The Acton Dress: part 1 – pattern testing

Hurrah, The Acton Dress has arrived!

I am sure you know by now that I share a studio with Emily of In the Folds, the designer of the Acton. ¬†It has been in the works for some time and I have seen the evolution of this pattern from it’s humble beginnings to the glorious dress you see today.

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Emily & I at the Acton photoshoot last month

Back in April, Emily asked me if I would like to test this for her, of course I agreed. ¬†I wanted to test view¬†B which is the wrap skirt option. I knew that with my mum-tum this option would be the perfect cover up. It would remove the need to wear my ‘suck ’em up’ pants! ¬†(Before you say it, I know my stomach is not enormous, but it’s my main bugbear and I feel a bit self conscious about it!)

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I started out testing a straight size B but I soon realised that this size would be too big in the bodice. My issue isn’t the boob size, it’s the depth. ¬†I am very short in the body, which means my boobs don’t actually sit where most¬†sit, they are essentially higher. ¬†So for my first proper toile I made up a straight size A, not sure why I decided to go down an entire size!

There was a¬†‘new to me’ element¬†in this pattern. I have never sewn¬†princess panels before, how is this possible?¬† I think it’s because I often associate them with vintage style frocks, but with the racer back and the thin straps I think the design is more contemporary. I was surprised how easy the princess panels were to¬†place together and this is where my tailors ham came in very useful!

The wrap skirt is very unusual. From a construction perspective I had no idea how this would ever fit together. ¬†There is a moment when you are attaching the skirt to the bodice at the side seams and thinking ‘have I done something wrong here?’ and ‘this will never work!’ ¬†It does work!* ¬†I have to say I have never come¬†across anything like it before. ¬†A little bit of sewing magic happens right before your very eyes.

*(the instructions are now fuller in this area, more details have been added).

You can see from the photos below what I mean.  The skirt is essentially a giant square.

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Flashing my giant square!
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The fabric was gifted to me by my lovely friend Jen.  A good choice as it is lightweight and has a really nice drape which works well with this design.
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Yes, my tum sticks out more than my boobs!
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I love the wrap feature & the bodice, it makes me feel confident to wear a dress that shows a bit of skin!
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Notice to pulling around the boob area

This was a good toile but after wearing it I could see there were a¬†few issues with the fit. ¬†It’s just a bit too tight. I had initially reduced the seam allowance on the side seams and at the zip to give me some breathing space but still it was not quite right.

There is some¬†‘back fat’ splurge going on¬†(not shown for obvious reasons). ¬†You can also see in the picture above that there is some pulling under the arm pit towards the boob, indicating it’s too small. I wanted the wrap to meet in the middle too and it doesn’t quite get there. Finally, I cut the hem too short, I was a little overzealous with the scissors.

But this really would have been a wearable toile¬†if I hadn’t burnt a dirty great hole in the back of it when giving it a final press. ¬†Tears were shed.

I enjoyed the pattern testing process and I have big love for this dress. ¬†It’s a great dress to try out new skills, especially with the unique construction. ¬†It made me determined to sort out my fit issues as I had a bigger plan up my sleeve.

…to be continued…

 

 

 

 

Shoulder pads worthy of Krystal Carrington!

All has been a bit quiet on the SWK blog, mainly because I have been sunning myself in Byron Bay, the home of all hippies and the place where I was married 10 years ago.  So, armed with children and husband we donned our flip flops and off we went.

I find it very difficult to relax. ¬†If I have any precious downtime, I will rush to the machine or read sewing blogs or trawl Instagram for sewing inspiration, I am not obsessed at all. ¬†This wasn’t an option,¬†no machine and minimal internet. ¬†So when I did have a moment to myself, I hit a vintage clothes shop. ¬†Oh, how I love a vintage clothes shops.

There is one particular gem close to Byron Bay, in Mullumbimby, called The Silver Lining. ¬†It really is a treasure trove of gloriousness. ¬†I could have spent hours in there. I didn’t though as I was getting hounded by the masses, so I made a quick purchase of a 1980’s grey and nude pink check jacket.

It fits really well, but it has one major drawback, it has massive shoulder pads. I love a shoulder pad as much as the next women, but I am not sure they love me back!  They would have to go, I look like a box!

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I imagined an easy job of removing the pads, but no, it was a big mass of foam which disintegrated as I pulled it away – yuk!

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Thinking this would be all I needed to do, I tried it on again but it still looked wrong as the shoulder seam was in the wrong place completely.  I do have narrow shoulder anyway so I decided to reset the arm holes. Sounds horrific! Of course I googled it, and found this fantastic tutorial from Sew for Dough on altering the shoulders on a jacket!

I pretty much followed the instructions to the letter. Job done.  Why have I never attempted this before?  It was so easy.

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A subtle change perhaps, but well worth the effort, it softens the look of the jacket completely.

Farewell disintegrating foam, hello awesome jacket!