I’ve been begging Heather to let me be a pattern tester for ages, and I’m so excited that I’m finally on the list! It’s a small way I can support the indie designers that I love, and in this case, I also knew testing for Closet Case Patterns would stretch my skill set!
BEHOLD: NOT A KNIT DRESS!
A fitted woven! WITH BUTTONS!!!! Who am I???
Fiona is a sun dress with several options of lengths and back views. I sewed something between the mini and the knee length, with the (mostly) bra-covering straps. I want this to be an in-depth review because I think this pattern is more curve-friendly than you might think at first glance at the promo shots!
The pattern is designed for a medium-weight woven. The recommended fabrics don’t mention stretch, but I chose a denim with 10% stretch, because who wouldn’t want their fitted dress to stretch when they move? I’m sewing a woven, but I’m still me! 😉 I didn’t adjust the bodice length at all, because I have a normal-height back on very short legs!
Let’s talk measurements, shall we? I’m currently 43/38/49, which puts me just under size 18 at the bust, and just over size 20 at the hips. I sewed an 18/20+4″ ease at the hips, because I wanted plenty of room to sit.
Here’s how that worked IRL: room for a whole other boob in that bodice! (Btw, I make a habit never to smile in my testing photos that I submit – I think a smile distracts too much from the clothes and fit issues!)
After submitting my tester photos, I literally cut off the side seam down to bust level, and resewed it, making the circumference about 3″ smaller total. I had to cut the seam out because the top was finished with a double layered facing, and with all the seams it was just to think to take in. When i matched the front and back together again, the curve in the front meant that the facing didn’t match up… so as you can see in the picture below, I slightly gathered the front vertically at the side seam, until it matched the back! I can’t imagine anyone will ever notice.
Two downsides to my slapdash process though:
- The bodice is now a smidge to tight, and still the neckline gaps when I slouch and learn forward! (I’m sorry, I just slouch a lot!) That makes this a funtime dress, not work appropriate.
- When I brought the side seams in, that brought the straps closer to the sideseams, and now they don’t stay put as well as they did at first!
For those reasons, this just might become a slim-fitting skirt instead! Next time I might sew the bodice a bit looser, and layer it over a tee like an overall dress.
Another thing to consider as a curvy girl is that I found it challenging to find a bra that didn’t show in front, and all my bras show in the back! bigger bras just have more height. If I wanted to wear it often as a sundress, I might sew a bralette/camisole that fit snugly underneath but stayed hidden.
However, can we take a minute to admire the fit on the skirt? That’s not bad for a muslin! Closet Case Pattern always work well for my curvy hips, and this was no exception.
As a tester, you always want to think that your effort results in actual improvements to the pattern, and here I was really impressed. Heather added some additional ease to the 16-20 sizes, which was something I’d specifically suggested… she also lowered the bust apex a smidge, included wider seam allowances for fitting the bodice, and tweaked the order of construction so that hopefully it’s easier for you to adjust the fit of your dress than it was for me! All together, I think those changes will make this pattern really friendly to curvy folks size 20 and under. For those larger than size 20, perhaps people could suggest similar patterns in larger size ranges in the comments?
I’m so happy that testing gave me a push to try this dress, and to try sewing buttons! I’ve avoid buttons for years, but with some advice from sewing friends, it all went smoothly! Oddly, doing it as a tester project made me feel less pressure, because after all, the goal is to show how the pattern works, not to come out with the perfect garment. This dress is good but not perfect, but it’s still a success in my book!