Pattern name: Designer Stitch Jenny Dress
According to Designer Stitch, “The Jenny Dress is a gorgeous semi-fitted dress with dart shaping sitting just above the knee. The dress has a flattering extended cap shoulder, a centre back zipper and back hem vent. The Jenny Wrap Dress can be constructed with its fashionable tie front overlay or make the Jenny Classic as a simple silhouette.” Jenny has side bust darts plus fish-eye darts for shaping on the back and front bodices. It uses an all-in-one facing to finish the neck and armscyes.
Designer Stitch is a new-to-me (and relatively new, generally) pattern company. I was delighted both to see that the patterns come in sizes 6-26 and that the designer has many years of experience designing RTW and teaching sewing and pattern making classes. I figured that was promising! I’ve listed Designer Stitch in the CSC’s Plus Size Pattern Companies directory.
There are several interesting patterns in the Designer Stitch line, but the Jenny dress jumped out at me (as did the Georgia top, which I posted on my blog earlier this week). I really liked the versions I saw on the Designer Stitch website, particularly the geometric print version, and, of course, the one worn by the lovely curvy lady. I opted to make the wrap version of the Jenny dress (no, not that kind of wrap dress!), because it’s the hip wrap that drew me to the pattern in the first place. I thought that this type of dress could be really versatile: the plain version could work for the office or cocktail party, but in a tropical print with flat sandals, the wrap version would kill at a summer party. This fitted style of dress isn’t something I make or wear often, but I was curious to experiment a bit and thought that having the wrap bit would make me feel a bit less self-conscious about wearing a form fitting dress.
What size did you make? 16 at the bust graded out to 18 from the bust down
What are your measurements, height, and body type?
Bust: 41.5″ Waist: 35″ Hip 45.5 Height: 5’7.5″ Body type: pearish
What adjustments did you make?
I made a quick quilting cotton muslin of the dress (no wraps, no facings, no zip, no ironing) to get a sense for fit. I was pleasantly surprised as how great the fit was with no adjustments! I figured I would need a swayback adjustment, which is a typical adjustment for me, but it was pretty darn smooth in the back. It helps that there is shaping along the back seam; it’s not just a straight line. I found the fit at the bust, neckline, shoulders to be pretty fabulous, too! Check out my inside-out muslin:
The main issues I detected was that I needed to lengthen the skirt by about 2” and try to work on some of the pulling I was having due to my full tummy. I posted a photo of the muslin on Instagram and Ann from Designer Stitch suggested that I just loosen the darts a bit to give myself more room. I could have done a true full abdomen adjustment (like Michelle explained here and Maria demonstrated here), but since I was going to make the wraps for my final version, I figured they would camouflage it a bit. Plus, I knew that when I was sewing the dress, my tummy was at its maximum monthly bloat level, if you know what I mean. If I were making the classic/plain Jenny dress, though, I think I would put more effort into fixing this issue the right way.
I made those changes, and yet somehow my final version of the dress came out much tighter than the muslin. Maybe because of a lack of mechanical stretch in the fabric (it’s a tightly woven cotton poplin)? I’m not quite sure. But it was uncomfortably tight, particularly in the back, so I ended up loosening the back darts and the side seams a bit through the belly and hips. Sigh. Even then you can still see some pulling…looks like two pigs fighting under a blanket, as Ouiser might say.
What was the construction process like? Did the instructions make sense to you?
The construction process was really quite simple and straightforward. The instructions were good and the order made sense to me. I fell in love the all-in-one facing while making the Jenny dress- such a neat finish!
I appreciate how the hip wrap ties are very tapered so they tie easily and are not bulky. The fact that they are lined is great, too, so the wrong side of your fabric doesn’t show when you tie the knot.
The only thing of note was that the seam allowances are 5/8” at the major seams (shoulders and side seams) and ¼” for “interior” seams (neckline, armholes, and inside the hip wrap), which is fine, but you do have to pay close attention to make sure you’re using the right seam allowance in the right place! Each pattern piece notes the seam allowances and there are reminders in the instructions, too, so it’s not that difficult to remember. Having the narrow seam allowance eliminated the need for lots of trimming and clipping around the curves of the neckline, which is fabulous! Mine lays pretty flat as is!
How do you like the pattern’s fit? Do you think the design works well for your particular body shape?
The style is close fitting, which, as I said, is not typically a style I wear, so I think I am still getting accustomed to the feeling. I love how the front looks- the wrap definitely helps me to feel less self-conscious about the close fit there. However, the back feels a bit too tight still. But the overall shape is great and I think the fitting issues are fairly minor.
Will you make the pattern again? If so, what fit or design changes will you make?
I would make this again, definitely. I love how it looks in the front and I’d like to solve my fit issues in the back. I think fabric choice may have been my downfall here- the poplin I chose is a bit stiff and unforgiving for this type of close-fitting design. I’d like to try the Jenny in a stretch sateen, as Tinker and Stitcher did here; I think it would be really comfortable and allow for movement.
I also think the Jenny could be super cool as a pencil skirt, paired with a t-shirt or tank top. It would be easy to cut it off at the spot where the hip wraps connect and draft a quick waistline facing. Adding that pattern hack to the queue! Maybe with different fabrics for the wrap and the main skirt?
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?
My advice is to follow the size chart closely; there really is not a lot of extra ease built in. Otherwise, the Jenny dress is a pretty straightforward sew.
*Please note: I received the Jenny dress pattern for free, but all my opinions are my own.
Pattern Rating (1-5, with 5 being the highest rating)
Size Range: 4.75 A pretty wide ranges of sizes!
Instructions: 5 The instructions were quite clear and straightforward.
Construction Process: 5 The construction process is straightforward and made sense to me. There were some nice construction and design details that I really appreciated, like the all-in-one facing, lined wraps, small seam allowances for interior seams…
Final Fit: 4.25 I really like the fit in the front of the dress, but have some issues to work out in the back. That said, it’s a new style for me, so to a certain extent the close fit will take some getting used to!
Overall Rating: 4.75 I think the Jenny pattern is great. It went together easily, with clear instructions and helpful attention to detail in the construction, all the notches match up. Plus, it’s a cute style. While I have some minor fit issues, I think they are just that: minor. The general shape and fit are quite nice! I’m curious to try some of the other Designer Stitch patterns!