Curvy Review: Cashmerette Lenox Shirtdress

June 16, 2017   /   byknitmo  / Categories :  Feeds

It’s fair to say shirtdresses are popular in the CSC, here is a review of the newest shirtdress offering available to curvy sewers – the Cashmerette Lenox Shirtdress. And, in my opinion, worth consideration to add it to your stash of patterns.

Size range: 
Sizes 12 to 28, in three different cup sizes (C/D, E/F, and G/H) and covers bust measurements from 40 to 58 inches, waist measurements from 32-48 inches, and hip measurements from 42-58 inches.

What size did you make?
Size 18 G/H, view B with the full collar
What are your measurements, height, and body type?
Upper Bust: 39 inches
Full Bust: 46 inches
Bra: 36H
Waist: 37-ish inches (depends on time of the month)
Hips: 45 inches
Height: 5’3”
Body type: Full hour glass

What adjustments did you make and how long did they take?
None. I cut a straight size 18 G/H. I have made enough Cashmerette Patterns to know I can make an 18 and it works. This is the first time I didn’t trace off the original pdf pattern, I was that confident of the fit.

What fabric did you use?
About four yards of Robert Kaufman Essex Yarn Dyed Linen/Cotton blend. I was able to get everything cut out using a single layer

What was the construction process like? Did the instructions make sense to you?
I am usually quite hesitant of princess seamed garments because I have traumatic memories of wearing ill-fitting dresses in high school during the 1990s. I put faith in Jenny when I made my first Harrison Shirt and it turned out. I was not disappointed, but the apex could use a bit of a press.

I love shirtdresses and this one marks the fourth one in my wardrobe. I bought this immediately because the princess seams, open collar and non-poofy back made it different enough from favorite shirtdress, McCalls 6696.

I have to tell you, last couple weeks have been terrible for allergies here in northwest Iowa and I’ve been in an antihistamine fog. Many of the issues I mention here are clearly due to pollen’s negative affect on my cognitive ability.

This was a fairly straightforward pattern to sew if you’ve done a few shirts/shirtdresses.
Any other princess seamed bodice I’ve made has involved an impressive FBA (I’m looking at you, Elisalex dress), which resulted in a complicated curve to fit/ease into the center front. Not this one. Just remember the pieces need to lay flat at the seamline, not the edge of the fabric. This Size 18 G/H bodice didn’t require clipping of curves before or after sewing to be pressed completely flat.

I was pleased to see that Cashmerette Patterns used the “burrito” method for attaching the yoke. I also like the method of sewing the collar band on to the bodice, basting the finished collar in and then sewing the collar band facing into the bodice.
There were a few things that tripped me up and forced me to leave the sewing room and mull over how to handle it – which extended the time to completion. Overall this dress took about eight episodes of Star Trek the Next Generation to sew once it was cut out.

The biggest issue I ran into was the back waist band wasn’t long enough to handle the back bodice. I ended up splicing in a 1 ½ inch piece of fabric in the center back to make it fit. On the waistband facing I sewed the extra fabric on the ends. It’s structurally sound, and that’s what matters on the inside. I haven’t had a chance to look at the pattern to see if I cut the wrong size in the back waistband, or if I attempted to install it upside down. I know it’s shaped to better fit my body. In an allergy induced haze, I couldn’t figure out whether I wanted the wider part of the waist piece on the bodice or the skirt, and I think I did a haphazard job of cutting notches (see aforementioned allergies). I’ve run into this problem with my many Upton Dresses I’ve sewn (I’m a little slap-dash with notches). I will mark which side is bodice side on the waistband to help me keep it straight in the future.

Allergies also complicated the installation of the button bands. It took me far longer than I’d like to admit that I needed to match up the concave and convex curves on the button bands and dress front. During a Benadryl induced nap, I was able to puzzle out how to match up that curve on the neckline – and it worked a treat. Except, one set of the button bands didn’t reach down to the bottom of the unfinished hem of the dress. This is clearly a cutting problem on my part as all four should have been the same.

I puzzled how to get myself out of this. In the McCalls 6696 you finish off the raw side of the button band and then flip it around to have a finished edge that matches up to your already hemmed dress. I didn’t do it this way and I ended up with a bulky finish at the bottom of the button band. Next time I’ll flip around the order of operations to finish the edges of the button band independently from the hem for a smoother finish.

The instructions are clear, straightforward and if you feel lost there are lots of resources available to help figure it out, including the Cashmerette Lenox Shirtdress Sew Along.

How do you like the pattern’s fit? Do you think the design works well for your particular body shape?

I love this dress. I am a firm believer in all well-fitting clothes are like secret pajamas. This dress is no different. I did try this on mid-construction and was hesitant that it wasn’t going to fit but once the button bands were on, I tried again and it was perfect.

I personally feel as though shirt dresses work very well with my body style. I like clothes that demonstrate I have a waist (without pinching me in half). This dress perfectly defines my waist. I also like how it doesn’t feel as if the waist line isn’t right up under my bust, like other patterns sometimes do. I have always loved this style of dress and am grateful that it is fashionable because it is easier to find patterns.

Also note this dress not only works, it is functional. The pockets securely hold an iPhone 7+.

Will you make the pattern again? If so, what fit or design changes will you make?
Yes I will definitely make this again. I have some chambray fabric that I purchased for a McCalls 6696 that will likely become a Lenox instead. After seeing the cover art, I need a large floral version, as well.

Next time I will take a small wedge, about .75 inches out of the back, below the shoulder blade tapering to nothing at the side seams. Cashmerette patterns have a built in swayback adjustment so this is a lot smaller than what is required on Big 4 patterns.

A future version is likely to have box pleats at the princess lines.

I will likely sew a hook and eye into the waist band of this dress as it gapes a bit here. Button placement to at my apex didn’t line up neatly on the waist band and I’d like it to be more smooth.

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?

The pattern instructions mention stay stitching the angled fronts of the dress. I would recommend doing that right after cutting. I would also consider doing the necklines at that time, too, because by the time I got to the stay stitching instruction I had some stretching. I ended up with some bunching under the collar to get it to fit.

When it comes to sewing buttons on the bands – measure your first button placement off the apex of your bust and then follow the spacing recommended by the button spacing.

If you are confused by diagrams and description of doing the burrito method of the yoke construction check out Grainline Studio’s video demonstration of the burrito method for the yoke. It can be found here:

I followed many of the shirt making tips from David Page Coffin’s book “Shirtmaking: Developing Skills for Fine Sewing“.

Specifically I:
• Used a washable school glue stick to baste the collar stand facing into place before topstitching.
• Traced the curve of the collar stand stitching line onto the fabric so I could make sure my collar stands matched on both sides when I sewed them together

Size Range (1-5) It’s pretty inclusive so I’m going to give it a 5. The bust alone spans 18 inches and three different cup sizes. The hip in the dress is open, but the pattern envelope covers a 16-inch range.

Instructions (1-5) I’m going to give this a 4. The instructions were fairly clear, especially you have some experience in shirt making. But a confident beginner with google-fu skills and patience can tackle this.

Construction Process (1-5) I’m giving this a 4 because some of the seams are a little bulky – especially at the side seams and bottoms of the button bands. But, the yoke and collar construction methods are perfect.

Final Fit (1-5) This is a 5. This dress is straight out of the envelope/printer with no modifications. No alterations are necessary to make this pattern fit me well; compared to about seven standard alterations to flat patterns before I can even get to the muslin-making stage of garment sewing with other companies. This dress is clearly designed for a plus sized hour-glass and in my case, some apple tendencies post childbirth.

Overall Rating (1-5)  The Lenox Shirtdress by Cashmerette Patterns is a 5. Lenox is different from other shirtdresses available because the princess seams, more open neck line and the version with just a collar stand; it still has the things I love about the shirt dress – separate bands for the collar, waist and buttons. The expansive size range and consideration of curvy body types (hello built in FBA and sway-back adjustment!) is something to be celebrated.

If you’re curvy, and like the look of shirtdresses, definitely take a serious look at the Lenox.

This is a syndicated post. Please visit the original author at Curvy Sewing Collective

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Ida Clutch Bag

I have something a bit different to show you today, which is this little clutch bag that I made for my sister, who absolutely loves it.  I first spotted it on Instagram when Kirsten from Fifty Two Fancies made it, and instantly though that my sister would like it.


The pattern is called the Ida Clutch Bag, and is a free pattern from Kylie And The Machine.
One of the bags on the introduction page is leather, as is Kirsten’s, and I really loved them, so decided to give it a go myself.  

Much googling finally brought me to Leather4Craft on ebay, where I bought some veg-tan goat skin leather for £22.00.  It came as a rectangle of leather, which I stupidly forgot to measure, and is lovely and soft.  There was more than enough for this little bag.
More googling was done on cutting and sewing leather.  I used my rotary cutter to cut it out, and pattern weights to hold the pattern piece down.  I say pattern weights, it was really my phone and some masking tape…

You can maybe, sort of, judge the size of the leather from this photo.  There was enough leather to the top to cut out another pattern piece, and there was a bit left over that is probably about half as wide as the bit that my rotary cutter is sitting on.
Sewing the leather turned out to be a lot easier than I thought, but leather needles are a must.  I practised a dart on some scrap leather first, and my machine handled it beautifully.  Sewing leather is a bit of a one shot deal, you don’t want to be unpicking, and my walking foot was great.

I marked the point of the dart with a pin, which left a little hole in the leather, then clipped the dart ends within the seam allowance.
I marked the dart legs with a pencil on the wrong side of the leather.
I obviously couldn’t use pins on the leather, as they would leave little holes, so I used a mini clothes pegs to hold everything together.  Quilting clips would be great, but I don’t have any.
 This is what the darts look like from the wrong side,
And this is the right side.
The instruction page on the interfacing mentions that the sample leather bag is interfaced (I think it’s in the comments), but I was a bit too scared to try that!  So I just interfaced the lining.  I used a medium weight interfacing for the whole bag lining (Piece B), and then a woven interfacing on top for Piece C.

I added an inside pocket, and made it as big as I could without interfering with the darts.  It’s big enough for a phone.

Next came inserting the zip, and the instructions for it are brilliant.  I didn’t take any photos of it, but here’s what it looked like when it was finished. 
The pin in the photo above is marking the tailor’s tack for the snap placement, which leads me on to attaching the snaps.  I wasn’t looking forward to this, because I was afraid of ruining the leather.  But some more googling showed me how to do it.  
Everything I read called for interfacing, but, as already mentioned, I didn’t want to interface the leather.  So I didn’t use any, and it’s grand.  Here’s what I did.
First of all, I practised on a leather scrap!  The snaps have two prongs on the back that are secured with a little washer.   

I stuck a pin through the lining and leather where the tailor’s tack was (the tack was just in the lining), to mark the snap position on the leather.  Then I used the washer as a template, and marked the position of the prongs with a pen (making sure it wouldn’t bleed through to the front!).


Admire that lovely top stitching!


Then I snipped into the leather using some embroidery scissors.

The prongs on the snap go through the holes from the front, then it is held in place with the washer.  I just put it through the leather, so the snap is not visible on the inside of the bag.

Here’s what it looks like from the right side.

I did the same with the other snap, and here’s what it looks like when it’s closed.

As suggested in the instructions, I sewed the edges of the bag with a zipper foot.  It was tricky to get over the closed end of the zip, and I ended up just turning the hand wheel.

I’m delighted with how this little bag turned out, and leather definitely isn’t as tricky to sew as I thought.

Now I sort of want to make a leather purse…  Have a great weekend,
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New Look 6500 shift dress: a simple pattern that I couldn’t leave unmodified

How much adjustment do you do on a very simple pattern? Do you feel it’s worthwhile to make very small changes to get it just right or perhaps you sew up simple things as is and save your efforts for a special dress or coat.
This simple dress pattern is something that I choose as one of the suggestions for my Sew a Dress class at Hello Stitch in Berkeley. (scheduled again for Sun. July 30 – the first one was great fun. More details at the bottom of this post on all the upcoming classes). As it happens Craftsy asked me to write a longer post outlining all the steps to sew a simple dress, consequently I decided to sew up this pattern and get a lot of things done with one project. Plus I’ve been on a shift dress kick lately. They are such simple and pleasant things to wear. Since it was 107˚F in the SHADE here yesterday I would rather have worn a dress made of ice cubes but since that is not going to happen a shift dress it is.

batik shift dress

I have had this fabric in my stash for a good 5 or 6 years. It’s a cotton batik that I bought in Hawaii, quite a large amount (5 yards) and just never found a use for it. Slightly heavy as a lot of batiks are, so not really good for most dresses plus the vertical stripe had me stumped. I think I found the perfect style for it that uses the stripe best. Plus I can wear my stripes navy blue espadrille sandals – double win.
Here’s the pattern envelope, with a sneak peek of a subsequent version of this dress. Which everyone has gone wild for on my Instagram teases, embroidered denim must be the thing this summer. The envelope says D0569 but all the pattern pieces say New Look 6500 so I’m calling it that. I really like New Look patterns, they come up with some super cute dresses and tops, plus they include all sizes in one envelope and cost $ 3.99 all the time.

New Look Shift dress pattern

batik dr front view

Onward to my adjustments: I sewed this dress for the Craftsy post, not as a wearable but as a “photograph-able” item, i.e. something that would really show in the step-by-step tutorial but I had no intention of wearing it. It was actually quite a pleasure to just sew up a dress with no changes, I sewed the size 12 and went from there.
Here is the version I sewed for Craftsy, in a quilting cotton that I had in my stash, I think a remainder from a project I did for someone on Etsy ages ago. And I really loathe this color of green so don’t even tell me that you like this dress on me 🙂 Plus for the most part sewing/wearing garments with quilting cotton is a bit NO for me. With some exceptions they always look a bit off: too wrinkly, too juvenile, too unsophisticated to claim my interest.

green shift dress

green shift dress3

But I include the photo of me wearing this one to show the neckline fit. That neckline was choking me – I don’t like that high round neckline and when you move your head forward it’s so uncomfortable. Good shoe match thought, right?

Back to the blue and white batik version. Can you see the difference in the neckline? It is so much more comfortable for me in the second version. I wanted to figure out exactly how much to open the neck so I made a version of just the top half of the dress in swedish tracing paper – and every time I use that I remember that is has absolutely no give. While it seems like a good idea because you can sew it – putting it on is not so easy. I did put a zipper so I could actually try it on – which worked in the end but it was kind of shredded. However it was good enough to slice and dice a bit, figuring out how I wanted the final neckline to be shaped.

neckline comparison

I cut out the batik version based on my new neckline, and basted it together at the shoulder seams to see if I liked the neckline. It still seemed a bit too high for my preference and also I like the armholes to be more cut in at the shoulder in a sleeveless dress. So instead of cutting more off the edges of the dress I made a one piece facing for front and back, and then used tracing paper to mark a seam line. At the neck I took away a further 5/8″ (total seam allowance now 1.25″) and then on the armholes I think I sewed it at around 7/8″ which makes the armhole a bit bigger all around. You have to be careful that it doesn’t make the armhole too low but this dress had a very tight armhole so there was plenty of room.

batik dress facing new seam

On my next version of this dress (the embroidered chambray fabric)  I’ll show how I make the one piece facing plus this upcoming version is lined so it incorporates facing and lining together.

The original New Look pattern had separate neck and armhole facings which works ok, not my preference but not as horrible as some make it out to be. But there’s a better way. Another option for these simple summer dresses is bias binding but I wanted to show the traditional or basic type of dress sewing.

But we are not done yet! In fact this adjustment should have come up first in my writing but I only remembered to take this picture a few minutes and include it. The bust dart on this dress is both large and high. I measured it on the pattern piece and could see that it needed to be lower so I did that before I did anything else, just a straightforward shift downward about 3/4″. The bust dart is kind of larger than it would be had there been other darts (vertical waist darts)  or other shaping. Trying it on it made the dart a bit too pointy – not my favorite look. So I reduced the width of the dart.

dart adjustment on shift dress

On the tracing paper on the left you can see the faint outline of the original dart, too high. The second placement, lower but too big, and then the final version in the purple dotted line, just right. I sound like Goldilocks don’t I but if you’re going to do adjustments you might as well go all the way until you like the fit.

Batik dr side and back view

Back and side view, you can barely see the dart but that is the ideal, at least for me. Since the side seams were not even in length I split the difference at the top of the seam at the armhole and sliced off about 3/8″ off the side back at that point. Worked out fine.

batik dress front 2

So that’s chapter one on my summer shift dress extravaganza. I have some more complex things in line for my sewing table but not sure what order I will sew them.

Here’s the link to that Craftsy post: The Complete Beginners Guide to Sewing a Dress.

Update on classes at Hello Stitch Studio on Berkeley. The Fit Lab was great – we are going to schedule this class again soon. In July we are repeating Saturday classes for sewing Skirts, Tunic Tops, and a new on starting on Wed 7/26 in the evening is a Button-front shirt class. All these classes are two sessions scheduled a week apart so not a long term time commitment and you will get a project done (or nearly) and learn some new and useful techniques. The Dress class is an all-day one on Sun. 7/30. FYI: I’ve found parking to be surprisingly easy around the studio and it is no more than a 10 minute walk from the Berkeley Bart station so really convenient to get to.

This was yesterday afternoon. Survival mode with an iced coffee. thankfully lots cooler today (ha ha only mid 90’s˚F).


Happy weekend sewing,

today’s garden photo, this white daisy just looks so calm and cool, even in this heat!


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Surprise Watercolor Drawings

Surprise Watercolor Drawings are a fun way to paint! Kids can make their creations, give them to a friend, and watch as their friend uncovers the magic drawing using watercolor paint! We’ve partnered with Imperial Sugar to bring you this fun activity, featuring sugar glue that you can make at home!   Surprise Watercolor Drawings…

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The post Surprise Watercolor Drawings appeared first on Kids Activities Blog.

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