Hello there! Remember me? Well, I guess it hasn’t been thaaaat long, but I think it must be one of the longest gaps between blog posts since I started this thing 5 or so years ago. It’s not like I haven’t been sewing, but I’ve been doing lots of little bits and pieces: some tests, some quilting (yes, I am truly well down that particular rabbithole) and I also finished up some projects that were sitting languishing: some kids clothes and some home goods. That felt good! Oh yes – and I went to Alaska on vacation, which was very cool!
But today is a great day to post, because Closet Core Patterns, as I’m sure you may have heard, have been busy with lots of exciting things! The team have released this wonderful new Pauline dress pattern, which I tested a few months ago, but also opened a brand new FABRIC store, Core Fabrics. OH YEAH. I mean, who doesn’t love a brilliant new fabric source? I tested their storefront a little and although they were still ramping up stock input, it was immediately clear that they were sourcing fabric after my own heart – eco-friendly from reputable sources. Excellent! I encourage you to go and check Core Fabrics out, but right now I want to fill you in on the Pauline dress and my rather extravagant black summer version in this post.
I loves me a bit of detailing in a pattern and Closet Core always delivers on that front. When I saw the line drawing for the test I was excited to note the unusual waist shaping, the puffed sleeve options and of course the keyhole back, which is just so romantic and was keen to dive in. I made View B, with the puffed sleeve to the elbow and the midi/maxi length. Now, I normally pair up fabric and patterns fairly rapidly – I get an idea quite quickly of what I’m after and I try to shop from my stash. But the Pauline had me flummoxed a little. I didn’t want something too stiff or structured, because I really wanted to avoid the Disney Princess look. I am several decades past pulling that off.
Nevertheless, there’s no denying this is a romantic statement of a design and I went through my fabric collection several times, choosing things, putting them back, trying other things and just could not decide on something. Everything seemed either too girly, or the wrong drape or colour. Then I happened to see some new fabric from one of my favourite small deadstock stores: L’Etoffe Fabrics, based out of San Diego. Ina has such a great eye and always has something interesting arriving in her online shop. This black embroidered crepe was beautiful, there was only one piece of it, and I immediately thought, “Oooohhh, a BLACK summer dress?” Why not? Add a little edge to the romance? In my head I had some sort of Spanish-influenced thing going on, but I think the final reality has more of a Wuthering Heights vibe happening. To top it off, my local park where we walk the doggy even has a vaguely moors-like feel to it at the moment, so it’s perfect! (Heathcliff took the photos and he fulfilled the grumpy partner role wonderfully. Lol.)
Since I made this, I’ve noticed a few other puffy black summer dresses pop up on my feed, so can it be possible that I’m on trend? Stranger things have happened. The embroidery on the crepe is really beautiful and quite thick. Being crepe, it’s not totally opaque (although not bad) and so I decided to make the version of Pauline with the lining. This made me slightly nervous as I haven’t made a ton of lined garments and I haven’t always had the best experience with linings, but this one is explained very well in the instructions and it went without a hitch. I used a lovely swishy Bemberg cupro lining, which is my favourite.
Sizing and fit
I tested my usual 16 for Closet Core, which is pretty much bang on for my measurements at 44-37-46 and a D cup bust, so a 40″ high bust. I think the fit is very true-to-size as per normal for CCP, but as this is a more form-fitting dress than some and features that wide, square neck, as well as both waist pleats and integrated bust darts, I did the unthinkable (although not unregrettable) and made a toile!
PLEASE try and look past the detritus of my spare room, hah. If you do, you’ll see that the muslin was actually a rather nice fit! In fact, if I’d had enough of this cheapy challis, I would have just made the dress in this! As it is, I’m still planning to hem it and use it as a top. The sleeves were… interesting. From this test, I decided to shorten the final sleeves by an inch to make them around “elbow-length” as described. Once I’d made the final version, however, they seemed a little short and actually creep up a bit! I’m not sure how that’s entirely possible, the way they look here, but it’s something to be aware of I suppose – that the final elastic may make more difference than you anticipate.
I also made some changes to the bust and waist area. My apex is a bit lower and a bit further towards the centre of my body than Closet Core drafts the D cup for, so I made some adjustments to that area. The darts are pretty cool since they’re integrated into the strap, which I hadn’t seen before, but the process was much the same and worked well (ignore the fact there are two different adjustments – I redid it and used the red one). As you can see, one further change I made was to lengthen the waist by half an inch as it was sitting a little above my natural waist. I would say this is a very personal adjustment, as I’m quite long in that area, but I’d watch for the apex point if you tend to find a lot of patterns draft them high for you.
The changes worked well for me and I like the final look. It’s quite a hard fabric to photograph and I think it looks a bit tight in some areas, but it’s not in real life. It’s very comfy indeed, although definitely at the fitted end of the scale. It’s described as a midi length, but I would say it’s a little longer than that on me and I’m 5’6″, which is the height Pauline is drafted for, so perhaps that will help you gauge the length for you.
My final fit point is regarding that lovely wide neckline. It takes me right back to the early 90s when I had a rather fetching peach version of that very neckline. One of my favourites! I wasn’t sure if this one was a little too wide and I think I would indeed make it just a smidge narrower next time as my bra is peeking out a little bit. But it’s a very well-proportioned neckline and I have slightly narrow shoulders, so I’m sure most people will find it just fine.
It will come as a surprise to nobody that the instructions are both very detailed and very complete. Like many of Closet Core’s patterns, the Pauline has a few tricky details to get right and they guide you through them very well. The square neckline has some 90 degree angles to negotiate with that cool dart right there in the mix and that’s pretty fun.
Here are a few other notes:
- My bust pleats look a bit poofy in the photos although I’d say more so than in real life. Closet Core have added a note in the instructions about stitching the pleats down if you use a very drapey fabric and I did, so I’ll probably go back and do that now, but something to bear in mind when you’re thinking about fabric.
- The front and back neckline (and armholes for the sleeveless version) are finished with facings, which was a good solution for my fabric. The lining was then added to the facing and was a very straightforward application.
I had a lot of fun traipsing around the park on a windy day in my oh-so-romantic dress. Did I mention it has pockets too? I don’t think I did! Of COURSE it has pockets! Very nice in seam ones too that sit nice and flat on the dress. Honestly, there are so many lovely details to this dress, I’m sure it will be a winner. I also can’t wait to see what the other testers came up with as I’m sure it will look completely different depending on which fabric/version you make. The oneeeee thing I might change on mine (and still might) is the sleeves. They turned out a bit…well… droopy, because of the drape of my crepe fabric. I think this would have been A-OK in the longer sleeve, but I’m just not sure about the length and puff factor as it is. Hmmm. I’ll mull it over.
From what I’ve seen, I think Closet Core are going to have lots of lovely fabrics to pair with this pattern, and I’m definitely planning to check out the store as soon as it’s up. This was a great dress to test and I’m really happy with the end result. Even if my husband did take one look at me and ask “When’s the funeral?”. Cheeky bugger. That’s it from me for now, but I have more coming up soon. Here are some more mean ‘n’ moody photos for your delectation. Bye for now!