It must be Love – With a little help from Designer Stitch
I’m no stranger to sewing well made apparel, with the sewing attitude and perfectionism coming from my mother. I was recently accepted into a group of very special ladies who test patterns for Designer Stitch. For some daft reason I applied to test the Kristen Dress. Daft, as it’s a fitted dress and I don’t wear those much any more. I have a rare condition (C1 Esterase Deficiency). Follow the link if you want more information on that, but the long and short is that I swell up rapidly and suddenly. I have changed from wearing fitted clothes to loose and baggy; comfortable but not exactly flattering. I was filled with glee at being accepted, then worried at ‘how the heck will I wear this?’. In for a penny, in for a pound though, and off I went to the fabric store (any excuse!).
As always with a new designer or pattern company I had to work out where I fitted in the size range. Designer Stitch has their own size range. Don’t try to put yourself into what number you think you fit in. Just follow the instructions for measuring the many and various parts of you and write them down. Then make a toile or muslin. I struggled a bit with the muslin as my shape can change from day to day. I made 2, then progressed to use my good fabric. The resulting bodice swamped me so badly that no photos were taken. Back to the drawing board. I then asked for help and with a little adjusting I had the perfect fit. Part of my problem was the I am used to looser clothing. As such, anything fitted felt tight when it wasn’t.
Fortunately I had bought a lot of that lovely flowy rayon fabric. It also was a shape shifter and acted like chiffon. I decided to treat it that way to stop it distorting and almost causing me to blow a fuse! I kept thinking about the Harry Potter Dementers flying through the air as the fabric moved around. When I tried to unpick my (what I mistakenly thought was my final) bodice the thread left holes in the fabric. In the end I tore the zip out, threw it at the bin, then cut another one. The last time I had cared this much about a dress was when I made my son & daughter-in-law’s bridesmaid dresses and bride’s going away dress. Like this dress, by the time I was on the final one I had memorized the instructions.
But Kristen … why did I fall for you? The pattern is well written, and there are lots of diagrams and line drawings. The pattern is an intermediate one, or for or advanced beginners who can think for themselves and not need their hands holding. The pattern has a layers function, allowing one to choose to print certain sizes. This is great if you know what size you are. If you are new to Designer Stitch I’d advise printing off one size either side just in case. Like a lot of patterns there are several steps to putting together different sections of the dress. All I can say is have (blind) faith it will all turn out really well, because it did. I like the professional touches in the instructions to under stitch and set the sleeves in once the side seams are sewn. Many patterns now go for the ‘quick & dirty’ methods to produce a garment as quickly as possible; not Kristen. My mum will be proud of this dress. Designer Stitch also has a FaceBook page and a website to check out.
Kristen has a lovely retro feel, and Ann Gross, the designer has drawn her influence from Valentino’s latest catwalk trend. Ruffles are having a resurgence, but I think this dress also has a 40’s feel to it. The bodice has princess seams which fit beautifully, emphasizing the bust line and giving all figures a lovely shape. That perfect bodice fit comes from individually sized bodice pieces from B – DD (E) cups. It’s hard to see where my actual waist is sometimes as it sits several inches above my belly button. Once correctly sized I look 10 lbs lighter. Score! There are ruffles around the neckline and down the centre front. Do be careful to pin those ruffles in place, because if you don’t they can look a bit drunk if adrift. Not a good look at all! I chose to add a shorter softly flowing sleeve, which comes in two lengths; but there is also an option for a sleeveless version with ruffles. The side seams are where they are meant to be, the princess seams meet the skirt pleats just where they ought to. With a long invisible back zipper the dress feels glamorous from stepping into it, to my husband unzipping me (enough said).
As I said, I used a soft flowy fabric. While the bodice skimmed my body, I was concerned the skirt just fell and wasn’t moving how I wanted it to. So I added some horsehair braid to the hem. Its not from real horses anymore, but did make the skirt stand out resulting in the look I was after. I love how it swishes around my legs when I walk and I shortened the skirt to give it that whoosh whoosh feel. It made me wiggle when I walked and that made me giggle, as my dad has talked about how my mum wiggled when they met. I also spray starched my skirt for my photo shoot, adding to the structure. It is very hot here this summer, with temperatures in the mid 30s, even in the evenings, and everything can droop most unflatteringly. With a pair of Fluevog heels, full make up and a little clutch bag I was ready for photos. I feel a million bucks in this dress and am looking forward to the cooler weather to wear it whenever possible.
In summary Kristen is an advanced beginner / intermediate pattern. Follow this link to the web page where it is On Sale for a limited time only – $8.95 (US)
It is a multi-sized pattern :
(AU/UK) 6 – 26
(US) 2 – 22
(EU) 34 – 54
As always I didn’t receive any financial reward for making the pattern but I now own it. I did cut fabric while making the dress and yes, I tore some of it up in frustration.
I hope you enjoyed this novella. I do try to keep it brief but I love to tell a story. I hope to see you back here soon.