Happy Thursday good people! Today I’m posting a few pictures of the Fancy Tiger Crafts’ Fen dress that I finished last week. Please excuse the light on the fabric- you can get a better idea of the fabric close-up in pics further down. I’m afraid there aren’t really any construction pictures, and that’s because I made most of the dress as part of a class, at Drygoods Design, here in Seattle. I did the class as one of three in the “Learn to Sew Apparel Trilogy” series they do, in which you choose between a couple of options for three different projects. This is the 2nd class I chose (I am posting out of order) and the others were the Linden sweatshirt and Sailor Top. As a general note, I thought the classes were fantastic – the small class size means plenty of individual help and attention – and the teacher, Julienne, couldn’t have been nicer, funnier or more encouraging. Nice one, Drygoods! 🙂 PS. They give you wine. Win.
I was talking in my last post about making clothes that wouldn’t necessarily have been my first choice if I was buying RTW and this is probably a good example. It was a choice between this and a fairly similar but slightly less shaped dress, so I went for Fen. Being of the large-boobed, amply-hipped and smaller-waisted (relatively speaking) variety, boxy dresses without too much shaping usually aren’t my thing at all. I must say that since the baby, I’ve found them slightly more alluring for the purposes of tummy covering, but it’s definitely not my usual style.
Nevertheless, I’m only learning and I think it’s good to try these kind of things now. I was interested to see whether it was the RTW style that was the real problem and if something more fitted to my own measurements would make a difference. I’m not sure it does to be honest, although I do actually like the dress and I will wear it – with a little cardie it would be great. It definitely looks very good on other figures and I’ve seen some lovely versions. I also think I would probably try sizing down through the waist and hips if I made it again and that might do the trick. From the front it’s not too bad, but I’m not too keen on the back view and the side is the worst – *unfortunately* those pics were really blurry (honest! maybe the camera was telling me something).
Alrighty! Anyway, there have been plenty of Fen dresses made, but if you didn’t know, the dress is a fairly boxy shape with a slightly gathered skirt and comes with different sleeve and hem options. I made View B on the packet below and cut a size 14. We did a fitting for the bodice in class, but I didn’t really need any adjustments for this particular muslin. You can see the finished dress has tons of room so there’s a bit of leeway in choosing your size. My fabric was a cotton from Art Gallery Fabrics and is probably approaching medium-weight, so that doesn’t help the boxy situation, I suppose. You might also spot I noted that I used 2.5yds of fabric, rather than the 3.25 they mention. It might not be the same for everyone, but could be interesting for if you’re looking to make the dress with 3yds or less to hand.
In terms of construction, I actually really enjoyed making this dress. It came together really smoothly and is definitely a great pattern for a beginner. I didn’t bother trying to pattern match since it’s a small busy pattern anyway and it really doesn’t show. We pinked the seams throughout as it’s a beginner’s class, but also, I suspect, for speed, since we you only have limited time in a class to try and get through things, so it makes sense. The two “trickier” bits were making and applying your bias binding to the neckline, and the skirt gathering.
I decided to use exposed bias binding to break up that pattern a bit and I like the result. A contrasting material would have been nice too. Skirt gathering I hadn’t done before and this was rather satisfying! We sewed two lines of stitches at max stitch length and 3/8″ and 7/8″ allowance leaving long thread ends. We then pulled the ends to gather and distributed evenly along the skirt, before attaching the bodice to the skirt top. Finally! Something that was actually more straightforward than it looked! Haha.
Oh, and one feature I really like about this dress are the lovely, big, deep pockets. This is not a great picture of one, but you get the idea. They’re really nice pockets that you can easily fit your phone/wallet into.
Overall, I’d say the Fen dress is a really nicely drafted pattern and the instructions are very good. It’s hard for me to guess given my construction environment, but I would think you could finish it in around 4hrs at home at my kind of level. Less if you’re more experienced. I don’t know that I will make it again any time soon, really just because of the style. But don’t let that put you off if you like this kind of shape – it’s a solid make!
Bye for now and have a good week!