She understood that just because she had a preference for a certain amount of ease or a style line didn't mean the general public would agree and she'd rather present something her customers would enjoy.  

And, I think, that's exactly what she's done!

This is a perfect throw-on-and-go dress, joining the ranks of my Southports (seen here, here, and it seems I haven't blogged my olive one yet. hmm) as a wardrobe stand-by.  Though, I have to say, this one edges a touch above those, simply because you may notice I'm very fair skinned and have had a few c-word scares, so I appreciate that this one, while just as comfortable as my Southports, covers my shoulders.

Speaking of sleeves, I have to say I love the little turned up cuff! But, it’s completely optional.  The cuff itself is a band twice the length as shown here, which can be folded and tacked at the seams, as I have done, or worn long to cover a bit more of your arm.

Other cute little details of this pattern are the princess seam lines on the front and back, which give a really nice shape that I wouldn’t have expected of a looser dress, the pockets, which line up with the princess seams to create a continuous style line, and the button back, which could also be optional, but great for featuring cute buttons.  I absolutely adore these little hex bamboo buttons from Arrow Mountain, but I think I’d be a bit scared of damaging those corners if I put them on a garment that had to be regularly buttoned and unbuttoned. I bought them specifically for this dress, knowing I could be gentle on them.

The instruction and drafting on the pattern is quite good too!  The instructions are perfect for newer sewists, reminding when to press and to understitch the bias binding, etc.  Every piece lined up perfectly, the sizing is accurate (and finished measurements are included) and the shape, while seemingly simple and, well, shapeless on a hanger is rather nice.  Funny tidbit: when my fiancĂ© saw this on a hanger in my sewing room, he immediately called it a muumuu and continued to refer to it as such whenever discussing it or plans for photographing it.  Until I tried it on.  Even he, who prefers me in tailored garments above all else, had to admit it was rather cute!

Here’s what I did:
  • Cut a size M bust, L waist, L hip front, XL hip back (My hip measurements put me at a size XL, but since I'm slowly getting back to my pre-injury shape, I opted to size down in the front to eliminate a bit of the ease that will soon be excess. But, I went with the XL in the back because regardless of size, I carry my weight back there haha ). 
  • Used a 2” hem, instead of the recommended 1.25”. (Keep in mind, I’m 5’10” so it’s common for me to lengthen patterns, but with the looser shape, I wanted to show a little extra leg ;) and I thought this would carry me through more of the year, pairing tights with it when it gets chilly.)
  • And that’s it! No need for an FBA, no swayback adjustment, nothing! Woohoo!
  • If I had to get nitpicky, I might make the pockets a little deeper next time, because I can’t quite relax with my hands in them, if you know what I mean. But, they are functional J (and may have been changed in the release)
I think next, I need one in grey linen. Or a navy floral if I can find one as pretty as Rachel's!  Speaking of, be sure to check out the other amazing tester dresses. I’ve yet to hear from someone who doesn’t love this dress!  And if you make it, be sure to share. I’d love to see yours!

Happy sewing!

Jenny xoxo

Dress:  Pattern: French Navy (c/o), Fabric: Jo-Ann; Watch: Carriage; Earrings: Masop; Shoes: Sofft

Terribly helpful photo of the hem, yes? haha

Bamboo Hex Buttons purchased from Arrow Mountain 
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