Samantha Dress

Posted Sunday, 29 April, 2018

Dear sewists,

I hope that this post finds you well. I'm here today to write a little about my experience testing and sewing the SMYLY (that's, Sewing Makes You Love Yourself) Samantha Dress. This is particularly exciting because Samantha is SMYLY magazine's debut pattern!!!

This was also my first time pattern testing and I'd love to do more, so if you or anyone you know is on the hunt or if you have ideas on how I could be of service in the pattern testing arena please let me know!

I've spoken about SMYLY in a previous post and over on Instagram, so hopefully many of you will already be familiar with the lovely ladies behind the movement (being, the uplifting and inspiring Athina and Hattie) as well as the wonderful concept of SMYLY - body positivity! But also, I think, positivity in general which is very much needed in our world today.

The Samantha dress was inspired by a real-life Samantha (@sewbytheseaside), who I've chatted to a little on Instagram and was very excited to already “know.” Samantha also has a sewing blog “Sew by the Seaside”, impeccable style, and VERY pretty hair.

Samantha is a pattern designed for jersey knits, which have been taking the sewing world by storm of late, now that we seem to have gotten over our fear of sewing with the substrate! There’s also a lot of versatility jersey-wise out there in both print and pattern that just wasn’t available a few years ago. There should be a Samantha variation and complimentary fabric out there to suit everyone!   

For my Samantha I went with version 1 in a light-weight jersey from my stash (the patterns calls for medium-weight jersey or ponte de roma from memory). I’d bought it online from The Remnant Warehouse as I was considering trying out some more neutrals (I’ve currently got polka-dots on the cutting table, so I’m guessing it was a once-off….or else florals and polka dots are my neutrals!). I wasn’t too sure about the colour with my skin tone and as it was for a pattern test, I fully expected this dress to be a wearable toile.

I’m happy to report that this wasn’t the case and my Samantha dress has had a lot of wears already. I’ve received compliments on this dress from many people and my husband is even asking me when I’ll be making another one! 

To adjust Samantha for maternity-wear I made the following alterations to the pattern: 

  • I cut a straight “from the packet” size, based off my pregnancy measurements. As this is an adjustable faux-wrap dress I knew that I could fit the bodice and position darts if I went, were I to find any changes necessary.
  • I used the “version 2” hem length to allow for any lift due to my bump. I also dropped the hemline at the front by 2”, tapering to the side seams to allow for belly changes. (From my maternity-sewing research I gather that this is a standard adjustment). I’m glad that I did because in wearing the dress a couple of weeks later there were some definite hemline changes!
  • Hem-wise, I also chose to leave the skirt unhemmed. Sometimes with lighter jersey this makes for a cleaner finish. I think that had I hemmed this dress it would have added unnecessary bulk. Also, hurray for jersey – it doesn’t fray!
  • I shortened the bodice to accommodate my new bump and higher “waistline,” making this an empire-waisted Samantha. I suggest doing this step before cutting the skirt as a raised waistline will also alter the hemline. It’s very easy to do. Luckily for me the shorter empire waistline as printed on the pattern was just right. If this isn’t the case for yourself, I suggest folding the pattern to mimic taking out little “wedges” and holding the front bodice piece up to the mirror to get an idea of fit before committing to cutting anything. You can also adjust the size and positioning of the darts if you're suffering any gaping. *Remember, anything that you do to the front of the bodice should be taken into consideration when adjusting/cutting the back of the bodice, to keep things sitting flush*
  • The last adjustment made was sewing in some thin, clear elastic around the waistline to stabilise the fabric because nobody wants a droopy waist! If I had used the jersey weight recommended this wouldn’t have been necessary.

Regarding the pattern instructions and illustrations, I thought that they were great. I didn’t need a lot of hand holding for this pattern as it’s beginner-friendly. However, that isn’t to say that I don’t appreciate knowing that the help is there should I need it! (SMYLY has a YouTube channel as well, which includes a complete sew-along!) This makes for confident sewing.   

I loved the clear pattern markings and bold lines. It reminded me of 70’s patterns, which I find to be really easy to cute, trace and follow. It was also easy to see my size and not get confused cutting and tracing, which is a pet-peeve of mine!   

I never say this, but I really think that the Samantha dress is a must-sew! If you have sewn Samantha please comment below and let me know. I’d love to see other versions!!! 

When Hattie and Athina let me know that they would be launching a magazine to accompany #SMYLY, I was so thrilled as I didn't want the challenge to end! I felt as though there was so much more to explore and that there were a lot of other people out there with more to say, regarding sewing and their experiences.

I have always, always loved stories so for me a magazine like this is perfection. The positivity aspect of SMYLY is infectious and empowering, which I find particularly cathartic. I live remotely and having a fairly "solitary" hobby such as sewing could be quite isolating, if it weren't for the wonderful online community of sewists. SMYLY is another way to get a sense of connection and encouragement that some may otherwise miss out on. To be honest, in day-to-day life, at work or in town, I would wager that for whatever reason, most people aren't fortunate enough to have those strong connections and inspiration on tap. If you work in a competitive industry you may not even have that female connection or habit of celebrating others' successes and building one-another up, which I believe is invaluable.

To have something like this available when you feel discouraged, or at the end of a long day is simply magical.

Until next time,