Like many others, I look forward to Fiona (Diary of a Chainstitcher)’s monthly Indie Pattern Update to browse and review what’s new in the sewing pattern world. Having built myself a decent collection of patterns over the last few years, I try to be discerning, resisting the urge to buy unless a pattern truly offers something new in terms of design, technique etc.
The Victory Patterns Hannah dress jumped out at me from the April review for all these reasons. I’ve been wanting to try the « arty sack dress » vibe for a while. Being at the curvier end of the pool I usually stick to waisted-only shapes, but frankly life is too short to worry about whether people are assuming you’re preggo or no, especially in a climate that averages mid-30s temperatures every single day. Gimme all the breeziest items possible thanks. Furthermore, Hannah is not just any sack dress, oh no. She has all these beautiful design details too. That curved hem with a nod to men’s shirting and that genius origami back that swoops down into deep pockets. SWOON, done deal, proceed to checkout.
The foldover back means the pattern is a bit of a fabric gobbler, needing over 3m. Looking at my limited Bangui stash I knew I’d need to make Versiaon 2, which combines fabrics for a contrast block effect. I picked out a gorgeous Art Gallery Fabrics cotton I’d been hoarding, and some leftover grey cotton chambray (previously seen here) for the foldover back/pockets. The main fabric is called “Hello Bear Summit Twilight” and I bought it because it reminded me of Rwanda’s rolling hills, the mille collines I miss so much.
Based on my measurements (and this handy tip on cup sizes from the Victory Patterns blog) I cut a straight size 8 and didn’t make any sizing alterations. The pattern pieces are preeeeetty funny looking when you lay them out, which is all part of the excitement. You really don’t know how it’s all going to come together until close to the end (or at least I didn’t). All that pattern wizardry does mean a veritable shedtonne of markings to transfer – I counted 29 on piece D alone. Since my chambray was prone to fraying I was reluctant to snip in, and since chalk tends to rub off easily, I decided to use tailors’ tacks. This was laborious but effective, best done in front of TV (I am currently dragging myself through Season 8 of the X Files, having decided to rewatch them all before doing the new season… I had forgotten the irritating tedium that is Doggett but am stubbornly persevering).
With everything cut and marked up I finally got to the sewing and I have to say I really enjoyed it. It’s complicated and exacting enough to be totally absorbing, but the instructions and drafting are so good that it comes together in a really nice satisfying way, with no dramas or frustrations. The moment I sewed the side seams together to form the crossover back I think I let out an audible “ah-haaaah”. So clever.
Tip: The pockets need to be reinforced to stop them stretching out and sagging. The pattern calls for twill tape, but if you don’t have any (as I didn’t) try using a strip of selvedge instead.
I made just one design change, which was to do with the placket. I knew (from previous RTW experience) that a high-neck button up placket wouldn’t suit, comfort or personal style wise, but I didn’t want to majorly change the aesthetic by drafting a different neckline. So I created a tunic-style placket instead, using the original pattern piece to keep the proportions more or less the same. I’d be happy to do a little tutorial if anyone’s interested, just leave a comment 🙂
So, finished item. There is a lot to love. The details are wonderful. All the things I liked on paper, I like in person too – curved hem (with a sneaky peak of that lovely facing), crossover back etc. It’s also wonderfully breezy and comfy (although I would probably lower/enlarge the armholes by a ½ inch next time). It is a definite departure in personal style and is going to take some getting used to, but I think I like it!! It’s nice as a comfy day dress and i think heels would help balance the relaxed shape for a dressier look… although I didn’t bring any to the field. Something to experiment with back in Europe!
There’s tonnes of room for creativity with this pattern. I’ve already spotted a super classy LBD version over here, and I’m looking forward to seeing others pop up in the coming months.