When I found a beautiful piece of heavy, rich, cranberry, 4-way-stretch ponte at Value Village this summer, I knew I needed a cosy and comfortable fall dress pattern for it. Enter the Sew Over It Heather Dress. Fitted but not tight; large built-in pockets; it looked like the perfect fall pattern… and eventually become the perfect fall dress for me after a few large modifications (more on those below).
I cut out a size 10 and sewed this dress up quickly (it’s not a difficult pattern and the instructions are easy to follow). I should have taken photos of it at this stage but I was too dismayed to pull out the camera. The top fit perfectly but the bottom half was massive on me! It looked like I was wearing a baby’s sleeping sack. The heavy fabric dragged itself downward and I got lost inside it. It makes sense. Sew Over It patterns have the perfect bust/waist ratio for my body but the hip ratio is way off (by about 8″ according to their sizing chart). It doesn’t matter with their ultimate shift dress but it sure did with the Heather dress! I had to make a number of modifications in order to salvage this make:
- I took in the sides of the dress, angling from the underarm to 1.5″ at the waist and then tapered back out to 3/4″ at the hips and ran straight down to the hem. It worked out to 6″ off the waist!
- With some difficulty, I understitched the top edge of the pockets. I’m not sure why understitching is not included in the pattern instructions. It would be much easier to do before sewing the dress together and is definitely a good idea with a heavy fabric like mine, or any knit fabric. Before understitching the top seam of my pockets was completely visible.
- I stitched the pockets down to the front of the dress. This may have been an issue with my fabric, but the pockets on my dress were horribly saggy and distorted the front of the dress. Stitching them down improved the shape and fit drastically.
- I shortened the dress to well above the knee. If you are short (like me) and plan to wear this dress with tights and flats (like me), it definitely needs to be shortened. I took off over 4 inches.
With these changes the Heather dress took on a totally different look and I love it. It is sooooo comfortable for fall. The only other small thing that I would recommend doing if you make this dress is to shorten the neck binding before you sew it in a loop and onto the dress, just so it has a bit more tension. Mine ended up a little baggy at the front neck.
I’m really glad I stuck with this make. It was frustrating to start with but turned out well in the end. This project was a good reminder for me that patterns all have their own base figure and that figure usually doesn’t match mine, or yours. Alternations are a necessary part of sewing, not something to dread or stress out over.
Bring on fall!