Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Finished Project: Testing The Acton Dress

Hi friends!

Today I'm here to share my tester version of the Acton dress from in the folds. Does she ever sew anything other than pattern testing?! YES! I hope to share my backlog of sewn projects soon -- there have been some glimpses on Insagram.

This was actually my second pattern testing experience, but the schedule included a break between our testing submissions and the formal release of the final pattern -- which seems rather reasonable when you think about the (supposed) purpose of pattern testing in the SBC. I wrote this post up back when everything was fresh in my mind from the experience, then returned to it and added in a few afterthoughts when the pattern was officially released. To see my thoughts on pattern testing in general, visit my earlier post, here.

For the test of the Acton dress, Emily was especially nice to work with because it was clear how much thought and care she'd put into her pattern, and also into the experience designed for her testers as we went through the process. She was friendly and communicative via email, and it was clear that she was truly grateful for and excited to have our help, respected us and our time, and she even created a private facebook group for us to share questions and ideas with her and each other. She was easygoing, and it did not feel like a process only intended to benefit her as the designer. All that, and, I also did not feel like she was 'sucking up' to us as her potential customers-turned-testers.

Regarding the pattern itself, the Acton dress pattern came as a layered PDF, so I was able to select only the size I wanted to print, which made for easier cutting when it came time to cut the pieces out. The princess-seamed bodice is the most fitted part, and ends a bit above the natural waist, so I went with my bust measurement to pick a size. All pages and pattern pieces were clearly labeled and easy to use, with markings matching up as they should, and the dress came together fairly quickly. This was not really a surprise, if you look at the pattern-making tutorials Emily has shared on her blog you can tell she knows what she's doing!

The fabric I used is a floral rayon challis I'd bought at JoAnn's a couple of years ago. Sometimes you can luck out there with surprisingly cute rayon, sometimes. This one seemed rather RTW to me, in a trendy Juniors Department way, hah! The bodice lining is an even lighter weight, sheer-ish, bright red rayon, also from JoAnn's, which you can see kind of trying to peek out in the back view below. I made View A in a Size E and skipped the in-seam pockets.  The only other adjustment I made was to take in the bodice side seams about a quarter of an inch each.

As a tester, I provided some feedback to Emily during the testing period, but it was only related to the instructions. The pattern itself was already in a great place and I didn't find I needed to suggest any changes to it. It turns out the only major change she's made since us testers got our hands on the pattern was to change the style of the visuals in the instructions from photos to illustrations (which I find are often more helpful, and able to provide more detail than an actual photo, so, yay!).

I had a fun time sewing the dress and I like that the style lines create something a little different than my usual vintage/midcentury-leaning look.

My favorite elements of making this dress were, oddly, the skinny straps and then inserting the invisible zipper (a must for this lightweight, flowy fabric). Past Sue would probably spit out her La Croix on the computer screen in shock reading that, but I found these normally pesky parts of the construction process to be quite satisfying (even though they did not go perfectly)! I recently got an invisible zipper foot for my sewing machine and it was really a game changer. That, and adding a thin strip of interfacing where I'd be inserting the zip, plus, first basting the zip in place (as Emily's instructions suggested) really made for a smoother process than the last invisible zipper I sewed (um, 3 years ago! can you tell I've been avoiding them?).

By that, I mean it was smoother until I realized I'd gotten a little overzealous with my zip stitching, and had accidentally stitched through the zipper teeth in a few places. Luckily, I just had to rip out those stitches (with my tiniest seam ripper and some tweezers) and sew back over the areas, carefully avoiding the teeth while staying as close to them as I could, rather than replacing the entire zipper (I'd initially thought I'd melted it with the iron when I couldn't zip it all the way up). Phew!

For next time, I might skip taking in the bodice seams and leave them alone, for a more relaxed fit, and also make the straps just sliiiightly longer. The straps come with extra length so it's entirely up to you how long you make them for your dress. You could probably even get really crazy and extend them several inches so you can criss-cross them, or even tie 'em into a halter.

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I'm still (over almost 5 years later!) working on the whole posing for blog photos thing. Props (that I don't have to hold/actively do anything to), like trees and railings, help but sometimes there's just no hiding the poorly-timed awkward moves I find myself in. #dork


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