I’ve only recently come across Ralph Pink, a British pattern designer, via an installment on The Monthly Stitch and OMG I love his stuff. It’s got a really cool, luxurious feel to it and I can only hope to make clothes that look that good! I bought this pattern, the Phaedra Drape dress, pretty much straight away. I also was lucky enough to get the Sula blazer as part of my contest win a few weeks ago.
These patterns only come in PDF format by the way folks, so be prepared to get your scissors/ glue/ sellotape out!
The layout of print was not particularly easy to put together. I did find it fiddler than others as the edges/ markers to match up each sheet were too few so my pattern pieces are probably far from perfect. I just kept my fingers crossed that it wouldn’t cause too much problem when actually making the garment.
The Phaedra Drape is gorgeous parachute style draped dress – kinda like the one All Saints used to make back in the day (I loved those and own a few…). It was definitely love at first sight! The front and back of the dress each consist of 3 pieces – a centre with 2 side panels which include hidden pockets. It’s rated as a beginner pattern and looking at the line drawing and the instructions, it looked like I was in for a very straightforward sew!
The first thing I noticed when I started making the dress was that the photo on the pattern cover was not a true version of the pattern itself. It’s shown with the upper part of the bodice as a separate piece – you can see the seam line – which is a bit worrying in my opinion. I thought that that was what I was buying (even though I saw the line drawing)! It’s definitely misdirection in my opinion!
The second thing is that there are not nearly enough notches to match up the side panels properly, not if you want to get the right angled seam in accurately and especially considering those pieces are cut on the bias. It has potential to go very wrong if you weren’t careful. I ended up being overly careful and drew in the seam lines into both pieces in a washable marker to ensure that my seam was as accurate as possible.
After that bit, everything went pretty smoothly until it came to the neck/ armhole facing. And that brings me to the third thing – at this point just throw away the instructions. They are no good to you…
It asks you to place the facing on the dress, right sides together as you’d expect, and to see the seams on both armholes. I did a double take when I first read it because I was sure that that doesn’t work. That you can’t turn a garment if you’ve seen both armholes to the facing. I thought that might just be in my head though so I pinned it together to try and no, I was right, the instructions indeed ask for the physically impossible.
So instead I sewed the neckline in place, trimmed, notched, understitched and turned as you’d expect. I opted to bind the armhole edges with some shop bought bias binding. I did not do a very neat job of this AT ALL but I was so fed up with it by this point!
After all of that palava, I stuck the dress in the wash to get rid of the pen marks and guess what? The fabric shrunk! I can still get into it but it’s a fair bit shorter than I wanted it to be!
Has anyone else made this dress? It seems like a real problem with the instructions and I wonder if anyone’s brought it to Ralph’s attention… It’s making me really worried about trying the blazer pattern. At least with a dress, I’ve made enough of them to figure out alternative options but I’ve never made a blazer before! I’d have no idea if it’s going wrong or not!
N. B. I’ve re-jigged the instructions and fixed it! I’ll be putting a post up on them soon in case anyone else needs them!