Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Reviewed: Deer & Doe Sureau Dress & Ottobre 05-2013-4 Raglan Tee

These two items have absolutely nothing to do with each other except that I made them within a few days of each other.

Deer & Doe Sureau Dress

I bought this dress pattern because I kind of wanted the Megan Nielsen Darling Ranges dress pattern. That sounds confusing, but actually it made perfect sense because the one thing I didn't like about the Darling Ranges dress was that it buttoned all the way to the hem, and also the price. The Deer & Doe Sureau was in some ways simpler (no buttons at all, or only fake buttons) and, as I'm in Europe, it was cheaper too.

You can read my proper pattern review on PR here, so I am just going to add the babble that the (hyper critical) PR people apparently don't want to read in actual reviews. (I now never read those threads on the forum where people say how terrible reviewers are because I became so self-conscious about what I was writing in my reviews. My current plan is to be super factual in my PR reviews and reserve my general meanderings for this blog... which is a whole other thing where people get fed up about linking your blog from your review. Argh. People are so annoying.)


Sureau dress in black ditsy floral cotton
Fitting: I bought this pattern ages and ages ago, ran up a bodice muslin in the largest size and realized it was just way too small for me at the time. When I was recently contemplating making a dress with this fabric I ran up a second bodice muslin, still in the largest size because that's what I had traced, tried it on, and then went argh, no and tossed it in a corner. However, when I went back to it I decided that actually the fit was not as terrible as I thought. The big problem was, as always, the impact my square shoulders had, and once I fixed that (which is weirdly a relatively minor alteration, only a 1cm change, but eliminates SO MANY problems SO QUICKLY it's kind of amazing) I saw a vast improvement. The other thing I had to alter was the back, which has two massive waist darts that made the bodice far too tight on me. I released them and then pinned back in a little dart. I actually didn't have to do my usual midback width change OR a forward shoulder adjustment, so that was good.

Me, in the dress. It does need a belt for shape.
 The other thing I didn't do was an FBA, and this was a mistake. So, as mentioned I used the largest size, a 46, which is actually pretty much spot on my actual bust measurement, although it's 1 size too big for my hips (this is quite normal for me in RTW: going by hip and bust size I am always 1-2 sizes larger for tops than bottoms). Because the skirt is gathered, I decided I would live with the too-large hip and just make a straight 46. However... the neckline fit is OK, but it's not quite right. If I go by upper bust, I end up at a size 40, and then some kind of epic FBA is required, plus actually the back bodice is a really nice fit with the 46, so presumably I would have had to alter the size 40 back extensively. The upshot of all this is that I went with the size based on full-bust and had precisely the same problem I always have when I do so.

Other things I didn't do that I will need to do for the next version: (a) drop the gathers around the bust -- my bust is low and the gathers have an unfortunate tendency to puff up just above the fullest part of my bust; (b) add 2cm to the length of the bodice; (c) add at least 6cm to the length of the skirt. I had to do some mad thing with a hem facing because otherwise the skirt ended up WAY too short on me. As it is, it's just BARELY at a length I am willing to wear with tights.

Zip problem
Sewing: Actually, my sewing on this was really good! I took my time with it and didn't carry on sewing one evening when I was tired. Some nit-picky things: I didn't do the greatest job ever with the back neck/facing seams, or the bottom of the front neckline. It's not BAD, but it's not GOOD either. I did a lapped zip, but somehow with wearing it keeps unlapping itself. I think I missed a line of stitching somewhere. Luckily, it's under my arm and the colour is a good match to the fabric so it's not really visible. The waist seam at the zip is a LITTLE bit off -- less than 1cm -- but you can't see in this fabric anyway. Overall, I'm really proud of this dress! :D

Cost: This fabric was £2/m  for a 5m piece from eBay back at the beginning of the year. I used 2.7m, plus a zip, plus general overheads, so this dress set me back about £6.50, plus the pattern itself. On that note, I do think Deer & Doe are, like many indies, over-priced for what you get. You do get this really nice, solid, recycled paper pattern, and the instructions are glossy and clear. However, you only get one view of the dress and then some woolly instructions on making a sleeveless version and a peplum top version (although in the latter case as far as I could tell there isn't even a line on the pattern to indicate how long to make the peplum part). Luckily for my budget, this was the only dress that I really REALLY wanted from the Deer & Doe line -- a lot of their patterns are more cutesy/young than I really want to wear.

In conclusion: Probably the worst thing about this dress is actually the fabric, which I always had doubts about, though I am very happy to have used a nice stable cotton for the first run of this dress. I've been wearing it with a brighter top underneath and tights and boots and it actually is fine for an everyday autumn dress.

Ottobre 05-2013-4 "Monday Basic Raglan Tee"

Raglan tee in two shades of blue
I actually don't have all that much to say about this one. My PR review is here. I sewed a size 46 at the shoulders/bust and narrowed down to something like a 42/44 at the hip. I actually slightly over-estimated how stretchy this fabric would be over my shoulders because the fit is very close at the shoulders and biceps. Still, I like pretty much everything about this top except that the neckline is just a hair too wide.

The fabric is from Tissu -- I had two 1m cuts for £3 each and decided to combine them for this top (that splodge on the front is water, not a dye problem). I have a bit left of each colour, just enough to make something although who knows what. I am particularly pleased with my sewing on this one, because for the first time since my machine was moved I actually got my thread tension on my serger 100% right. \o/ I left the hem raw, mainly because I'm lazy and this is a top for the weekend.


  1. I think it's a great review - both here and on PR. I'm guessing you missed the thread where a very exp'd seamstress was very critical of the Red Velvet dress (Cake patterns). The indielovegirls couldn't say anything because they just don't have the knowledge base. She has a series of blog posts where she documents her experience with the pattern and how she eventually got it to work. Here's the first of them; I think you'll like them

    in general, I think that the rest of the sewing world is starting to get annoyed with indielovegirls. As it should. :)

    1. Actually, I was GLUED to that takedown of the latest Cake pattern while it happened! I mostly ignored the whole pattern release from Cake because I thought the dress looked frumpy and the only element I was even remotely interested in (the little jacket) isn't out yet (and actually I have a not-totally-dissimilar Ottobre pattern that I think I prefer). The pattern creator kept posting photos of her pattern testers' dresses though and I didn't really think it looked good on many people at all, so I was glad to see someone actually going through and pointing out why, as well as some of the problems with the pattern. (Also, what is that pattern creator's obsession with HUGE waistband pieces. It's exceptionally unflattering to so many body types!). I admit I do have the Hummingbird pattern, and I bought the Tiramisu dress pattern in a fit of madness that I regretted from the second I clicked confirm on Paypal. I eventually gave it away!

      What was most interesting to me however was the number of people who were saying (a) it was the responsibility of the critic to get in touch with the pattern creator and list all of the changes that were needed before drawing any kind of negative public attention to it; and (b) the people saying that if the pattern was so bad, then the critic should go write her own and see how hard it is.... as if somehow it being hard to write good patterns should excuse the creator from doing a good job at it.

      My remark about the nit-pickery was prompted by the people on the forum going on and on about what information should and shouldn't be in a review.

  2. ah, i understand. I was also glued to that takedown :) and ITA re: the massive waistband pieces, and pretty much everything you say. Especially about the folks who were like, 'you should write her directly!' and 'you think it's so easy, you try it!' Weirdos.

    I thought of getting the RV, but decided not to. I have very little time to sew, and I muslin everything for fit - so any new pattern I take on is going to be a multi-week investment of time. I have to *love* the design to want to take the time to make it work. And I'm not into collecting $$ patterns for no reason.
    (also, am I the only person who finds this whole cake/frosting thing a bit twee?)

    1. No, you are definitely not the only one over the whole cake/frosting analogy. Cute for a little while, but now just grating. Still, it's very apt for that whole side of the sewing community -- very cutesy, sugary sweet, retro-pastiche frou-frou stuff... that grates after a while. I haven't really worked out exactly what style I want to pursue with my sewing but let me tell you, it's probably never ever going to be this cutesy stuff.

  3. I think your Sureau dress looks very nice - the sewing and the fit and the fabric (I'd snap up that nice blue print if I saw it in my local fabric shop!).
    I have a 36" bust, a 35" high bust and a 30" underbust, so am yet to learn what size to start with for tops. May I say, as a complete stranger, that your boobs don't look all that gigantic to me? Cheers, Sarah :-)

    1. Thanks! Unfortunately, my bust is legit very large -- I have a 3" high bust to full bust difference and a 7" difference from bust to underbust, so fitting tops is a nightmare.