The final Indie Pattern Month challenge was actually in July not June and was a bonus contest for those that had purchased a pattern bundle during the sale.
I’d actually purchased two bundles, although both of the patterns I sewed up for this challenge came from the first bundle.
The challenge required a minimum of two garments, and I was poor as a church-mouse so I needed to sew something that would work with fabric I already had in my stash. This ruled out a lot of the patterns quite quickly, and not feeling up to the challenge of trousers (I’ve never sewn them before) with a time constraint I settled on the Sophie cardigan by Muse and the Zeena dress by By Hand London.
The Muse patterns are described as “modern sewing patterns with vintage touches that are easily wearable and customisable by everyone”. I’ve never used one of these patterns before and, to be honest, probably wouldn’t have bought this one if it weren’t bundled with other patterns I wanted. I’m not into the vintage look, so the sample garments I’d seen didn’t appeal to me at all. However, I had the pattern and a suitable fabric, so I decided to give it a try.
Spoiler alert: I actually really like it.
I chose to make the zippered V-neck variation, and cut a 34, grading out to a 36 over the bust.
My fabric didn’t have heaps of stretch, it was stretchy but thick and firm (if that makes sense?) so it fits quite snugly. This doesn’t bother me, but I might be tempted to go up a size all over if I were making it again with fabric like this.
I was wary of the circular pocket openings and nearly went for the patch pocket as I thought they’d be fiddly but I forced myself to attempt them as there’s only one way to get good at something, isn’t there?
To my mind, it shouldn’t be possible for a flat piece of binding fabric to sit nicely when sewn to a curved seam, so I was expecting all kinds of ugly creases when I tried to press these edges, but it actually worked really well.
It has raglan sleeves, so inserting the sleeves was a total breeze. The instructions are very thorough and easy to follow, and I would say the pattern is probably suitable for an adventurous beginner or intermediate sewist, as construction gets a little bit fiddly when inserting the zip, neckband and zip facings and someone with limited experience might struggle a little here.
I made a slight error when inserting my zip as one side of the zip sat slightly too high for some reason, meaning it overlapped the neckband ever so slightly (and I really do mean a tiny amount). Not a problem, until I came to insert the facings and needed to turn the facing to the inside. It wouldn’t turn because of the zip and I had to unpick a little bit. Unfortunately, I couldn’t tell the thread apart from the zipper tape and ended up with a bit of fraying zipper tape sticking out at the top. It’s not hugely noticeable, except to me.
Despite my initial dislike for this pattern, I was really pleased with my version and have worn it a lot since making it. It has also attracted the highest number of compliments ever, and my sister has requested I make one for her too.
I will definitely make more of these for myself, as well as one for my sister (if I can find fabric she’ll like!), as it turns out it’s something of a wardrobe essential!
Sometimes when you’re working on a project it’s a real chore, I find, and other times a project is just a real pleasure to sew. I don’t know why, perhaps it’s a skill thing, perhaps it’s just down to different moods, maybe it’s the way the instructions are written… I don’t know, but this one was one of those projects that feels like a treat to sew.
Fabric: Cream star print 95% cotton sweatshirting from MyFabrics, purchased in June 2016.
Notions: Thread, interfacing and a open ended zip.
Pattern: Muse Sophie cardigan, V neck zip up version in a size 34.
Changes made: Graded out to a 36 at the bust
Another one/recommendations: Definitely! I’m totally converted.
To go with it I made a Zeena dress – version 2 (short-sleeves, scoop neck, mini skirt), in a lovely soft chambray fabric which I bought at the Sewing and Hobbycrafts show at the NEC last year.
I have used a few By Hand London patterns in the past, and generally find that I can go down one size smaller at the waist than my measurements suggest.
According to my measurements I would need a UK 14 at the bust, 16 at the waist and a 10 at the hips. Since the dress is not fitted in the skirt, I disregarded the hip measurement, and based on the aforementioned theory about my waist measurement decided to cut a straight size 14.
I should have known better. Although the measurements seemed to add up, I actually should have cut a smaller size over the bust, graded out to a 14 at the waist and done a full bust adjustment in order to get a good fit across my shoulders. Going by my high bust measurement, I ought to have cut a size 10 in the bodice, graded out to a 14 at the waist and done a 3″ FBA. I didn’t do this because I couldn’t figure out how to do one on a dartless bodice like this. Hopefully By Hand London will do a sewalong for this dress at some point and cover this.
The pattern suggests french seams, which is a good idea and would help to give a neat finish to the curved underarm seams. Unfortunately, I didn’t read through the pattern properly before I started, so didn’t notice this until I’d already finished my seams.
The neckline facings are not interfaced, and the pattern directions do not advise you to understitch, which seems like a bit of an over sight. I understitched them anyway, but they still didn’t sit nicely inside the dress, so after I’d finished I added a line of decorative top stitching which will keep it in place. This matches the decorative stitching I did on the sleeve and skirt hems too. Which obviously I forgot to photograph. It was super cute too.
The most complicated part of this dress is the box pleats, so it’s a really simple make. I wasn’t expecting a pleat in the side seam, so I matched my pleats up wrong on my first pinning, but I figured it out in the end. The pocket being hidden inside a pleat seems a bit odd to me, but I guess maybe it would look weird if the pleats didn’t go all the way around?
There’s no notch on the skirt centre back to show you where to fold the last pleat to, so mine ended up going into the seam allowance and got closed up when I inserted the invisible zip. It’s kind of annoying as it makes the back seam rather bulky, but I didn’t really fancy taking out the zip, removing the skirt from the bodice and unpicking the pleats on the skirt centre back so that I could fix it, as even writing all those words was exhausting enough.
I had hoped to put in an exposed zip with metal teeth on a fuschia pink zipper tape, but couldn’t find one anywhere, so ended up putting in an invisible zip instead.
I want to love the finished dress but there are just too many fit issues for me really. It’s slightly short at the waist seam, so might be worth lengthening if I make it again, although this might be due to the need for a FBA.
I’d like to say that this is a dress I’d recommend for beginners as there are only a few pattern pieces and no need to insert sleeves, but I don’t really think the instructions are thorough enough and the issues with the facing and the pleat notches I mentioned earlier could make for some major frustration for a beginner. With a few updates to the instructions it could be the perfect beginner pattern.
I’m not sure whether I’ll make this pattern again, who am I kidding? I’ll definitely make it again, as I won’t be able to rest easy until I’ve fixed the fit issues. I do like it, but I don’t see it becoming a tried and true pattern any time soon. I’ve already given this one away to my friend, who I hope will wear it more than I would have done. I think it looks amazing in the pictures and it makes me a bit sad to have given it away, but I just wasn’t comfortable in it and knew I wouldn’t wear it.
Fabric: Denim Chambray from the Sewing & Hobbycrafts show, purchased in 2015.
Notions: Thread in denim blue and fuschia pink and a 22″ invisible zip.
Pattern: By Hand London Zeena Dress, size 14.
Changes made: Added understitching to facing, added decorative topstitching.
Another one/recommendations: There will be another attempt in order to iron out the fit issues and then we’ll see.