When Paradise Patterns released the Hallon dress pattern some time ago everyone and the next person in the Sewing Instagram was making it and I fell hard in love with it. But to my disappointment and no surprise the sizing was very limited. So I moved along and tried to forget about it.
Then The Maker Studio started carrying the pattern in the shop and that did surprise me because I know there is a commitment to providing size inclusive patterns so I rushed to check it out and was immensely happy to discover that the pattern has been updated and now has an improved size chart (up to Bust 59”; Waist 50”; Hips 61”) still room for improvement but nonetheless a great starting point.
One of the things I liked out the bat about the pattern was that provides cup sizes that extend the entirety of the size chart. As a fat person with a small bust measurement in relation to her overall size I appreciate the smaller cup size.
To choose the size to make I went directly to the Size Chart and compared it to the Garment Measurement Chart (I find it very useful when pattern companies include an Finished Measurement Chart) to check the intended ease of the garment and make sure I’d feel comfortable.
An easy trick I used when making close fitting dresses is to take my tape measure and hold it around my hips on the measurement that the chart stipulates for the final garment at the size I am considering making. This way you can have an idea of how loose or tight that garment is going to be and I find it specially useful to sit down and check if it’s going to be comfortable even when my body expands. It’s not a perfect method but it works to get a general idea.
I end up going for the sizes recommended for my measurements and made a size 22 at the bust using the B cup option and grading to a 26 at the waist an a 28 at the hips.
The difference between by upper bust and bust is 3 inches making me a sewing C cup but after checking the finished garment measurements for both cup sizes I determined that the B cup was a better option for me. To grade between the sizes I just drew a gentle curve connecting the different sizes at the side seams and I am so happy with the overall fit of the pattern.
I was a bit nervous about cutting into my precious fabric without checking the fit. It was my first time making one of Paradise Patterns and didn’t know how their block was going to fit me so I made a test dress or wearable muslin to assess the pattern.
I loved the dress but this trial help me to determine that even if the super low back was gorgeous it wasn’t going to be very wearable in real life to me so I decided to raise the back 3”, just enough to cover the back of my bra but maintaining the beautiful low back detail.
I was ready to make the dress and as soon as the fabric arrived I couldn’t believe how beautiful it was. I think it would make the perfect transition dress because it’s light and flowy but the colours bring the summer dress pattern into fall.
I pre washed and machine dried the fabric as I always do and didn’t notice any significant shrinkage. Cutting is my least favourite part of sewing and cutting slippery fabric is never easy but the simple shape of this pattern definitely helps. You only have two main pattern pieces and 3 bias straps so is easier to keep things on grain and not moving around.
One thing to keep in mind when sewing with this fabric is that is printed which means that the back of the fabric or wrong size is white. I recommend using a new fine needle because otherwise you can end up with the white threads showing up through the stitched lines. I used a new 80/12 needle and had not issues.
I love the dress and I am truly impressed by the fit. I like that the silhouette is close fitting but not tight and the lower back is dreamy. I’ve been having fun styling the dress for colder days and I am already planning another one in a winter fabric (maybe a wool suiting?) to keep enjoying it all year round.