This is the pattern I mentioned I was testing, the latest offering from Muse, aka what is becoming my new favorite indie pattern company. Not because I received two patterns for "free" (quotes because testing isn't really free to me, or any tester, when you account for time, materials, etc. but I know that and volunteered with eyes wide open) but because I really like what I've seen and sewn from Muse so far. And I did buy the Jenna cardigan pattern with my own money so it's not all fluff and unicorns here. :-)
This dress is Natalie. Side note ... although I've heard/read grumblings around the interwebs about the practice among indies of naming patterns instead of or in addition to numbering them, I actually prefer the names. I can NEVER remember a pattern number (especially if they've been reissued), but I always remember the names. So names over numbers gets a thumbs-up from me and my forgetful brain every time. (You can also read about the inspiration for the Muse pattern names when you click over to the Muse site.)
This pattern testing cycle was pretty much like the last testing I did for Muse. I was given a preview of the pattern to see if I would be interested, along with a schedule of when to have my testing finished. No photos were required but I caught a nice day on a weekend after finishing the dress so I've had these waiting for this post. At first, I wasn't sure about this design for me and volunteered to only review the instructions, PDF print-out, cutting layout, and pattern pieces. But then, being the fickle sewist I am, I decided to just go for it, figuring nothing ventured, nothing gained. And I'm glad I did. I like the final dress a lot.
It's definitely a very feminine dress and my curves probably make it a little more so, but, hey, I've got curves. I have worn it to the office and while the vee is low, it's not work-inappropriate low. I also wore a black cardi over the dress in the office. Because office air conditioning.
The dress falls like an empire waist but wrong side out on Zillie below you can see that it's not really an empire at all. There's a triangle inset, gathering at bust and CF (optional at CF), and diagonal seaming down the front. The neckline is finished with a mitered attached band and was sized perfectly to fit the neck opening and lay flat on the body underneath. The back is cut on fold. Truthfully, I kind of wish there was some cool seaming at the back too and I contemplated adding at least a CB seam when sewing this, but laziness over pattern matching won over. And this print is cool/busy enough so any more seaming would've been lost anyway.
I cut a straight 44 with no adjustments except to square the shoulders (my usual) while cutting out the pattern.
It fits perfectly, no FBA needed due to the gathers and diagonal seams. For a next make of the dress, I will add 1-1/2" to the length because while the pattern is drafted for a 5'10" woman (yes!), it would have been shorter than my preference on my 5'5" self if I had hemmed it more than a smidge. So I cut a shaped hem facing instead. I could have just turned up a 3/8" hem but I prefer a deep hem on drapey knits so they have some weight. The sleeves, on the other hand, were much too long for me. I cut off about 2" and still hemmed them with a 1-1/2" turn-up. But that's to be expected if the fit model is 5'10", no? Better too long than too short anyway. The dress was cut out and sewn in one day. It's a fast project.
While testing, I noted some corrections and slight improvements to the pattern markings and cutting layout and I think every one of them was incorporated into the final. I thought the pre-release instructions were fine as-is, with no corrections needed, although other testers must have had suggestions since the release notes mention those changes being included too. This tells me that again Kat, the designer behind Muse, listened to her testers and adjusted her pattern and release schedule to make necessary changes. As a tester, it's gratifying to know that the testing does matter and we're not here for just a happy shiny blog tour to sell patterns.
I'll state it again, I was NOT asked to post this review or any photos. What I'm writing and showing here is by my own choice. I like the pattern and my final dress. If you like it too and want to buy it, that's your choice. I get nothing if you do, or if you don't.
Now if you do decide you're interested, the full sale price, less transaction fees, of all Natalie patterns sold during the first week of launch (December 8-14, 2014) will be donated to the Wellington branch of the Cats Protection League and you can get 15% off the Natalie pattern during launch week with the code NATALIE. A win for the kitties and a win for you.
I have a few projects running through my mind that I want to tackle soon so this will be it for me and pattern testing for a while. Stay tuned for my overly ambitious to-do list. ;-) I hope the sewjo holds up.