Pretty exciting time the other week – I tried on the Dakota dress I made in October and….
(Well, sort of. I can get it on and do it up and it’s not uncomfortable, so that’s a total win! It’s still a bit too small for me, so it doesn’t hang a little loose as it’s meant to, but you know – still-diminishing post-baby bump, and a rack that’s several sizes larger than usual due to feeding a small child, so I figure it’s kinda understandable, right? And assuming I can curb my current eat-all-the-chocolate-NOW!!! kick, at some point it’ll fit me properly.)
But in the meantime – woo hoo! I can fit a dress I made again, and it’s not a maternity dress!!!
Which means I’m a step further down the road of reclaiming my style and my sense of self-expression that goes with that. Happy days. :-D
Anyway, now that I’ve gotten over that little burst of joy and excitement, here we have it – the Dakota dress by Named.
I made this up in October as part of the Frocktober challenge over on The Monthly Stitch. (Disclaimer: I was given the pattern by the Named girls so I could run a sewalong for it over on The Monthly Stitch. But since I don’t believe in being a suck-up because of free stuff, whether I paid for a pattern or not doesn’t affect my opinions on it.)
This is the first Named pattern I’ve made up (although I have two of their newest ones, and the Wenona dress is high on my things-to-make list. Coz, shirt dress. New baby. It’s what my style’s gonna be for the next while, yo.) The Dakota dress is from their first collection, back when they only did PDF patterns. I spotted it when they first released it, and really liked the style – it’s based on the lines of a tuxedo jacket, with pockets, a shaped hem, and a deep and narrow shawl collar. So it was kinda nice to have my a kicked into g to get around to making this up, since I’d been thinking about it for a while!
Bucking the Dakota trend (since every other version I’ve seen out there has been in a solid colour, usually dark, and 9 times out of 10 made in a ponte) I went with a pink cotton (a lightweight drill) with a small floral design all over it. Since the fabric is quite busy, I felt the style lines would get a bit lost in it so I put chocolate brown piping around the collar to help it stand out from the dress. I also used the same piping on the sleeves, as little mock-cuffs. (Plus I shortened the sleeves because we’re heading into summer here and I want to wear this sooner rather than later. I also figure I’ll be able to do my usual winter layering thing and wear a long-sleeved merino top under it when the weather gets colder. Because long-sleeved merino tops fix everything, don’tcha know?)
Since I’m gonna have to have easy access to certain parts of my anatomy on demand for the next while, I also added a centre-front invisible zip that extends down past the waistline.
(Before I get into the review of the pattern, just a little disclaimer – yes, there’s a fair few photos in here, and a lot are similar. It’s because I was trying this both with and without a belt, and I reckon it looks quite different either way. (Although a fair bit of that may be my lack of waist definition at the moment….). So I’ve added both, so you can judge the style for yourself. :-) The colour is also a bit more saturated than it should be due to the original ones being horribly washed out. Although the dress colour in the photos is actually pretty much spot-on to the real life colour.)
Right, onto the pattern!
First up, the good.
I really like this design – it’s quite different from others that I’ve seen out there, and I like the way Named have taken a masculine design and used it for a womenswear pattern that’s dressy and pretty. The narrow shawl collar is cute, the gored skirt has a good amount (but not too much) flare, and I really like the detail of the shaped hem, which mimics the shaping of mens dress shirts hems. (Gotta love that attention to design detail!) Plus, pockets! (C’mon, let’s have an OHMGAWD POCKETS!!! moment here, shall we?)
The instructions, while reasonably short, were pretty good. And there are some clever things going on, such as having the pocket flaps sewn into the waistline so you get a super-clean finish on the top of them. Also, the hem of the skirt is actually shaped correctly so when you fold it up it goes cleanly without any easing in required (why on earth do most patterns not do this? All that turn-up-and-stitch business on skirts and dresses where you end up with annoying folds and gathers on the inside because you’re trying to ease a longer section onto a shorter section is all very frustrating (know what I’m talking about?), so thank you to Named for doing it correctly!)
I cut a size 38 on the top, grading out to a 40 in the waist/hips (my usual sizes) and as far as I can tell (considering I’m techincally still a bit above those sizes!) it fits quite well. Admittedly, the waistline is a little high, but that’s not uncommon for me with my height, so next time I make it I’ll just lengthen the bodice a bit.
Now, the not-so-good. This is pretty much all about the PDF pattern itself. And I’m going from memory here, since I made this over a month ago (and got photos nearly two weeks ago, and only just got online now to post it. Hey, new baby and all that, kinda eats into online time!). (Also, a note: the Dakota is one of the first Named patterns, and I haven’t tried any of their other PDF patterns, so these issues may very well have been resolved for later patterns. I’d love to hear from anyone who has one of their more recent PDF patterns to find out if they’re different!>
The Dakota is a downloadable PDF. I have no issues with PDF patterns – in fact, I’ve lately discovered I prefer them, as I absolutely hate working with thin, flimsy, fragile pattern tissue. To the point where patterns with that sort of tissue rapidly make their way to the bottom of my things-I-want-to-make pile, and usually I won’t buy phycial patterns from the same brand again (and yes, this is the key reason I avoid Big 4 patterns – the pattern tissue drives me nuts. Gah! Some indies are bad at this too, though, particularly Sewaholic. Hate that tissue they use.). Sure, PDF patterns take a while to print and tape out, but when you have, there’s no fear of cutting them out (change size? No worries – just print it off again!), and they’re nice and robust to work with. So yeah, I’m a PDF convert these days.
Anyway, the Dakota is a downloadable PDF. First issue, there’s only two sizes per pattern, so if you usually have to grade between sizes, you may have a bit of an issue depending on whether your sizes fall into one set of two (which, lucky for me, mine did) or over different sets. Also an issue if you change size and want to make it again later.
Speaking of grading, the pattern isn’t nested, so it’s a bit harder to grade than most, which is a bit frustrating. I like just being able to play connect-the-lines when grading, and that didn’t work in this case.
Other annoying issues with the PDF:
- There are no markings on the pages showing which page aligns with which. You have to figure it out yourself. Sure, it’s not that hard, a bit like a big jigsaw puzzle, but still, those numbered markings make it a lot faster to do.
- Along the same lines, there’s no easy way to tell if you’re holding a page the right way up or not. Some of them have the pattern name along the right-hand side, but others don’t. So you’d better make sure you take them off the printer and don’t shuffle those pages any or that jigsaw puzzle is gonna get a lot harder!
- The pattern is done like Burda magazine ones, with pieces overtop of each other, so you’re gonna have to trace it off. Not a huge deal in my opinion (it’s not uncommon for me to trace PDF patterns anyway) and it means you’ve got a lot less pages to stick together, but it is worth noting.
- The key issue with that overlaying pieces thing though is that it’s actually a pain in the a** to trace. The sizes are differentiated by colour – one is black, the other is dark gray. The lines themselves are all solid and the same thickness. Plus, the pattern isn’t properly nested. Yeah, that’s a bit of a nightmare to trace – I kept having to lift up my tracing fabric to check line colours. *mutter mutter*. Adding even more complexity to that, both cutting and stitching lines are included. Great in one way – some people prefer to use one, some the other, so having both is a nice touch. But when they’re the same as each other, and in such similar colours, it just makes tracing that much harder than it needs to be.
Anyway, that was a bit of a rant about the PDF. One of my lovely sewing friends got lots of text messages from me as I was making up and tracing out the PDF, poor girl! (Sometimes, you just need someone who ‘gets it’ to vent frustrations too, right?)
But aside from the PDF itself, the pattern came together nicely and I’m pretty happy with the finished dress. :-)
There are a couple of things I’d change next time, just for personal preference and to fit me properly. Firstly, I’d lower the waist (but that’s coz I’m pretty tall). I’d also lower the pockets – much as I love them, they’re a bit too high for my liking, especially as I’m likely to always wear a belt with this dress as that makes them somewhat less accessible than I’d like. As well as that, I’d raise the neckline (like others have done before me), and lengthen the skirt (again, the height thing).
But all up, I like this pattern! It’s a cute style and (once you get the PDF sorted out) easy to make up. (So you know, don’t let the PDF stuff put you off. Just be prepared for it, is all.) And I’m looking forward to making up the Wenona shirt dress.
Anyway, there we have it – a floral Dakota! Baby friendly and all. :-)