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The Sorrel Dress Tester Makes - Part 4

Thursday, November 15, 2018
Ahhh, the final set of beautiful Sorrel Dresses from my Testers - I hope you've enjoyed seeing these just as much as I have sharing them. It's lovely to see such a big batch of dresses when a pattern is released, because it really showcases all the different ways a pattern can be made up and styled.

If you'd like to catch up on the other three parts, you can find them by clicking on the links here: Part 1, Part 2 & Part 3.

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Size 8





1.  What is your current favourite sewing technique and your current favourite fabric to work with?

I currently LOVE blind hems - they just feel so couture to me (even though they're fairly simple once you get the hang of it). My current favourite fabric... it's so difficult to choose. I truely love anything with a lovely drape,but I get very frustrated with how many of them easily distort while working with them. But I do have a cut of Atelier Brunette that I have been drooling over forever - I can't wait to cut into that!

2. What features do you like about Sorrel?

I love the style of the collar and the feminine shaping that the darts provide. I feel this is quite a versatile pattern that could be worn dressed up, dressed down and in warm or cold weather.

3. What pattern changes did you make to your particular dress?

I shortened the bodice by 2inches and lengthened the skirt by 1 inch (I'm 5'3" with a shorter torso for reference). In making these adjustments, I also had to adjust the placement of the snaps to accomodate the length I removed from the bodice. I think I also need a swayback adjustment, which I've never done and did not do on this version, but I am planning to do it on the next one.

4. Who would you recommend Sorrel to?

I think an advanced or adventurous beginner could definitely undertake this project - the instructions and illustrations are clear and even though there are buttonholes to deal with, there is no collar stand, no yoke and no set-in sleeves. This is perfect for someone who has wanted to tackle a shirtdress but hasn't found the courage yet. 

I feel the style is classic and feminine while being versatile enough to suit someone who wouldn't typically wear a dress.


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Size 22





1.  What is your current favourite sewing technique and your current favourite fabric to work with?

I love making my own bias binding. It is a great way to use up scrap fabric and it can add a pop of contrasting colour where it is used. It is also a great opportunity to use much loved fabric more than once in a garment.

Fabric wise, I am loving using linen or cotton linen blend. I live in a really humid climate and prefer to use fabrics that are light and breathe. I try to ignore the creases that happen.

2. What features do you like about Sorrel?

I love how the pleats give shape. It makes the dress feel both relaxed and dressy. Any excuse not to insert a zipper is also appreciated. I used buttons from my stash - my khaki linen blend dress used buttons which used to belong to my grandmother and it adds a sentimental touch.

3. What pattern changes did you make to your particular dress?

I added an inch at the hips to accomodate my curvy backside. I also added about 15cm to the length to make it a middy length, which I find to be most flattering on me. I also used contrast bias binding I had made from fabric left over from a previous make to finish the sleeves and hem.

4. Who would you recommend Sorrel to?

Everyone! I like the versatility of the dress. I could wear it to work or on the weekend and I can dress it up or down. It has a classic silhouette which can be made to look more vintage or not, depending on how it is styled. I plan on wearing it with chunky earrings and sandals or with my while converse sneakers (I love the look of a dress with cons).


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Size 20





1.  What is your current favourite sewing technique and your current favourite fabric to work with?

My favourite sewing technique is inserting a lapped zipper (they are like magic!) or a fly front zipper. My favourite fabric to work with is wool, which is sad considering I live in Florida so I don't have much call to sew with it, lol. I'm also a big fan of the satisfaction I get from successful pattern matching, though I don't really enjoy the actual process much - but the results are worth pushing myself through the cutting!

2. What features do you like about Sorrel?

I like the button front and kimono sleeves - both things I've wanted to try for ages and never have! I always thought kimono sleeves would make my arms look big, but this pattern made a believer out of me. I really like how they look. I also have no idea why I put off making a shirt dress for so long, especially since I've made button front skirts and tops many times. I also love that you have the option of a button placket or none - I personally love the placket look, but I think it looks nice either way.

3. What pattern changes did you make to your particular dress?

I added 1" of length to the bodice and extended the darts by 1" on the bodice and skirt.  I also did my standard 1" forward shoulder adjustment to the bodice and facings. I added 1/2" to the side seams at the hips just to give a little more ease.

In the end, I got the waist seam sitting on my natural waist, but I think the style would look better sitting slightly above. I did not want to unpick the entire finished waist, so I made a sash to cinch it in a bit. This helps the bodice to blouse up just a bit and bring the waist a little higher.

4. Who would you recommend Sorrel to?

I think this is a great pattern for an advanced beginner who likes a slight nod to vintage style. There really isn't anything particularly tricky about the sewing, but I find fitting needs to be accurate since it's a slimmer silhouette. If you are willing to make a muslin and take your time with the detailed instructions, I think anyone could make this dress.


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Size 8




1.  What is your current favourite sewing technique and your current favourite fabric to work with?

My current favourite sewing technique is adding snaps. I had awful trouble when I first started using snaps, but soon established that it was due to purchasing substandard pliers. Once I purchased some newer and more expensive ones, I wanted to add snaps to everything. I used antique brass ones on my Sorrel as the colour is just perfect for denim, which is my absolute favourite to work with. I can't get enough of it.

2. What features do you like about Sorrel?

I really love the wide button placket on the Sorrel as I think it is a really nice feature and gives it a proper shirtdress feel.

3. What pattern changes did you make to your particular dress?

I didn't change anything. I made a size 6 with a C cup and my measurements are B33", W25" and H36" and the fit is perfect. I love the shape the tucks give and the slightly A-Line skirt. 

The only think I did differently was to use heavy weight fabric. I note the recommendations are for light to medium weight woven fabrics but I love the structure this fabric gives.

4. Who would you recommend Sorrel to?

I would recommend this pattern to a confident beginner with a couple of projects under their belt. The instructions are really clear, especially with regard to measuring yourself and picking your size. All steps are easy to understand and are accompanied by illustrations and you can even use snaps like I did if you are not confident with buttonholes.

I love the vintage style and I think my versions has a nod to the 70s due to the denim like nature of the fabric I chose and the snaps. I would recommend it to anyone looking to venture into making dresses who like a vintage style.


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Thank you SO MUCH to all of my Testers - I really couldn't have made Sorrel the pattern it is today without all of your helpful feedback, thoughtful questions and the time and energy you put into making your dresses and letting me share them with everyone here.

You guys really are the best!




Next week I'll be sharing an easy tutorial on how to turn your Sorrel Dress into the breeziest, comfiest, lightly gathered shirt dress you've ever worn.

xx
J
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The Sorrel Dress Tester Makes - Part 3

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

I can't believe that we're nearly halfway through November already... and just in case you missed it, now that we've hit the $8000 mark on my Kickstarter campaign, the Juniper Cardigan will now go into print along with Sorrel & Pippi! You can pick up a paper copy for just $20NZD + postage if you pledge through the campaign (it will retail for approx $26NZD or $18USD), and it means you'll get your paper copy earlier than it's retail release in mid-2019. 

Let's check out some more Sorrel Dress Tester makes shall we? You can see Part 1 here & Part 2 here.


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Size 12  





1.  What is your current favourite sewing technique and your current favourite fabric to work with?

Ooh! Right now I am loving full, gathered skirts! I went the longest time without using gathered skirts because I thought they didn't look flattering on me, but I realised that I just hadn't been using enough gathers. So, now I've been making several dresses with super full, puffy, gathered skirts.

My all time favourite fabric is cotton poplin/quilting cottons. There is a fair amount of debate on whether quilting cottons are appropriate for garment sewing, but for the style of the dresses I make and wear on a daily basis, it's the perfect fabric. I almost exclusively work with cottons. It's an added bonus that the finished dresses can usually just be tossed into the washer/dryer. No faffing about with the line or flat drying.

2. What features do you like about Sorrel?

Open ended darts and grown on sleeves! They are two of my favourite details when it comes to handmade dresses and they made sewing up Sorrel a breeze.

3. What pattern changes did you make to your particular dress?

The only true adjustment I made was to grade from a size 12 to a size 22 at the hips. I dislike woven fabric dresses that are snug around the hips since it feels like they restrict my mobility. I probably could have gone with a size 18/20 but I wanted to make sure the dress would fit.

I did reduce the bodice side seams to 1/4" because I needed just the tiniest bit more room across the bust to leave room for the overlap. I also increased the back bodice waist seam to about 1 inch instead of doing a proper sway back adjustment.

4. Who would you recommend Sorrel too?

As far as dresses go, Sorrel is very simple. Yes, there are buttons/buttonholes, but that is literally the only semi-complicated section. And if you use snaps/snap buttons, you don't even have to worry about that! The open ended darts/pleats at the waist mean you don't have to worry about issues with pointy darts. There are not set in sleeves and cutting out the pattern/fabric is quite quick due to the small number of pieces and the dress only took me 3 hours to stitch up.


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Size 16





1.  What is your current favourite sewing technique and your current favourite fabric to work with?

I have always had a fear of darts, and then matching them up, but having completed a number here, I got into a good rhythm and am really pleased. They really do make a dress look so flattering. 

Fabric wise, I have been enjoying using floaty viscose for my first Sorrel and lots of people have commented on how lovely it is. It can be a bit slippery, but the results are worth it.

2. What features do you like about Sorrel?

On my Sorrel I love the button down front. Many button down RTW dresses I find gape at the chest or middle, but this fitted me well. I haven't had a well fitting button down dress for a long time. I also love the collar, it is so easy to do but looks more complicated.

3. What pattern changes did you make to your particular dress?

I used snaps in my dress rather than buttonholes, which is an option. I like the way they look and they were pretty straightforward to fit. I didn't need to make any other changes to the dress. It has pockets, which is another feature I look for in a dress.

4. Who would you recommend Sorrel too?

I would recommend Sorrel to a confident beginner. The steps are clearly laid out and straightforward to follow. With a bit of practice with buttonholes, you will be away laughing. Sorrel is a classic dress with a lovely feature collar - it can be dressed up for a lovely summers day or worn with tights and a cardigan on a chilly autumn day.


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Size 10





1.  What is your current favourite sewing technique and your current favourite fabric to work with?

My love is incredibly busy, so making time for sewing and learning new techniques is tough. I try to stick to tried-and-true silhouettes and batch my process out to more efficiently tackle multiple garments at the same time - cut all fabric in one day, finish seams the next, and a few days of sewing/assembly as appropriate for the pieces. I fortunately don't find the structured process takes any of the enjoyment out of sewing.

My favourite fabric to work with is usually rayon or viscose blend, though with winter coming up in California, I'm excited to start sewing some warmer pieces with wools - I have a pink coat inspired but the Marvellous Mrs. Maisel on my sewing table next.

2. What features do you like about Sorrel?

The Sorrel Dress is a vintage-looking silhouette that's incredibly easy and flattering to wear. The button/snap closure eliminates the fuss of putting in a zipper but also adds to the more casual look of the dress. 

Today I threw mine over a bathing suit and headed down to the beach as we're on vacation in Hawaii (and I received lots of compliments!). I like to always be polished, and this dress gives me the flexibility to do that while still being comfortable in more casual settings.

3. What pattern changes did you make to your particular dress?

I have a very short torso, so I shortened the bodice and lengthened the skirt hem - these are pretty common adjustments I make to all patterns though. 

I also chose to use snaps rather than buttons. Though I prefer the classic look of buttons, I knew I wanted this dress to function well pool or beach-side and the snaps aided in that both functionally and visually. I also put them a bit closer together than the pattern indicates since I'm on the bustier side and wanted to wear this to the office on casual days without risking accidental flash.

4. Who would you recommend Sorrel too?

Sorrel is a very approachable skill-wise but with a big payoff - I would recommend this to anyone wanting to try a retro silhouette but who may be intimidated by some of the seemingly more complicated vintage techniques (such as princess seams, extensive pleating, or funky corner seams - all manageable though, I promise!).  It also still has a more contemporary feel for someone who likes a classic/retro look but doesn't always want to wear a full circle skirt to the office on casual days - like me!


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Size 14



1.  What is your current favourite sewing technique and your current favourite fabric to work with?

My favourite sewing technique at the moment is top-stitching, it gives a really nice effect. My favourite fabrics are denim and viscose.

2. What features do you like about Sorrel?

I love the darts, I think they give a really lovely detail to the dress. They can be a bit time consuming but they are a great feature! The sleeves are very flattering too.

3. What pattern changes did you make to your particular dress?

I made Version 2 this time and went down a cup size for a more fitted bodice. Other than that, I didn't make any changes to the pattern. Now that I've made both versions, I really like Version 2.

4. Who would you recommend Sorrel too?

I would recommend Sorrel to beginners. The instructions are really clear and thorough, there is nothing a beginner couldn't handle, especially as you have the option of snaps rather than buttonholes. The dress is a very flattering shape that can be made out of various fabric types.


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Size 8





1.  What is your current favourite sewing technique and your current favourite fabric to work with?

I sewed the dress in a linen fabric and I LOVE it. It manages to look both crisp and relaxed. In terms of my current favourite sewing technique, I think the answer changes on a daily basis depending upon what I'm working on and what is working for me. I really enjoyed sewing with the linen, as I mostly sew with knits or stretch fabrics.

2. What features do you like about Sorrel?

My favourite thing about the Sorrel dress is the pockets!! I also really like the open-ended darts, they are simple and look really good. The curved back hemline is very attractive and elevates the dress to look and feel more luxurious. I also loved that there were cup size options - as a small A cup, I find many patterns (and clothes) much too roomy for me, and I end up wearing t-shirts way too often.

3. What pattern changes did you make to your particular dress?

I only graded the waist to a size 12 after my test dress was just a little tight in the waist-only.

4. Who would you recommend Sorrel too?

I think this dress could be a great project for a patient beginner, but a little experience would make the process easier of course. I am an experienced seamstress and enjoyed the time I spent with this pattern. It goes together fairly quickly but has fitting details that go beyond the average pattern.


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Another lovely bunch of Sorrel's - I love how different they all look depending on fabric choice and how they're styled.  Be sure to check back at the end of the week for the final instalment :)



xx
J
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The Sorrel Dress Tester Makes - Part 2

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Today I'm sharing another group of beautiful Sorrel Dress Tester Makes (you can see Part 1 here!). 

As of posting Part 1, the Early Bird Digital-only Sorrel Dress pattern rewards sold out, HOWEVER, I have added on another digital-only pattern reward. By backing the campaign now, you'll still get the pattern cheaper than what you'll pay retail when the pattern is released mid-2019, and you'll get the pattern in December, rather than having to wait. So, if you'd still like to back the campaign, there are savings (and time!) to be had...

Now, let's look at some pretty Sorrel's shall we?



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Size 6 

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1.  What is your current favourite sewing technique and your current favourite fabric to work with?

I'm not sure if the technique I like has a specific name, but it's used for sharp corners like collars. You stop a stitch before the corner, put a piece of thread by the needle, pull the thread en to the right side and finish the corner. When you turn it right side out, you pull the thread for a sharp, neat corner. I love it.

My favourite fabric to work with is probably linen and cotton, they're nice and crisp. Though I do love the drape of rayon, I find it harder to work with.

2. What features do you like about Sorrel?

Effortless darts! They fit my body perfectly - unlike standard darts, they don't need any adjusting on me. And the lapel-style neckline is one of my favourite design features.

Because the skirt doesn't have a lot of flare, it works with cotton really well (which as you can see above, is one of my favourite fabrics to work with) and having 2 views means you can choose a dress to suit your own personal preferences.

3. What pattern changes did you make to your particular dress?

I made almost no alterations except to move the buttons up 1.5cm which suits my personal style a bit more.

4. Who would you recommend Sorrel too?


Sorrel would be suitable for a beginner sewer who has sewn easy garments before and want a shirtwaist-style dress but are not confident tackling things like set-in sleeves or collars.

It also has that vintage-vibe going on, so if that's your style, you'll love it.




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Size 22




1.  What is your current favourite sewing technique and your current favourite fabric to work with?

My current favourite technique is actually to use my cover stitch machine to hem or top-stitch knit fabric garments - mostly because my machine is still fairly new so I'm still leaving to use its different features and the novelty hasn't worn off yet. But my favourite fabric to work with is a cotton woven - I love the crispness of darts and when all the seams line up.  

2. What features do you like about Sorrel?

I love the matching darts on the bodice and skirts, and I really love the way that the facing on View 2 kind of turns into a collar. I didn't think of it before, but I'd really like to do a contrast facing. 

It's also surprisingly quick to stitch.

3. What pattern changes did you make to your particular dress?

I chose View 2 firstly because my original fabric choice has a large print and I was not very confident with pattern matching. However, I then went fabric shopping at the 11th hour and was short on time, so I went with the pattern pieces I had already printed and put together. I made the dress without any pattern modifications.

4. Who would you recommend Sorrel too?

I would recommend the Sorrel to an ambitious beginner. There are some techniques that might be challenging, but I think this pattern uses some techniques that are good, basic dressmaking skills to have (interfacing, facings, darts, buttons and buttonholes etc. 

I think the dress has a cute retro vibe in the fabric I chose, but I have also seen similar styles in a more draped fabric which look more modern (and can be worn with jeans!), or a more casual/boho look in chambray.


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Size 10




1.  What is your current favourite sewing technique and your current favourite fabric to work with?

My favourite sewing technique at the moment is making my own bias binding - it's not the most complex, but I'd never done it before until Jen's tutorial to make the unlined Ivy Pinafore and now I'm hooked!

My favourite fabric of the moment is corduroy - there's something so wonderfully autumnal about corduroy.

2. What features do you like about Sorrel?

I love Sorrel's kimono sleeves and the collar is perfect for showing off a badge or pin. The waist is so neat (I was worried the darts wouldn't sit well on my doughy belly) and pockets! I love it all really.

3. What pattern changes did you make to your particular dress?

I sewed up View 2. I'm only 5'1 so I shortened to a size 6 length. From there I graded out from a 10 in the bodice to a 12 at the waist and skirt to allow for aforementioned doughy belly.

4. Who would you recommend Sorrel too?

Style-wise, I think the Sorrel seems pretty versatile. When I first saw it I thought it would be perfect as a light weight beach cover up dress - at the time, we were in full heatwave and paddle boarding most days. I wanted clothes I could whip odd with dignity at the beach. 

I also love it as a more structured dress, but already have my fabric lined up for a beach version next summer, with snap buttons for easy, yet dramatic, whipping off! I'll be wearing my corduroy one to work, possibly with a long sleeved tee underneath when it's colder.

I'd recommend it to someone who has already sewed up a couple of dresses. Sorrel has a few challenges to stretch you (lining up the darts for one) but the instructions are so simple and straight forward that all it all pieces together beautifully.


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Size 14




1.  What is your current favourite sewing technique and your current favourite fabric to work with?

My current favourite sewing technique is to use basting thread to outline darts prior to sewing them. You use the basting thread on the double layer, loop it every other pass through the fabric then pull the pattern pieces apart and you have your dart outlined! There must be a fancy English term for it that I don't know :)

I love working with knits but a nice woven in between knit projects is just as great.

2. What features do you like about Sorrel?

I really like that the darts give a lot of definition to the dress, but the fit is relaxed enough that I can wear it comfortably to work. I do a lot of walking, standing and reaching at work, and this dress is not restricting in any way. I've also gotten a lot of compliments while wearing it :)

3. What pattern changes did you make to your particular dress?

I graded out the hips, which is a common adjustment for me. I also didn't follow the button placement as I like to see how the buttons look on a finished garment before deciding on how many buttons to use to get the best placement for me.

4. Who would you recommend Sorrel too?

I would recommend the Sorrel Dress to most people! It is a great pattern - easy to sew without getting boring for the more advanced sewist, but a beginner would be able to make it too.

It has a great fit, looks good on many body-types and it can be used in autumn/winter with the right fabric, a cardigan and boots (which is what I plan to do). It will also look great in different fabrics - I made one in denim and one in a simple cotton and I love them both.


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Size 12





1.  What is your current favourite sewing technique and your current favourite fabric to work with?

At the moment it's buttonholes and hand sewing on buttons! Sorrel was my first attempt at buttons and having now made three versions, I feel quite confident doing it now. I also like the fact that button sewing is portable so I was able to take it around to Mum's for Sunday lunch and do it while watching Strictly Come Dancing with the kids :)

My current favourite fabric to work with is chambray, as it's stable but still has a lovely movement. However, the viscose I used was Cotton & Steel, so it was also lovely to work with.

2. What features do you like about Sorrel?

I love how the sleeve is grown on, my armpit feels nice and free! I also like the fact it is waist accentuating, but not tight, with darts to skim my belly and bum.  I wore my wearable toile, in cotton poplin, while travelling to our summer holiday in Holland and it was really comfy and breathable.

With regards to the pattern, I really loved the fact that you can select your size on the PDF file before printing and also choose which cup size you are. Not only is this better for the environment, but it is much simpler to to stick together.

3. What pattern changes did you make to your particular dress?

I'm 5 foot 1, so I shortened the bodice by 1cm and took 2" off the length. I also graded out to a smaller seam allowance at the waist, but this is standard for me as my Mum-tum is always out of proportion with my waist and hips. Other than these standard adjustments, I found the fit was perfect.

4. Who would you recommend Sorrel too?

I would say this dress is advanced beginner level, but only because of the buttons. The actual construction is really straight forwards and Jennifer's instructions very clear. This is the first JLH pattern I have made and I have now bought 3 more, so if that's not an endorsement, nothing is!

I also love the versatility of this dress, in a a cotton it is the perfect day dress and in a viscose it has more of a 'going out' feel.


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Thank you so much again Testers! Such a great selection of makes and lots of great advice on stitching up Sorrel :)

Part 3 will be coming up soon! If you'd like to support the Sorrel Dress paper pattern campaign, you can do so here.


xx
J
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