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.

rushcutter-campaign1631
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!)

screen-shot-2016-11-08-at-12-43-46-pm

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.

img_8648
Flashing my giant square!
img_8637
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.
img_8626
Yes, my tum sticks out more than my boobs!
img_8617
I love the wrap feature & the bodice, it makes me feel confident to wear a dress that shows a bit of skin!
img_8637
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…

 

 

 

 

I love a pocket!

I love a pocket, especially a BIG pocket.  A pocket that can carry my phone, my purse and a collection of Superhero Lego Minifigures.

I have spotted a couple of corking ‘pocket’ dress patterns of late and I just made a lovely dress with giant pockets,  so I thought an ‘ode to the pocket’ was order of the day. As we are on the subject, I thought I would interview my friend and fellow pocket lover, Emily Hundt from In the Folds.  Her Rushcutter really is a dress with some major pocket work.

What inspired you to incorporate BIG pockets into your Rushcutter?

I incorporated big pockets into the Rushcutter, because I just love pockets. I love the look of them, but more so I love how handy they are. I love them for stashing bits and pieces when I am too lazy to carry a handbag (which is often), but most of all, I just love having pockets to put my hands in. Especially when I’m nervous! What I like about the style of the pockets on the Rushcutter, is that you can easily leave out the pockets if pockets aren’t your bag (don’t worry. I’ll try not to judge you) or you can swap the pockets on View A for the pockets on View B (hidden in-seam pockets), so there is lots of room to play, so that you get your ideal pocket preference. Pocket placement is always an element of my design process, as I want them to be really functional (you will never see a fake pocket on one of my patterns!)

the_rushcutter_side
Emily in her Rushcutter with View A pockets
the_rushcutter_in_seam_pockets_corey
Rushcutter View B inseam pockets (credit: Corey from Domestic 360)
What are your favourite type of pockets to make?
That’s a good question. And one I’m not sure how to answer! As I like sewing all kinds of pockets (am I starting to sound like a crazy pocket lady?). I guess one of my favourites is sewing patch pockets on shirts, when I am working with a print. It isn’t too hard to match the print, but I always feel very proud when I get it just right. And when it’s done, it’s right there on your chest (or in this case, my partner’s) for everyone to admire! 
patch_pockets
Some cracking pattern matching on patch pockets – nice work Emily!

Do you have a recent ‘me made’ piece with rad pockets?

To be honest, there has been very little selfish sewing this year (unfortunately), apart from Rushcutter samples. Although, I am currently working on a pattern for a pair of trousers I am planning to release sometime in the new year. And they have pockets of pretty epic proportions. I haven’t yet sampled them in anything apart from calico, so I’m not sure if they qualify as a make yet though?! 

Is there another indie pattern that you love (on your to do list?) that has awesome pockets?

As I said, I don’t really have time for much selfish sewing (although it is on the new years resolutions list for 2016) and when I do have a chance to sew I tend to draft my own patterns. But I do keep track of all the indie releases, and one that comes to mind is the Louisa dress by Compagnie MIt has two different pocket options (kangaroo or asymmetrical) which is what caught my eye. 

IMG_0413
The girls version of the Louisa dress (made by Sewing with Kate) – the adults version is now online!

And finally, what’s in your pocket right now?

In my pocket right now I have my phone (so that I can listen to podcasts and have the freedom to run around my studio like a headless chook, as it’s somehow December) and my house key. Oh, and a crumpled up receipt. 

Excitingly, Emily and I will be running some Rushcutter dress sew-alongs in the new year.  If you are interested and would like more information and just drop me a line through my contact page.

To continue with my pocket theme I thought I would share a recent make. I spotted this pattern on the Sew Unravelled blog, twice!  I am a big fan of Jillian (I think I have mentioned this a few times).  I really liked the two dresses, sunshine on a rainy day and the pineapple dress of happiness.  Don’t you just love the names!

The pattern is from the Japanese pattern book, Stylish Dress Book: Clothing for Everyday Wear by Yoshiko Tsukiori. As luck would have it, I stumbled across it in my library, the sewing gods were smiling down, I just HAD to make it.

You don’t really get the sense of BIG pocket-ness from the pattern.  It was only when I saw Jillian’s versions that I was convinced to give them a go.  It was a fairly straight forward make.  I graded a small top to a medium bottom as the size ran quite big.  I think in hindsight I really could have made a straight small.  I also opened up the armholes on the front to allow for my hunchback!  I did make a rather catastrophic error when drafting the pattern which meant I had to redraw and recut the front bottom panel which is the reason why there is no pattern matching (that’s my excuse anyway!)

IMG_5565
Could those pockets be any bigger?
IMG_5566
80’s vibe going on here!

It is much more flattering that I expected.  I thought the oversized pocket would make me look rather large in the hip area, but I don’t think so.  The fabric is a stiff cotton with no drape so it sits quite well and hold the shape. I should also say that the fabric is totally AWESOME.  A charity shop find.  I think it is someones home screen printed experiment.  Clearly they were not in love with it. Your loss is my massive gain!  Not bad for $2.  Yes, that’s a total of $2 to make this dress!  You have got to be happy with that.

Big shout out for pocket love!