I’m not usually one to impulse buy new indie patterns (unless there’s a promo discount…), because frankly they’re pretty pricey and I like to see how other people make up the patterns before I take the plunge! However, the Seren dress, recently released by Tilly and the Buttons, was the exception to this rule.
The yellow, midi-length version with a flounce is just the perfect summer dress and given the weather we’re having in London at the moment, I thought I’d treat myself to the printed pattern (I can’t believe it either).
The Seren is a pretty versatile pattern, with a few different versions to pick from. It comes in two lengths (knee and midi length), and I picked the midi-length. It also comes in various bodice types (standard, tie front and with flounce); ever since the Seren was released, I’ve been wanting to make the flounce version so I opted for that one. If I’m being honest, I just wanted to copy the Seren on the front of pattern envelope, but if I’m realistic, yellow is not my colour!
I’m definitely going to making the other bodice versions, and maybe even a skirt hack. That’s something I love about Big 4 patterns – the multiple views – so when indie patterns manage to do this too, I feel like it’s worth spending the money. Closet Case Patterns are a great example of this; Heather Lou always gives several views in her patterns and it feels like you’re getting good bang for your buck.
I wanted something floaty to emulate the yellow sample Seren you see on the front of the pattern envelope and ended up using some viscose in my stash, bought from Rainbow Fabrics Kilburn. It’s black and yellowy-cream with tiny flowers – very summery and it’s got great drape.
For the midi-length dress, they say you need 2.5 metres of fabric (150cm wide) – I managed to make Size 2 out of 2 metres. That being said, it was a bit of a jigsaw and I think if you were making any size above 2, you’d probably need the full 2.5m. If I were to make the flounce version again, I’d definitely pick a double sided fabric – mine isn’t, and you can see the wrong side of the fabric on the folds of the flounce! Not the end of the world, but not perfect either!
Overall, this dress took about a day to make (though I was distracted by the joy that is Ryan Reynolds in Deadpool and my new addition, This Is Us, so no doubt you could make it in less time..!).
I had a bit of a conundrum on measurements… It’s quite a fitted dress, so I didn’t want too much ease. My measurements (for reference 80 – 65 – 95) suggested I should make a Size 2 on bust and waist, and a size 3/4 on the hip. I decided there was plenty of ease in the hip to risk a straight Size 2 without grading between sizes. However, in retrospect I might be tempted to size down in the bodice, since it fits perfectly around the waist but a little wide in the bust whereas the hip is fine given the not very fitted skirt.
The instructions – like all other Tilly patterns – are second to none. One thing I would say to pay attention to is the stay stitching. It’s something a lot of us (me definitely included!) skip to save time, but for this I’d say it’s very necessary. I stay stitched the diagonals on the skirt panels but must have stretched the fabric as I sewed, because I ended up with a massively uneven hem at the end. Something to bear in my next time!
One thing I didn’t like about the Seren is the hundreds of buttonholes. Okay hundreds is a slight exaggeration, I ended up with 11. And yes, I knew the dress had buttons and buttonholes when I purchased it but it was one of the features I really liked. Oof, but when your machine decides to jam mid-buttonholes, that may be up there with one of the worst feelings you can have as a sewist! And it happened to me three times. Not cool Bernina, not cool.
Overall, this dress was a dream to sew, although I might slightly adjust the fit next time. I’ve got a few ideas for hacks in mind, in particular a skirt with a button down front and slits in the side… But I’m trying to figure out if it will transition into my autumn/winter wardrobe as well (not that this heatwave looks like it will EVER end). Certainly something I’ll be pondering on the tube over the next week 🙂