Pattern Review

This Christmas, apart from being very different in so many ways, my Husband excelled himself on presents for me. One such gift was the Sew Different Tulip Dress, boxed gift set in teal.

And, I have made it!

Me in the dress with the star of the show, Ripley

I really enjoyed making this dress and am delighted with the result. That said, there were some discrepancies with the pattern and the suggested link given to the video tutorial . While not critical, as the pattern was great for someone like me (I am not very confident in making clothes just yet), they are worth noting none the less.

So, in the video, the process in making up the dress is:

  • Sew the darts and box pleat into the front;
  • Sew the back seam;
  • Sew front to the back at the shoulders;
  • Sew in facing;
  • Add bias to sleeve or hem sleeve;
  • Sew in pockets;
  • Sew side seams;
  • Attach bottom panels to each other and attach to hem.

The pattern instructions follow a slightly different process in sewing the pieces together. While following the pattern or the video is entirely personal preference, overall, I would say that following the video tutorial is a little easier.

Sewing the darts and box pleat:

The written instructions are concise enough to follow but if you are unsure the video will confirm if you are doing things right.

A good tip in the video was to press the darts and box pleat into place before sewing them. I haven’t done this before but it is something I would continue to do. By pressing the dart lines particularly, you are able to see exactly how they would sit and the sewing line was clearly marked.

Another tip that I learnt from making the Andie Anorak in my last blog was rather than backstitching at the point of the dart, leave a length of thread instead. The tread can then be tied off to secure the seam at the narrowest end making for a less bulky point.

Finally on making the darts, I used a ‘ham’. A ham is something I have been meaning to buy for some time but always thought I didn’t need. I am really pleased I did get it as pressing the darts was so much easier and gave a far sharper finish.

Sewing the back seam

The second step in the video but the first in the written instructions. First or second, it doesn’t really matter.

The written instructions suggest snipping notches into the back seam allowance to help the curve of the back stay lie flat. The video was silent as to this. I did snip into the seam allowance and don’t think it would have made a difference either way.

Sew front to back at the shoulders

This is in fact step 9 in the written instructions but, for reasons that will be clearer below I would definitely follow the video for this step.

Sew in the facing

This is the next step in the video but in the written instructions it comes much later at points 11 to 14.

As always in sewing, there are a number of ways of construction a garment while reaching the same end result. However, most sewers try to find the easiest route that gives the best result. It is for this reason that I would suggest following the video.

Sewing neck facings is tricky at the best of times. If you had followed the written instructions, the sides of the dress would be sewn up, along with the shoulders. This limits access into the neckline area and runs the risk of parts of the dress getting caught up with the neckline when adding the facing. Following the video makes things much easier.

Once the neckline is attached, there are variants between the video and the instructions:

  • The pattern seam allowance is 1.5cm and it is mentioned no where in the written instructions that this is any different for the facing. The video tutorial uses half this seam allowance so .75cm. I used 1.5cm and the dress and neckline is fine.
  • No mention is made in the video about snipping excess fabric from the seam allowance. It is generally better to reduce bulk but, if you didn’t trim the seam it wouldn’t be a disaster.
  • Always snip into the seam allowance on a neck facing. The curves might not look too bad, but, you are putting a 2 dimensional shape onto a 3 dimensional body and the fabric when worn is being pulled into many different directions. Snipping into the seam allowance gives it a fighting chance of sitting flat when wearing it.
  • Another important step, not mentioned in the written instruction is to under stitch. Under stitching is a small step, but, in my opinion makes a huge difference. Follow the video here by pressing the seam allowance up towards the facing and under stitch before turning and pressing the facing into place.
  • To top stitch or not. Again, this is personal preference. The written instructions suggest you top stitch, the video doesn’t mention anything, although this may be because a trim was used on the dress being made in the tutorial. I think top stitching gives a nice finish.
  • Also optional is sewing down the back facing to the back of the garment. Had you sewn the sides of the dress already, this would be incredibly tricky to sew, so, another good reason for following the steps in the video.

Hemming the sleeves

Step 8 in the written instructions. If you are using the kit the fabric frays … a lot. For a better finish on the hem buy some bias tape. If this is not an option, overlock the hem before sewing and / or add a double hem.

Sew in pockets

The pattern instructions suggest that the pockets are sewn in while the back and front are separate. I much prefer the idea of adding them when the neckline and shoulders are completed. It means that you are able to lie your garment flat, as if you were wearing it, pin the pockets in place, and double check that they match at the seam and sit properly before securing into place.

One point to note here is that only my front and back pattern pieces had dots on to mark my pocket placement. In the video it mentions that the pocket pattern piece also has dots on.

Sew side seems

This is fairly self explanatory in both the video and written instructions.

Attach bottom panels to each other and attach to hem

There are options for this I think. The written instructions suggest the bottom panels are attached at point 6, just after adding the pockets and before sewing the sides and shoulders of the dress.

The video shows the dress completed before adding the bottom panels, having first sewn each of the side seams. This may have been because a trim was added between the dress and the bottom panel.

I sewed down one long edge of the dress and one side seam of the panel before attaching the bottom panel in one long strip. I then added bias to the hem before securing the final side seam of the dress. I chose to do it this way so that at least one side seam would match exactly but I am not sure that the finish was as good as it could have been.

Again, it is one of those things in sewing that is down to preference I think and what gives you the results you would be happy with.

Verdict

I really enjoyed this project. The dress was really easy to make so would be suitable for an advanced beginner with some sewing knowledge. For the more advanced sewer, there are ample opportunities to pattern hack.

Having a boxed gift set is also a really good idea.

The dress sizes are available in 8-18 and 20-26. I needed to add about half an inch to the largest size to match my measurements. I don’t think this would have been completely necessary but, if, like me, you have a rotator cuff injury then the extra space is a help when removing the dress.

The fabric provided in the kit does feel flimsy, but, it is simply a loose weave and, when made, the fabric comes into its own. I would suggest with this fabric to overlock or zig-zag all the raw edges before starting to construct the garment. Due to the extra sewing, an additional reel of cotton would have been helpful in the kit.

Also helpful would have been some bias binding. While it is optional how you hem the sleeves, the pattern does mention that the bottom hem should be finished with bias.

Finally, before you cut anything, lay your pieces out on the fabric. I was worried that due to grading my size up slightly my pieces might not fit. They didn’t, and wouldn’t have done, even had I not graded up. I needed to shift the back piece up the fabric and the bottom two panels to below the back piece.

Overall, however, an easy pattern to follow, beautiful fabric and colour and a new dress to show for it! Worth it as a gift to yourself or someone you know who sews.

And finally …

I have now fully complete my anorak and have worn it out in the rain. I am pleased to report – it worked and I stayed dry while out dog walking in our village.

Until next time … happy sewing and stay safe and well.

Sarah & Ripley xx

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