09 Aug

The Socialite Dress

I jumped on the bandwagon and made Anna Maria Horner’s Socialite Dress. I’d call this more of an after action report than an actual pattern review, but here goes.

My interest in this dress was piqued by my happiness with AMH’s Multi-Tasker Tote, and my desire for a simple, cool, dress to throw on when even shorts and a T-shirt seem too hot and restrictive. I liked what I was seeing in Flickr groups, but wondered if the dress wouldn’t be even more comfy in jersey. Not long ago, I found a hawaiian-ish striped cotton jersey in the remnant pile and decided that I’d give it a go. If I hated it, no big loss.

The pattern states finished garment sizes, so I wrapped myself with a tape measure and decided that XS seemed right up top, but was a bit snug around my hips and butt, so I adjusted the pattern using S for the lower half, plus added an extra 1 1/2″ to the length. I adjusted and traced the pattern, and sewed the entire dress in an all-day sewing bee on Saturday, proving it’s simple, straightforward construction. Having sewn many garments before, I thought the instructions got a bit wordy, especially when it came to making the ease gathers where the dress attaches to the neck yoke. In my mind I knew what I needed to do so it was tedious to still be reading about it three paragraphs later. However, for someone who’s new to sewing or making the cross over from quilting straight lines to making a garment, I totally get why the instructions aught to be so specific. I made the dress with the pockets, but no belt since I had a leather one I already own in mind. I used a stretch needle and the stretch stitches on my sewing machine.

The result? Quite possibly the world’s most comfortable dress! It’s maybe a bit big around the butt after-all and the stripes make it look more like a beach cover-up than a serious dress, but I’d definitely wear this around the house or on a beach/pool day. In fact, I’ve had it on all day today.

I had brought a pile of indonesian style fabrics my SIL had given me from The Netherlands to the bee, with the intention of making a skirt from one of them. When we unfolded them though and saw that one had a lovely panel, we decided that it really wanted to become a Socialite dress too. So I made this today. I left out the pockets, not wanting to add hip bulk (though they are so fun to have) and since the fabric had a lovely finished edge, I just aligned the bottom of the original pattern with the fabric edge. This version was quite possibly the easiest dress pattern ever. But it doesn’t fit the same.

I tried it on mid-way through construction and it seemed tight across the back. So, I spread the gathers out over a wider area of the back yoke. Finished, it fit better, but feels tight under the arms. It did, however, fit well around the butt.  At first, I was frustrated that the pattern fit so poorly, but then I realized that all my issues could probably be solved just by going up a size. 

In conclusion, I think I’m an overall XS if the dress is made with a knit, and overall a S if it’s made with a woven fabric. (I’m about a size 6 in off-the-rack fashion, sometimes a 4.) Unfortunately, I don’t have any more of that pretty indonesian panel, so rather than making  the dress again, I think I’ll just take off the arm hole facing of this dress and re-do it with a slightly longer arm hole. (EDIT: Done; and the fit is much better!) I’m going to keep an eye out for a pretty floral print in a cotton jersey (and won’t limit myself to sale and remnant fabric this time) and make another knit dress though. I’m not crazy to make three of these am I?