Last year, I downloaded Mimi G’s Jessica dress pattern but didn’t make it until this summer. I chose this pattern after reading Trish Stiched’s inspiring denim dress refashion. The girly, retro vibe of the dress is right up my alley, and the gathered skirt makes me want to twirl like a little girl. Here’s my review of what I liked, didn’t like and what I’d do over with The Jessica.
The Jessica is a sweetheart, button-up dress with large, patch pockets. The bodice is put together with princess seams. I cut out size XS for the bust and M from the waist down. This pattern was free when I subscribed to Mimi G’s blog, but it looks like you have to pay for it now.
Whenever possible, I try to buy fabric at the thrift store because it’s sustainable and cheap. It took me a while to find the right fabric because of the 3 ⅞ yardage requirement. I knew a bedsheet would solve the yardage problem, but finding cute sheets can be challenging. After a year of persistent shopping, I found a 100% cotton duvet in a cheerful, gingham pattern.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
This pattern is suitable for an advanced beginner because of all the techniques that go into the construction – gathering, princess seams, buttonholes, button placket and facing. None of these techniques are difficult, but there is a learning curve if you’re not familiar with them. The instructions do a good job walking you through the process.
It took me two nights to tape 33 pages of the pdf pattern, cut out the paper pattern and then cut out the fabric. There are 11 pieces in the pattern, and I spent seven nights sewing the dress as our family binge-watched The Flash on Netflix (my sewing table is in our family room).
There are a few inconsistencies in the pattern that stumped me a bit. First, the back bodice pieces are all straight edges, but the corresponding back facing has a curve to it. The pieces didn’t line up, so I used a bigger seam allowance and made it work. Also, the front bodice facing wasn’t wide enough to accommodate the horizontal buttonholes the pattern called for, so I made the buttonholes vertical. There were no matching notches for the straps, so I eyeballed it.
Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda
This where I complain about the things I wish I could do-over. I am my worst critic.
Before committing to a pattern, I read reviews on PatternReview.com and Instagram for tips and advice. Almost 99% of reviewers widened the straps to make the dress bra-friendly. What did I do? I ignored their words of wisdom and went with the original, thin straps. And of course, my bra straps show.
I left out the patch pockets thinking they were too chunky, but the dress feels plain without them.
As a petite gal, I’m not a fan of short bodices as they make me look chunky at the waist. I thought about extending the bodice by 1” while cutting out the fabric, but I was impatient and wanted to get on with the sewing. In retrospect, I should have listened to my gut instinct. The dress turned out OK, but it’s not the most flattering silhouette on my short frame.
When I sewed the gathered skirt to the bodice, I got a thick, chunky seam allowance at the waist that turned out to be annoyingly abrasive. After wearing the dress for a few hours, I thought that seam allowance was going to saw me in half. I couldn’t wait to rip off the dress when I got home. Next time, I’ll line the bodice to smooth out that seam allowance.
I’d make this dress over again, especially after our waitress at brunch complimented me on it. I have enough fabric to remake the bodice so it would be an easy do-over. If you hop over to Mimi G’s blog, you can see all the ways she styled the dress – over jeans, with a turtleneck, and with boots. She even hacks the pattern into a maxi dress and peplum top. The Jessica is a versatile dress you can wear all year long with some fashionable layers and styling.