Let me introduce you to the Karen dress by Maria Denmark. The pattern is quite a grown up, slinky design and despite having very few opportunities to wear grown up, slinky designs, I felt a burning need to buy it as soon as it was released! There's a lovely pleat detail on one side that drapes artfully across the stomach - for me, this transforms a simple jersey T-shirt dress into something far more elegant.
The pattern is sized from XS to 2XL and for reference, I cut a size M. The advice is to choose your size based on your high bust measurement. Maria shares her own measurements and size on the website and very fortuitously they happened to be the same as mine, so that bit was easy! The sleeves can either be short or ¾ length, but I chose to lengthen them to full length to keep out the cold. I also shortened the front and back pieces by about 7cms.
Maria claims that the pattern is almost as fast to sew as a T shirt and she's not wrong. The only thing you need to spend a bit of time on is pinning the pleats correctly. The pattern includes a brilliant tip to help with this - simply mark each pair of pleats with different coloured pins - such a simple idea yet so helpful when it came to folding the pleats in place. There's a video here to show you how it's done. Once the pleats are basted into position, the rest of the dress is as quick to sew up as the pattern claims. I sewed most of it on my overlocker, apart from the neckline and hems, which are simply turned under and top stitched with a double needle.
The pattern recommends using clear elastic to stabilise the neckline, but to be honest I've never had much luck with it and when I've used it my necklines have always ended up baggy. Because my fabric contained 10% spandex, I thought I'd try something that looked a bit sturdier to stabilise the neckline. I used Vilene Fusible Bias Tape and was delighted with the results. The tape is bias cut, so easily fits around curved necklines, but it also includes a line of chain stitching which I think gives it stability. After top stitching and a good press, that neckline was as flat as a pancake - so satisfying!
Let's talk about the fabric - it's called Tropical Silhouettes, a cotton French Terry knit from Girl Charlee. For ages I presumed French Terry was from the same gene pool as terry towelling, but this is nothing like it. It's a smooth jersey on the top side with a sort of tightly looped pile on the reverse. It's not too heavy and feels really cosy, and because it has a high spandex content (10%) it has a marvellous drape.
The fabric recommendation is for something drapey with at least 5 to 10% spandex and this does a great job. If anything, the fabric is almost too springy - when you hold the dress from the neck and let it hang, it bounces almost to the floor and back again! The pleats probably drape a bit lower than they're supposed to because of this, but you don't really notice it because the fabric design is so busy.
This is definitely a pattern I'll return to, probably in a solid colour next time to showcase the pleat details a bit more. In the meantime, I'm now the proud owner of a grown up, slinky dress! x
Fabric was given to me free of charge for review. All views my own.