As previously with my test of the Flora Dress I was provided with the fabric for my pattern test by SewBox. Susan was as helpful as ever and I had my pick of fabrics from her wide range of Liberty, John Kaldor and Michael Miller prints. When I picked my fabric I wasn't yet sure which variation I wanted to tackle so I wanted something with a bit of body and drape and something which would withstand my pretty active working day without wrinkling too much. As we were just heading in to summer I had bright prints on the brain so opted for this stunning French Crepe from John Kaldor. It's a lovely weighty crepe which was so enjoyable to work with; cutting, pressing and sewing. I was so delighted with how well it worked for the pattern and the lovely smooth, crisp finish it provided.
You may have noticed that this is pretty short! It's actually shorter than I think is intended as I kept trimming and trimming until I felt like the proportions looked right in this bold print. I ended up taking off about 3" in length which actually is pretty standard for me with patterns from this company as I'm such a short ass. The waistband sits in the perfect place on me though so you might want to consider lengthening the bodice if you are tall.
I personally love the way the shorts fit me for this quite figure skimming version but I know one change that was made after testing was to give a bit more room in the bum. I think this would give more of a relaxed fit which would suit the short sleeved bodice of variation 1, plus if I had made the trousers they would have hung differently and perhaps have required more ease in that area.
Construction wise it was super enjoyable as it has such a lovely clean finish. I only had one head scratching moment when I was attaching the band to the neckline and convinced myself that seams were going to end up on the outside. In fact all the seams are wonderfully hidden beneath the band and I should have just trusted the instructions! I finished all the seams on my overlocker which produced a beautifully neat edge on the crepe, it's strangely satisfying to look at all those tidy and even intersecting seams inside!
I'd say this was a slightly trickier sew than By Hand London's other patterns as there's more to it but it's still a fairly straightforward make as I think the shape of the trousers/shorts is quite forgiving and princess seams are the simplest to fit. There is an invisible zip in the side seam but I've always found their zipper instructions to be particularly good.
Because of the length, summer style and loud print it's not the most easily wearable garment I've ever made but I absolutely adore it for beach/holiday wear and a spot of sunbathing in the park. I also came up with a little trick to make it A LOT more wearable on a daily basis which I'll share with you very soon. I feel fantastic in it which I think is down to the great fit and and clean and tidy finish. I'm really keen to use this bodice to make a dress but I also want to try the variation 2 bodice as released with the cowl neck as a dress in the style of Sew Busy Lizzy. For me one of the best things about this pattern is the scope it gives you for creating almost an entirely new wardrobe. You've got jumpsuit, playsuit, two very different bodices to mix and match with simple self drafted skirts plus separate trousers and shorts! I wish I'd had more time on my hands to sew this summer and I would have made every single one.
Just in case you were wondering I did test the new bodice too. I only had time to whip up a quick muslin with no bottoms attached in some slinky poly crepe I had in my stash (and sorry I didn't get any photos) but that was enough to tell me that I definitely NEED to make that one up for real too. I was a little sceptical about the design at first as that cowl neck style is not something I would usually go for but this sits really beautifully. For me it has the perfect amount of drape as I don't feel like I'm at risk of exposing anything I don't want to. The bias binding used for the straps is a little fiddly and time consuming as I always find binding to be but is another great trick for a clean and professional looking finish.
The only question left is which variation do I make up next?!