I haven't experienced an Avid Seamstress pattern before. As with the majority of indie printed patterns, it is beautifully produced with a colour booklet and step-by-step instructions. The Gathered Dress is based on their already successful child's Gathered Dress pattern. The adult version has a raglan sleeve and side seam pockets. The main feature is the gathered back waist detail. It's a simple, well-cut dress shape, with minimal details and a relatively quick sew. There's a zip closure but after sewing a quick test version, I could see I didn't need it so I cut the back as one piece and omitted the zip. No interfacing is needed (hooray!) and the uninterrupted front section is perfect for a feature fabric. It's a variation on a shift dress and the back detail is what swung it for me, a basic shift often doesn't do much for my shape; this dress had the extra element whilst retaining a gentle fit. I had two metres of a wide Italian linen twill weave bought from Stitch Fabrics at a local fabric fair.
I made a size 1 (UK size 8) and the fit was almost perfect for me. The only thing I changed was to lengthen the bust darts by 3/8" to the 0/UK 6 size lines which is quite a common bust alteration for me. I also flared the bottom of the hem by around 1/2" on each side to add a little extra flare to the side seams I walk quickly with quite a generous stride and so I wanted just a little extra room. I particularly like the fit of the neck and shoulders and I can see this pattern becoming the basis of other tops and dresses. I am very small busted so anyone larger than a B cup may need to make a full bust adjustment.
I followed the instructions all the way through which start suggesting that after sewing the bust darts, most seam edges are finished before sewing. I never usually do this but on a simple style like this it really sped up the sewing process and as the fabric frayed very easily it was extra helpful. They suggest using an elastic method to gather the back skirt but I didn't find this worked for me; I used my usual three rows of long machine stitches instead. The instructions are generally good with one or two little niggles where the pictures don't quite match the process- e.g. the sleeve shoulder dart came together following the instructions but it didn't quite match the picture, and occasionally some extra pressing details would've been good but these are minor elements in what was a really enjoyable make. I added some homemade Liberty Lawn binding to the neck facing and over the back waist seam; it just makes the edges a little softer against the skin.
I've just cut out a short sleeved version in Nani Iro doubgauze whichich I'm currently sewing up and traced off a short font and back bodice to add to a gathered maxi skirt so it looks like it will be a versatile pattern for me.
You can find the Gathered Dress at Village Haberdashery and Backstitch or buy direct from Avid Seamstress as a printed or PDF pattern.
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