Joan Dress

Do you ever find yourself hankering after something that you just know won’t be right?  This is what happened when I first saw Sew Over It’s Joan Dress which seemed the epitome of what I don’t wear but was strangely attractive. 

In a moment of weakness I bought the pattern and then found myself making a toile.  Eventually I had to admit to myself that this was a dress that was going to be made.  

The luxury crepe fabric I chose also came from Sew Over It, unfortunately this is where it all started to go horribly wrong.  The good things about this fabric are that it has the most wonderful sheen and like all polyesters it is remarkably low maintenance (no dry cleaning!).  The not so good things are that it has zero give and will only take the sharpest pins and needles -each of which leaves a small hole when withdrawn.  Seriously this fabric is like leather to work with.

Not being able to pin the fabric easily made each stage very difficult.  The most difficult part was putting in the sleeves.  Having no give it was impossible to ease the fabric without making lots of little puckers – those sleeves were unpicked so many times I was fearful for my seam ripper.  Eventually I cut down the sleeve head so that the seam lines were an identical length to those on the armscye which was the only way I could get a smooth line.  Strangely this hasn’t made the sleeves uncomfortable.

The instructions have you hem the lining and the outer shell together which produces a very clean finish.  At least it should do, unfortunately mine looked wonderful until I put the dress on and found some nasty pulling.  Strangely it all looked OK when the dress was flat.  Had I been able to stitch through all the layers I don’t think this would have been an issue, but the crepe was so dense I was finding it difficult to hand sew into it. I eventually fixed it by machining the dress and lining hem separately and adding a small tie between the two layers at the side seams.


I had to make my usual adjustments; a 2cm broad back and shoulder adjustment, a 2cm width adjustment to the sleeve head and a 1cm horizontal reduction above the bust.  I also shifted the darts towards the centre.  If I were to make it again I would probably add a further small amount to the back and lower the waist seam by about 2-3cm. I might also narrow the skirt a bit.

So do I wear it?  Actually, yes, I’m very conscious though that it isn’t my usual style but it is smart and low maintenance and sometimes that is the best you can wish for.