As soon as I read about the new wrap dress pattern from Cashmerette, The Appleton, I just knew I had to buy it.
- It comes in sizes 12 to 28 – something that the Big 4 pattern companies rarely offer. Yay big cheer for independent companies.
- It has the options of three cup sizes C/D, E/F and G/H – no need to mess around with a FBA – yippee.
- The unique design of the neckband means no gaping and so no unplanned exposure of my cleavage (not that there is ever any planned exposure, heaven forbid!)
I downloaded the pdf version of the pattern on the day of release as I just wanted to get hold of my copy. However, as is often the case, life got in the way and I didn’t get around to making it as quickly as I planned. When the paper version of the pattern became available here in the UK I purchased that as well. I still feel far more comfortable with a physical paper pattern in my hand, I don’t know why.
My measurements (B46, W41, H52) meant that I couldn’t easily pick a size straight from the pattern. Jenny’s advice is to go with your waist measurement which put me between a size 20/22. But then my bust measurement didn’t align to the cup sizes in that range, that either put me as a C/D in the size 18 or an E/F in the size 16. I decided to do the following:
- Work with the C/D version of the pattern
- Use size 18/20 around the shoulders, arms and bust.
- Grade out to nearer the 20 at the waist
- Grade out from 20-22 at the hip area.
The grading was remarkably easy to do between these three sizes and although the pattern did look a strange shape I was confident there would be enough room to cover my hips.
This is the fabric I chose. I purchased 3 yards from Craftsy for £5.88 per yard (plus shipping) and it took less than 2 weeks to arrive – pretty impressive coming all the way across the Atlantic. It is a lightweight knit made of 95% rayon and 5% spandex with a crosswise stretch of 50% – a requirement of this pattern.
When the fabric arrived I was disappointed that I hadn’t taken more time and care to check out how large the pattern was. Craftsy did put a ruler against the fabric so I was completely to blame, I just fell in love with how it looked on the computer screen. Unfortunately, when I draped the fabric over me, the large pale grey diamonds were massive and with the weight of the fabric draping down they were distorted into even larger diamonds. I debated putting it into my ‘oops bad fabric choice’ pile (does anyone else have one of those?) but then I figured that I might as well use it for my first version of the Appleton. I reasoned that if I messed up or the fit wasn’t right then I hadn’t really lost anything.
Changes made to the pattern:
- I removed two inches from the sleeve length – I have short arms
- I lengthened the bodice front and back by 1 inch. Although I am short, only 5ft 1″, I have read on a few blog posts that some people have found the length a little short. I prefer dresses to fall mid-calf on me rather than just below my knee, so with my shortened height and the extra 1″ I figured that would be enough to make the dress my preferred length.
- I used my sewing machine to attach the seams together (remember this pattern gives a 3/8″ seam allowance rather than the standard 5/8). I then overlocked the seams to finish them.
- I used clear elastic to strengthen and stabilise the shoulder seams (as recommended by the pattern instructions)
- The construction went very smoothly, Jenny’s instructions are clear and easy to follow. I did also refer to the Cashemerette sewalong for help on attaching the waist ties to the left and right-hand neckbands – probably the only tricky part.
- I liked being able to attach the sleeves flat rather than having to set them in, for me it is so much easier and I achieve a better finish.
- Definitely make use of washable, fusible tape to join edges together before sewing. I used it on the front, vertical hems, on the sleeve hems and main dress hem. It really helps to stop the fabric slipping around.
Things that didn’t go well or things I would change next time:
- The fabric was a bit of a ‘mare to cut – not least because I’ve misplaced my rotary cutter – grrr. Lightweight jersey and dressmaking scissors do not a happy partnership make. Also, I barely had enough fabric to work with. The pattern suggests 150cm wide and my fabric was 142 cm – because the bodice pattern pieces are so large, believe me, those 8cm do make a difference. I did manage to squeeze everything out of the fabric and on the plus side, I had very little wastage.
- I decided to top stitch using a zig-zap around my neckband to hold the neckband edges in place. I thought I had been careful but a combination of bad lighting, being 1am in the morning and much lighter thread than the fabric means that I can see the occasional wobble. Someone else probably wouldn’t notice it but I can and it annoys me. Top stitching is optional so I might leave this stage out on my next version.
The finished dress
I love it! Well I’m still not 100% sold on the pattern of the fabric but it doesn’t look as bad as I feared. The dress itself is so comfortable to wear. The neckbands are snug and perfectly mold around my body and there is absolutely NO gapeage – no wayward cleavage on display. There is plenty of overlap of the bodice fronts and my modesty was intact even after a massive gust of wind lifted up one side of the skirt.
This pattern is definitely going to become a staple addition to my wardrobe – in fact, I’m half way through cutting out my next version.