“Anne felt that life was really not worth living without puffed sleeves.”Anne of Green Gables
I’m convinced I’ve found my favourite pattern – I knew when I saw this dress trending on Instagram as part of a Black Makers Matter sew-along in August that I had to get my hands on it. Featuring princess seams, V-neck, a gathered skirt (with length options) and those gorgeous puff sleeves, this dress ticks all my boxes.
Every version of this dress that I have seen (check out the hashtags #madewithkosedo and #kosedolimadress) is strikingly different simply by mixing up the fabrics and the prints and varying the length. I’ve also seen gorgeous variations of the sleeves; for example, not gathered at the bottom but still really impactful. I think it is the drama of the sleeves that really make this dress for me. My partner made a comment about it being a bit ‘Elizabethan’ and I’m all for that! Puff sleeves did emerge in the Renaissance but the popularity of the look has ebbed and flowed throughout history, featuring prominently in Edwardian fashion and enjoying a renaissance of its own in the 1930s and 1940s as a response to the 20s focus on shapeless silhouettes and more masculine styles. Think Margy Frake in State Fair:
There is something so fabulous feminine about the puff sleeves – and they’re much more easy to achieve today with the range of fabrics we have to choose from that they would have been in previous centuries when people had to use stiffeners to make the fabric do what it needed to do!
I think I’ve made my point about how much I love this pattern so I will move on to the review:
One of the things I really like about indie pattern companies is the instructions; they are so much better laid out and illustrated than what you get with the Big Four; Kosedo Studio is no exception. You cannot go wrong with this pattern. Vanessa has provided full-proof instructions so I’d recommend this pattern to sewists of all skill levels, even beginners. The princess seams might be daunting to beginners but the instructions recommend stay-stitching the pieces before seaming them together (which is a great tip). If you haven’t tried gathers yet, this pattern is a perfect introduction.
The size chart for this pattern is incredible: it comes with three bust sizes to help you customise the fit. My first attempt came up a little large as you can see in the pictures below – granted, in the week that passed between taking my measurements and making the dress, I was an inch out (post-lockdown diet): the neckline is gaping and the shoulder fit just isn’t right.
I posted on Instagram that I was going to start again and got a lovely message from Vanessa to say I’d chosen a size too big and that she’d help me sort it out. Having only been sewing for a few months, I was so appreciative as I still have a lot to learn about ‘perfecting the fit’. Vanessa made sense of my measurements and made adjustments to the shoulder and arm fit and a couple of muslins later, you can see the difference:
With this massive improvement, I set off to remake the bodice. Now, it’s still a little on the large side BUT that’s totally my own fault because of the fabric choice I made. As you can see in the toile above, the neckline is spot on – in the finished version (you’ll spot what I mean in the featured image above), it’s a little looser but that’s totally because the fabric (crushed satin from Minerva) is not a tight weave but I just loved the colour so much that I persisted.
I am, naturally, going to make more versions of this dress but I will do so with more tightly woven fabrics to ensure that V-neck is just right. I did use some interfacing with the red fabric to help stabilise the neckline, which seems to have done the job.
I have a rust coloured linen blend arriving later this week which will make my second of many Lima dresses. And, of course, I’ll use this bodice for other creations, as well.
Thank you, Vanessa, not only for creating beautiful patterns but for being so generous with your time and your wisdom. I cannot wait to see what comes next from Kosedo Studio.