Loose fitting garments do nothing for me – at 5 ft 1 and curvy, my figure needs clothes to fit well. Popular patterns like The Friday Pattern Company Wilder Gown and TATB Indigo drown me, no matter where I cut the bodice (which people keep telling me to try – trust me, I have). Being semi-fitted, I decided to give the Jennifer Lauren Handmade Asteria dress a try. It seemed a good compromise between fitted and flowing garments.
Asteria is a square-necked, short-sleeved, dress which ties at the waist to provide more structure; the bodice has a single dart, an optional buttoned front and an optional collar. The neckline and the collar were really what sold it to me – it’s such a unique and quirky pattern; understated but, as I soon discovered, not to be underestimated.
I came at this pattern with a huge disadvantage – as I’ve said, I tend to make mostly fitted clothing. I love the structured dresses that are reminiscent of the 40s and 50s; however, I have been looking forward to sunnier, social days and I wanted to try a few looser garments for those days when it’s just too warm for my comfort (i.e. anything over 18 degrees is intolerable to me and my pale skin). Since the bodice only has one dart (at the bust), I expected this pattern to be pretty simple to fit; I was naive. It did, in fact, take me 3 toiles to get the girls to fit without creating excess room on the neckline. I’ve only made the Gable top / dress and the Juniper cardigan (both stretch patterns and therefore a little more forgiving) so I didn’t have any experience as to how the fit would be; I was surprised when what looked like a pretty straightforward make was a little more complicated than anticipated. I thought I was going to have an easy ride by choosing the variation of front bodice that was cut on the fold (rather than the button version).
In terms of the actual sewing up of this dress, I have no complaints. It’s a simple sew, completed from start to finish in a couple of hours – remember there’s no zip or anything fussy and even the collar was so simple to attach.
One of the other features of the pattern is a pleated skirt which gives a little fullness. Where’s the pleated skirt, Mary-Ellen, you might ask? Well, it calls for a wider fabric than the one I chose to use (it’s a quilting cotton so comes in at 44″). I decided to try a gathered skirt instead, wary that it may have caused excess fullness which might end up drowning me the way other loose garment patterns do, but it turned out to be ok.
The ties, making made in a durable fabric, are able to be tied as tight as I want to get the fit just right. I love making ties. Such a satisfying little feature in less fitted patterns.
The instructions in Jennifer Lauren patterns are always flawless – and this was no exception. It was a thoroughly enjoyable pattern to sew up and the collar was an absolute breeze! With the loose fit, it’s the most comfortable of dresses and made from cotton, it’s super breathable and suitable for the warmer months that are not far away. The good thing about cotton, though, is that it can carry through all the seasons.
Disclaimer: Fabric gifted from Sew Anonymous