By hand London Jenna dress

By Hand London | Jenna Dress

Written by Megan Valero

Hello Stitchers!

Welcome to our new blog home and shop website! Now that my toddler (Olimi) is in nursery for 30 hours a week I’m hoping to finally spend time writing blog posts. Something I love to do but always seems to fall to the very bottom of the to-do list. This post feels like a blast from the past as I’m doing a pattern review. My old blog was pretty much solely dedicated to indie pattern reviews and was used as an informal diary for my makes. I don’t keep notes for my makes and it’s seriously frustrating not having a record of changes and to look back over. I hope my review can help you as well as myself!

So after about a year in the sewing, I finally finished sewing the By Hand London, Jenna dress. It was a long and winding sew! Here’s my rundown…….

The pattern

I fell in love with the Jenna dress pattern as soon as it was launched. However I was breastfeeding at the time, so I waited until I was only breastfeeding at night before I attempted sewing it up.

It’s a very cool little dress inspired by the 90’s. I was definitely not cool in the 90’s. To me, this make was trying to redeem myself from the questionable belly tops, ring watches, white pedal pushers, branded boring t-shirt and well.….you get the idea! The list goes on! Flashback to when my life goal was to have a 3 piece set inflatable furniture set….

Anyway about the pattern! Like most By Hand London patterns the dress has a romantic air about it.  The dress comes with two variations but I (along with everyone else) fell in love with the sleeves of variation 1, a cute tie cuff. I also loved the square neckline and how this dress is just casual enough to pair well with trainers just as much as ankle boots. The dream.

Fabric

Heavily inspired by Janene’s (@oobop on instagram) tester version I knew I had to use a check or gingham fabric. Cutting check or gingham on the bias is such an effective way to make a bold statement with the print.

The fabric I used was a Walthamstow market bargain I bought a few years ago during a sewing meetup. I love this fabric and had been saving it for something special, however when I got it out to start cutting it I noticed it had this faint, spluttered stain all throughout the fabric. Now, the fabric already kinda looks like a tablecloth so to have this pasta sauce, splattering, staining was not the look! 

Walthamstow does a lot of deadstock fabric and the price was cheap so I felt I couldn’t be too mad but I was disappointed. This has been the first time this has ever happened to me and usually the fabric I buy at markets is great but now I would recommend you make sure to check your fabric when you buy from cheap markets. The staining isn’t noticeable unless you look extremely closely at the fabric thankfully.

The gingham on this fabric it rectangular, which doesn’t look as neat as a square on the bias but I think also has an appeal. I personally think that if your fabric is drapey enough you don’t have to cut the skirt on the bias. Cutting on the bias does take up more fabric and I’m not entirely sure it would be worth cutting and wasting so much fabric without the print adding to the dress. However, that is a personal opinion.

Sizing

OK, so this is why I desperately need to keep a blog for my makes. I can’t remember! I think I cut a UK size 12 for the bust and UK size 14 for the waist and hips…….but again my weight and proportions have fluctuated more than usual since my body was adjusting to weaning off breastfeeding. 

Adjustments

Never cut into your good fabric without doing a toile. I have continued to not learn this lesson many times BUT this time I was determined to do things properly, I did a full on toile (I’m shocked too) doing a full toile for this dress really isn’t necessary and actually only the bodice is fitted, I would recommend just doing a toile of the bodice….which I did with my second toile.

By Hand London are supposed to draft their patterns for a B cup, unless you buy their extended size range which is drafted for a D cup. HOWEVER I would say their patterns are too generous for a standard B. Which for me at the time was perfect. My first toile at the bust fitted the best. I was a small D cup and perfect. I have been a bit spoiled when it comes to not having to do bust adjustments. Since most pattern companies draft for a B cup I’ve never had to do any bust adjustments.

The main adjustment was an armscye adjustment for better mobility, which I seem to do a lot. I always use the Threads tutorial, their video is very clear and useful. I didn’t have to do a broad shoulder adjustment which is something I have to do with certain pattern companies.

The bodice of this pattern took some tinkering with and could probably use a bit more. I started this pattern when I was still breastfeeding and the final version was finished when I stopped breastfeeding completely and during that time my breast size fluctuate and while I still measure as at 36 inches, I’m most definitely back to being a B cup. 

Next time

Unfortunately this needs more toiles. I’ve not cracked the fit on the bodice and am sorely tempted by the By Hand London Fitting eBook. I don’t want to be too much of a perfectionist but the shoulders slip about too much for my liking and with only the bodice needing a nice fit, it would be a shame for it not to be as good as possible.

I’m not gonna lie when I saw how stained my fabric was I kinda did an internal sigh, gave up a bit and treated this make as more of a toile, a nice one but my heart was half out! The zip insertion is not the best and I should have spent more time pattern matching the back bodice but no ragrets (know that’s spelt wrong, it’s just a nod to the film We’re The Millers lol). 

If I make this again I might make the skirt longer. The skirt feels a bit too short for me? Still in two minds about that, I love the length when I’m walking around but when sitting or bending over the coverage is minimal! 

I still love this dress and it really encompasses a period of my life where there were lots of changes. It also doesn’t hurt that this would make the most perfect running through a meadow dress. 

Best Pigeon Wishes, Meg