I was tremendously delighted to test the new Upton Dress from Cashmerette. It’s a classic fit-and-flare dress for woven fabrics, specifically designed for curvy ladies.
In return for detailed comments during the testing phase, I was provided a copy of the final pattern. All opinions here are my own.
- Cashmerette Upton Dress
- Size range: 12-28, cup sizes C-H
- Price $14 – $18 (PDF or print)
- Copyshop version included with PDF
What size did you make?
I cut a 20 e/f bodice, grading out to a 22 at the waist, and hips. I chose the v-neck front with the high back.
What are your measurements, height, and body type?
What adjustments did you make and how long did they take?
I made a quick muslin of the bodice, since that’s where the fitting matters most. I originally cut a 22 c/d, grading out to a 24 at the waist/hips (which was closer to my measurements) but found it a bit too loose everywhere except for the bust. So I went up a cup size and down a pattern size to the 20 e/f and 22 waist/hips).
Other than grading between sizes, I made only two other alterations.
- First, I sewed a 1-inch seam at the shoulders (since I have a petite upper bust), which eliminated a bit of gaping in the armscye and gave me a better fit through the neckline and center back. This is a standard adjustment for me on almost all patterns.
- I found during my muslin construction that I didn’t need a zipper – I could just pull the dress over my head. I’m not sure what about my body shape allows me to omit zippers, but I find that I can often get away with it. Apple/rectangle shape for the win! (To omit the zipper, I just cut the back bodice, waistband, and skirt pieces on the fold.)
What was the construction process like? Did the instructions make sense to you?
Construction was straightforward and the instructions were excellent. After coming off a string of super-easy knit patters, it was nice to dive into something a little more technical. Deep box pleats, pockets and 16 darts (4 on the front, four on the back, one set for the bodice and one set for the lining) required care and attention as well as a lot of pressing, but not so much that I couldn’t also watch Netflix at the same time.
From beginning to end (including assembling the PDF, making 2 muslin bodices, cutting the good fabric, and sewing it all up), I would estimate that it took me about 8 episodes of Murder She Wrote. (That is my standard time-tracking methodology). For subsequent versions, I expect to spend about 4-5 hours.
In future versions I will alter the order of instructions slightly to take advantage of repetitive tasks and make the process more efficient. For example, I will sew all the darts on a bodice piece while I have it under the machine, then move on to the next piece. Once I have the 4 bodice pieces (2 main, 2 lining) ready, I’ll press everything at once. These are minor changes that make more sense once you’ve tested the fit and feel of the pattern, so nothing I would recommend you change for your first go.
How do you like the pattern’s fit? Do you think the design works well for your particular body shape?
Oh my goodness, I *really* like this dress. Here’s a rundown on fit:
- The bodice fits like a dream – snug but not constricting. The darts were perfectly positioned. While I’m used to doing bust and waist darts, I didn’t have as much experience with shoulder darts (in the back). I’m a convert! I’m also a fan of the way that the neckline is wider than normal, but still easily covers my bra straps. Showing more clavicle helps balance my proportions, and the wide straps help it feel more modest than a more shoulder-baring version would.
- The waistband hits exactly at my natural waist, creating a nice silhouette that makes me appear curvier than I actually am. The waistband also provides a bit of structural support when I’m sitting. (I sometimes find that patterns without a separate waistband tend to creep up over my belly when I’m seated). I don’t know why, but this waistband seems to keep everything in its proper place.
- The skirt is deliciously full and swooshy – I feel like a sexy housewife every time I put it on. I used a quilting cotton from Joann and lined the skirt (the tester version was fully lined, whereas the final version only has a lined bodice) so my dress has a lot of structure and is a little more poufy than most other people’s will be. It hits me right at the bottom of my knees, which is my preferred skirt length. And it has POCKETS. Enough said.
Will you make the pattern again? If so, what fit or design changes will you make?
I already have plans for 6 more Upton dresses:
- An emerald green shantung silk version for a wedding I’m attending later this month. I will make an exact duplicate of the version featured here – no changes.
- A striped green double gauze version, with a v-neck front and back. Because of the stripes, I’ll do a simple gathered skirt on this one.
- A navy blue double gauze version, with a scoop neck and high back. Because I didn’t want to break up the pattern on the fabric, I’ve created a half-circle skirt to attach to the waistband.
- A black rayon version, with a scooped neck, v-back, and gored skirt. I think it will be the perfect little black dress for the summer.
- A denim version, made with a shirt-weight denim I picked up in the LA Fashion District last month. I haven’t decided if I want to make the pleated or the gored skirt option – both seem like good choices!
- A stretch sateen version, with a more fitted skirt that I’m going to frankenpattern. I have a feeling that I can attach the bottom of the Itch to Stitch Sirena Dress to the top of the Upton Dress for a sleek silhouette. A dress with less flounce will be a welcome addition to my business attire wardrobe and if I can make it work, I will sew these up by the dozen.
Do you have any advice on this pattern for other curvy sewers? Are there any resources (blog posts, fitting books, tutorials) that helped you sew this piece up?
A few thoughts for my fellow curvy sewists:
- This dress is a fabric hog – at a minimum, you’re going to want 4 yards of the outer fabric (if you’re making the pleated version, View A – View B requires around 3), plus lining. Since I prefer self-lining in most cases, I’ve started to keep an eye out for sales where 5-8 yards (depending on whether I choose to line the skirt) doesn’t break the bank.
- There is a sew-along posted on the Cashmerette website that walks through each step of the process, with in-depth help and photos. If you are new to sewing, or just prefer a little extra hand-holding, check it out!
Pattern Rating (1-5):
Size Range: 5 (wide size range + cup sizes, yahoo!)
Construction Process: 4.5
Final Fit (1-5): 5
Overall Rating (1-5): 5