Hey all, got a fun make to show you today. It’s denim, it has mega-deep pockets, and it’s got a dangerous bite – Intrigued? Read on.
The pattern is Marilla Walker’s Isca dress. A pattern I was smitten with instantly when it was released and knew it would meet my sewing machine one day. That day came a bit ago, if you follow me on instagram you might remember me cutting into this fabric on a sunny afternoon not unlike the ones we’ve been having lately.
The pattern comes in two views and for the untrained eye they look spectacularly different from one another. One is a loose fitting wrap dress and the other is a shirt dress. If you like both of those styles this pattern will serve you very well. I went with view A, the shirt dress. Not terribly surprising from me perhaps, but I like what I like so here we are with my continuing run of shirt dresses on the blog.
This dress has some neat and thoughtful features that set it apart from other shirt dresses. The deep yoke pockets are the stuff of pocket related dreams (what, you don’t have those?). They add visual interest to the dress as well as ample room to store away fussy hands, balls of yarn, or tired kittens. The reinforced shoulders and lapped seams on the front bodice make for cool style seam lines that truly makes this dress just a bit different. The dress is fitted in the shoulder, and more loose at the waist. Additional features are a fully constructed collar and stand, curved hem and a partly gathered dress, so the skirt is not as full as a fully gathered skirt. Flat felled seams are used throughout the pattern, which makes for a beautiful finish.
All these things combined make for a pattern that is crafted with care. Which also means that the sewing should be done with a bit more care, and extra attention. This is not a fast sew. Even if you were to buzz through it there are just a couple of techniques and details involved that will slow you down no matter how fast you go. However I think it’s absolutely worth it.
For a dress that is so neat and a pattern that was made with such care, I haven’t seen that many people making it. Perhaps because it is a more involved make?
For all that lyrical waxing about them, I have to admit I mostly didn’t do the flat felled seams, as my fabric was quite thick. There was a footnote in the pattern that if your fabrics didn’t take to the flat seams you could just serge or zigzag them. So that’s what I did, makes for a more “normal” inside but other than that it works fine. The collar uses a different construction method than I’m used to, which is a more modern way of doing it and supposedly also easier. I tried to roll with it but it just wouldn’t work for me. I think it was in large part due to the fabric not having it, but perhaps I also just like the traditional way more? We’ll see, perhaps I’ll try again in a more cooperative fabric.
As for sizing I went with my bust size, and am happy with the fit. The only easy mod I did, was changing the skirt length. As it was it would give me a midi length, but I shortened it to a an over-knee length. I did this before cutting out the fabric, so just shortening the the skirt piece a bit.
I had the fabric in my stash for some time, saving it for a pattern that would suit it but would also be special. Marilla’s pattern sample for this dress is made in a wildly cool fabric that I think she splatter dyed herself (this is the technical term, yes), but the dress looks good in literally any fabric I’ve seen it made in. Mine is a midweight denim with a selection of tiny dinosaurs on it! It’s the perfect print, it is awesome, but in disguise, at glance or from a distance it looks like a normal denim dress it’s only when you get closer you see it’s actually tiny brontosaurus and t-rex friends (the selection of dinos is totally not causing any problems in terms of cohabitant species in any way). It is such a cool, cool fabric, and a perfect match for this pattern, like it was made for it and I’m glad I went with it.
However… it was a nightmare to sew with. Any lines that where not straight seamlines, were… difficult. I don’t know if my machine was just spectacularly unsuited for the fabric or it would have been a fight regardless…but yeah…I have not fun memories of sewing the collar. Let’s just keep it at that. But yay, subtle dinos for the win! My dinosaur loving young self (I used to play with plastic dinos in my parent’s house plant pots for hours on end) would have loved this, but my adult self loves it possibly even more cause now I know that dinos are cool, but selfmade clothes are even more so.
Buttons are more cutesy than I would normally go for with a dress with an already cutesy print. However, when I went to the haberdashery in my town (that is actually a sewing machine store that sells thread and a few bits and bobs on the side) they only had one wooden button in the size that I needed. The elderly shop clerk went over such trouble to find them all in a big jar and then a to find a lot that matched in shade. And it was such a perfectly rural small town mid 60’s experience (I neither live in a small rural town, nor in the- ahum- 60’s) that of course I bought them. By the time I had biked back to my apartment they had grown so much on me that of course I also put them on the dress. In the end I think it suits the dress (oh, I’m definitely biased), I think they’re both subtle enough to make it work.
If you’re curious about the knitwear; I’m wearing it with my blue Brackett hat and, in some of the photos, a Sibella cardigan. The latter I knit in 2015 to replace a blue cardigan (my second garment ever!) that I had worn to pieces. The replacement is now also adorned with an elbow patch on each arm and some minor mends here and there.
You can tell I’m really chuffed with this dress.. I think it’s maybe the coolest dress I’ve made to date, and certainly the most involved and best constructed shirt dress. I love this pattern and I don’t imagine this will be the last example I sew from it. I wore it to celebrate another trip around the sun for me in March ( just before all things Covid-19 broke out here) and throughout the day people kept saying things like “hey wait a minute are those dinosaurs?” To which I gleefully replied yes and, audience willing, went of to break down my theories of which dinosaurs I think are actually depicted. Seriously, this is why you should come to all my parties (post pandemic of course).
Hope you are all well and until next time!