Like many of you, I love a quick and easy sewing project, especially if I’ve been consumed with more complicated sewing involving lots of tricky parts and icky fabric (*coughs* my 3-year-old’s Halloween costume). The Blank Slate Denver Tunic and Dress is one of those great palate-cleansing projects that you can whip up in an afternoon and have a cozy, comfortable new tunic or dress to wear the next day. Blank Slate Patterns are part of the Pattern Anthology collective, so note that the Denver Tunic and Dress are currently only available as part of the Pattern Anthology Unbiased Collection until the end of the year, when it and the other patterns in this group will become available individually. The release of this collection kicked off the size range expansion into plus sizes by the pattern designers participating in Pattern Anthology. All Pattern Anthology patterns going forward will be available in sizes up to a 3X (a 53″ bust).
Here’s my super comfortable and cozy Denver tunic!
As someone who has had good luck with Blank Slate patterns, I was eager to try the expanded size range. I actually purchased this pattern bundle back when it was available for about half of the current price and included a bunch of coupon codes to a number of popular online fabric shops.
Disclaimer: While I purchased the pattern with my own money, I did receive the fabric for free as part of a promotion that the Pattern Anthology group is doing for their new fabric line: Idlewild. Idlewild is a collection of color-coordinated cotton-spandex knits and is produced by Riley Blake. I’d already had the Denver in my immediate sewing plans, so when I was offered the chance to try out this fabric, it seemed like a no-brainer to pair the pattern with this particular fabric.
Now that that’s out of the way…onto the pattern review!
Pattern Name: Blank Slate Denver Tunic and Dress
One thing that drew me immediately to this pattern was how many options it included: Cowl or plain neckband, tunic- or dress-length, various sleeve lengths, and an option for a fitted or a fit-and-flare silhouette. I opted to make the fitted long-sleeved tunic with the cowl neckline.
This pattern extends well into the plus size range, going from a 31″ bust through a 53″ bust (71cm-124cm) and a 34″ hip through a 55″ hip (86cm-149cm). The pattern is drafted for a C-cup bust and actually includes high bust measurement as part of the size chart, which is something that I wish more pattern designers would do.
My high bust measurement put me between a 1X and a 2X, and my full bust measurement would have put me in a 3X. I opted to sew a 2X with an FBA, and graded out to a 3X on the back pattern piece from the waist down to accommodate my large backside. I’m 5’2″ tall, for reference.
I made the following adjustments to my pattern:
- Lowered the bust fullness by 1.5″.
- Made a 1.5″ princess seam FBA using the method described in Mary’s tutorial.
- Did a 1″ full bicep adjustment, using the method described in T’s tutorial.
- Raised the sleeve cap by 0.5″ (a typical adjustment that I make for this pattern line).
- Shortened the sleeves by 1″.
Note that by making my FBA, I also needed to adjust the pocket pieces and hem band pattern pieces.
I don’t know the exact percentages of my fabric, but my understanding is that it’s the same as other Riley Blake knits. It’s a cotton jersey with some spandex. My fabric washed up to be SUPER soft, and it’s a pleasure to wear. This fabric is starting to show up in retail shops, and I would love to snap up a few more yards in the other colorways.
Now, if you’re wondering if this fabric would work for a Cashmerette Appleton dress (I’m addressing this question here because I’ve been getting a lot of fabric choice questions), I’d say yes, with some caveats. This fabric does stretch 50%, but as you near 50%, you’ll get some distortion of the print, so you might want to consider sizing up. The hand/weight of the fabric would work well for a wrap dress, but given the nature of cotton knits, you might get some cling in the skirt, especially over tights and leggings. FWIW, in the collection, there’s a colorway with geometric triangles that I think would be great for a wrap dress.
The construction of this tunic was easy-peasy. Since this is a knit pattern where everything is finished with bands (as opposed to hems), you can easily construct the entire garment on a serger, if that’s your preference.
I will admit to only glancing at the instructions (most experienced knit sewists probably won’t need them), but they appeared to have an appropriate amount of detail and clearly photographed images for those who need them. Between sewing for my daughter and myself, I’ve made quite a few Blank Slate patterns and always found the instructions to be quite good.
My one complaint about the construction process (and I’ve found this with a few other Blank Slate patterns) is that these patterns don’t have as many notches as some other lines. The seams all go together nicely, but for some things, like the hem band, having a few notches would have helped line things up more quickly and evenly.
Overall, the pattern fits as expected, based on the size chart and my measurements. I do think that thanks to my expanding waistline, I could also use a smidge more room through the torso, next time, though.
There’s some puckering at one of the princess seams that you can see in a few of my photos. You can chalk that one up to user error and sloppily easing my the two fabric pieces and not wanting to unpick the serged seam. I do like the fit through the bust, so what you’re seeing is a construction and not a fit issue.
Overall, I think that the pattern works okay for my large-busted body shape (and for curvy figures, in general) because of the princess seams. With the cowl neck, it’s probably not the most flattering shape out there for me, but I like it, and I firmly believe that not everything we sew or wear needs to make us look 10 lbs thinner. I also really like the cowl neck, even if a more open neckline would work better with my bust.
Will I sew this again?
I would love to make another one of these, but I will fine-tune the fit in my next version. I had originally planned to make this out of French Terry fabric (before the free fabric offer came along)
Advice to other curvy sewists
Yay! A pattern that most of us won’t need to grade up! On top of that, it’s a quick sew and super cozy and comfortable. Check the location of the actual princess seams; other than that, it fit as expected. Note that you can use the size chart with this one, rather than anticipating excess ease.
Size Range (1-5): 4.5. The size range for this pattern is up there with some of the most size-inclusive indies.
Instructions (1-5): 5. The instructions are clear and should be easy to follow for those who need them.
Construction Process (1-5): 4. One point docked for the lack of notches.
Final Fit (1-5): 4.5. Overall, the fit is as-expected.
Overall Rating (1-5) + Explanation: 4.5 (Average of other scores).