Back in February, I was lucky enough to be selected by Jennifer Lauren to test her updated Afternoon Blouse and Shift Dress pattern.
I say lucky because this was the first time I ever tested a pattern (yeah), and especially because I got to have in my hands a great pattern, or rather two.
Trust me I am not saying this just because I was a tester, they truly are great patterns.
The Afternoon Blouse has been a classic of independent patterns for a while now, and Jennifer decided to update it to bigger size range and with a complimentary shift dress featuring the same style: choice of two decorative necklines and 1940s-inspired kimono sleeves.
Yes, these are free updates! If you have already bought the blouse pattern, you just have to send Jennifer your Etsy or Paypal receipts and she will send you the updates by email.
Well, onto the dress now!
The pictures you see here are of the tested garments, and you can see everything is already pretty much great in terms of fitting and style, Jennifer is so talented. The final product shouldn't be much different for my size range.
Speaking of size, these patterns are designed for a D cup, so I have skipped my usual FBA (hurray!) and went directly with grading: 14 at the shoulders, 16 at bust, 18 at waist, 16 at the hips. I think it worked quite well, what do you think?
Let me tell you she has put much effort in larger size grading so expect this dress to fit you like a glove and grace your curves.
The pattern takes its name by the time you need to actually make it, and this is totally true: in one afternoon I have made one dress and one blouse, and wore the blouse to dinner with friends!
I can assure you a beginner can tackle this pattern: there are few pattern pieces and it comes with thorough instructions. As a tester I can assure Jennifer put a huge effort to make the instructions clear, with schematics and explanations.
There are no sleeves to set, and the only tricky points are the pivot point at the centre bust (which I kind of messed up in the blouse, but it's my fault 'cause I was sewing polka dots in the dark, you do the math), and the back boxpleat or elastic casing for the dress. Both those steps are explained in their every detail and everyone can easily follow and make something beautiful.
The dress is in a medium weight polyester from Toto Tissus in Toulouse, and the blouse in a light weight cotton, from Fabric Land in Bristol, present from Chéri, already used here.
I love the simple plain style of this pattern, I have been wearing both garments since I have made them, at work and during the weekends. They are comfortable (no waistband, I tell you!), but super cute. All my friends are in love with them! Even Chéri approved, and by now you know that his approval is not granted for whatever garment I sew.
Wearing these garments for almost three months now, I am impressed by their flattering shape: you should know by now that I fear shapeless silhouettes, but this pattern checks all the boxes by being extremely well drafted, comfortable, cute and quick to sew. I wear it and I feel instantly pretty, and this is something to cherish, n'est pas?
As you can imagine I will make more of them: the Afternoon blouse and shift dress is a great opportunity to showcase fabric, and to make something instantly rewarding.
As for the central button, in both garments I have decided to omit it because I couldn't decide which style I wanted for it. I ended up using decorative broaches which I remove before washing and I can change easily to match with my outfit.
Thank you Jennifer for giving me the opportunity to test such great patterns, and for being patient with me blogging about them 3 months later, sorry!