New dress: Seamwork Benning in stripes for March

It seems like a while since I posted, but I’ve been busy, busy, busy sewing – it’s just been quite a lot of testing. I seem like I’m testing more than ever, which was not my intention, but the thing is that lots of my favourite companies are expanding their ranges into larger sizes and D cups, which is just too enticing an opportunity to turn down. I expect they will finish up this process this year sometime, but for now I continue to support those efforts. And I do, as you know, quite enjoy testing.

Anyway, this is not a testing project, but one of the new Seamwork patterns for March. As you also know if you read this blog a bit, I’m a Seamwork ambassador, which means I get the patterns early to sew up if I wish. I feel like I haven’t sewn one for a couple of months, but both this – the Seamwork Benning dress – as well as the other offering this month (the Jada dress) caught my eye. I only had time to stitch one and the Benning it was.

Now I don’t know where you are, but in Bothell, WA, it’s still bloody cold, so this is the late winter/early spring styling edition of the Benning, where I’m wearing a polo neck underneath, big boots and a denim jacket for a fair bit of it. The fabric is a beautiful rayon linen blend with tons of drape and a really gorgeous yarn-dyed design. It’s not so obvious from far away, but you can see it in some of the detail pictures. I think I’m rocking a bit of Little-House-On-The-Prairie-chic in this get-up – what d’ya reckon? I was actually considering taking pictures in front of this old Wild West mural we have in town, but thought that might be going a bit overboard, as my husband’s expression duly confirmed.

The Benning is a nice, quick make of a dress. It has a relaxed fit, grown-on sleeves and two tiers of lightly gathered skirt, with the first tier hitting about two inches above the waist. There’s quite a bit of ease and I know the Seamwork shoulders can be a little wide on me, so I looked at the finished measurements and decided to cut a 12 (matching my high bust size) and do a full bust adjustment of 2 inches – one for each side of my bust. My measurements would normally put me into a size 16, just so you know for comparison’s sake. Oh – and the patterns are also drafted for 5’8″ lassies, and I’m a mere 5’6″, so you can see how the length holds up as well.

One aspect of the pattern that attracted me immediately was the lovely deep V-neck. It’s finished with a facing and this one turned out SO well. Facings can be a bit hit or miss for me sometimes. It’s the finishing that’s hard, but now that I’ve somewhat (and I mean, somewhat) embraced handsewing as actually not being that much faff after all, it’s suddenly become a lot easier! I always made a total mess of trying to machine-stitch the thing down, so fixing it with a few handstitches on the inside is definitely the way to go. Fast and simple. So many of the necklines recently have been high at the front, which is not always the ideal shape for large jugs, so it was nice to see something a bit different.

Here’s my FBA in pictorial form if you wish to do something similar, by the way. I’ve done quite a lot of FBAs in my sewing career (I can’t bring myself to say “journey”, like I’m on a trail for Inca Gold or something) and I still find one of the first tutorials I used, one of the best. It’s an oldie, but a goodie, and is the Colette Aster FBA tutorial. Cashmerette do a good one too, but something about the Aster one just clicks with me every time. A tip that is associated with FBAs: don’t lower a bust dart (or raise it for that matter) until after the FBA. As you can see in the picture, doing the adjustment lowered my bust point quite a bit, so you can end up with a realllyyyy low one if you do it first. And nobody wants a bust point lower than absolutely necessary.

Something else that seems to confuse people is that even though an FBA will both increase the vertical height and width of your bodice piece, you don’t need to lengthen your back piece to match. The extra length in the front is what you require to go over your boobs (as there’s more to go over), so it’ll be just fine and dandy as is.

Apart from these kind of adjustments, the Benning is a rather fast sew. I sewed my seams on the sewing machine and finished them with the serger. It’s very easy to adjust the tiers as they are rectangles – so you can add width if you want the skirts to be more gathered and lengthen/shorten them with ease. Oh, and I should probably mention that I left out the pockets. I wouldn’t normally do that, but the fabric is very slightly sheer and the stripe is so strong I thought it might show through. I suppose I could have used a different fabric, but I decided just to omit them. Don’t hate me! Haha. Isn’t that like a cardinal sin of modern sewing or something?

All in all – a solid, fun and quick make from Seamwork. Just what the doctor ordered!

7 thoughts on “New dress: Seamwork Benning in stripes for March

  1. I love that fabric, you’ll get a lot of wear out of this I expect, especially in the summer ☀️ It tried to warm up here but getting cold again!
    You’ll have to make a bag out of your leftovers to appease the ‘pocket-gods’ 😂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Andrew! It’s really one of those fabrics that’s even nicer in real life. It’s so soft and the woven quality is amazing. I did even cut out the pockets, but my gut said “No”. Then my hands said “where are the pockets?” when Tom was snapping the pictures, hah. Oh well. I have to say it was gorggeeouuss here today. I sat outside for several hours with my book watching the kids play. Bliss!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi there! I am about to try sewing this up and I have a very large cup size (high bust 41.5, full bust 49, waist 39)). I have never done a FBA on a sleeve like this (Dolman I believe it’s called?), looked at tutorials online and many cut the sleeve off where they perceive the armscye would be and also I didn’t see a bust marked on the Benning pattern so how did you determine where to put the original one? Thanks for any insight! I would say I am an advanced beginner, have mostly done sewing for my kids and have been scared to sew for my curvy self 🙂
    I love that fabric you used and it looks great on you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Shannon! Thanks so much and yes, you’re right – I should probably have cut the sleeve off first, but I did it a bit of a cheat’s way. I will try that next time though probably! My assumed bust point is basically estimated by extrapolating the lines of the existing bust dart in whichever size you need. The dart should point right at the apex and finish somewhere between 1-2 inches from the actual bust point (usually further away the larger the bust). I don’t know if this is helpful but sometimes with large bust adjustments you can get really large distortion of the armhole. I tend to make my cutting line on the armhole curve further up towards the shoulder, which does help a lot. I’m sure you know this already, but the curvy range is drafted for a DD cup, or a 5 inch difference between high bust and full bust, so I don’t know if using that range as a starting would be helpful for you since it would be a smaller FBA. It would be quite easy to take in the waist for your lower body then? Just an idea 🙂


  3. Thanks so much for showing your FBA on your pattern piece! I was struggling to conceptualize how to do one on a top with a grown-on shoulder


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