New test: The Pierce Vest and Dress from Ensemble Patterns

I signed up to test for Ensemble Patterns a long time ago and had completely forgotten about it, so it was a total surprise when I saw the call for testers for a new knit top with a difference. Celina from Ensemble had taken a little time off and was back with one of her patterns, which I was only too happy to do. I’m a fan of her work: I’ve made both the Perkins shirt, which I adore, and the Robinson trousers, which I wear all the time. She has great personal style, an edgy quality to her designs and I can always expect something a little bit different and on trend from her.

And here it is: the Pierce Vest pattern. The name slightly sells the pattern short, as the Pierce Vest comes in numerous lengths and can be sewn as a vest, a tee, a tunic and a full-length dress. As you can see, my final version was the dress and I love it! I made it from a beautiful thick knit jacquard that I got from Jumping June a while ago. It’s by Albstoffe and such nice spongey quality. I like it for this dress because it doesn’t cling, but skims, which is what I was after. You can use a variety of knits for this dress, although if your fabric has in excess of 40% stretch, you’re advised to size down.

The most distinctive feature of the pattern is undoubtedly that generous, lush V-neck. It’s very eye-catching and looks equally nice worn as is or with a vest underneath in a more casual outfit. The instructions for applying it are thorough and result in a nice finish both sides of the garment.

The shoulders are also fairly wide for more shaping and you can add shoulder pads if you like to be absolutely on-trend with the current 80s shoulder pad thang that’s happening. I tested both versions and actually rather like the shoulder pad look, but in these pics I am without, and realistically, that’s probably what will come in more useful for my needs. There’s a handy shoulder pad pattern included, should you desire to Dynasty it up.

For my test version, I sewed up the crop top and you can see it here. It’s changed a bit since here to the final pattern (V and armholes shortened, plus I narrowed the shoulders a lot), but you can see that it looks quite different at the opposite end of the variation spectrum. I use this as a funky little workout top and it’s great! On occasion I even feel a bit Flashdance-y. What a FEELING. Uh. (eyeshadow to match).

Other details include a slit hem, hi-lo hem options and an optional waistband on the cropped version (I didn’t use it). The armholes are finished with simple deep armbands and, overall, as you would imagine, this is a pretty quick sew. I used the serger for most of it, but the V neck is made using the machine.

The pattern comes in sizes 0-22, or a 32-48″ bust. I tested the 18, which is the crop top, but for the final dress version, I made a 14 and graded out to the 18 at the waist and hips. This is in line with how I would normally approach a pattern, except that I didn’t add an FBA, because of the the ease and stretchiness of the knit.

And there we are! I can tell this will be a dress I’ll pull out of the wardrobe on a regular basis and I can totally imagine wearing it in colder months layered over a polo neck or similar. Another nice thing about Pierce is how versatile it is. I recommend going over to the sample page at Ensemble to see how it looks on different people. Varying the fabric also gives it such a range of looks. I enjoyed testing this one – the design evolved quite a bit and it was fascinating to be part of the process.

I’ll be back soon with my next summer dress project. I’m looking forward to finishing this one up! Bye for now!

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