Instagram Handle: @diddlysquash_
Pattern Name and Designer: HoneyBourne Dress from “Ahead of the Curve” by Jenny Rushmore for Cashmerette
Size Made: 26 E/F cup graded to 28 at the hip
Materials used: 4 yards of Organic Cotton/hemp stripe in black, 22” invisible zipper in medium grey
Modifications (Please share why you had to make the modifications): lengthened bodice, narrow back adjustment
Something I’ve heard a lot as a sewist is “This is why we sew!” The phrase is usually in response to some gripe about the way clothing fits our bodies, and how it can be so impossible to find clothing that fits the way you want it to. And it’s true! Sewing offers us the chance to do things the way we want them done, to take control of our wardrobes, and have great fitting garments. But as a tall, large chested, plus sized woman, even sewing can be a battle ground. Patterns just aren’t drafted for my height, and only recently have they really begun to be drafted for my size. And many times I’d go to make something in “my size” and still be frustrated with the way it fit, only to fall into an unproductive google spiral of trying to find how to fix the issues. So suffice to say, I was so excited when I saw Cashmerette was making a book on fitting for curvy bodies!
If you aren’t already familiar with Cashmerette, they are wonderful in that they draft all of their patterns for a wide range of bust sizes, C-H, and their patterns go up to a size 32, easily the most accommodating pattern company I know of in that regard. Their patterns are lovely and range from basics to formal wear, from beginner to advanced in difficulty (another rarity in plus sized sewing- it’s not all just beginner patterns!). I trust Jenny Rushmore, the founder of Cashmerette and Author of “Ahead of the Curve” to know what she’s talking about when it comes to fitting for curves. And oh boy, did she deliver with this book. It’s exactly what I’ve been waiting for.
As soon as I saw the patterns that would be included with the “Ahead of the Curve (5 brand new ones! ) I knew I wanted to put the book to the test and make the Honeybourne dress. It’s a wardrobe staple I’ve longed for- fitted bodice, elbow length sleeves, lovely full skirt- that seems so simple but I’ve had a very hard time finding for myself. There are similar patterns available, sure, but they tend to be more boxy or loose. The Honeybourne has six darts- two bust darts and four waist darts. Perfect opportunity to learn some new fitting skills.
I started with a muslin, of course. The whole point of the book is to get patterns to fit, after all! Based on my measurements and the advice of the book, I started with a 26 E/F bodice and graded to a 28 at the waist, just because my seated waist suggested that this would be more comfortable. Already I’ve learned something new, I’d never considered taking a seated waist and hip measurement before! I also did my usual lengthening of 1.5” to the bodice. This flattered my front nicely, but the bodice had an issue I’m all too familiar with- waaaaay too much fabric at the upper back, especially at the armscyes, which were jutting out from my body. I’d never been able to find much help for this issue before, usually I’d end up doing a shoulder adjustment that would only kind of improve matters. But here in “Ahead of the Curve” I finally found an answer! With clear, straight to the point before and after photos, as well as fully illustrated instructions, I learned I needed a narrow back adjustment! I made the adjustment in my muslin, removing excess fabric across the shoulders and back without altering the armscye or waist, and transferred that to my fashion fabric, and the final result was a much more flattering and better fitting garment, all thanks to an adjustment I’d honestly never heard of before. This was so invaluable to me as a self-taught sewist, I can tell that this is going to be a jewel in my sewing tool box for years to come.
As for the garment itself, I am in love with this dress. It is so comfortable, and I can easily see myself wearing it in a million different ways. The organic Cotton and hemp blend fabric is delightfully soft and very lightweight, making for a great and easy layering piece in the colder months and a comfortably breezy standalone piece in the summer. The fitted bodice pairs so well with sweaters and jackets, I know I’ll be able to dress it up or down for any occasion this winter. I’m already dreaming of cardigans I can knit up to pair with it, but for now I think it will look nice paired with a classic denim jacket.