My sewing machine Lily went in for a service / repair a few weeks ago, and I only got her back last weekend – it’s surprising how much I missed having her around. It did mean that her absence was a good reason to do a lot of tracing and cutting. That’s usually my least favourite part of any project, but I actually enjoyed it for once – I think because it was as close to sewing as I was going to get, and also because I could look forward to having 4 or 5 projects ready to go as soon as she came home.
I was in the middle of a piece of unselfish sewing when she went away, some trousers for my husband, but one of the newly cut projects couldn’t wait and insisted it jump the queue…..and how could I ignore talking fabric?!
The result was this dress from an Aime Comme Marie pattern called ‘Mon Petit Bazar’.
I haven’t seen this pattern company around t’interweb much – I can’t even remember where I saw this pattern first, but the design jumped out at me. I love a drop waist, especially one with some fullness being cinched in by a band, and the lovely deep scoop neckline and curved raglan sleeves are right up my street.
I haven’t bought a paper pattern for a while, and the packaging of this was lovely. It comes in a rustic-looking card folder, with the pattern pieces themselves printed on one large sheet of nice heavy paper. I trace everything anyway, but there were only two pieces which you’d have to trace because they overlap slightly. The instructions come as a little booklet – the main section of instructions is in French, with helpful but not excessive diagrams, with an English translation at the back. I quite enjoyed the challenge of following the French instructions but there’s no need if you don’t want to – each step is numbered and it would be simple to match the English translation to the relevant step’s diagram. It’s all hand-drawn and rather charming.
I was feeling wild and reckless, so decided not to bother with a muslin for this dress. It did make things a bit nerve-wracking because I love this fabric, but a bit of living on the edge is good for the soul, right? I cut a size L at the neck and bustline, grading to the LL (the next size up) at the waist and hips. I’m really pleased with the fit, I think it could possibly be improved by using the next size down at the bust, with a potential FBA – there is a little bit too much room around the underarm area – but I’d rather have the room than feel constricted here. I think that’s why I like a raglan sleeve so much, they’re never too fitted around the upper arm / shoulder.
You can see the extra room in this shot, as well as the dart shaping at the shoulder – I really like this little touch. The small pleats above and below the waistband are a nice little detail as well. There is actually meant to be another design feature – believe it or not there is a small bit of gathering on the raglan seam line:
See it? No, me neither. I promise it’s there though! I think this fabric was just a bit too drapey and fluid, so the gathering has ended up just easing the seam together. It is a gorgeous feeling fabric – it’s a viscose twill from the Cloth Spot – it’s really soft, and thick enough to skim over lumps and bumps rather than clinging. It’s the perfect weight and warmth for an autumn / winter dress, and it’s a perfect autumn colour as well. It washes really well too (as usual I pre-washed) and doesn’t need any special treatment. The one drawback to this fabric is that it snags really easily, and not only do I live with 3 cats who love to paw at me with half-extended claws, but I’m also incredibly clumsy and have never managed to wear a pair of tights more than twice without getting ladders. Somehow I’ll always catch things with my handbag hardware, or I’ll walk into a wall because I’m thinking about something else (usually what’s for tea), or something else equally doofus-ish.
I love the back of this design as well – the buttons I used are a bronzey metal set which match perfectly. I was a bit worried they might be a bit too heavy but they’re fine. The pattern / instructions don’t include any interfacing for the button bands, but with such a drapey fabric I thought it would be a good idea. The interfacing made a big difference – I did about twenty test buttonholes on scrap fabric, and the ones without any interfacing just didn’t work at all.
I finished all the seams with my overlocker – the fabric was a bit fray-ey so I even overlocked the sleeve and skirt hems before just turning the width of the overlock stitch twice, pressing and topstitching. If I make this again I think I would cut a waistband facing – this version just has the bodice / waistband and skirt / waistband seams pressed towards the waistband as you can see in this photo:
I think a facing would just feel a bit neater, and would give it more body to prevent creasing with wear. You can also see here the generous size of the pockets, and the bias binding finish of the neckband – I also finished the neck edge with the overlocker before binding. The bias was self-made from some very fine and soft cotton / silk blend voile. I used the same stuff for my Nano Iro Flutter dress – it’s so light it doesn’t interfere with the drape of fabrics like this, I often find that bought bias binding is too stiff to work well, and I get puckering (like on this Adelaide dress).
I’d definitely recommend this pattern – if you’re a beginner you might need a bit of Youtube assistance, for example the neckline treatment is just included in the instructions as ‘finish neckline with bias binding’, but the diagrams were helpful and the English translation seemed very clear. In fact there are a number of Aime Comme Marie patterns which I’d like to try – they’ve just brought out two jacket patterns, Madawan and Montmartre, which I’m very tempted by, and some of the tops look lovely too. It’s funny how some patterns / companies seem to spread like wildfire around blogland, while others are never seen. Maybe I should read more French sewing blogs? Any recommendations would be fab…..