When M went to London for business, he asked me what he could bring back (smart man). I asked him for some Liberty of London fabric. He picked out 3 of the tana lawns. When I saw this one, I just knew it was meant for V. M confirmed he had her in mind. It’s just so her! I didn’t want to keep this stashed too long and have her grow out of such a fun print. I’ve had the Soho Maxi dress pattern for a while and decided it was finally time to put it to good use. V loves a maxi and she only has one…
I got some matching lawn for the straps. Actually no. I got the matching lawn because my first plan was to make a lined dress. I changed my mind but the lawn was perfect for the straps. And then I used a small remnant of embroidered cotton for the front neckline detail. I skipped the color blocking on the front of the skirt because it just looked a little too random to me. It just didn’t feel well thought out as a design detail. In fact, instead of two skirt pieces, I just used the full width of the fabric. It was just a bit bigger than the two pieces would have been and since it’s just a simply gathered skirt, it wasn’t an issue.
I just love the look of the straps. It’s a very pretty design. However, I have a small issue with their drafting and bigger issues with their construction.
I’m no professional and not even an advanced seamstress so take my opinion for what it’s worth. I’ve just been looking at pattern pieces a little more closely since I started reading the 7 Pine Design blog. (It’s really good. That blogger knows her stuff.) When I sewed the back strap to the front strap at the underarm, I noticed the curve was smooth on one side and had a little V on the other.
(Picture also captures my dodgy topstitching. I did it twice and this is already much better than the first try. And after that, I was so frustrated that I called it a day.) I know it’s really hard to see in the picture. It’s the upper part that has the V. It’s pretty subtle. I actually noticed it while topstitching because I had to pivot at that point. If the V had been the same at the bottom rather than the smooth curve, I would have chalked it up to a design choice. But this… It’s minor but that kind of drafting doesn’t inspire confidence, you know? There’s also a bothersome absence of notches. I feel there should be a notch on the front and back straps telling you where the top of the bodice should be.
And then, there’s the issue of strap construction. Each strap is made up of 6 pieces, two front, two back, and two neck. The front and back parts are attached to the neck part. Then they’re attached to bodice front and back from the wrong side of the bodice and top stitched to the right side. Afterwards, the side seams are sewn up, bodice and strap together. That means that the side seam allowance on the straps (so that underarm seam) is exposed. That’s like that VFT dress, Annabelle that had a fully lined bodice but the seam allowances weren’t encased between the bodice and lining. Like I said, I’m not an advanced seamstress but that just feels like lazy construction.
I switched that up and sewed up the side seams on the straps and bodice first. Then I attached the inside layer of the straps on the wrong side of the bodice. It’s a little fiddly but not as bad as flat felling a sleeve. Then I topstitched the outside layer of the straps to the front. I should have basted first but I plain old forgot. Pretty sure the results would have been better.
Another thing that bothered me is how the whole dress side strap seam has to be topstitched closed. Obviously, the part that attaches to the dress has to be open (unless you don’t care about enclosing that seam allowance I guess). But couldn’t the free floating parts be sewn right sides together and turned out instead of topstitched closed? I’m not experienced enough to visualize it but it seems to me that there has to be a better way.
Finally, the instructions say you have to add elastic to the back bodice before attaching the skirt but I did it at the end. I just sewed it onto the seam allowance and topstitched the seam allowance to the bodice to hide the elastic.
It would appear from all this that I disliked the pattern but I actually really love that bodice design and can see myself using it again. I’ll just switch up the construction to make it neater.
I love the front design on that bodice! And it looks darling on V. I’ve noticed dips and points in a lot of patterns I’ve sewed too… I think a lot of pattern makers don’t even realize they should smooth things like that out. Would a smaller scale model help to figure out a better construction order?
I could try to make a small paper model just to see but honestly, I think next time I make the bodice, I’ll try to do something smarter and neater. What I did was already better but I think there’s even better.
I have to say I’m getting frustrated with some indie pattern designers. Those points and dips should not be there unless it’s a design feature. Not squaring off those corners is lazy drafting. I’ve done next to no design and even I know it has to be done. I feel like I’m buying an inferior product and I have no way to know it’s subpar until I’ve forked over the money. And the reviews aren’t exactly helpful. I guess I’ll have to stick to the ones I trust from now on.
I know what you mean. Un-trued lines are one thing in a free pattern, but if I’m paying I’d like it to be at least as good as what I can do myself. Reviews are hard for me because most of the time I’ve forgotten what I disliked by the time I write the post! I should probably keep a notebook next to my sewing area just for that. I know a lot of people prefer to follow the ‘if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all’ rule, but how will the designers even know that they need to improve if all they hear is praise?
Yes, there are so many times where I downplayed an issue or didn’t even mention it because I was afraid of being labelled as mean and unsupportive. I still am, to be honest. But the thing is, it’s so frustrating when you see all these positive reviews (one site I checked had only the most glowing reviews for the Soho dress, stuff like “best pattern ever!”) and then have issues that are the designer’s fault. So from now on, I’ll be very honest about the issues I have. And I’m lucky because those are the things that stick in my memory. That and the good parts. What I forget is technical details.