Sunday, September 21, 2014

TESTED: Design by Lindsay Senna Dress + Musings

The Senna dress by Design by Lindsay is my first foray into pattern testing. I've definitely thrown my name in the hat for several other designers, but Lindsay is the first to take me up on it.

The Senna is described as: Versatile, comfortable, and modern, Senna can be made as either a dress or a cute crop top + pencil skirt combo. Designed for knit fabric, Senna features a loose kimono-sleeve bodice with blouson waistline and a ruched pencil skirt. The neckline comes with crew neck and scoop neck options.

I made up the pattern as-is in a straight size 16. I could have gone down on bottom, maybe on top too, but I wanted to follow the size chart and instructions completely. I had some kelly green cotton/lycra from Girl Charlee that was earmarked to be a Moneta, but after my last disaster attaching the elastic with the serger I haven't touched the pattern. Oh well.

I had my hubby take these photos and I have to say they look 100x better than the crappy selfies I take in our downstairs mirror. I might need to recruit him in the future. I felt a bit odd in this dress - it's not a silhouette I usually wear meaning it's fitted on bottom rather than the top. I usually prefer a more fitted bodice with a full skirt to hide my tummy. (You can read this post for my thoughts on body image.)

The skirt is gathered using 1/4" elastic although the original had you use elastic thread. Mine didn't budge when I steamed it so I had to use elastic anyway. The fit around the derriere is quite snug despite the gathers, and I honestly had a hard time placing them properly so they'd provide adequate coverage.

The neckline is finished with a binding and the sleeves are cut on with the bodice. The top is meant to blouse over the waistband. I assembled this entirely on my serger and used my machine only to hem the sleeves. The PDF is really small (11 or so pages?!) which I LOVE, and assembly to hemming this only took 2 hours, which again I appreciate. As far as easy peasy projects go, this one is close to the Laurel dress, which I can whip up in 2 hours.

The nice thing about this pattern is that you can make the dress or a cropped top plus skirt. I like having options when you buy a pattern. The skirt portion is definitely a new style considering the others that have sprung up - Mabel in particular.

I thought the ruching might hide my belly but alas it simply clings to it. Oh well.

I really enjoyed the critical aspect of being a tester, and I tried to provide a ton of notes, especially how to make the pattern more beginner-friendly. I was not compensated for my time but I was sent the final pattern - which is 20% off until midnight tonight. I know there have been many a musing on the "ethics" of pattern testing, but frankly I think all of that's stupid. I do, however, appreciate the opportunity to show the pattern in a larger size. I may not look like I would fit into the larger sizes, but I'm a consistent 12/14 in Colette, 14 in Sewaholic, 16 in Senna, 16 in Big Four, XL in Megan Nielsen, 16/14 in Nettie, 12/14 in Christine Haynes, 14/16 in By Hand London, etc. 

I appreciate designers making more of an attempt to include sewers of various shapes, sizes and blog followings, and I enjoyed the By Hand London post about their pattern testers. Although, looking back at their group, only 3 appear to fit into the larger end of their patterns. I know it's probably taboo but I like to know a seamstresses measurements when I view their items. It helps me put a pattern into perspective. I'm not shy about mine, and what I've found (quite interestingly) is that at one point my mother and I had identical measurements but looking at us you wouldn't believe it. I have a larger D-cup bust, she wears a B-cup. I have narrow hips in proportion to my bust, she has larger hips. We both have flat butts. Her waist is wider and mine has more depth. It's extremely interesting to think about how different every body is once you get down to the numbers.

Enough waxing on. If I make this again, and I'm currently undecided, I might change the following:
1. Use a darker knit fabric, and maybe use a thicker knit like ponte. This medium weight knit felt a bit thin on my bum.
2. Lower the neckline to more of a bateau and foldover the hem. The crew neck look doesn't work for my ample bust.

Have you ever been a pattern tester? 


  1. Thanks for this post and the pattern review! I have the same body type. I made a similar skirt, and nope, I won't be wearing it! Good point about the high neck, too.

    1. I really wanted to like it, but some things aren't flattering on all body types - oh well!

  2. Thank you so much for taking the time to show us these photos. You have saved a lot of us the trouble of trying this pattern--and dashed my hopes of hiding my belly with side gathers! Many thanks!

    1. I'm so glad the post was helpful Lisa! It's helpful to see the range of testers for each patter I think. It just wasn't a great look on my figure.