I signed up as a tester for Jennifer Lauren a few months back and was more than delighted when the second garment to come up after the Juniper cardigan (which I have since worn a LOT) was the Laneway dress. I was excited to get my teeth stuck into something that was a little different, with a few new skills and also – a dress! – since it seems like I’ve been sewing mostly separates for a while.
The Laneway Dress
And the Laneway was just the dress to get me excited! It’s described thus: “a sleek yet easy to wear 1940s A-line silhouette, Laneway will be your go-to dress for everyday adventures and beyond.” and I would say this is fair. The dress has open ended waist darts in the front and full back darts for shaping, a gorgeous asymmetric collar that is built into the facing (there’s a no-collar option too), plus it’s the first time Jennifer Lauren has produced a pattern that accommodates A to D cups. Yeehoo! No prizes for guessing what I was testing – I made a 16D cup and it was… great!
Full disclosure here – since I made this dress I’ve had family staying for a while and have been eating rather a lot. The dress still fits okayish, but it was a bit looser when I made it and skimmed rather than clung. 🙂 I wish I’d taken pics then, but there you are. So just be aware it is a little bit tighter on me here. The dress also has pockets (yeehoo again because every dress should have pockets) and is closed at the back with an invisible zipper. The back of the dress has a very graceful V neckline, which I like very much. The whole dress has lots of modern shaping with vintage twists, which results in a beautiful nod to the past without going overboard, in my opinion.
Having said that, I did decide to up the ante by making my Laneway in something with rather a vintage flair and that is this dreamy rayon challis from Anna Maria Horner. It’s the Eucalyptus Ruby fabric from the Pretty Potent collection and it is beautifully soft and drapey. Added bonus – it held up extremely well after a “normal wash”. I don’t know how well it comes across in the photos, but the palette is feminine but still modern. I think it’s the hue of the main olive colour that does it, paired with the off-white and an almost hot pink.
I wouldn’t describe myself as a “girly girl” in the sense that I don’t care for pastels or soft pinks (and they don’t care for me), so I made sure to keep the whole thing even more modern by adding that flash of REAL hot pink and gold collar. The asymmetric collar is, of course, one of the standout design features of the dress and I decided to make it really pop. The fabric is Cotton + Steel Fruit Dots Gold Stripe Metallic Orchid if you’re interested.
My previous experience testing the Juniper cardigan was great – Jennifer gives us plenty of time to complete the garment, is extremely friendly and the instructions are superb. I actually felt a bit guilty this time round as I really didn’t have too much feedback. I mean, I guess that’s good in a way, but I feel like I’m missing obvious things sometimes. Having said that, it seemed from the final feedback that actually most of us testers had relative success with the fit of this dress. The main change that has been made since this version is that Jennifer has:
“Altered the width of the inner dart – this has made the under bust and stomach flatter and shapelier and brought the outer dart in so that it opens out under the bust a bit more as opposed to the side.”
I can tell you that the instructions are very comprehensive and that I really didn’t have too many problems with the overall construction of the dress. There are lots of sections on fit, bust sizing and the print out process is also very economical – lots to recommend. All the notches matched perfectly for me and there are quite a lot of bits and pieces to making the dress with the various darts and inset sleeves, but it all came together very nicely.
I made a muslin of the bodice and came to the conclusion that it was a little short. I’m a tiny bit long-waisted and added an inch to the bodice length. I left the waist darts as is since I also thought they were opening a little high on my bust apex. To cut a long story short, the dress seemed a bit long on me when I finished it in the fashion fabric. Of course, rayon has more give than muslin, so I guess that’s why. (It does look less obvious on these photos, but my tummy is somewhat more rotund.) The waist darts were much better in height, however. I think next time I would increase the waist by perhaps a quarter to half an inch and lower top of the waist darts by half an inch. The waist should be fine on most people with an average length waist.
The facing is probably the most tricky part as there are a few little extras to take into consideration: the zipper for example, but again there are detailed instructions to help you along. The collar is constructed very nicely by creating a finish that extends into the facing and then snipping a line along it and folding the facing back on itself to create the collar. I’m not sure that’s very clear, but suffice it to say it’s very straightforward. I found it slightly tricky to get a neat finish attaching the facing to the zip, but a good strong press and some topstitching helped matters immensely.
One thing I should also mention is that the sleeves are drafted very well in my opinion. Jennifer mentioned that she had been working hard to ensure there was good freedom of movement around the armhole and I think she’s done a grand job as these are some of the more comfortable sleeves I’ve made thus far. There’s a nice amount of ease built in and I don’t feel restricted in any way.
In conclusion, you’ll know if this kind of modern vintage dress is up your street or not. I love it and if you also like a pretty dress, this is a well-drafted pattern than walks you through every step of construction. I really enjoyed the experience! Finally, make sure and check out the official post on the dress release – Jennifer’s polka dot version is gorgeous!