Friday, 22 January 2016

Karen Drape Dress

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.



32 comments:

  1. Jane...Liking those drapes, excellent styling you look fab too! win win I say.
    best Ash x
    see you soon...

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    1. Why thank you! Those drapes come in very handy! Yes, see you soon, can't wait. x

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  2. I have never used any Maria Denmark patterns, but seeing your lovely dress makes me think I might be missing something.

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    1. Thanks! This is only the second one I've used but I've been happy with both of them. You do have to add seam allowances to the pattern pieces, like Burda patterns so there's a bit of faffing around at the beginning. They're well drafted though and there are lots of extra tips on her website if you need them. x

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  3. Love it. I would wear it on a daily basis if it were mine. ;) I need a money tree for all the patterns I keep seeing.

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    1. Thanks! Yes, there are some fab patterns about at the moment aren't there?! x

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  4. The dress looks amazing Jane, really shows off our fabric well. Now you just need an event to go to... Oscars maybe?

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    1. Thanks Mark. Yes, the Oscars would be perfect....in my dreams! x

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  5. Oh this dress is lovely! I had my eye on the Karen dress but didn't see too many blog posts about it so didn't go ahead and buy it... but perhaps I will now! Love the fabric and thanks for the tip on the fusible bias tape for the neckline - I was looking for something like that so great to know!

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    1. Ah glad it was helpful! It's always good to see a review before buying a pattern! x

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    2. I have also just bought the fabric before it sold out. Quick question - what size needle did you use? I've been struggling getting the right needle size for jersey lately... Thanks!

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    3. Sorry, only just seen this. I sewed most of it on my overlocker and the hems with a double needle, so didn't actually use a needle size/type I'm afraid. The double needle was a stretch 2.5mm. For standard needles, I find Jersey ones work better for me than Stretch or Ballpoint. For this fabric I'd probably go with a size 70 or 80 but can't guarantee how effective this would be of course! Good luck. x

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    4. Thanks for this - even suggesting a size 70 or 80 really helped. No skipped stitches with a 70 needle (ballpoint) and my twin needle worked like a charm. Still not worked out what the different between stretch, ballpoint and jersey needles are - had assumed they were the same(!) but that will come. Thanks again!

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  6. Jane, do get onto your Badger and Earl chums and offer a workshop to make this frock - it is brilliant. All those little tips you could share; I'm sure it would be popular. I bagsy my space now!

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    1. Ah thanks so much! I mentioned it to them at the weekend, so maybe one day! It would be a great dress to make in a class. x

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  7. Oh, I love this. I need a plain black one I think - it would be so useful.

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    1. Thanks Sam, yes I need one in a plain colour too! x

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  8. That's a great dress on you! I can see why you want to make more!

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    1. Thanks! The pattern is flattering and easy to sew, it's a no brainer! x

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  9. Wow, that looks stunning! It is very flattering. Beautifully made too!

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    1. Thank you Louisa, that's so kind! x

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  10. Very flattering! I love the fabric.

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    1. Thank you, the fabric definitely helps! x

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  11. What a great dress. You wear it well. Jo x

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    1. Ah thanks Jo, what a lovely compliment! x

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  12. Beautiful dress,I love Maria's patterns. I always find them very well drafted and the lack of SA makes adjusting easy too.

    Good to know that it can be constructed mainly on the overlocker too. Me and my overlocker are in a very bondy place atm. I now have a Tee for every season. :-D

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    1. This was only my second Maria Denmark pattern and they've both worked well for me. I'm all for using the overlocker as much as possible! x

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  13. What a lovely dress! It really suits you!

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