Wednesday, 23 September 2015
Pattern Testing: Sew Over It Joan Dress (and a giveaway!)
I have been super excited about sharing this dress with you since I made it a couple of months ago! When Sew Over It got in touch about testing their next pattern I said yes straight away. The Joan Dress (inspired by Mad Men's infamous Joan Holloway and her wiggle dresses) is an absolute stunner. It has some lovely design details like the elbow length sleeves, shoulder darts and neck tie; it nails that balance between vintage and wearable for me. Despite being a slight departure from my usual day to day style I'd had great previous experiences testing for them and just with their patterns in general so I decided it would be a great way to give a new look a whirl! The garment you see today is sewn up from the test version of the pattern so comments I make are based on that rather than the finished product. I feel like it's important to say that I think Sew Over It value and use the feedback that they get from their testers in a great way. I've often seen changes to the finished pattern based on comments I've made and it's a really open process.
For my dress I chose this bottle green wool blend from the Sew Over It online shop, which was kindly provided for me. It's got a bit of weight to it but isn't super heavy so worked out great for a winter dress with a bit of structure like this. I also think it would make a fab version of their Ultimate Pencil Skirt. I'm absolutely in love with this shade of green, there's something really festive about it! Unfortunately there's not a lot of room for festive eating in this dress so perhaps not a dress for Christmas Day but maybe the perfect outfit for mulled wine and mince pies?! Somebody stop me talking about Christmas already! Alex recommended choosing one of their great selection of rayon prints for a lining and she was right. I'd definitely consider using one of their rayons for lining again; it feels great against the skin and is super lightweight. I chose this monochrome print which I actually used at their summer party last year to make the lampshade which is now hanging in my bedroom! I love how it looks against that intense green and that it adds a bit of a excitement to the inside of the dress. I only used 1.9m of the wool and 1.5m of the lining as both fabrics were quite wide.
Choosing a good lining is important for this design as it is fully lined and fits closely all over. One of the things I was most impressed about when following the construction instructions for this pattern is the amazing clean finish you get inside. It does involve a fair bit of hand sewing but I enjoy that. The lining is attached at the neckline, cuffs, centre back zip, kick pleat and hem so all your raw edges are concealed within. This means you don't need to finish your seam allowances at all but I did choose to pink just the wool as it was so prone to fraying. I particularly liked the way the lining was attached around the hem, which involved tacking the two raw edges together before folding up the hem as one. Such a lovely professional looking finish!
I usually cut midway between the size 8 and 10 on Sew Over It patterns but looking at the ease in the finished garment measures and based on the fact that I've lost a bit of weight over the last few months I cut the straight size 8. It fit like an absolute glove when I finished it. Of course over the last month or so my weight has fluctuated ever so slightly again (I blame that stateside holiday!) and now it is verging on a bit too snug! Should have stuck to my usual. I think the ease is just about perfect for a wiggle dress if you go exactly by the measurement chart.
I'm fairly lucky in that I think my proportions suit the Sew Over It block so fitting their patterns is generally super straightforward for me and in this instance I made no changes at all! It's a longer length than I usually like and is probably longer than intended on me (I'm 5ft3" for reference) but in this style I quite like it! The drafting throughout is really great, those sleeves went in so easily without a bump or pucker! It helped that the wool I was using responded really well to steam and therefore shaped beautifully.
Pattern testing wise I didn't have many notes at all; I would have been very impressed if I had purchased the pattern as it was. I've already received my copy of the final pattern and could see that feedback had been taken on board again as some extra changes had been made since the testing stage; well thought out 'lengthen/shorten here' lines had been included and an extra notch added at the centre back of the hem to make trimming off the vent on one side of the back skirt piece even easier.
As usual the instructions were really thorough and included some great tips such as pressing the darts in the lining the opposite direction to how they are pressed in the main fabric to reduce bulk. There's a couple of trickier construction steps where it would be possible to get in a bit of a tangle, particularly when you attach the lining to the vent at the back of the skirt. But if you take it slow and make use of the lovely illustrations it all comes together smoothly. It was a really enjoyable sewing experience; there's notches where you need notches and everything lined up for me first go.
!GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED!
And the good news for you guys is that Sew Over It have kindly provided me with an extra copy of the paper pattern to give away to you! All you need to do to enter is follow me on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Bloglovin' if you don't already and leave a comment on this post. If you want to tell me about what kind of fabric you'd make Joan in if you won then feel free to include that too as I love to hear about other people's sewing plans! The giveaway is open internationally and please make sure to include your email address in your comment if it is not easily available in your blogger profile. The giveaway is open until midnight on Saturday 26th September and I will announce the winner here on Sunday 27th. Good Luck!
!GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED!