Pattern Testing the Heidi & Finn Cowl Neck Dress

Have you seen the Cowl Neck Dress and Sweater by Heidi & Finn? It is super cute, and oh so trendy.

So I was very excited to be a pattern tester for the newest version of the pattern, which now includes a sweater, a short-sleeved version, and an expanded size range from 12m to 12Y.

Heidi & Finn Cowl Neck Sweater, sewn by The Finished Garment
The kids really like the tops and they are very comfortable.

And is it ever easy to sew! I finished about one project per nap. I love one-nap projects!

In the end, I made this pattern six times: three tops and three dresses, in three different sizes.

Heidi & Finn Cowl Neck Sweater, sewn by The Finished Garment
This is the size 2T.
Heidi & Finn Cowl Neck Sweater, sewn by The Finished Garment
This is the size 5T, in pink.
Heidi & Finn Cowl Neck Sweater, sewn by The Finished Garment
This is size 7Y.

This project calls for knit fabric, and obviously a sweater knit would be ideal, but sadly the choices were limited at my local fabric shops and I had no time to order online.

The smallest kids chose the fabric for the tops (ack! so cute to watch them choose fabrics) – a slinky rayon jersey. In that fabric, the tops have a retro 70s vibe.

The pattern changed slightly during testing, and now has a banded waist, but these tops were made before the change.

Heidi & Finn Cowl Neck Sweater, sewn by The Finished Garment
Such a cutie!
Heidi & Finn Cowl Neck Sweater, sewn by The Finished Garment
This is a rayon jersey and it has quite a bit of drape.
Heidi & Finn Cowl Neck Sweater, sewn by The Finished Garment
In this fabric, the top has a bit of a 70s vibe.
Heidi & Finn Cowl Neck Sweater, sewn by The Finished Garment
The size 5 was a bit large. Next time, I’ll go down a size.
Heidi & Finn Cowl Neck Sweater, sewn by The Finished Garment
The size 7Y is a much better fit.

For the dresses, I chose a ponte de roma that has a bit of a soft, sweater-knit texture. This fabric gave better results than the jersey. It’s a stable knit that is still very stretchy and has great recovery.

Heidi & Finn Cowl Neck Dress,, sewn by The Finished Garment
This is my favourite fabric for this pattern. It’s a ponte de roma, and has just the right amount of structure, without being stiff.

I only made two changes. First, I shortened the sleeves by 1-2″, depending on the fabric and dress size. Second, I attached the cowl neck first, before starting the sleeves. I find it easier to work this way, but it’s just my preference. See a discussion on sewing flat versus in the round, here.

Heidi & Finn Cowl Neck Dress, sewn by The Finished Garment
The dress is a huge hit.
Heidi & Finn Cowl Neck Dress, sewn by The Finished Garment
Especially the bow.
Heidi & Finn Cowl Neck Dress, sewn by The Finished Garment
This fabric is really the perfect weight for the dress.

I didn’t use a serger – I don’t have one. I just used my regular machine, which has a faux overlock stitch and I hemmed everything using a double needle. This worked very well.

Heidi & Finn Cowl Neck Dress, sewn by The Finished Garment
Ack! So grown up.
Heidi & Finn Cowl Neck Dress, sewn by The Finished Garment
I love the look of the dress.
Heidi & Finn Cowl Neck Dress, sewn by The Finished Garment
This dress is perfect for fall weather.

The results were great. These tops and dresses are cute, cute, cute and the kids love wearing them. Yay!

Summary

Pattern Review: Cowl Neck Dress and Sweater by Heidi & Finn, available in sizes 12m-12Y.
Fabric: Rayon jersey for the tops and ponte de roma for the dresses.

  • Dakota stretch rayon jersey knit Hearts in navy, pink and teal (medium-weight knit, 95% Rayon/5% Lycra, 4-way stretch, 25% vertical stretch and 50% stretch across the grain).
  • Ponte de roma in grey, (medium- to heavy-weight knit, 80% Polyester/15% Rayon/5% Lycra, 30% stretch across the grain), magenta, and dark teal – not shown – (medium-weight knit, 50% Polyester/45% Rayon/5% Lycra).

Sizes: 2T, 5T and 7Y.
Cost: Pattern: 0$. Fabric: About $12 per top and about $16 per dress.
Sewing Level: Confident beginner.
Modifications: I shortened the sleeves, by 1-2″, depending on the fabric and dress size.
Results: Great. This was fast, and I love the trendy look.

Disclaimer: The pattern was generously provided by Heidi & Finn, in return for testing the pattern. As always, my opinions are my own.

Heidi & Finn Cowl Neck Dress, sewn by The Finished Garment
Adorable!

Moneta in Stripes

I have recently seen so many gorgeous knit maxi dresses on the web, that I thought it was time I made one too. I was especially impressed by a number of dresses made by some curvier ladies, that looked amazing. So after some mulling over, I decided to use the Moneta dress pattern by Colette Patterns.

The instructions are great, and the pattern is simple and quick. If you’re new to knits, this shouldn’t give you much trouble and there is a Moneta sew along, just starting. It’s also very quick to assemble.

I used a lovely, springy bamboo jersey by Telio that I bought locally. It’s amazing, and I will definitely use it again, in all the colours possible.

Moneta Dress
The dress has pockets, which I really like. It looks short in this photo, but it’s ankle-length. I’ve seen longer, but I like to avoid tripping on my dress.

I sewed the XL, based on my measurements, but it was huge. I ended up taking in the sleeves by two inches and the sides of the bodice by an inch on each side. I could have taken a bit more in the sleeves, and a tiny bit more at the waist. I probably should have cut the medium with a fake FBA (to the size large).

I’ve seen at least one review that recommended using the sleeve in a size smaller than the dress, and I agree, this would be a good idea. I thought the bodice looked short, but with the weight of the skirt, the length was perfect (I’m a bit long waisted too). I extended the skirt by 12 inches, to make a maxi dress, but I didn’t keep the angle, as others have, keeping the same dress width at the bottom.

Moneta Dress
I changed the neckline

The instructions have you gather the skirt using clear elastic. I’ve seen at least one review that noted this was difficult. I had no trouble. But I had to recut the skirt a bit (more on that later), and I was out of clear elastic, so I used lingerie elastic. This is much, much easier as it doesn’t slide around. I added clear elastic to the shoulder seams though, which wasn’t in the instructions.

After taking the dress in, I had two main problems: the first was the neckline. Did it look like the pattern photo and technical diagram? Absolutely! And was it flattering? Absolutely not. It’s just the neckline to show off my bad curves, and hide my good ones. In the end I recut the neckline into more of a scoop neckline and lowered it by 2.5 inches. I could have lowered it more. I also used a band to hem the neckline (like in the Renfrew top by Sewaholic) – tutorial here. My double needle broke, which is why I did this, but I prefer the look, in any case.

Moneta Dress
I changed the way the skirt is cut, so the stripes would be aligned.

My second problem was with the stripes in the skirt. The skirt panels are not rectangles, but curved at the top and bottom. I think this might be to have a prettier hemline with a shorter skirt. However, with stripes, it means that the stripes near the waist will appear to curve down at the sides of the dress. You can see it in the pattern photos on the Colette website, if you look carefully. You would only notice this with stripes. It also means that if your fabric panels are cut the slightest bit off, or if the gathering is uneven, the skirt will appear crooked. In the end, I recut the skirt to be straight on both the top and bottom, because the curved stripes really bothered me.

And in the end? Even with the fitting modifications (and the fit is good), I don’t think the dress is especially flattering – on me. I’ve seen lots of versions of this dress, on a lot of different figures, and they look lovely. On me, though, the gathered shirt emphasizes  exactly where I need to loose a little weight (sigh).  A better silhouette for me would have shorter cap sleeves, or 3/4 sleeves, a lower scoop neckline, and less gathering at the waist, and I think I’ll stick with a solid next time. It is, however, the most comfortable dress I have ever owned. So overall, a great pattern, but not ideal for my figure.

Moneta Dress
Moneta Dress

I’m a bit discouraged, to be honest. I was hoping this would be a great, easy (it is easy!), go-to summer dress. But I think I have to keep looking. I’ve just cut out Vogue 8825 in black , which I think might look better on me. And I’ve bought the Lady Skater by Kitchy Coo, as well. Hopefully I’ll have more luck with one of those. Wish me luck!

This post is part of The Monthly Stitch Indie Pattern Month sew-along.

Summary

Pattern Review: Moneta by Colette Patterns.

Fabric: Striped bamboo jersey by Télio.

Sizes: XL.

Sewing Level: Intermediate.

Cost: Pattern: $14, fabric about $30.

Modifications: I took in the sleeves by 2 inches and the sides of the bodice by 1 inch per side. I lowered the neckline by 2.5 inches and made it a bit more scooped. I used a fabric band on the neckline. I reshaped the skirt so that the stripes would be straight at the top of the skirt and I lengthened the dress by 12 inches. I used lingerie elastic at the waist, and clear elastic at the shoulders.

Results: Great pattern, but not ideal for my figure.

Mini Maxi Skirt

Kid No 1 needed a pirate costume for her school play, and I figured, if I was going to make something, I should make something she could wear all summer. I decided a stripy maxi skirt would be just the thing.

I didn’t use a pattern for this one. I just followed the Girls’ Knit Maxi Skirt Tutorial by Crafting Chicks. It was very simple and straight-forward, and the whole thing took under an hour. The tutorial makes a long, slightly a-line skirt with a yoga waistband.

Mini Maxi Skirt
Mini Maxi Skirt

I sewed this on my regular machine, which has an overlock-style stitch. I didn’t bother to hem it.

Also, no model for this one. Kid No 1 wasn’t in a great mood. Oh well!

I used a bamboo jersey from Telio. It’s really springy and soft, and though this skirt takes under one yard of fabric, I may have, ahem,  purchased four meters. So expect to see more stripes on the blog soon.

Summary

Pattern Review: None. Instead I used the Girls’ Knit Maxi Skirt Tutorial by Crafting Chicks.

Fabric: Bamboo jersey by Telio.

Cost: Under $15.

Sizes: 7.

Sewing Level: Beginner.

Modifications: None.

Results: Excellent! Super easy, super fast, and great, comfy results.

A Wearable Renfrew

One of my goals this year is to try to make more clothes that I will wear – everyday basics that fit into my real world, mum-of-four lifestyle. And while I’d love to say that darling dresses and strappy heels were a huge part of that, t-shirts and jeans are the norm. However, darling dresses do figure in my sewing plans, so stay tuned for that in upcoming blog posts.

I was super excited to get the Renfrew Top by Sewaholic for my birthday. It’s such a versatile pattern. It can be a basic tee, or you can dress it up.

I wanted to test the fit, so started with I a wearable muslin in cotton jersey. I made the neck from view A and the sleeves from view B.

Sewaholic Renfrew as sewn by The Finished Garment
I made the size 16, but I think I need to go down a size, with a cheater FBA.

I made the size 16, based on my measurements. It all depends on how you like your tees to fit, and the stretchiness of your fabric, but I found the 16 to be large. The shoulders are quite loose, and the sides as well. I took in an inch on each side, (leaving the full width just under the arms for curvaceous reasons-ahem) and it’s still not especially fitted. Next time I will definitely go down a size, maybe two, and do a cheater FBA. I’m also considering shortening it a bit. But maybe without the band at the waist, it would be better. We’ll see.

Sewaholic Renfrew as sewn by The Finished Garment
I used a red cotton jersey.

Since this was a wearable muslin, I used simple cotton jersey. It’s soft, casual and comfortable and easy to wear.

Sewaholic Renfrew as sewn by The Finished Garment
I made the scoop neck from view A and the sleeves from view B.

The only change I made, was not to zigzag along the neckband. I did this in the back of the shirt, but I didn’t like the look, so I didn’t continue on the front. It’s a wearable muslin after all, so I think that’s fine. If I were making the cowl neck version, however, I might keep the zigzagging just to stabilize everything, since it wouldn’t show.

Sewaholic Renfrew as sewn by The Finished Garment
I zigzagged along the neck band in the back, but decided I didn’t like the look, so I skipped that step on the front of the shirt.

I don’t have a serger, but my sewing mating has an overlock stitch, similar to what you would find on a serger. Net time I have to remember to trim the seam allowances so that the insides are more neatly finished. The pattern uses 5/8 inch seam allowances, which is fine for sergers and sewing machines when using a narrow zigzag stitch. But my overlock stitch works with 1/4 inch seam allowances.

Sewaholic Renfrew as sewn by The Finished Garment
The shirt is really comfortable, but a bit loose in the shoulders.

Overall, this is a really good pattern. The instructions are very clear and the whole thing comes together in an afternoon. Next time, I’ll try the cowl neck in a different fabric.

Since this is a wearable muslin, (kindly worded) fitting suggestions are welcome!

Summary

Pattern Review: Renfrew Top by Sewaholic Patterns. I made the neck from view A and the sleeves from view B.

Fabric: Red Cotton Jersey (95% Cotton/5% Lycra) with a 50% four-way stretch.

Cost: The pattern was a birthday gift and the fabric was 6$ a yard. Total: about 12$.

Size: 16. But next time I’ll make the size 14? 12? with a cheater full bust adjustment (FBA).

Sewing Level: Average.

Modifications: I didn’t zigzag around the neck band.

Results: Good for a first try. I plan to make this again with the cowl neck.

Shorts for the Win!

shorts on the line - a summer sew along
shorts on the line – a summer sew along

So where have I been, you may be asking? Each I year I co-organize an open source tech conference. It was on June 29-30. It is huge and crazy and getting through the pile of laundry afterwards is an amazing feat. But I am officially back in my usual, crazy, mum-of-four swing of things.

My first job has been to tame the email, and what was awaiting me there? A prize!

Yes, I am one of the official winners of the shorts on the line giveaway. My prize is the Kid Shorts by MADE. It looks really cute and I can’t wait to try it out. And since it fits kids 12 months to size 10, that means I’ll have to make four. Shorts, shorts, shorts! Thanks to Rachel of Imagine Gnats and Carla of Small + Friendly for organizing both the Shorts on the Line contest (which I also entered) and the giveaway. And thanks to Dana of MADE for donating the prize.

Kid Shorts by MADE
Kid Shorts by MADE (used with permission)

And what else did I get to now that life is getting back to normal… the fabric store!

It’s about 40 degrees with the humidex during the day here in Montreal – unbearably hot and humid. I kept seeing all the local mums in these fabulously comfortable jersey maxi dresses. I’ve been having babies for so long now that my (non-maternity) wardrobe is just pitiful, so I figured it was time for some summer sewing for me.

McCall's M 6760 Misses' Dress and Jumpsuit and some spongey bamboo jersey.
McCall’s M 6760 Misses’ Dress and Jumpsuit and some spongey bamboo jersey.

This is some really soft, really spongey bamboo jersey and McCall’s M 6760. The photo makes the fabric look darker than it is. It’s actually a medium grey and medium-weight. Now that I’ve blogged it I will be forced to sew it. No procrastinating allowed!

I know, I know, all the dresses on the pattern envelope are made of georgette or some other airy fabric, but definitely not knit fabric. But there it was on the back of the envelope, “jersey”.

And the bonus is that with jersey, I won’t need to line it or use an invisible zipper. I’m just a bit concerned that the jersey might be a bit heavy and weigh too much on the waistband, but we will soon find out. The waistband is meant to be interfaced, but then it won’t be as comfortable. Hmmm. dilemma, dilemma. I love the fabric, but I could also do a glorified t-shirt maxi dress instead. Maybe a bit dull, in grey though. What would you do? Suggestions welcome.