Thursday, October 8, 2015

Finished Project: Cashmerette - Appleton Dress (Test Version)


The cat is finally out of the bag!  Jenny/Cashmerette has launched her new pattern line, aimed at curvy sewists. For the first time that I'm aware of, we have a pattern designer who's actually targeting those of us who wear a cup size larger than a D/DD-cup. Jenny actually uses three different pattern blocks--separate ones for for C/D cups, E/F cups, and G/H cups.

Given that one of her favorite garment types is a wrap dress, it probably comes as no surprise that her first pattern release is a wrap dress--the Appleton Wrap Dress.

I had the pleasure of testing this pattern back in August, and while I'm normally hesitant to share "pattern test" versions of the things that I make, I'm making an exception this time because I know that many of you are probably curious about the sizing, etc, especially with this being a new pattern line. Plus, I'm pretty happy with my dress and have been wearing it, so why not share? (As a side note, that test coat pattern that I've been hinting about turned out pretty awesome, so I will be sharing that one too, when the pattern is released. Note that that pattern is from another pattern designer, though.)

Appleton - on me

A quick note about this photo shoot...  I'd really wanted to get this blog post up today because I suspected that a lot of you would be curious about this pattern. I'd had a bit of a heads up that this release was coming, but our last few mornings had been quite drizzly and unsuitable for outdoor photography. (I usually try to take my blog photos in the morning before I leave for work so that I look a bit fresher, etc.)  I got up extra-early this morning so that I could park at my local park-and-ride and take my commuter bus into work...only to discover that when I was ready to take photos right before I left, the sun hadn't come up yet!

Obviously, I couldn't take dress photos in the dark, so I went ahead and drove to the park-and-ride, hoping that the sun would be up soon. I knew that there was a little park/bike path off in the most remote corner of the P&R, so I gambled that the sun would be up after I snagged one of the last few parking spaces but before I needed to catch my bus. The resulting photos obviously aren't great and are a bit dimly-lit thanks to the sun just coming up, but I figured that dimly lit photos were better than no photos and delaying the blog post.

On to the actual pattern write up...

Again, note that I am talking about the test version of this pattern. I know that Jenny has made some pattern changes, based on tester feedback.

Cashmerette - Appleton wrap dress
 

Fabric and Notions Used

 

For the main body of this dress, I used an ITY jersey from Gorgeous Fabrics. Yes, it has a purple paisley print, and yes, I do get Prince songs stuck in my head every time I wear this dress. I'd consider this fabric to be light-to-medium weight and fairly stretchy. I wanted something that would skim over lumps and bumps, rather than cling, for this dress, and this fabric fit the bill.

For the contrast bands, I used leftover fabric from a pair of leggings. The band fabric is slightly beefier than the ITY fabric used in the dress body.

 

PDF Assembly

 

I used the PDF version of this pattern for my test garment.  The PDF went together beautifully.  Jenny uses faint gridlines on the background of the pattern to help you line things up for taping. I haven't seen many other pattern companies do this, and it was a nice touch.

Pattern Drafting, Sizing, and Alterations

 


This pattern is available in Cashmerette's sizes 12-28, which equates to a 40" bust through a 58" bust (102cm - 147cm).  The pattern has separate front pieces for each cup size block, with sizes nested within a block. So, for example, if you're sewing a size 20 E/F for your bust, but need a size 22 for your hips, you can easily grade between the sizes of the nested pattern pieces.

Depending on what bra I'm wearing on a given day, my full bust measurement tends to be between 51" and 52" currently. However, taking the negative ease in this pattern into account, I chose to go up a size and sewed a size 24 G/H for my bust, a 26 for my waist, and back to a 24 for my hips.

If you're thinking about making this, you'll want to check out the finished garment measurements for your size. There's a LOT of negative ease in this dress. Knowing that I generally prefer my knit garments to have 10% negative ease at most (preferably less), I went up a size from the size chart for this dress. Ideally, I probably should have gone up at least one more size (and will do so in the future), but I wanted to keep this pattern test as straightforward as possible for Jenny.

Note that I'm short (5'2") and did not make any length adjustments to this dress.

There were a few places where I felt that some of the pattern pieces could have been better labeled and marked, and my understanding is that these changes should be present in the final pattern.



Another Appleton shot


Pattern Instructions

 

The pattern instructions were nicely detailed and used a sensible order of construction. The accompanying illustrations were clear and appropriate for the construction steps. I'd rate this as an "Advanced Beginner" pattern.

Appleton dress - back view


And in line with Gillian's Better Pictures project and in honor of Jenny's signature twirls, I tried to incorporate a few twirling shots into this morning's photoshoot. You can see that I've still got work to do to try to figure out how to get sharp pictures while incorporating motion, but do I get a participant ribbon for trying?

Blurry twirling shots

Final Thoughts

Finally!  Someone is designing for us busty women! I've been looking forward to Jenny's pattern launch for a while now, and I'm really happy to see the largely positive feedback that I've read so far online.

I really hope that she's able to remove the "FBA hurdle" that a lot of newer and time-constrained sewists face by offering pattern sizes for those of us who are larger than a D-cup. Less time for FBAs means more time to actually sew!

Note: As a pattern tester, yes, I did receive the pattern for free, but this review reflects my own opinions.

48 comments:

  1. You look lovely and OF COURSE I love the spinning photos :D Thanks again for being a superstar tester!

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  2. I'm so pleased to see you make this Michelle. I was wondering how it would look on someone of a more 'diminutive stature' like me!! Looks fab and the colour is fantastic! Great job :)

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    1. This was straight-out-of-the-envelope for the test version (except for the grading between sizes). Granted, my bust takes up a lot of vertical space, but you can also see that the dress isn't riding up in front or anything. You might be proportioned different from me, but I suspect that most of us shorties won't need to make a lot of petite alterations with this dress.

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  3. I would like to present you with a ribbon celebrating your wonderful photo attempts! I would like to know about your neckline challenges - did you find that there was enough coverage available in the pattern piece?

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    1. For me, I wanted more coverage, which is why you see me wearing a cami in the pictures. The bands themselves don't gape, but I have a suspicion that my bust is larger than the G/H cup draft for this block. (For reference, I typically wear a GG/H cup bra, which yes, is a bit different from pattern cup size.)

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  4. Is the front as open as it looks here or can you pull the wrap tighter to not need a cami underneath?

    I love the fabric choice, but I have a soft spot for paisley. Paisley's like cheese. It is hard for me to find one I don't like.

    You look great, and thanks to Jenny, Cashmerette, for realizing that women's busts can be larger than a C/D. I'm a lowish C, but I have so many friends that are larger busted and they have SO many issues with fitting, whether RTW or sewing. I know I don't need to say that here, of all places, but I find it frustrating that other pattern lines, especially those that draft for "curvy" or plus bodies, base their block on C/D, which seems both limited and (if I may) somewhat unrealistic.

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    1. I can pull it a little tighter, but then I get distortion. I found that wearing a cami underneath was the best compromise (plus, I don't mind wearing a cami underneath things). When I make this again in the "real" pattern, I'm going to try going up another size again and see if that helps with coverage.

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    2. I like wearing tanks/ camis under deep necklines, but I also like not feeling like I have to, if you know what I mean. I have a really pretty paisley that's purple and white. I wonder if that contrast of purples/black/white and paisley would look good or ass?

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    3. I was going to ask the same question. I don't mind wearing a cami, but I don't want to *have* to.

      I think the dress looks good, Michelle. I'm interested to see how Jenny develops the rest of her line.

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  5. It looks good Michelle! And I love the color!

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  6. This is so pretty on you! I'm surprised that you didn't make more if them while you were waiting for the release!

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    1. The only reason that I'm waiting is that I want to play around with the sizing and wanted to wait for the final pattern before making more. You'll be seeing more of these in the future.

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  7. Thanks for making the effort to get this post up! I think the dress looks great on you - well done!

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  8. Love that Fabric! So many beautiful Appletons popping up everwhere!!!

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  9. I am so excited to see how this dress looks on someone my height. As a newbie to sewing clothing, I am looking forward to trying this dress as it reduces the alterations I will have to make. Thanks for your honest assessment of the pattern. I feel like I can tackle it now!

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    1. I wouldn't call this a "petite" draft (or, it's not supposed to be), but I think it does run shorter than a lot of other pattern lines.

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  10. Oh Michelle - this is fabulous! And I think I recognize your park & ride!! Like Carolyn, I'm surprised you haven't cranked out more of these! g

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    1. Heh. Is that the same P&R you use? And I will be cranking out more when I get the final pattern. ;)

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  11. Nice pictures, Michelle! Your dress looks great, but I still have my doubts about how the pattern would fit me. I'm an HH so I jumped with joy at the release and I really want Jenny's pattern line to be a success! However, the amount of negative ease at the bust means a very tight back bodice too, where I prefer more skimming the lumps and bumps. Same goes for the slightly negative ease at tummy level, I feel a wider skirt is more forgiving and making me less top heavy at the same time. Still not sure, I guess I'll spend my weekend reading Appleton reviews :)

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    1. Hi Marianne! Just so you know, I'm a HH too, so you can see me wearing the G/H size in the pattern photos :) I know the negative ease seems like a lot, but it's not as dramatic as it seems when you try it on. Plus, if you'd like a little more ease, you can size up a bit. On the waist - bear in mind this is a wrap dress, so the ease number is a bit theoretical there - if you want an extra inch or two of ease, you can just wrap it around you a little less on the under-side. Wrap dresse are very forgiving on that :D

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    2. I should add: I'm wearing the 20 G/H in the photos, graded down to an 18 at the hips.

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  12. Is there negative ease in the hips too?

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    1. I don't know the final measurements, but going from the size chart, mine skimmed my hips. While not a full or A-line skirt, I didn't find it to be particularly close-fitting, either.

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    2. There's a tiny bit of negative ease (less than an inch) but because it's a wrap skirt it doesn't stretch across the hips at all when you're wearing it.

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  13. Hi Michelle! Thank you for sharing. The dress looks great on you! I am in agreement with several of Marianne's points. And for me, this dress isn't going to be made because I feel uncomfortable with the style. I am thrilled about the new pattern line and hope that future patterns will be right for me.

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    1. I'm delighted by the idea of the pattern line, too! I don't think this one will work for me, but I'm glad about the concept and reviewers seem happy with the grading, so now I'm waiting to know what others Jenny is planning! :)

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    2. As someone making the pattern, I think it might take some women a muslin or two to get the size dialed in. (I knew to go up at least a size in this one because I had previously made another test pattern--not yet released). I do think that the cup sizing works well once you get your size figured out.

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  14. Awesome dress and great photos even if the sun is barely up.

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  15. Gorgeous! This looks like a dress that could be a staple for you and can't wait to see more versions! I, too, will go up a size or two when I make my next one as I like a bit more ease, especially around my belly/hips. I can't wait to sew it again with the changes.

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    1. Agreed. Can't wait to see yours, too!

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  16. Michelle, I really love your dress. The colour and fabric are both beautiful. However, I think that I may have the same problem as you, I have the same bust circumference, in that I would have to wear a camisole underneath as the coverage is too little. Do you think that going up a size would sort this out or that the "crossover point" would still be too low? I would love to have a dress I could sew straight out of the packet. Xx

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    1. Hiya! I'd recommend going up to a bust size 2 inches bigger than yours (so if you're 50", choose the size that's for 52"), and then you shouldn't have any problem with needing a camisole, hopefully. It does obviously depend a bit on the shape and um, let's say, longitude/latitude of your bust, but as always, doing a muslin first is a good idea!

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    2. (it also depends quite a bit on what bra you wear - some naturally give you more cleavage which will show in the dress vs. others)

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    3. I am going to try going up a size in my next version, so we'll see how that works out. I'm hopeful. I really don't think that it's an FBA issue because I'm not seeing any other signs that I need an FBA. I've got some leeway with the shoulder size, so I don't think that by doing a straight upsizing I'll throw off the fit elsewhere.

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    4. Thanks Jenni & Michelle. I love this pattern but was a bit worried that I would have too much of the girls on show if I went with my size (I am a J/K cup and just asked that question over on Gillian's blog). I will take your advice and give it a go. :) Xx

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    5. MoR, I'd go up a size or two, just to be safe. The shoulder size really doesn't increase much between patterns, so I don't think you'll be throwing off the fit elsewhere by just going up across the board.

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  17. WHeeeee! Spin, baby, spin! You definitely get a ribbon for participation. ;)
    Your dress looks fab! I'm 5'2" as well, which is why I was so sure the length would be too long - I'm happy to see that your length is more like what I'd actually want next time. This dress looks really lovely on you!

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  18. Wrap dresses are really not my thing at all, but seeing this review makes me think I should give this a go! I ride to work every day and get changed there, so can imagine this kind of dress would be a great one to have in the back of my basket.

    That fabric and colour really suit up too! Thank you for taking the time to review this pattern.

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  19. Love this! Thanks so much for sharing your dress w/ us :) I'm also short (5'2" as well) so it's great to know I won't need petite adjustments!

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