Cashmerette Holyoke Dress

Disclaimer: I received this pattern for free in exchange for testing, but my opinions can’t be bought by patterns alone. I require cheese (preferably lactose free) and probably a good amount of tequila and cold hard cash. Feel free to send me that.

I tested the Cashmerette Holyoke dress ages ago and then left it unhemmed for ages after that. What can I say….I am a procrastinator.

As soon as I saw the pattern, I knew that I wanted to test the dress. I had been looking for something similar and the Holyoke fit the bill. However, when we tested it, it was something like March or February and not time for a sundress. Probably why I procrastinated on sewing the hem for so long.

Let’s chat a bit about the features of this pattern: princess seams, straps that cover bra straps, a long full swishy skirt, a waistband, elastic back for cheese room, and no buttonholes for a faux button placket. It’s pretty fantastic.

My tester version was made using a cheer patterned poly chiffon. The fabric has a crinkly texture. It was a bitch to sew with. It stretched out a bit when sewing the front neckline; although, steam from my iron worked at getting it back in shape every time. For my tester, I made a size 24 GH graded to a 26 at the waist. It fit pretty well except for being a bit wide at the shoulders and the neckline. Underneath, I styled it with that lovely white tank dress that I made with the Concord t-shirt pattern for a lovely 90s look. Look at me being trendy af.

I did a wicked job of almost making the pattern match at the front on the skirt completely unintentionally; luckily, the busy pattern doesn’t really make pattern matching an issue since I didn’t have enough fabric to deal with pattern matching across that many seams. Because of the sheerness of the fabric, I didn’t interface the pieces since it would show through. I took about 6 inches off the hem of the skirt, if not more in some areas due to the fabric stretching out. I made the dress a bit shorter than a maxi since maxi dresses are notoriously bad for making me trip.

I have made another version using the final pattern. However, that is reserved for the Minerva Crafts blog in August so I will just share a preview picture with you:

This version I shortened to knee length. I made the same size as the tester with no modifications. All the issues with the neckline and shoulders are very much improved in this version as well as the the armsyce being raised a bit more. I did move the straps in about a 1/2 when sewing due to my narrow shoulders.

The fit is great. The only change I will make is to shorten the centre front bodice a little bit as there is folding in that area due to my belly sending it up a bit. Yay for bellies.

I have plans for a ton more of these dresses. I really love the style and the fit. It’s a great sundress!

TL:DR Review

  • Pattern: Cashmerette Holyoke dress
  • Pros: Good size range. Lovely fit. Cup size choices are wonderful as usual. Covers bra straps! Cheese room comfort level with the elastic back waistband!
  • Cons: I mean… I guess the maxi only length, but like…. I can shorten shit in my sleep so not really a con to me.
  • Make again?: Well of course! I WANT ALL THE HOLYOKE DRESSES.
  • Rating: pink-star-black-md pink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-md5/5 stars

Cashmerette Cedar Dolman: Pattern Hacks

Today I am sharing two garments I made back in March… One of the items was waiting on a repair before I could take pictures. I’ll talk about that a bit later.

Both garments are made using the Cashemerette Cedar Dolman as the starting pattern. I really love this pattern for its versatility. It’s a great pattern to “hack.”

First up is a dress version. For this version, I actually used the Cedar Dolman I made as a pattern tester. I added a neckband and sleeve bands. Knowing that I was going for a loose fit, I didn’t want to cut the length of the Dolman too much. In the tester version, I made the tie version so I cut the tester off just above the tie. It’s probably about 4 inches off the bottom. For the skirt, I just added two panels that were the width of the back and the front.

I added pockets to the side seams and sewed the tops of them into the skirt waist. The skirt waist is sewn to the bodice and then about an inch and a quarter below that, you sew again. Then you press that extra up and sew a line of stitching to secure it and then feed the elastic in through that. It’s the same method used for the Colette Myrtle waistband in this tutorial.

This is the kind of dress that you just throw on after work or on the weekend. It’s comfortable and easy to make as well! I made it using a bamboo jersey in mauve that I got from a friend. I really really love this fabric. It wears well and is durable.

Up next is the garment I had to repair.

This Cedar Dolman hack is exactly like my striped one, but this time with ruffles on the sleeves! I simply cut two strips of fabric, folded them in half lengthwise and then gathered them and sewed them into the seams while I sewed up the side seams. I made sure to have the ruffles fall down towards the sleeve hem.

I wore this once and then washed it and a few holes appeared in the fabric. Luckily, they aren’t super noticeable after I sewed them up; they are on the front but closer to my armpit. It’s a rayon spandex from Water Tower Textiles. After two washes (pre-wash and then washed once after it was constructed), the holes appeared. I’m really disappointed. The cut was from the end of the roll and I am hoping it was just a fluke since they were transparent about a flaw on a different part of the pieces. I’m probably not going to contact them since they told me there were flaws on the end piece and I got extra fabric as a result of that. I thought I had cut around them all, but didn’t catch these small holes that then became bigger in a wash. It’s sad but not the end of the world.

The top will be an at home top because of the holes. It’s super comfortable and I love those ruffles. They do weigh the sleeves down, though, and make the ruffles under the elbow instead of above. I think I would just use one layer of fabric next time and serge or baby hem the edge to reduce the weight and the bulk since it was also difficult to serge over all those layers. I have some lightweight hunter green jersey that might become another one of these soon because I really love it.

I plan on trying the top out in a woven next possibly with some colour blocking fun.

Miss Bossy said McCall’s 7624…so I delivered…

Miss Bossy said make McCall’s 7624 so I made it!

You know, I never was one for being ordered around and told what to do. I can get really stubborn and dig my heels in before I listen to someone tell me what to do. But occasionally, I listen to and follow orders. When it makes sense, I am willing to do it. And sewing always makes sense to me. 😉

  

I chose view C but with the ties from view D. I love the sleeves in view B, but wanted something for summer. Before I started sewing, I had to do an FBA…ughhhhh. I have never done an FBA on a bodice with a cut on sleeve like this, but I was up for the challenge. I chose size 22, which has a 44 inch bust. The finished measurements have it at 49.5  inches (edit: oops forgot to input the finished measurements for size 22). My bust is at 51/2 depending on the time of the month. I did a 3 inch FBA to add 6 inches overall to give me the extra ease that the pattern calls for. I also added 4 inches to the back skirt and the front skirt panels as well as 3 inches to the waistband pieces. I did my best to maintain the original neckline on the bodice so that I could avoid gaping. I didn’t manage to do that completely. There is still some gaping in the neckline, but it is not too bad. I will account for that in the next version. The tutorial I used for the FBA is from the Closet Case Files sewalong for the Kalle shirtdress. It worked out really well. I think the only adjustment that I would make for the next version other than the neckline gaping would be to add a bit more to the front skirt panels to balance out the fullness in the back. Or…alternatively take out the extra inches in the back. We’ll see when I make it again.

  

What else can I say? I just really really really love this dress! It looks fucking fantastic on me!

  

You can see how much I love this dress from these pictures.

  

And the sheer number of pictures I took!

  

The fabric I used is rayon fabric from Fabricland/Fabricville. It was lovely to sew with and pressed beautifully.

I think this will be a summer fixture in my wardrobe!

TL:DR Review

  • Pattern: McCall’s 7624 
  • Pros: Possibly the perfect summer dress with loose sleeves, drapey skirt, and elastic back for comfort.
  • Cons: Let’s talk about how crappy that size range is! 44 bust? Gimme a break, McCall’s. Your size range is the worst! Patterns rarely go above size 22/44 inch bust. McCall’s better wake up and start seeing the plus sized market!
  • Make again?: Absolutely! I love it. I just need to fix the neckline gaping a bit more and I may or may not make an alteration to the skirt fullness.
  • Rating: pink-star-black-md pink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-md4.5/5 stars

 

Simplicity 8140

Simplicity patterns haven’t been widely available in Canada since the distributer issues years ago. Fabricland (Canada’s chain fabric store) stopped carrying them and even smaller independent fabric stores don’t carry them. Jen from a Maker Heart saw me lamenting about that and offered to send me a bunch on the next Joann’s sale. Tanya has also sent me a few Simplicity patterns in the past as well. It’s nice to have such amazing sewing friends. ❤

Simplicity 8140 popped out at me as a style I might like. I was excited to make it. Fabricland had a sale on yarn-dyed plaid flannel fabric and I started imagining a plaid version of this pattern with a lace yoke. I had a remnant of a navy lace really wanted to use it. Through some miracle, I had *just* enough fabric for it. The patterns calls for lightweight fabrics and while the flannel isn’t lightweight it still works well.

I made size 28W. I did widen the sleeves for puffed sleeves. Sorry not sorry for loving a puffed sleeve. I have super narrow shoulders so I like the way it gives me the appearance of having wider shoulders and I also love the mobility the extra fabric gives my arms without changing the size of the armsyce which often leads to other fit issues. So for me, a puffed sleeve is always going to be my default.

It was always my intention to wear a belt with this dress. Without the belt, it does resemble the nightgown Ebenzer Scrooge wears throughout the Night Before Christmas….

You’ll notice that I didn’t put the pocket on the bust. To me, bust pockets on a person with my size of bust need to be super tiny or not there at all, because they just tend to empasize that my bust is waayyyy bigger than the pocket and then people stare at the pocket in awe. So I moved the pockets down and cut them on the bias to avoid print matching.

I used the scallop edge of the lace on the back. I reallly reallly love the look of it. The dress certainly has a strange cool/warm thing going on and I find myself sort of wanting a shawl. The pattern does call for lining the lace, but I didn’t want to do that.

With the belt, the dress looks awesome. I made no attempt at pattern matching, but it doesn’t look too bad especially with the bias cut button placket and pockets.

That hem looks wavy, but I think it’s just the way it is draping because it is flat… I pressed it a bunch. Burnt my fingers and everything.

This was really easy to make. I followed my favourite method for the button placket and have all the raw edges hidden inside and then the boxed “x” topstitching. I used a glue stick when sewing the collar facing down and it looks amazing. I should really take more detailed shots of these finishes, but I sort of feel like sewists have probably seen enough collars in their lives…

Perhaps my only criticism is the sleeves are really wide at the hem. Instead of tapering down to the hem, they are straight from the armsyce to the hem. It would have looked ridiculous keeping them like that so I tapered them a bit at the hem. Even though they are meant to be rolled up, it doesn’t really make sense to me to have such a wide hem. Also, the 3/4 length that you are supposed to roll them to is really long. I get that I have short arms, but these are basically full length on me… For my next version, I will definitely be moving where that sleeve tab sits for them to actually be 3/4 length on me.

TL:DR Review

  • Pattern: Simplicity 8140
  • Pros: Great size range. Love that hem.
  • Cons: The sleeves are weirdly large at the hem.
  • Make again?: Absolutely after a couple more adjustments to where that sleeve tab sits. I really want to make the top version.
  • Rating: pink-star-black-md pink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-md4.5/5 stars

Flashback Friday

Flashback Friday is here, but with a twist. 😉

Recently, a friend contacted me asking me to help her with a very special project. She sent me a picture and asked if I could recreate the dress so she could pose as her younger self. The original picture was taken in Hungary at Aquincum ruins of Budapest and she was about to return there with her parents for a family trip.

Recreating childhood pictures is a really great trend that emerged recently. I really love the idea and was fully behind it!

My friend, Susan Debreceni, is heavily into nostalgia. I know her through the Toronto Improv Community. She even runs a nostalgic show called Blast from the Past: “Comedians take the stage and bring their cherished childhood items to life through improv and otherwise. Nostalgia at its comedic best.” It’s a great way to bring out the fun in nostalgia. I also have seen some adorable baby pictures of improvisors!

When Susan sent me the picture, I knew immediately what to do: Colette Moneta bodice and a gathered skirt. I didn’t use the Moneta skirt, because the sides are curved and I wanted to make sure the dress had matching side seams for the stripes.

Finding the fabric was surprisingly not difficult! We were sure that would be the most difficult part. I quickly searched in my usual places and found a striped cotton lycra and a solid yellow cotton lycra (unfortunately no longer available) at L’Oiseau Fabrics. The fabrics were definitely brighter than the original dress, but brighter didn’t matter. It was an almost perfect match! When they arrived, I was really impressed with the quality. Definitely worth the price.

They sewed up beautifully on my serger. I added sleeve bands in yellow to the sleeves and omitted the pockets since they were not sitting correctly. I serged the hem, since that is my preference. I asked first if that was cool with Susan and she was on board. For the butterfly, Susan sent me a picture, which I printed out and used as a template. I used misty fuse to stabilize the cut out and then used a satin stitch on my sewing machine. It worked really well and then needed to be ironed like crazy to sit flat perfectly. It looked awesome.

 

I’m super happy to have helped make Susan’s nostalgic dreams come true!

Want to check this dress out in person? It might appear at Blast from the Past!

Check them out on facebook or twitter.

Cashmerette Turner Dress for the Holidays

The Turner dress was the last garment I made in 2016 and the first refashion I did in 2017! Haha. I’ll get to why I refashioned it later in the post. All of the pictures in this post are mirror selfies fyi, because it’s cold outside and I am in hibernation mode so the fact that I am taking pictures at all is a huge thing. I never promised professional photography here people!

I tested the Turner dress in March before leaving for my honeymoon in April. I brought the tester version with me a wore it a bunch while in Holland and around Scandinavia. I don’t even have a picture of me in the dress there except covered by a coat, because I was too worried about accidentally posting it on instagram before the release.

Cashmerette Turner Dress

Cashmerette Turner Dress

Ignore the wool socks with flipflops. These pictures were taken in March last year and it was cold! The fabric I used for my tester version was a navy ponte with enough stretch for the pattern. I picked it up at the thrift store. I love finding good scores there.

I made size 22 E/F graded to a 24 at the waist. My friend’s version is the same size.

The pattern goes together really quickly. There’s clear elastic at the waist to stabilize it. Debbie of Stitches and Seams, however, didn’t use elastic at all and has a stable seam. I think with the right fabric you could definitely follow her method. I’m allergic to the clear elastic so I just used regular latex free elastic. Likely this ponte fabric as well as the ponte fabric I made my friend’s dress out of are totally fine without elastic.

Turner Dress

Both of these are lined bodices. I added pockets to my friend’s dress, because pockets are amazing.

The week before Christmas, I went to Fabricland at Honest Ed’s. It was having a closing sale so I picked up this pretty rayon poly knit:

I figured it was perfect for a Christmas dress that would look good beyond Christmas.

Sadly, there are no more Fabriclands within a good distance from me. The most accessible one for me, I believe, would be at Dupont and Dufferin, but that is an hour from my place by transit. I am still really close to Toronto’s Fashion District, but it is often difficult to find sales or even printed knit fabric that isn’t completely polyester. Hopefully a Fabricland will appear again in a more accessible location sometime soon.

It wasn’t until Christmas day that I was certain that I would be making this dress. I was sick most of the holidays and it’s irritated my breathing issues and made them worse again. So it wasn’t until around 1pm on Christmas Day that I decided to start making it when we were leaving for dinner at my husband’s sister’s house at 3pm. I got it done at 2pm! Before your jaw drops off, I already had it cut out. 😉 I also did a modified neckline and used the scoopneck from my concord t shirt pattern and the band. I also cut out a 22 G/H graded to a 24 at the waist since my size had changed slightly since the last time I made it.

Turner Dress

It worked out really well and we were out the door in time. But as the night went on, the dress stretched and stretched….. and the knit fabric had zero recovery… so it looked a bit like an off the shoulder dress after a while… I wore it one more time to work and then tossed it in a corner to be fixed.

Turner Dress with sad fabric recovery fail

Inspired by Gillian’s recent series Lazy tip for fixing knits, I had to make it work! The best way to fix it in my mind was to do two things: stabilize the shoulders with some elastic (probably should have done that in the first place! HAHA) and replace the neckband with a cowl to cover up an modesty issues that may arise with the recovery issue. I didn’t take off the neckband when I put the cowl on because I was worried about it stretching out further, but I did serge it off.

Turner dress with cowl neckline

Turner Dress

Turner Dress

I definitely like the refashion and might actually do this again for another Turner dress with a slightly different shape for the cowl. I love cowl necklines so I call this a win.

The cowl is also long enough that I can hide in it. I think this will be useful for the winter hibernation.

Turner Dress Cowl Peekaboo

TL:DR Review

  • Pattern: Cashmerette Turner Dress
  • Pros: Super fast pattern. Great shape and style. Really good for large busts with the cup sizes.
  • Cons: The pattern itself doesn’t come with pockets, but it’s easy enough to add. Like most Cashmerette patterns, the neckline and shoulder are wide, but that is an easy fix.
  • Make again?: Definitely. It’s a great dress and a great base for some fun pattern hacks. 🙂
  • Rating: pink-star-black-md pink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-mdhalf-star-black-md4.5/5 stars

Introducing Blank Slate Pattern’s Auberley dress

Disclaimer: I received the Auberley dress pattern in exchange for testing. All my opinions and cheese are my own. Stay away from my cheese.

I do pattern testing already for Muse Patterns and Cashmerette Patterns. Both are run by sewing friends who I adore. I was pretty sure for a while that I wouldn’t do any more testing. Recently, before the Rue Pattern was released, Colette Patterns put out a call for pattern testers. I almost filled out the form. I’m so glad I didn’t, because I don’t think the pattern would work for me (or possibly anyone…) and I am not certain that “testers” were used for much beyond promotional purposes.

When I test a pattern, I expect my feedback to be taken into consideration and help make the pattern better. Perhaps I’ve been spoiled with two wonderful companies that really respect the testing process and take time to make changes to the pattern before the pattern is released. I can confirm that Cashmerette and Muse do this and both really appreciate their testers. It never feels like work. Instead, it is an exciting process and I get patterns I love out of it. See examples of all my Muse Patterns and Cashmerette patterns garments for proof of how much I love testing for these two companies.

Recently, Susan from Blank Slate put up a call for testers in the Curvy Sewing Collective facebook group. They specifically needed testers at the higher range of their sizes. Susan described it as “babydoll dress/tunic pattern with a square neckline, princess seams, and bell sleeves” and my heart went “I fucking want that right fucking now.” My heart swears a lot…and so does my mouth…

The turn around time was pretty tight. The post was up on September 17th and then I provided my feedback by September 25th. Originally, the feedback was due by the 21st, but a pattern change happened right in the middle of testing along with a change in the neckline and it got us all a sweet extension.

Pattern testing with Blank Slate was pretty different from anything I’ve experienced before. It was actually such a great process and testers got to see results as we were testing in the pattern. I used up a lot more muslin (thrifted bed sheets) than I ever have during a testing process, but it was a great learning process. It prompted me to finally print off my Marigold dress/top/skirt pattern for a sweet flowy peplum top. I will need to make some adjustments, but I am pretty confident in the pattern drafting and that it will work out. I’ve already been in love with Michelle’s dress version for a while.

All of this is to say that I’m really pleased with the process and, as long as timing is right, I hope to do more testing with Blank Slate in the future.

Testing the pattern also came during a major slump in my sewing. I haven’t posted in a while and well…. I have so little to show for all the sewing I have done and I’ve done so much sewing…. I have four or five (lost count) unfinished objects (UFOs) and several pieces cut out. I have two pairs of shorts and one pair of cropped pants on the go that will likely not be worn out of the house until the summer and still nothing finished. I’m dying here. Some of it is fit issues, others are sewing issues (like my serger decided to drop stitches and I need to resew because all the stitches are popping but I have to change my thread back to the other colour first to finish it…), and others are cutting the god damn wrong size of waistband for three damn skirts when I have no more of the damn fabric left to cut it out again…. SMH! It’s just been a series of unfortunate events and Count Olaf is off laughing in a corner somewhere.

Testing this pattern has revitalized me thankfully. My final fit isn’t perfect, but I love the dress and really love the style so I can go forward with confidence now and finish those UFOs.

The construction of the Auberley dress is pretty straight forward. It doesn’t have any zippers and simply pulls over your head. For the tester version, I was asked to sew it up as is. Susan did ask if that was okay given my shoulder issues and I figured I could go back and add a zipper if I absolutely needed it. I have found pulling the tester over my head isn’t too difficult, but I will be putting a side zipper in my next versions. The bodice has princess seams and is lined giving the notched neckline a lovely finish. The skirt is an empire waisted gathered skirt and there are ties at the back. The sleeves have two options: long bell sleeves, which I used for my tester version, and elbow length straight sleeves. In the hack pack, there are two additional necklines: v-neck and scoop neck; and three sleeves: cold shoulder sleeve, and long or 3/4 length bishop sleeves with ties. Lots and lots of options there. Also pockets!

With my version, I did two muslins before sewing up this final version. I’m not 100% happy with the fit since there are some lines along the centre panel of the dress, which I think are a result of two things: 1) the front panel needs to be widened slightly so the princess seam is actually going through my apex and 2) the front panel needs to be shortened. I’m sure I will get many other helpful suggestions on how to fix the wrinkles, though.

Look at me play with the wrinkles:

Blank Slate Patterns Auberley dress

What an hilarious outtake! My husband took these pictures before we went to the new Second City show Come What Mayhem. Great show btw! Definitely a must see if you are in Toronto!

I also need to widen the sleeve a little bit since the upper arm is a bit tight and shorten it (although, my hands are in a fist in some of these pictures… I was cold). I used a size 26 sleeve. For reference, my upper bicep is 21 inches. In addition, I will widen the front skirt to match the gathering on the back skirt.

Blank Slate Patterns Auberley dress

I started with a size 20 to match my upper bust and did a 5 inch FBA. I also added 2 inches to the side seams in order to make it easier to get over my head as well as have the size 26 sleeve fit. I used the size 26 skirt and ties, as well.

The fabric I used is a hunter green poly crepe that I got at the thrift store. It was a dream to sew. I have a navy blue poly crepe that might also become a Auberley dress, but I have a million ideas in my head right now so that might change!

Blank Slate Patterns Auberley dress

Blank Slate Patterns Auberley dress

Blank Slate Patterns Auberley dress

Blank Slate Patterns Auberley dress

I will reserve a full review for when I actually use the final pattern and try out the hack pack. I don’t assign a star rating to the test versions of patterns. I’m excited for more versions. One of the testers used a black lace in the front panel and sleeves and I really want to try something similar. I’d also like to lengthen the waist ties, too, so they wrap around the front. I see so many possibilities with the dress once the fit is completely tweaked. It will be a great winter dress to wear with some lovely leggings or knee high socks. I think I’m going to get some double guaze and some chambray and try out some fabrics I’ve never used before. Should be fun! I also am in love with the bishop sleeves so those are definitely going to be used like crazy.