Back in September, Emily from In The Folds asked me if I'd like to review an advance copy of her new pattern the Acton Dress. We virtually met earlier this year when we did a little pattern exchange; I sent her the Lou Box Top and she sent me the Rushcutter Dress. I learned so much making the Rushcutter (Emily is a genius pattern maker) so I jumped at the chance to try out the Acton Dress.
The pattern comes with two variations. View A has a low back and standard skirt and view B has a high back and a wrap skirt. I decided to go with view B because I really love the drama of the high back combined with the cut away shoulders. I also really like the wrap skirt because I feel like it makes it a little more casual and adds some visual interest. It could even look cool with a contrasting fabric as the front skirt underneath the wrap.
The wrap also gives some options for how to wrap and tie the skirt. In the photos, I wore it tied tightly around the waist, wrapping the long ties twice. In the photo on the hanger above, I just tied it in front and let the skirt hang more asymmetrically.
I am always impressed by Emily's construction techniques and I learn so much using her patterns. One thing to pay careful attention to when sewing this dress is the seam allowance. The seam allowance varies depending on the seam so read your instructions carefully. The seam allowance is also marked on the pattern for reference which is handy. I actually cut between sizes for my dress. I was expecting it to be a little tricky for matching notches but it all fit together perfectly. That's a sign of some pretty impressive drafting.
And here you can see what it looks like unwrapped. Pretty fun right?
The pattern is drafted for a B-cup and Emily recommends doing a full bust adjustment if you are not a B cup. My upper bust is 35" and full bust is 38" setting me at a C-cup. I selected my starting size using this tutorial from Melly Sews which instructs to choose your size based on your upper bust plus 2 inches for the B-cup drafting. I then used this tutorial from By Hand London to make the princess seam FBA.
I cut between a size D and E and did a 1" FBA. I think I could maybe take in the princess seams over the bust about 1/4 inch each. By Hand London's tutorial instructs you to choose your size based on your waist measurement. The waist is a little loose on me too (which is ok with the wrap around skirt). So, I do wonder if that would have been a little better for me. But despite the not quite perfect fit, I totally love it. I may open up the lining and just take in the bust a bit. Not too late to do that. I’m always a little nervous about making something too tight and then being uncomfortable.
The only thing that made me nervous about this dress was the BRA ISSUE. As a lady who needs an FBA, I can not go with out a bra. I've worn strapless bras on occasion and they either created an unfortunate uni-boob or were frightfully uncomfortable. I went to the mall, which I hate. But after just a short visit to Macy's I actually found a strapless bra that's comfortable!!!! It is this bra by b.tempt'd (I'm size 36D, btw, cause I think we sewists are full disclosure on sizes, right?). I bought it in nude so that I can wear it with future strappy garments. This bra has seriously opened up so many more garment designs to me. If you've been scared off the strapless, I highly recommend giving them a second chance.
The other big change I made to this dress was the length. I was planning to wear it to nighttime parties and wanted it to hit mid-calf length so I added a whopping 8 inches to the length. I'm 5'11" so I usually add some length to my dresses but 8 inches is a lot more than I usually add. I really love the length that this came out at. It feels really elegant and perfect for a kind of fancy party.
The fabric is a black linen from The Fabric Store in Los Angeles. (Disclosure: I'm partnering with them for a few months and they generously gave me this fabric.) The fabric is a great basic. It's super easy to work with and not at all itchy (yay!). I found the fabric in the store but you can also purchase it online here. Before I got the linen, I also bought some floral fabric to use with this pattern. And I still might use it for this pattern. I just love this silhouette so much that I kind of want to wear it all the time. I also love that it balances out the bareness of the bodice.
I initially thought I'd make this as a fabulous birthday dress (my birthday is tomorrow!). Then I realized that I needed a fabulous new dress for a film festival I attend every year in mid-October. And of course that meant I only had about two weeks to make the dress. I hemmed the skirt without checking that it was even and I did the final hand sewing in my hotel room. It was a rush but so worth it. I wore the dress twice during the festival. I had a second dress but I LOVED this one so much that I wore it again. Putting on this dress just makes me feel fantastic. And I got so many compliments.
I know Emily originally intended this to be a casual summer dress but I can't help thinking how glamorous the design is. And depending on your fabric it can be very formal. This would make a fantastic dress for New Years Eve and I could even see it made as wedding gown. Congratulations Emily on another fantastic pattern! Thank you for letting me try it out. Now, everybody, go buy yourself a copy and get your NYE dress sorted.
Disclosure: I received an advance copy of this pattern for free in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. The links to this pattern are affiliate links, meaning that I'll receive a small commission if you decide to purchase the pattern. Thank you for supporting this blog and the indie sewing community.