I came across this pattern brand at The Great British Sewing Bee Live after spotting this on a display, isn’t it amazing?!
I knew I *needed* one in my life, so bought the pattern there and then and had a good chat with Mrs M, who told me the name of the fabric – Cloud Nine Barkcloth ‘In Theory, Wavelength Gold’. Unfortunately I couldn’t find the mustard colourway anywhere in the UK, so then found myself on a mission to find an alternative and ended up with… upholstery fabric! It’s this one from Textile Express, who I must say offer an excellent service, including free samples.
The presentation of the paper pattern and its box shows excellent quality and style and, although the text layout is a bit hard to follow, the illustrations are great and the instructions make perfect sense, so overall it was a really straightforward make.
As the French Dart Shift is less-fitted than I’d normally go for, and with it being a new pattern brand to me, I went ahead and made a toile in a size 12 which, according to the measurement chart, should be almost spot on for me (it’s 36,29,40 and I’m 36,28,38). However, as is often the case – because we’re all unique – it didn’t quite work. The sleeves were perfect, as was the fit across my full bust, but the area above my bust felt a bit tight, and the waist and hips were rather huge.
I fully appreciate that this isn’t meant to be a fitted style, but I feel with my hourglass shape that I need clothes to curve in at my waist, otherwise I can look a bit swamped with dresses and tops hanging straight down from my bust. So I ended up taking the waist in by a good couple of inches and from there cut the hip downwards as a size 10. By doing that it meant that I had to add a concealed zip at the side, so that I could still get it on and off, and that in turn meant I had to leave the pockets off, which makes me sad, but I’d rather have a better fit overall. For the above-the-bust tightness, I simply graded the sleeve seams out a bit to allow a bit of extra room. I feel I’ve honoured the intended shape and style of the dress, as it’s still not super-close-fitting, but it’s shaped enough to show off my curves.
As well as adding the zip, I also wanted to line my dress and Mrs M has done an online tutorial for this, which I loosely followed. I didn’t make a separate lining pattern (pure laziness!), I just used the existing front and back pattern pieces and cut the lining fabric on the bias to allow a bit of give.
This upholstery fabric is quite stiff and it sticks out a bit, especially on the front under the bust, so I’ve simply added a belt, but I feel this style of the dress does need fabric with a bit of structure rather than drape.
It’s turned out rather retro-looking, which I love, and the length suits the style perfectly. So, without any further ramblings, here are some photos…