*contains affiliate links* Today the Designer Stitch Kristen Dress is launching, and I get to share my own Kristen Dress. I was part of the pattern testers for this pattern which was a new experience for me.
Designer Stitch Kristen Dress
Before I get into the details of testing the dress, let’s talk about the dress itself. The Kristen Dress features a flared skirt and princess seamed front bodice for a great fit. There’s inverted pleats on the skirt that makes for a skirt that drapes beautifully. The feminine design is accentuated by ruffles at center front, the neckline and armholes on the sleeveless version. The sleeved version has flared flutter sleeves for that oh, so floaty look.
Among the testers, the sleeveless version was quite popular, so I went for the shorter length sleeves.
The fabric I used for my version is the turquoise and white floral rayon that I found at Fabric Outlet if you remember from my San Francisco Haul video. I really bought it with some wrap pants in mind, but it was the best choice among my options in my stash. I might just call Cali Fabrics and buy some more. The drape of this fabric is just beautiful, and it’s heavier than a standard rayon challis and less wrinkle-prone. Pretty much, it’s beautiful to work with.
Like with my Designer Stitch Charlie Dress, I found the fit of the princess seams really good straight off the printer. Actually as a whole, the tester group really liked the fit of the princess seams. Muslin after muslin revealed cup sizes that fit everyone remarkably well!
For me though, I started to notice with my Fringed Charlie Dress that the shoulders are just a hair too wide. On that dress it gapes just a bit at CB. For some reason on my frame when shoulders are too wide, that’s where the excess likes to hang out.
To remedy the wide shoulder, I graded down a size (I cut a size 1, so I graded down to what would be a 0) in just the shoulders and neck. I transitioned back to a size 1 at the base of the armscye. Doing this, I had to of course change the facings and the sleeve as well. This is something that I have to do on virtually all patterns. I have a narrow frame and I fall outside of the fitting range in my shoulders in all but a couple pattern companies. The nice thing about Designer Stitch is that Ann uses the same block for her patterns, so once you’ve fit one, you can easily apply the fitting changes to the rest.
I also shortened the bodice by 1/2″ and the skirt hem by 2.5″. The final length now hits me in my knee range. If I make this again, I might shorten the hem a bit more. You do lose a bit of the flare when you shorten the hem, but the vertical proportions are better on my 5’2.5″ frame.
Those ruffles tho!
One of the things that drew me to wanting to test this pattern are the ruffles. I’m a fan of all things girly, and ruffles are kind of having their thing right now. Check out this Kate Spade dress with similar details:
I like that these ruffles are relatively narrow. You still get that ruffle texture, but the volume is not overwhelming as it can be on a lot of styles that employ ruffles. On my particular fabric, the ruffles were rather time consuming. This rayon is heavier than other rayon challis I’ve used yet it still had that slippy quality that rayon has.
At first I tried running a zigzag over dental floss. Usually, this is my favorite method for gathering ruffles, but the ends of the rayon kept slipping and would not hold the ends of the gathering. I got nice even gathers in the middle with sad ungathered ends. What ended up working was running one row of basting down the center of each ruffle. Then I marked the center of each with a pin and carefully pulled on the bobbin threads, always moving the gathers towards the center. It was slow work, but it was accurate and made for even gathering.
It’s been a LONG time since I did a pattern test. Pregnancy and having a new baby really makes pattern testing difficult. As such, the last pattern I tested was the Denver Tunic for Blank Slate. I’ve been wanting to join up in Designer Stitch’s group for a while, so I applied when this pattern went out for calls. The testers for Designer Stitch are a really talented crew who always manage to find THE prettiest fabrics to showcase Ann’s designs. Here’s what I learned about pattern testing and I think my own habits in the process:
- Time differences are for real: With Ann in Australia along with a lot of the testers, a lot of the activity in the Facebook group was happening far ahead of what was going on here for me in US Mountain Time. The good part of that is that I got my pattern earlier. The bad part is that I sometimes had to wait for questions to be answered because team Australia was sleeping when I was working LOL and vice versa! It’s a small thing that ultimately would not be a dealbreaker in considering doing a pattern test, but it is something to remember.
- Pressure makes me work really fast: We had a week to print out, make a muslin, fit, and make up and photograph the final dress. I am not a last minute person, so I printed and did my muslin in about 2 hours. The final dress took me I think 5 hours. I suspect it would’ve been a little quicker if my fabric was a little better behaved on the ruffle front. All total, I finished everything over 3 days. This gave me plenty of time to write and put together a video review and twirling session.
- I think I’ll always be picky about pattern testing: There’s a lot of pattern testing calls that go out on indie designers’ websites and through Sewing Portfolios. In truth, I often let them go by. So much of what I value in my own sewing is the creative expression. I love looking at a pattern and using it as a jumping off point. In pattern testing, the designers really need you to make what’s printed so that they can refine their product and have a consistent look for marketing. Hacking a pattern or adding details is something that needs to occur after a pattern test is over. If a pattern really impresses me, or if it’s a designer I really respect, I’ll go for it. On the other hand, if it’s a pattern that I know I’ll want to change, then I’ll take a pass on testing and then buy the pattern later.
Quick top for baby girl
I did have enough fabric leftover to make one of the Ottobre frill tops for my daughter. We went out to coffee with my Mom a couple of weeks ago matching and charmed the whole cafe. Of the three tops I made for her from this pattern, this one is my favorite. This fabric is SO pretty and it’s highly wrinkle resistant which makes for a great kid fabric.
Kristen Dress pattern review vlog–an excuse to twirl!
Here’s my video review of the dress. I love how easy it is to capture the movement of a dress in video vs. pictures! You can see how well the rayon swishes!