Monday, February 1, 2016

Miss Elise is All Askew: Knipmode 10/2015 Skirt

Idle Fancy - Asymmetrical Floral Skirt with Mood Fabrics - KnipMode 10-2015-2052

As a rule, I don't make New Year's Resolutions. They tend not to work for my personality. I am easily distracted by new discoveries and ideas--Oh, look! There's a squirrel!--which means smaller goals, quickly taken up before the impulse blows away, are more realistic. Until, this year. 

This year, kittens, I have resolutions. The broad, sweeping sort that require attention throughout the seasons. More remarkable yet, I kept these resolutions for a whole month! It helps that both resolutions deal with my wardrobe. Apparently, if a goal is legitimately fun and involves new clothes, I can keep it. Shocking, I know. 

So, what are these mysterious yearly ambitions? First off, I need to stop sewing so many secret pajamas. 2015 was a year of slipping style. Time and time again, I found myself sewing something because it seemed comfortable, not because I truly loved it. That feels both wasteful and grim. What's the point of sewing, if I'm not at least trying to make clothes I adore? Basics are necessary, but there's no need to lose my point of view entirely.* Comfort and beauty must coexist. This year, I resolve to sew more garments that speak to my personality. 

My second resolution is heavily related to the first. After coveting their patterns for months, I finally have a subscription to Knipmode, that glamorous Dutch pattern magazine! My mother, the Queen of Cool, sprung for it as a much-beloved Christmas gift. I am obsessed, y'all. Here are the patterns I wish Indies were making--skirts with interesting design details, dramatic jackets, and modern, feminine dresses. The aesthetic is exactly what I want to be sewing, right now. Of course, the only way I can rationalize having an esoteric sewing magazine flown to my doorstep--in a language I don't speak, no less--is to actually sew these patterns. So, I am resolving to make at least one Knipmode pattern per month, this year. 

*Why, yes, I did finally watch the Iris Apfel documentary. That woman is a national treasure. 

All that is to say...

Look, I made a skirt! This particular pattern is from the October 2015 issue of Knipmode and is also available online, as a PDF. The asymmetrical style is decidedly dramatic, with knife pleats marching along the skirt and a hem sweep that dips almost eight inches from right to left. This pattern is at once a classic full skirt and something more modern entirely. 

Even without instructions, an intermediate seamstress could whip this garment out easily. Make a few knife pleats, finish the seams, then add the waistband and an invisible zipper. Voila! Instant skirt. I treated this pattern as a Knipmode trial run, however, and fully translated the directions. Google Translate actually handles Dutch to English translation really well, picking up even technical sewing terms, like “seam allowance” and “overlock.” I have it installed as a Chrome plugin, for foreign-language websites, and am consistently impressed with its accuracy. For the few words that wouldn’t translate readily, the wonderfully helpful Marianne pointed me toward this fantastic Dutch/English sewing glossary.

To pull off such a bold silhouette, fabric choice was key. While this would look sensational in a solid fabric, I wanted a print similar to the modeled skirt, something heavily influenced by art. This watercolor floral cotton sateen from Mood matched that vision perfectly. When it arrived, I was so smitten that I promptly ordered another three yards of its other colorway, which is a riot of yellows and reds. Both fabrics are a heavier cotton sateen, ideal for an unlined skirt like this one, and have just enough stretch to lend a little comfort. Better yet, they drape gloriously, creating hemlines that swirl and dance with every step.

Idle Fancy - Asymmetrical Floral Skirt with Mood Fabrics - KnipMode 10-2015-2045

Idle Fancy - Asymmetrical Floral Skirt with Mood Fabrics - KnipMode 10-2015-2054

The most time-consuming part of this garment's construction was tracing out the pattern and translating the directions. When you receive the magazine, there are pattern sheets folded up in the center, corresponding to the various garments included. Two or three patterns usually take up a sheet, overlapping each other in different colors of ink, with sizes EU 34-54 included. The process is actually deadly simple, though--I outlined my size in bright sharpie, put a roll of bee paper down, then traced over my pattern pieces. The lines are really well marked and it's easy to determine which pieces are yours. 

Of course, there is one last step. Knipmode patterns, like Burda, don't come with seam allowances. To American sewers, this can be a stumbling block that keeps us from trying out these magazines, but it's a non-issue. There are a variety of foolproof ways to add in seam allowances. You can trace your pieces right onto fabric, then sew by seam lines and use a rough allowance, which is the couture way of sewing. Clover also makes double tracing wheels, clever little tools that add seam allowances as you trace off the pattern itself. could channel my swashbuckling ways and tape two sharpies side-by-side, then trace out your patterns with that. The resulting seam allowance, added at the same time you're tracing the original seam lines, is exactly 1/2 inch. 

All in all, the tracing process took me about an hour, including cutting out the final pieces. I'd much rather do that than tape together a gigantic PDF pattern! Though, incidentally, if you do order a Knipmode PDF pattern, you don't have to go through the tracing bonanza. There's only one pattern per PDF and it's laid out just like a normal pattern. Add seam allowances and you're good to go. 

As expected, the actual construction of this skirt was a cinch. This sateen sewed up beautifully, taking pressing really well and allowing lines of stitching to almost disappear into the print. Though the pattern's line drawing shows the asymmetry falling from left to right, I chose to copy the modeled version instead. The back and front skirt pieces are identical, so I inserted the zipper on the longer side and reversed the hem sweep. On my version, the left side now possesses the longer hem. 

Construction-wise, I made things a little more elaborate to suit my preferences. The waistband is lined with coordinating royal purple cotton, which was understitched to turn the facing, then sewn to the bottom waist seam by hand. The seam allowances were finished with my serger, but I did sew the hem itself up by hand and eased it into the skirt. Originally, this pattern was meant to have a hem facing, but I prefer a fairly deep hem on such a full skirt. It gives the hem more body than a faced or narrow hem would. To that end, I lengthened the hem by three inches and turned it up twice, catch-stitching it to the inside fabric. 

Finally, the invisible zipper was also put in by hand, but that’s simply because I can’t find my invisible zipper foot! It has been lost to the clutter of my sewing room. Until it appears again, everything at Chez Danielson-Perry is getting a hand picked zip. Laura Mae has a splendid article about inserting invisible zippers by hand, if you're curious. 

Idle Fancy - Asymmetrical Floral Skirt with Mood Fabrics - KnipMode 10-2015-2044

Wonders never cease! I've kept a resolution for one whole month! As I anxiously await the March issue of Knipmode, I'm turning my eye to another pattern, a riding jacket from the November issue. The pattern has been muslined already and needs a few small fitting tweaks, before I cut out some dishy black velvet for its grand debut. 

For now, I'm enjoying this swishy modern skirt. Both fabric and pattern feel deeply appropriate for my current wardrobe longings. This garment seems like the logical progression of my style, from when I started this blog six years ago.  It's feminine, yes, but not overly sweet. It's utterly wearable, but not something you'd find at any ready-to-wear shop. Mostly, it just feels very, very me

Mission accomplished. 

Note: The fabric for this project was given to me courtesy of Mood Fabrics, as part of my participation in the Mood Sewing Network. It was chosen by me, however, and all opinions are my own. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Miss Georgina Changes Direction: Style Arc Nina Cardigan

Idle Fancy - Style Arc Nina Cardigan-1486

Happy New Year, kittens! Admittedly, I am twelve days late on that score. There are any number of legitimate reasons for my brief blogging absence, but honestly, it comes down to one fact: I loathe January. Of all the months, this is the one I would gladly Rip Van Winkle through. It's bitterly cold, the holiday merriment is packed up in boxes, and every commercial snidely suggests that I join a gym or buy a juicer. 

With all that in mind, it should come as no surprise that my first garment of 2016 is a waterfall cardigan, the sartorial embodiment of a sign that says, "Leave me alone. I've just gotten cozy." Now, that's a New Year's ad campaign I could get behind. Waterfall cardigans: for those days when you wish it were socially appropriate to wear a blanket. 

There are heaps of draped cardigan patterns out there, both in the Big 4 and among Indies, but there's only one which tempted me. My wearable blanket of choice is the Nina Cardigan from Style Arc, which I've previously reviewed for the Curvy Sewing Collective. Unlike other similar patterns, the Nina pairs that luxurious fall of fabric with actual garment shaping. There is a defined waist seam, natural flair toward the hips, and a princess seam effect to the front drape. This cardigan doesn't hide a woman's body, but works with her curves. It's not simply a Snuggie worn in reverse. (Which I approve of wholeheartedly, but wasn't my intent with this project.)

The Nina also provided a chance to finally try out Style Arc patterns. For years, I admired their fashion-forward designs, but couldn't rationalize the high price point and shipping to the United States. When they opened their Etsy Shop, last year, I did a happy dance.* Finally, print-at-home Style Arc patterns! Such increased availability sealed the deal and I bought three designs, the Nina cardigan, the Mavis tunic, and the Misty jeans. The Nina was the quickest project of the three, so it served as a good crash course in Style Arc drafting and sizing. 

*Note: Style Arc printed patterns are now available through Amazon Prime, as well. Unlike other Style Arc offerings, they come nested in sizes 4-16 and 18-30. Unfortunately for me, I straddle the middle sizes there, so will probably continue buying PDFs, instead. 

Idle Fancy - Style Arc Nina Cardigan-1501

Style Arc is infamous for their single-sized approach to patterns. When you order a print version, three sizes come printed on three separate pattern sheets–the size you requested, then one size up and one size down. The PDF versions work much the same way. They’re grouped by size trios, starting with 4/6/8, then going upwards from there. While it’s nice to have a back-up from your original size, this individual sizing method prevents easy grading between sizes. Worse, if you’re not the middle size of the PDF trios, you don’t actually get that advantage in the first place. I ended up not fitting perfectly into any one size, as you’d expect, so I chose based on the best size for my shoulders, waist, and hips, figuring that the bust is rather loose fitting in this design anyway. My 46-36-47 frame ended up aligning best with the Australian size 18, according to Style Arc’s sizing chart. 

My first Nina was a straight 18, without alterations, which turned out pretty well. I was left wanting two things, however: more stretch in the fabric and much, much narrower shoulders. I took in the pattern's shoulders by almost two inches and decided on a 50% stretch sweater knit for my second version. 

This navy-and-white striped fabric came from a now (sadly) defunct store in Austin, bought during a meet-up in 2014. Originally, I thought it was a cotton blend knit, but a burn test proved otherwise. My best guess is a rayon blend Hacci knit. Who knows! It is, however, perfect for the Nina. I played with stripe directionality, cutting everything but the front drape on the horizontal. As the back hip band curves into the drape, the stripes meet up for a semi-chevron effect, before straightening out together. I'm utterly smitten! 

Idle Fancy - Style Arc Nina Cardigan-1518
Is that a phone in your back pocket or are you just edgy, Mary?

Other than the taxing process of cutting out striped fabric, this was an easy project. Style Arc's directions are sparse, but who really needs more? If you've sewn up any knit garment, you can confidently sew up this cardigan. I went my own way anyhow, as per usual. 

The shoulders are stabilized with clear elastic and most seams were sewn on my sewing machine, then finished with a serger. Y'all, the simple thought of sewing striped fabric on a serger gives me hives. It's hard enough to match everything correctly with tons of pins and variable speed. Sending it straight through an overlocker is for braver souls than I. To finish the drape and bottom hem, I stabilized the hemlines with fusible webbing first. This kept the fabric from rolling, as I sewed, and prevented the stitching from getting wavy. 

Honestly, the shoulders are still a touch wide. Despite trying it on, before adding the sleeves, the fabric's heavy stretch causes them to slip down a little. I didn't want to mess up the stripe intersections any more, so I'm going with it. It's a drapey cardigan, after all, things are going to drape a little. 

Idle Fancy - Style Arc Nina Cardigan-1613

There you have it, my very first project of 2016! I really love how this sweater turned out, especially in comparison to my first Nina. It's both cozy and a wee bit dramatic, which is what I require from my wardrobe nowadays. Please don't tell me these cardigans are going out of style, though. I shall cling to my wearable blankets, like my favorite diner waitress clings to her six-inch tall 80's bangs. Ardently

Now, I'm going to go bake a lemon tart. Maybe I can force January to hurry on with doggedly cheerful pastries? Here, have some sunny citrus. Turn into March already, please. 

Reading: Act Like It by Lucy Parker
Listening: GTO by Puss N Boots

Monday, December 7, 2015

Miss Lenore Wraps up Her Year: Appleton Dress

Idle Fancy - Cashmerette Appleton Dress - Green Wool Jersey-1095

Good evening, kittens! Happy December!

Honestly, I can't believe that sentence is applicable. How is it December already? Autumn slipped right by me, a whirl of pie making, furious writing, and family invasions. I've been taking time to sew, but I haven't photographing anything. The sun starts to dip on the horizon and I start thinking about taking pictures...

Then, nothing. My mind is too busy to go through the whole process of primping and hair curling and thinking about smiling, but not pointing my toes, but also not doing a duck face. Egads. Just the thought makes me want a glass of wine and a nap. 

A streak of sunny weather (We've had heaps of rain in Texas, lately!) and a new camera lens* shifted my attitude, though. With changing leaves, soft sun, and a gorgeous new dress, the impulse finally came. 

*Photography Nerd Redux: The lens is the new 50mm f/1.8 STM from Canon, which the reviews claimed was leagues better than its predecessor. We don't have a ton of extra cash to spend on lenses, so I've been living with my old temperamental 50mm, but finally broke down and used a birthday gift card for this one. Y'all, it's amazing. There's absolutely no post-production on these photos and every single one (out of 150) were in focus! Trust me, that's a huge improvement. Plus, look at that light quality! I'm swooning over here. It's definitely worth the reasonable price. (Note: That's NOT an affiliate link. I just found the best price on Amazon.)
Idle Fancy - Cashmerette Appleton Dress - Green Wool Jersey-1113

This is the Appleton Dress, from Cashmerette Patterns, which I've reviewed once before. However, this version of the Appleton is from the actual pattern, instead of the tester version. This new version is an even better fit than the original, thanks to a few crucial changes to the finalized pattern, and I didn't have to change a thing. Cup-sized patterns, I adore you. 

What really makes this particular Appleton is the fabric used. We have a fairly short winter here in the South, but I love cold weather sewing. As soon as the temperature dropped, I ordered a whole heap of wools from Mood. Among them were five yards of this dishy "Hooker Green" wool jersey, enough for both a sweater and a sweater dress. This fabric is a true medium-weight jersey, with a ton of stretch and complete opacity. While it doesn't quite come across in these photos, the color is a clear, dark emerald. Perfect for the coming holidays! 

Idle Fancy - Cashmerette Appleton Dress - Green Wool Jersey-1049

Idle Fancy - Cashmerette Appleton Dress - Green Wool Jersey-1051

As mentioned, I didn't change anything about this pattern. This dress is a straight-from-the-envelope size 16 G/H, which lines up with my 46-36-46 measurements perfectly. Picking a size from a cup-sized pattern can be a bit tricky, but the Appleton sewalong does a great job of walking you through the decision. 

For me, this fit was spot-on, from my fairly narrow shoulders to my extravagant waist-to-hip curve. There's been some discussion about what sort of shape Cashmerette patterns are designed for. Personally, I think they cover a good deal of the spectrum, particularly if you're either hourglass and apple shaped. I'm a textbook hourglass and favor styles that emphasize my waist--wide skirts and fitted bodices, particularly. Though the Appleton doesn't have a waist seam, the way it nips in provides exactly that definition I gravitate toward. At the same time, the hip ease is not snug in a way that makes me self-conscious. It skims over the belly, rather than clinging to it. Even with all the holiday eating (pies!) I've been doing lately, this dress is amazingly comfortable! 

TL;DR: It fits well! I adore it. 

Idle Fancy - Cashmerette Appleton Dress - Green Wool Jersey-1080

When it comes to construction, the Appleton is a sensible, well-drafted pattern. Every piece goes together beautifully and there are enough notches to guide one along the way. Honestly, I skim most instructions at this point, but Jenny's process is the one I would default to anyway. Two thumbs up on the directions! 

You can sew this entire dress on a serger, but I would advise against it. On the neckbands/waist tie, specifically, you're going to want more control. I sewed everything on a sewing machine, with a lightning bolt stitch, then finished my seams on the serger. It takes a little more time, but it keeps mishaps to a minimum. To stabilize potentially wonky bits, I added clear elastic at the shoulders and used Wonder Tape in the skirt hem. All hems were done with a twin stretch needle, as per usual. 

Idle Fancy - Cashmerette Appleton Dress - Green Wool Jersey-1071

Y'all must be tired of my knit dress spiel by now, friends. Knits! They're comfortable! I sew them the same way every time! This one is particularly cozy, though, I promise. Wool jersey is such a fun fabric to sew with--it's resilient, mannerly, and creates such warm, breathable garments. With all the chilly weather we've been getting lately, this dress has already gotten plenty of wear. I've been layering it over tights and a slip (to prevent static build up), which keeps me perfectly comfy!

Never fear, though, kittens. My next three projects are, remarkably, not knits. Think velvet and denim and European pattern magazines! For now, I hope you're having a merry beginning to the holiday season. Stay warm and safe! 

Note: My knit bodice post is still forthcoming. There was a tragic accident with its almost-finished draft and I haven't  had the mental fortitude to rewrite the blasted thing. Soon. 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Miss Wren Attends the Ballet + Giveaway

Good evening, friends! As you know, I've been on a knit sewing kick lately. After years of using mostly wovens, my wardrobe is now bursting with handmade, stretchy garments. Fueling this obsession have been two patterns, the Myrtle and the Moneta dresses, from Colette. I've sewn a dizzying number of both dresses, steadily building up an army of secret pajamas.

You can imagine my delight, when Colette announced that they were adding to their range of knits. More stretchy dresses to love! The Wren Dress debuted last week, a charming mock-wrap dress with two skirt options, a gored slim design and a flowy gathered option. While it's something I would have auto-bought anyhow, Meg from Colette was kind enough to send me an advanced copy of the pattern, as part of the Wren Faire. Naturally, I was on that faster than Buffy on a vampire, Cordelia on a snappy put-down, or whatever Whedonesque metaphor you prefer.

My favorite part of the Wren dress is, hands down, the softly gathered neckband. It's a design element that ups the garment from the simple to the classic. As soon as I saw the line drawing, I knew a two-toned Wren was in my future, to make the most of that neckband. I love built-in potential for fabric mixing!

For this first version, I shopped my stash and came up with two beautiful wool knits, one full cut of a dusky rose jersey and remnants of a deep maroon, from last winter's Bonnie dress. The rose jersey has actually sat in my stash for ages, a victim of color doubts. While it's a shade I adore in theory, it's also a difficult one to pair with my complexion. To wear it alone, a ridiculous amount of blush is employed, or else I end up looking like the undead. (#normcorpse) With the deep, rich maroon as a buffer color on the neckband, however, it's sublime. The end result feels very winter-appropriate, the kind of dress one should wear on a snowy walk through the forest, with a coordinated berry pink cloak.

Not that we get snow in Waco. Or have very many forests, for that matter. Still...I quite like it. 

Before sewing this version up, I did make a quick muslin to check the bodice fit. The Wren calls for fabric with at least 25% stretch, which my rose jersey just met. Any issues that cropped up needed to be sorted out in basic jersey first, before trying something with a closer fit. 

As others have noted, the Wren does not resemble the block used to draft the Myrtle and the Moneta. The Wren pattern pieces are decidedly straighter, with a barely curving side seam. To accommodate my vast and wondrous bosom, I performed a Full Bust Adjustment on the XL, which added a curve to the side and lengthened the front bodice itself. Additionally, I raised and brought in the armscye, because I was getting a weird tenting thing from my arm to torso. These alterations were easy as pie, y'all. Knit FBAs are so easy to do that they feel like cheating! 

As you can see from the pictures, I still have some light pulling on the bodice, which wasn't present in my muslin. I did a bit of post-construction troubleshooting to find the cause of this and landed on a front bodice that still needs more length. Knits can be so different from fabric-to-fabric, that these latent fit issues do crop up. For me, perfectly fitting a bodice usually takes a few rounds of adjustments. I muslin to a point I'm pretty happy with, try it in fashion fabric, then keep improving. It's always going to fit better than RTW, after all. 


When it comes to construction, the Wren was really fun to piece together. I gave the instructions a cursory glance and they seemed sensible, especially for beginners, but I went my own way on a few things. To better preserve the neckline, I reinforced it with clear elastic, just as I did the shoulders and waistline. As always, I finished the hem with fusible stay tape, to prevent a wavy hem. All the seams were sewn on my sewing machine, with the trusty lightning bolt stitch, then finished with my serger. 

There was one step that I went full on renegade with. Like the Moneta, the Wren has you gather the skirt by stretching and sewing the elastic. Y'all, I haaaaaate this technique. I know it's easy and super efficient, but it never works for me. My machine revolts; the elastic snaps. Other sewists perform it beautifully, but I've utterly given up. Instead, I like gathering knits with the dental floss (or embroidery floss, in my case) method. It's easier to control than the classic basting stitches method and gives nice, even gathers every time. 

For me, the Wren dress is another winning knit pattern from Colette! The finished dress reminds me of my old dance costumes from high school, all wide, swishy skirt and nipped-in waist. It's such a feminine silhouette. I will definitely be making more versions of this dress, starting with this floral Lillestoff jersey, which I've been hoarding for months now. Hooray for more knit dresses! 

There's more good news, however. If you comment on this blog post, Colette will enter you in a giveaway for their fabulous book, The Colette Guide to Sewing Knits. This is actually the same book that started my knit sewing adventures. If you're new to knits, it's the perfect resource to ease you into the techniques! Additionally, you can check out Erin's super cute animal print Wren and enter again on her blog. Thanks again to Colette Patterns, for letting me take this gorgeous dress for a spin! 

Update: If you're interested in my fitting changes for the Wren, stay tuned! I'll post pictures and details of my adjustments, early next week. 

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Miss Lenore is Seeing Double: Appleton Dress

Idle Fancy - Appleton Dress - Cashmerette Patterns - Blue Jersey-0464

Good evening, friends! We've had a fairly sleepy weekend, here in Waco. On Friday, I was struck down with an autumnal plague, which has been working its way through Baylor. Other than an outing as the sniffling, water-chugging designated driver at Brew at the Zoo, I've spent all weekend on the couch, drinking tea and keeping Kleenex in business. Not one whit of sewing. 

Fair warning, I'm watching Harry Potter and have taken a lot of cold medicine today. This may be a rambling post. Grab a warm beverage and settle in!

I do have a dress to share, after all. This week, the lovely Jenny Rushmore launched Cashmerette Patterns, a company specializing in professionally drafted patterns for plus sizes. Her first pattern is the Appleton Dress, a classic wrap dress, which I pattern tested and have been dying to talk about. It was about a year ago, when Jenny first told me she was starting her own pattern company. My response was something along the lines of: 

"SQUEEEEE! Tell me you're designing a wrap dress!"

Not only did Jenny end up designing a wrap dress, she designed my platonic wrap dress. Much like my strong opinions on shirtdresses, I have very particular standards for wraps, as well. The perfect wrap dress is made from knit fabric, has a banded neckline to prevent gaping, an attached tie belt, and a straight skirt. The Appleton covers all of these points and comes in multiple cup sizes! What's not to love?

Idle Fancy - Appleton Dress - Cashmerette Patterns - Blue Jersey-0489

This particular Appleton dress is one of my tester versions, made up in a double cloth Italian jersey from Mood. One side is a sapphire blue viscose knit, with the texture of a technical fabric, while the other is a soft cotton jersey in charcoal grey. It has a good amount of stretch (the pattern requires 50%) and excellent recovery. Possibly too excellent, actually. Unlike a more traditional jersey, this one really wants to keep its original size, despite the stretch content. It stretches, but it also contracts and wrinkles, kittens. Thus, things are a bit more body hugging than my usual knit dress or other Appletons. A slip is decidedly necessary, but the dress is worth it. This has been quite the date night hit, around these parts. 

For this dress, I chose a size 16 G/H, which fits my current measurements of 46-36-46 perfectly. Thanks to Jenny's novel sizing (12-28 plus 3 cup size options), it's best to size the Appleton according to your full bust measurement. How freeing! It takes out all the guess work and the FBA. I found the sizing to be spot-on. While my fabric gave me fits, the pattern did not. 

Idle Fancy - Appleton Dress - Cashmerette Patterns - Blue Jersey- side back
Side and back and wind! I was fighting sundown gusts with these pictures--the back does not emphasize my lovely bottom nearly so much, without wind. 

With a stretchy jersey, as called for, this Appleton fits beautifully. Gone are the armpit wrinkles and gaping necklines of past wraps. I've never felt more secure in a wrap dress! Jenny hired a professional pattern-maker for all Cashmerette designs and it shows in every aspect of this dress. Even in the tester version, everything came together well. There isn't a waist seam, which concerned me a bit, because I prefer a highly defined waist. Since there's such a large difference between my waist and hips, it's really easy for my shape to get lost in fabric. The Appleton suits an hourglass shape perfectly, though, nipping in at precisely the right place and skimming over my lumpier bits. 

After Jenny received tester feedback, real and important alterations were made to the pattern. Her testing rounds weren't just to build blogger interest, but to actually beta test the dress. Which is all to say, this isn't an actual review. The pattern you receive, if you've ordered the Appleton, will have an even better fit than this one. When I get my hands on the print copy, I'll make up another version to better review for Idle Fancy. Expect more technical information, at that point. 

Idle Fancy - Appleton Dress - Cashmerette Patterns - Blue Jersey-0472

For now, let's talk about construction. On the Appleton, the neckbands and waist tie are joined together at an angle, finishing the dress and providing closures in one fell swoop. This is the only fiddly bit of the pattern, as it requires some spacial puzzling, and is what gives it the "Advanced Beginner" recommendation. If this is your first foray into knits, its quite doable, but I'd recommend getting your feet wet on a simpler pattern first.

Because of the control required in adding the neckbands on, I sewed this entire dress on my sewing machine. I'm partial for the lightning bolt stitch, when constructing knit seams, and a very small zig-zag for hems.  After sewing each seam, I finished it with my serger. There's no real practical point to this, as knits won't unravel, but it does look nicer. For the last little flourish, I also top-stitched the neckline all the way around, using my edge-stitching foot and heaps of patience. I tend to sew quickly and the care that top-stitching requires always leaves my eyes crossed and my hands reaching for gin. 

Finally, you may notice that this Appleton closes on the opposite side as the line drawing. This isn't a flaw in Jenny's directions, but personal preference. I had a fairly catastrophic shoulder injury, back in college, and there's one particular angle that still hurts like the devil, despite extensive physical therapy. Threading ties through side seams hits that angle, dead on. To avoid that, for this second Appleton, I flipped things around. 

I'm sure there are other details I'm forgetting, but my head is stuffed with cotton fluff at the moment. Harry Potter and the Deathly Pillows are calling my name. So, I'll leave you with a link to Gillian's Appleton excellent details post and Michelle's well-reasoned and thoughtful review

As for me, I'll end with this: Well done, Jenny. This is the pattern company I wish had existed, when I began sewing garments again. Everything is carefully thought out and well-designed for the plus size woman, from the expansive size range to the chic, wearable design. Plus sizes are a niche too long under-served and it's time that changed. I have enough thoughts on the subject to fill my hard drive, but it's easy enough to say I'm thrilled. From the peek I've had at Jenny's future designs, things will only get better from here. 

Right now, I'm going to put on pajamas and drink some Yorkshire Gold. Enjoy your week, friends! I may trot out my other test versions of the Appleton, in a few days, while waiting for the paper pattern to arrive. Cheers!

Idle Fancy - Appleton Dress - Cashmerette Patterns - Blue Jersey-0446

Note: As part of testing the Appleton dress, the pattern was provided to me free of charge. All opinions herein are my own, but you all know that Jenny is one of my closest friends in the sewing community and I have been excited about this pattern for months. Gushing is inevitable.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Reminder: Everyday Casual Sewalong Contest

Hello friends!

I hope you've had a fantastic weekend. This post is just a quick reminder that the Sewing Indie Month contests close at midnight tonight. If you want enter any of the categories, including Everyday Casual, you have eight hours to get your submission in.

To enter, hop on over to Sew Independent and add your link to the Everyday Casual post. There are already 19 really fabulous entries! Check them out and join in!