So before I begin, I have to be upfront that this pattern was designed by one of my excellent sewing teachers – Cassandra of Storybook Patterns. Cassandra owns and runs the more advanced classes at the Stitchery Studio – the sewing school where I learned to sew. So despite the bias please be assured that I’m being truthful in my assessment of the pattern.
The pattern was released in Issue 20 of Simply Sewing Magazine, and immediately reminded me of a much-loved Urban Outfitters dress I’ve had for years and worn to death.
It’s a bit too small (and short) for me now, and so I saw this pattern as an opportunity to make a replacement. It’s the collar that reminds me of the dress I had, and I just love the inverted box pleat.
There’s an option for a top or dress. The dress option comes with pockets, so a no brainer, right?!
About the fit
I knew that Storybook patterns’ block uses a C-cup for its patterns, and so I was pretty confident that I wouldn’t need a bust adjustment. I went for a straight size E. With hindsight, I’m thinking I might just size down with a bust adjustment next time to make it a slightly better fit at the shoulders and upper bust, but that’s me being super fussy. The length is probably a bit longer than was intended, so I’ll also shorten my next version.
As I wasn’t 100% sure about the fit, but was pretty confident it’d be OK, I used a cheaper cotton fabric I’d got from Fabric Bazaar in Glasgow for around £5 a metre. It’s a creamy colour with a navy blue design dotted all over. I bought a matching dark blue poplin to make a contrasting collar.
Whilst I really like the dress and the design of the fabric, it probably wasn’t the best fabric choice. It’s a poplin, so whilst not as stiff as quilting cotton, it doesn’t have great drape, and so my dress feels quite structured when I wear it. I still like it, but for future makes, I’ll ensure to go for a more drapey fabric.
The pattern is really well explained throughout. The only place I needed to look something up was putting in the collar – there are plenty of online tutorials and reference books to explain this. I really liked the extra hints and tips for making a more professional finish. Some really useful tips include a method for ensuring your collar is balanced, and keeping the back pleat basted together until the garment is nearly finished.
I cheated with making a roulea loop. I looked up a tutorial from Tilly and the Buttons, and decided to skip the fiddly sewing and instead use part of a hair bobble! Much faster than sewing my own, if a little lazy.
The pattern uses French seams throughout, including for the pockets, and so it gets a little complicated to make sure that the seams around the pocket are the right size. It requires a bit more concentration, but is still well explained step by step, it just takes a little while. I managed to attach my pocket to the wrong notch at one point, and trimmed down the fabric – ending up with a boob pocket. It was a lapse in concentration, but a bit annoying to have to pull out the unpicker…
The end result
I love my dress, I’ve not stopped wearing it since completing it. Unlike many other projects, I was desperate to get it hemmed, and even hand sewed both the hem and collar to get it finished as soon as possible. The only thing I’d change is to use a more drapey fabric, but at the same time I love the structured look the poplin gives the dress.
The detail in the dress really adds to the look of the dress. I’m a little obsessed with inverted box pleats, so to have one the full length of the dress is just heavenly. If you’ll excuse me, I need to go grab it and put it on again!
This was such a satisfying sew, and I’m already itching to make a few more versions. It’s definitely a pattern that I will repeatedly come back to, I can see some more muted designs for work, and more adventurous ones for holidays and summer strolls.