Seamwork Mesa Dress (a tale of woe)

I like Seamwork magazine; it is well produced, I like Colette patterns and I’m happy to support the effort.  When last month’s issue arrived I was excited at a “relaxed fit” “go to shift” that would take less than an hour to work up.  Just what I need for North Carolina summers and to use up my burgeoning stash of knits.  It would be a good entry for my stashbusting Sew Mama Sew online sewing match challenge 2 – the dress.

My first problem came when I looked at the sizing.  While I am a comfortable size 10/medium for Colette patterns, I found that the finished garment measurements had about 3 idressnches of negative ease. Even with a knit, this doesn’t match anyone’s definition of “relaxed fit”.  No, problem, I simply cut the size that would match the measurements of a favored RTW Tee Shirt dress.

I don’t mind putting together PDF patterns, and soon had it traced.  I used some Art Gallery knit fabric in my stash.  I love these knits because not only are they a really nice weight, but the pattern, selvedge and grain of the knit all line up, so laying out the pattern and cutting is easy.  But soon further problems followed.  When I put it on, I found the the upper hip area was very tight (which puzzled me, as I had measured the pattern pieces), and there was a funny little “wing” right around the top of my femur.  I realized that this dress had a very pronounced curve from waist the hip (not shown in the line drawings) and a very long torso.  I’m 5’4′ and in order to have the curve for the waist to hip transition match my body, I had to shorten the torso by 2.5-3 inches.  I have never modified the torso length in any pattern (or any RTW for that matter).

My second version was out of an inexpensive lightweight cotton (shown here; bonus shot of my sweet kitty on the chair, wearing her “cone” to stop scratching) from Girl Charlie fabrics.  I love the print, but the fabric is not of the same quality as the Art Gallery fabric.  I shortened the torso by 3 inches and the torso/hips fit well.  Because the fabric is a lot lighter and stretchier, it is a bit big on me, but I should have anticipated that problem.  Unfortunately I had to make a number of other modifications to the dress.

Again, I’m not particularly tall, but I added 4 inches to the length (after accounting for the torso shortening, so 7 inches in all), and it now falls about 1 inch above my knee.  It is designed to be short, but it is quite short as designed.  The lengthening line on the pattern falls at a place where there is a fairly pronounced curve and using that line for lengthening means that there is an awkward step.  I lengthened it a bit lower down, where the side lines are almost straight.   In addition, the neckline is more scooped than it appears in the photos, but more problematically, the neck band is too long for the neck opening.  If you use the one given in the pattern, unless it is a very heavy, stiff knit, it will flop around.  I shortened it by around 3 inches and it is fine.  Finally I thought the sleeves were too long, so I shortened them.

So, in the end, the “easy fit go to dress” required a huge amounts of modifications to be wearable.  It does look adorable on the size extra small model and bloggers, but I still don’t really like the fit all that much.  It goes into my “not again” pile and I’ll have to find another pattern for a Tee shirt dress.  I’m sorry I can’t recommend it.  But I must say the entries submitted for the Christine Haynes Marianne dress were incredibly adorable.  I’ll definitely be buying that one when I go off my pattern diet.


One thought on “Seamwork Mesa Dress (a tale of woe)

  1. Annie

    Thank you for your honest and thoughtful review. I have not been impressed with the quality of the patterns Seamwork has put out and discontinued my subscription after a year. What really disappointed month after month was the sloppy quality of their demo/sample garments. Some of them clearly hadn’t even had the seams pressed.


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