About me

My photo
I am a mother, a new grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon


Follow by Email

Follow me on Instagram


Thursday, May 23, 2013

The best dress pattern

For a while all spring I have been looking for a new basic dress pattern, something simple I can make into 2,000 variations a la Carolyn.

I knew what I wanted. 

A front and a back and sleeveless with a neckline that wouldn't make me too hot. Something that was adaptable and basic but not a just a fabric envelope with holes for your head and arms to stick out of.

Something basic but with a bit of style.

Well try to find a pattern like that. Simple, comfortable and well-drafted.  

I looked and looked and finally ordered the KISS dress from Brensan Designs I admit I have a blouse pattern from this line but haven't made it up yet, and as a non-quilter, as a garment sewer, I wondered if these patterns were for me.

Here is the pattern envelope:

Now in my opinion this is one dynamite dress pattern, beautifully drafted, with these cool features:

  • There is a pullover, more house dress, casual option that is made by placing the back seam on the fold and not sewing in the vertical back and front darts - only the bust darts are sewn. I made myself one of these directly out of the envelope in black and white cotton.
  • There is also a more fitted version - to get this you use the same pattern, just sew in the front and back vertical darts and put a zipper in the back.
  • There is a one piece back/armhole facing piece and a one piece front/armhole facing piece - so the whole top is sort of lined without any facings that can flip up or out.
  • There are instructions to bag the facings/dress involving some pulling through the shoulder seam that is really slick. I can't explain it here because I am not sure I totally understand it but I followed the instructions on two dresses and presto it turned out. Very fast, neat and RTW.
  • Most interesting, and you really need to pay attention to this, is the suggestion that since this dress has a scoop neck to sew the first 1" or so of the top centre back seam and then to put the zipper in below that! This means the back neckline is nice and smooth and faced and the invisible zipper is set a little way below in the seam. This totally dispenses with that horrible finishing the top of the zipper at the neckline hassle that has disappointed me in about 500 dresses.
Here is a picture of what that looks like in a photo that shows nothing and it totally non-illuminating but might make the point that this is one nifty way to put in a zipper in a dress with a neckline that goes on over your head:

That little bump you can't really make out about an inch below the neckline is the white zipper pull. Isn't this a totally cool idea?

So now the dresses. 

The first one is the vertical dartless pullover version I made with pockets to hold my dog leash, car key, and vegetable peeler as well as any other odd stuff I find on the floor.

Made this when I first got here and have worn it a lot. Notice just arrived from Nova Scotia pale legs.
Side view so you can see what the effect of not sewing those darts is. I might make this with only the back darts in for another casual dress, or make the darts slimmer.
And now for the very same pattern made up with the darts sewn front and back and the zipper in. 

Much more fitted and IMO an A1 dress to have. Note in both dresses the darts were perfect as is. In the second version I took in a little at centre front neckline to accommodate my scrawny neck:

 And this is me apparently holding up the house:

Back shot to show that if I had more fabric I would have matched the print:

So there you have it. A wonderful dress pattern.

Now I think I will go and have another look at this line.


Anonymous said...

YOU! are SO FUN to read, appreciate your sewing expertise and looking great in the pattern selected!! thank you for sharing.

Karen said...

Love the dresses. would fit my life in hot and steamy Manila really well!

Anonymous said...

I have the Sew Simple Shirt (not yet used) that looks similarly well-drafted, and is part of a group of patterns with interchangeable sleeves. Can't remember who recommended it--Pam Erny maybe? Someone who seems very wise anyway-- Elle

twotoast said...

Fab-u-lous! I am so in awe! My goal is also to have a TNT to emulate my heroine, Carolyn (I wonder if this means we are groupies?!)

You have spurred me on put some work into my version!

Vicki said...

This is a nice dress. The pattern illustration doesn't look inspiring but your dresses (even the dart less one) looks great. They look cool to wear too.

Anonymous said...

WOW. Very snazzy. I am impressed.

Very nice,

badmomgoodmom said...

Yowza! That is one great pattern, and two great dresses.

Kelie M. said...

Where did you get your fabric for the second dress? It's gorgeous!

Bunny said...

Wonderful dresses! I think you have found your TNT.

Anna said...

Thank you for this review. I really like your choice of fabrics.

Charlotte said...

You just sold me on this pattern! The all-in-one facings and the zipper trick are what set this dress apart. Both your versions look great on you.

Barbara said...

Kelie I got both fabrics at my local Fabricville in Canada. They called it cotton bengaline, sort of a heavy weave.

Cleverclogs said...

Ooh nice! I've been playing with zippers in the side seam to avoid the back necl bump, but all I get is an underarm lump and a pout at the hip, so I might give this technique a try. If the neckline is big enough not to need an opening, I should be able to move the zip to the CB for sure.

gwensews said...

Nice little dresses and perfect
TNT. That is a very nifty zipper technique. Who knew?

The Hojnackes said...

The second dress is fabulous! I love the fabric, and the fit of this dress is perfect on you!

annie said...

Your dresses look sooooo much more attractive than the ones on the pattern envelope. I would not have bought that pattern based on the designer's photos. Great job!

Jane M said...

Perfectly wonderful dresses on you....and yes, your pics should been the envelope. I am so envious that you have found the ideal summer dress. I am just starting the quest and anticipate some long fitting sessions ahead of me and numerous disappointments. Thanks for reminding me that it will be worth it.

Elaray said...

LOVE both of your fabric choices! the dress looks fantastic!

Meegan said...

You have indeed nailed it. Great dresses, and definitely a style that goes from everyday to evening. I see many in your future. And you've done that pattern company a favour - while the patterns are obviously well drafted, their styling of them is all over the place.

SEWN said...

Love both dresses, but the print on the second one is TDF!!!! Love it!

Re's Home on the Road said...

A perfect pattern. Something I have been looking for as well. Thanks for sharing and you look fab. Especially like the 2nd printed fabric.

Scenic Route said...

Wow! Looks like the arm holes and neckline actually provide coverage and sounds like you didn't have to redraft the pattern to make it so! Thanks for sharing--valuable info

RebeccaHoward said...

That dress looks great. The pattern makers should replace their kind of off putting picture on the front with your versions. I bet they'd sell a whole lot more!

velosewer said...

That dress is great and you've teeamed it with two great prints. The colours really suit you.
So swish too.

Ann's Fashion Studio said...

I have made the Barcelona Blouse. That is a great pattern too.
I may have to order this dress pattern. Your dresses look great and fit you perfectly.
Love both prints :) will check my Fabricville (Fredericton)

Summer Flies said...

Your dresses are beautiful... especially like the 2nd fabric. The fabric you chose for your dresses are so much more inspiring than the ones the pattern company has chosen. Love them.

paccana said...

:) Thank you so much for posting this!

marysews said...

Found this blog post (again) via Brensan's newsletter. Now I think I might want to get this pattern. Your dresses both look really great - better than the samples!