Thursday, December 29, 2016

Cashmerette Turner Dress Reveal and Thoughts

I finished my first go with the Cashmerette Turner dress a few days ago, and I have some thoughts. (Suprised? Hah.) My overall opinion is that it's a great, easy-to-sew dress pattern for those of us with some fluff and boobage. Especially those of us with fluff and boobage who've been eyeing the Kitschy-Koo Lady Skater dress for a long while without pulling the trigger. I'm glad I waited.

This is the finished dress. The neckline looks better on Zillie, which is my fault for being lazy in the process, and which I'll get into more below.

This is how I'll probably wear it most days, since it's chilly in the office and I like a pop of color with black and white. You're getting from-the-top-of-the-mountain shots since instead of dragging my tripod outside for pics, I dragged Alex and, well, he's taller than the tripod.

Here's the finished dress on its own (well, on me), with no cardi camouflage for my lumpy bits. :-)

And the rear view. No back wrinkles. I believe there's a small sway back alteration built into the pattern. If so, good on ya Cashmerette!

Lots of swing in the skirt, which I like. A lot. With my arms going backward, I've got a slight Hunchback of Notre Dame thing going on. Nice.

So, let's get into the nitty-gritty of the pattern itself and my opinions on it. Because I do have a few. I hope they are taken as honest and constructive criticism because that's how I roll. Remember, my overall opinion is that it's a great dress. And although I've been a Cashmerette tester and have received free patterns in the past, I didn't test this dress at all and I wasn't given the pattern. Disclaimers out of the way, OK, here we go.

I don't have extremely narrow shoulders but they are on the narrow side. (And very square.) Cashmerette's draft is for a much wider shoulder than mine. And less sloped than most patterns (less sloped for me is good).

I'm not a big fan of the instructions for choosing size. I get (and appreciate) that you should choose by your full bust since these patterns are drafted for larger busts, but I think the instruction doesn't go far enough. There are other things going on in the bodice area beside boobs. So, if you already know you have narrow shoulders, size down for the upper bodice. If you're unsure, make a muslin. I believe Cashmerette are at least consistent, so if you need narrower in one, you're going to need narrower in all.

Above is my first go at the bodice. Using the instructions, I chose the size which was closest to my bust and waist measurements. This put me in the 18. I went up a cup size from my actual measurement since I knew the boob area is drafted with negative ease and I didn't want a sausage casing. :-) The resulting shoulders are definitely much too wide on me. If you look carefully, you can see my nude-colored bra strap on your left. The other strap isn't showing only because my arm is lifted to take the pic and the fabric moved. And while I don't mind some cleavage now and then, I don't like it at work and this was to be a office-bound dress. It's a pretty and flattering neckline, just not work appropriate for me.

Here's the first bodice on Zillie (with a past skirt still on her below). Size 18 E/F.

Here's the second bodice with the neckline raised (sigh, too much) and narrowed. Size 16 E/F blended to an 18 at waist and below. My "sweet spot" for the neckline depth on the next make will be somewhere in the middle. The width, however, is now perfect.

My neckline alterations. I added about an inch to the width to narrow the neckline opening. Even going all the way to the 12's stock width would still be too wide on me. I want those straps covered dammit. :-) I raised the vee about two inches. Which is about an inch too much in the final dress. I was counting on the weight of the skirt pulling the bodice down somewhat but it really didn't. I could've futzed with the neckline before finishing the waist seam, but laziness won. Who wants to pick out understitching after all? I'll live with this neckline and probably add a bright and pretty scarf to visually lower the focus.

Two things I want to point out here (besides the dog hair). One you can see in the photo above, and one you can't. First, as you can see above, the shoulder join results in a much sharper angle than the curve I created with my added tissue. If you leave it as-is without smoothing, be sure to trim your seam allowances well in this area so the fabric turns and lays nicely. Otherwise, you're going to get puckers. My 2 cents is to just make it a smoother curve before you cut your fabric. I'm not really a fan of these angular front/back neckline joins.

Second, let's talk about the waist seam. I've seen many comments out on the interwebs about how high the waist seam is on this dress. So I thought I'd outsmart myself and just add 1/2" to it when I was cutting the bodice pieces. I sewed Bodice 2 to the skirt and tried it on. You know where this is going, right? Yeah. I unpicked the skirt (and my little pass card loop which you can't see in any of the pics but which is there and I love it), cut off that 1/2" and reattached the skirt. And it's now at a much more flattering spot for me and lets the skirt skim the lumps. It's amazing how much difference 1/2" can make. So much for outsmarting myself. Unless you're very long-waisted and/or tall, you're probably going to want the seam as drafted. But at the very least, if you do add to it, BASTE the skirt on and check. The seam will hit a different spot with the weight of the skirt.

Oh, a third. I bought the downloadable PDF version. I just want to note that it's not a paper pig and the pieces went together quickly and accurately. I'm on Team PDF. I love me some instant gratification, especially when I can print at work. And even trim the pages during down time. Shhhh. I didn't say that. :-)

Here's the completed dress inside-out. As you can see, the bodice is fully lined. Which I like and which makes finishing the neckline easy-peasy. However, there are a few things in the instructions for this which I don't like. First, you are instructed to trim 1/8" from the lining neckline before you sew the shoulder seams (to allow for turn of cloth and keeping the seam to the inside). Nope. The pieces aren't going to line up as well if you trim before sewing. Sew the shoulder seams and THEN trim the 1/8" from the lining neckline edge. It just works better. Next quiggle: you're instructed to sew the lining and outer necklines together and then clip the vee. OK. But ... you really should add a small piece of fusible interfacing to the vee area before you clip. At least I would. And did. I want a bit of added stability to my clippage.

And, finally, you are instructed to understitch at 1/4". Nope, it should be 1/8", or less, as shown above. (Jenny of Cashmerette confirmed on the sew-along pages that this is, indeed, a typo.)

The hem is 1.5". Love a deep hem on knits. I didn't add or remove anything from the length of the skirt and turned a generous 1.5" hem. The finished dress hits just below my kneecap. I'm 5'5".

The instructions have you sew the waist seam and add clear elastic while you're doing so. Eh. Clear elastic is a pain on its best day. Feel free to sew swear-free and use regular elastic (The instructions tell you this, but the supply list doesn't. Just remember to add a seam allowance to your elastic since the instructions don't.). Or, do like me and omit elastic altogether. I sewed the seam with a very, very slight zigzag and then used a 4-thread overcast with my serger very close to the seam stitching. (See above.) That waist ain't going nowheres.

More insides. The sleeve hems are 1". Which is a good amount IMO.

Other pattern criticisms:
1. There are no body landmark markings. Such as bust point, waist, etc. Major boo.
2. There is no finished length given. Regular boo.
3. There are no neckline variations. Easy enough to DIY, and Jenny has created a blog page with instructions, but still, it would've been so much nicer to have variations drawn on the pattern, especially at this price point.
4. And pockets. There really should be a pocket option. Again, I can DIY, but I shouldn't have to.

As I said, overall I think the dress is a winner and I'll definitely make it again. It's flattering. Love, love the in-built FBA. Love the fast sew. Love the twirl! I'll probably use the skirt pieces to make an actual skirt, since they're perfect and now ready to go.

Yes, I know I promised a post on pattern ease. Still coming, but blog laziness is a tough mother.

Happy New Year!