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 fiancé 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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  1. Oh my goodness your dress is stunning!!! Excellent review and pics! I am going to check out that modal twill! Love the buttons!

    1. Thank you, Emily!! I'm so glad you enjoyed the review :) I hope you like the twill as well if you get some of it!

  2. Beautiful dress! Thanks for this :)
    I think we may have the exact same measurements - your adjustments are so helpful! Love this in plain black too - I need an easy black dress and I'm feeling super inspired <3

    1. Aww, thanks!! This is definitely still one of my favorite dresses. It’s so easy to wear.
      I’m so glad you found the review helpful :) I hope you’ll share your dress too!


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