Monday, 20 September 2021

extremely delayed spring sewing: upton maxi dress

You may recall that I showed you this fabric in April and stated my intention to make a spring maxi dress with it that I wasn't sure I was going to like.  Well, now it's autumn and I have an autumn maxi dress I'm not sure if I like! OK, that's not fair. It's more that I have an autumn maxi dress that I like but I'm not sure if I'll wear. Let's talk about it!

As you see, this is a super romantic dress. I knew it would be - the pairing of this fabric and this kind of pattern was only going to end up in one place - and I knew it was going to be a bit of a risk to make. Unsurprisingly I'm not yet sure how comfortable I am in it, but I do think it's a very pretty dress that I would like to be comfortable in. 

The pattern is the expanded version of the Cashmerette Upton dress. I don't love the trend towards paid pattern expansions, particularly since it usually seems to be "one extra sleeve type" or "a neckline change that could definitely just have been a blog post", but the Upton pack seemed to have a lot of different options that could make it worth it to me. In fact, when I came to print and cut out, I found that all I needed from the original pattern were the waistband and pocket pieces. I used the princess seam bodice, fitted sleeve with ready-made full bicep adjustment, and the maxi length gored skirt.

I knew I wanted to make a square neck, but I also thought the square neck on the pattern was too small and would look a bit frumpy on me. I was already concerned that a long-sleeved maxi amount of pale pink would be too much and I was keen to have less of it next to my face. Cutting it this much wider and lower presents a whole different set of challenges, but I had been watching a bunch of period dramas and wanted this look specifically. Since the whole thing was a bit of a punt anyway, I decided I might as well go for it and work out how to deal with the issues as I went.

Obviously, the main problem with this neckline in a woven fabric is that it doesn't especially want to stay on the shoulders. I attempted to get round this by attaching narrow lengths of elastic into the seam allowance around each shoulder and across the front. This mostly worked - it does create a tiny bit of a puff at the shoulders but fortunately I think that's quite pretty. 

The fitted sleeve with the built-in full bicep adjustment works really nicely for me, which I'm pleased about because that was a decent chunk of my motivation to make this dress. 

If I were to do this again I'd cut a high neckline on the back bodice rather than the V. I think it would help the shoulders sit better (and also I think the V is too high up to be aesthetically pleasing on this version, though I'm not sure if that's the pattern or something I did accidentally while fiddling with things). I would also probably change the pocket situation. The gored skirt sits a bit too close to my hips for the pockets to be as useful as I'd like, so I'd most likely not bother with them at all in future. If I thought they were really necessary I'd switch out the pocket that comes with the pattern for the Simplicity 8380, my favourite pocket, which anchors into the waist seam and doesn't get in the way so much. 

I suspect the biggest issue I'll have with actually integrating this into my wardrobe is its heft. The fabric is a really beautiful heavy crepe that makes a beautiful dress, but with the long skirt and long sleeves it does weigh me down a little bit and I'll have to be careful what sort of weather I wear it in. This is not a dress I can just sling a jacket over, so it's also harder to make more casual. I'm currently in the process of making a shorter dress from the remnants of this fabric, and if that works it'll probably be a little easier to wear regularly. I'm not at all sad that I made this version, though. I don't have anything with this kind of "English country garden" vibe and it's really nice to be able to dress up in other aesthetics sometimes. 

Up next will hopefully be the first completed project from my autumn plan! I'm working on three of them at once because that's where my brain is right now (she says, with plans to cut out another three today) and they're all coming on very nicely. I'm quite excited about actually being able to follow a plan again. Until then!

Cashmerette Upton expansion pack

Fabric: Floral heavy crepe with slight stretch from Walthamstow Market
Cost: approx. £20
Pattern details: Fitted dress with cup sizes - darted and princess seam bodice options, multiple necklines, flutter and fitted sleeves (the latter with a choice of regular or full bicep), pleated and gored skirts in different lengths, and a waistband piece to make a standalone skirt
Size: 12 G/H in the bodice, blending out to 16 in the hips
Alterations: Change of neckline to be wider and deeper
Would make again/would recommend: Yes/Yes


  1. IMO I think this dress is lovely although I think it would help the concerns you have for the way the front lays if it had a "normal" back neckline. If you are concerned about the shoulder slipping off what about making those little bra strap guides it's just a piece of ribbon sewn on the inside on one side and a snap on the other and you slip your bra strap inside there and snap it shut and it stays in place as long as your bra straps don't slide off your shoulders you're to go otherwise you might have to make a little bit of an adjustment in the front perhaps no more than half an inch in that area? The fabric itself is absolutely gorgeous even though it may be a heavier weight fabric if your weather gets cold in the winter that could be a plus. It sure looks fabulous on you, you are a very good sewist.

  2. This dress is gorgeous! I hope you find opportunities to wear it out.

  3. This dress looks so lovely on you. I agree a higher back neckline would help with keeping the dress on your shoulders.