Once you get to a certain degree of proficiency, one of the key ambitions of many sewists is to take off the training wheels of commercial dress patterns and make your own. Once I had mastered seams and zips and darts and waistbands and had made a few tailored items, this idea began to form in my head. Patterns seemed so expensive and we used to be restricted to the big names like Vogue, Butterick and Simplicity. I always wondered could I release the inner fashion designer and create my own fashion masterpieces. I didn’t know how to go about it then and time and limited options and other priorities put that on the back burner.
Since rekindling my interest in sewing and joining this amazing Internet sewing community, I have realised that there is a huge number of independent pattern makers many of whom started out as home sewers and dressmakers. I have once more started to dream like that again. While I haven’t yet got there I have decided to take a further step into the community by testing a pattern for another sewist.
I obviously have an ulterior motive, if not several. I used to make – A LOT. I was prolific and even though I say so myself I was quite good. However I have been on hiatus for a long time and I am very rusty and also a little apprehensive. My tools and machines seem almost alien to me and so while my head is spinning with all of the possible projects I could take on and the stash building monster is on the loose again, it has been hard getting my ‘sewjo’ back.
So I decided that a good way back into good ways would be to collaborate with someone else. Testing someone’s pattern would force me to stop dithering and make something and also it would give me an insight into whether I could go that way too.
This brings me to the project. I am sewing the Clementine pattern made by Oxana at Sinclair Patterns. It is a simple sleeveless shift dress with tie neck. She recommends it is made in fabrics like viscose rayon or any non stretch fabric. I’ve decided to try it in a linen mix fabric which will be nice for when the warmer weather starts.
After printing and piecing together the pattern pieces I cut it out using the rotary cutter. I had to change blades as the old ones were blunt from years of inactivity. As it’s a straightforward basic tunic/shift style dress pattern, there are only three pieces so it was quick and easy to cut out.
I used my overlocker to finish the edges as it’s linen and I wanted to avoid unraveling. Getting the overlocker to do my bidding was a bit of a challenge as I think I’ve forgotten a lot of the skills I had. However once again once up and running it was quite straightforward.
Making up the dress was also a breeze and the tutorial provided with the pattern was easy to follow. The only snag I hit was in attaching the facing to the neckline, I found it hard to fit as the facing seemed a little small but that may have been my cutting out. As it’s a non stretch fabric, I couldn’t ease it to fit. If I use this pattern again I’ll be sure to check the facing and maybe give a little for my benefit of the doubt. Clip and trim the neck/facing seam and notch to reduce any bulk. I made sure to keep pressing all the way keeping the seams laying flat and neat. Ironing also makes the neckline sit nicely, so don’t skip that.
The neck will be finished in bias binding so I purchased a couple of lengths of binding tape picking out colours from the fabric.
Clementine is easy for beginners and you could probably make this up in an evening. The fabric I chose worked well, it hangs nicely and is comfortable. In terms of the dress itself, it does what is says on the tin. Loose fitting it’s forgiving of a few lumps and bumps but being sleeveless it’s not that great for my bingo wings. If I were to make this again I think I may go for a longer length and maybe something a bit more drapey I would also experiment with a bolder pattern. I’ll probably end up wearing this with as a beach dress or with wide legged trousers. In terms of my own style I think something with a bit more shape is more me.
Overall, I’m really pleased with this first foray into pattern testing and hope I get more opportunities to do this. It was also a successful mission as a bit of stash busting but there is also enough fabric left for me to make the wide leg pants I originally bought it for.
Thank you Oxana for letting me join your pattern testing crew, it was fun and got me reacquainted with my sewing machines.
Have you ever done pattern testing? How did it turn out for you?