Pattern Description: A mid-summer night's dream in fabulously fluid silk ... This frock flatteringly follows the figure, with a retro-style belt cinching the waist. The feminine effect accentuated by the slight flaring of the skirt. This style will particularly please rather flat-chested women because the gathered bodice charmingly enhances the bust!
Okay, for those who haven't drunk the Kool-Aid, that means "cute summery dress with center front gathers, side front gathers under the arms and gathers across the shoulders." Not sure sure about the "charming enhancement" bit, but it doesn't make the girls look too big, so I'm okay with it. There's an invisible zip down the back.
Pattern Sizing: BWOF 36-44. I'm almost always a straight 38 in BWOF, and this was no exception.
Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Like the drawing, anyway. The photograph doesn't show most of the interesting detail. Isn't that usually the case? My changes, such as they were, are mostly invisible.
Were the instructions easy to follow? Meh. I read them, but a lot of the instructions didn't apply because of my changes. However, their instructions for lining and turning the dress confused the heck out of me and I was glad that I'd already decided not use a lining.
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I traced off this pattern not long after I got the magazine but never got around to making it last summer. The other day, since the weather was in the 90s and the only cool place in my house was the sewing room, I decided that what I really needed were a few more airy cotton dresses to beat the heat. I wanted a dress without a lot of pattern pieces because I didn't want to break up this fabric more than necessary. That being said, it was also an adventure in cutting to make sure I didn't end up with a big heart in the wrong place! This dress only has front and back pieces, seamed down the middle, with darts in the back. I liked the gathers and how they appear to make the dress more fitted than it is; they also make it look more complicated than it really is.
Fabric Used: Cotton batiste picked up in Paris on my recent vacation. This was a purchase from one of the "coupon" (remnant) stores, 12 euros for 3 meters. Backed with chocolate brown cotton because the batiste was so lightweight that I was afraid it would stretch out of shape as I sewed. I tried backing it with white and it just made the colors more vibrant.
Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made: If I'd used a different fabric, I probably would have sewn this as is, but with the batiste, I decided that rather than making a separate lining, I would underline the batiste in a slightly heavier cotton so that the dress wouldn't get all baggy the first time I sweated in it. Losing the sewn-in lining left left me with the issue of finishing the neck and armholes, so I cut facings for them out of the dress fabric. The batiste was light enough that I could cut a one-piece facing for the front and have no problems pressing it down for the v-neck.
The pattern is very well drafted. The instructions give measurements for the gathered areas, and everything lined up perfectly. I didn't gather the shoulders until after I added the neck facing; I thought that having the extra layer of fabric there would give more support in a stressful area - the front and side gathers are sewn into seams which anchor them, but without the lining, I had visions of the shoulder gathers ungathering. Just to be triple-safe, I made a loop/band to sew over the gathers. It maybe overkill, but it looks like a design choice, so that's even better.
My one quibble with the fit is that the armholes are just a titch too snug. Not uncomfortable, but if I make this again I'll cut them a little bigger. Just an FYI, 'cause most of us don't have those wonderful thin little arms. I know I don't.
I didn't make the belt. I'm not big on belts; they emphasize my lack of defined waist, rather than define it. I think the dress looks better as a smooth line rather than being yanked in at the middle.
Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Absolutely, on both counts. This was a fast and easy dress, and I'd like to make another one. I don't think it's so distinctive that I couldn't use two in my wardrobe. You could also definitely add sleeves to this one to take it into fall.
Conclusion: I love this dress. It's fitted without being tight, sexy without being obvious. For BWOF, the neck isn't low at all, and the full shoulders guarantee that straps aren't issue. I don't have a bad thing to say about this one.