The idea that a pattern can fit me out of the package is up there with running into a unicorn or getting to hang out with the ghost of Edgar Allan Poe. If I am lucky, I will need only two adjustments, an armscye raise and a waist expansion. More often than not, I have to add to this list–shoulder seam is too long, neckline is too wide, bust darts point to the wrong place, too much fabric here, not enough fabric there… I don’t even know the technical name for some of the adjustments I have to make. So imagine my surprise–no, not surprise but sheer delight– when after creating a muslin for the Aubépine Dress by Deer and Doe, it fit perfectly? Not only that, but the pattern has no closures, it comes together quickly in spite of the tucks, and hey, it has tucks! This dress is an all-around winner.
The Aubépine Dress has been on my radar for some time now, but a new direction in my wardrobe prompted me to buy it. I want to add more dresses to my work clothes, and the length of the pattern combined with a loose fit makes the Aubepine a great option for me. I purchased the PDF file and had it printed at a print shop. I had some beautiful and delicious rayon I bought during my last visit back home. With memories of similar dresses I wore in the 90s, I started sewing the Aubépine.
The Aubépine is an empire-waist dress with two sleeve options and tucks on the bodice and sleeves. The skirt is beautifully flared with the help of 8 inverted box pleats. The dress is fully lined and a waist drawstring helps give it shape.
The size range is definitely not impressive. Granted that it is made to be roomy from the empire line down, the largest size only goes to a 45 ⅝ bust, a 37 ¾ waist, and a 48 hip. D&D patterns are drafted for an hourglass figure (the opposite of what my body looks like), but I had good luck adapting other patterns to fit me. I selected a size 48 based on the finished bust size. Because of the empire dress shape, I did not have to consider waist or hip measurements.
I came across some more Brazilian rayon when I was back to see my family in Rio. I LOVE rayon so much, and rayon is king in fabric stores in Rio. It handles hot, humid weather like a champ. My only complaint is that most rayon prints available are super colorful, so I am left with a very limited selection. I found a lovely polka dot print that turned out to be the perfect choice for this project. I have an even lovelier moon-and-stars version on the way just waiting for it to be hemmed.
The only fit adjustment I made was raising the neckline. I wanted this dress to handle the needs of my job well. I work in a school library, so bending forward to help students is part of my day. I wanted to make sure that I had enough boob coverage not to have to feel self-conscious. It is still a little more revealing when I lean over than what I would have liked, but I think that raising it any more would have distorted the neckline.
Modifications to the Pattern
I switched the drawstring for ties. I read reviews where the suggestion was to replace the drawstring with elastic, so I tried it when I made my first muslin. I really did not like how the elastic made my boobs look much bigger (really, elastic, I don’t need help in this department). The solution came with ties that I placed on the side seam right where the bodice and the skirt meet. It helps give the dress more shape without emphasizing my chest.
The most complicated aspect of this dress are the tucks. They have to be marked on the right side of the fabric, so I had to find something that would come off once I was done sewing. I tried different options—Saran paper, chalk powder marker, water-soluble pencil, and heat-erasable fabric marking pen.
The best option for me was the Clover heat-erasable fabric marking pen. Both fabrics are black, and every other option either left a residue or did not mark the fabric well. The white ink takes a while to appear, but when it dries, it leaves a line that is easy to follow. The heat-erasable quality is so true to its name that I could not iron the tucks until they were all sewn. I tried following the instructions from the pattern and ironed each tuck as it was finished, and I erased all my lines. A lesson learned.
TIP: Heat-erasable fabric marking pens can make the job of marking on the right side of the fabric much easier. Always test on a small scrap before you use it on your fabric.
I always finish any raw edge with my serger. I like the clean look–but hate weaving the thread tails! I finish the edges of each individual pattern piece before I start construction. If you don’t have a serger, French seams look beautiful and take no more time than serging and dealing with the thread tails.
I opted for the short sleeve variation. I know I will be wearing these dresses with cardigans, and the three-quarter sleeve would be too bulky under the cardigan sleeves. I simply shortened the sleeve pattern and added a narrow hem to finish them.
I ignored most instructions and sewed the dress as I usually do–shoulder seams first, then each bodice piece to its respective skirt panel. I like to sew sleeves on the flat–it is much easier and faster than setting in a sleeve. Once the sleeves were attached, I sewed the side seams down from the sleeves all the way to the hem, making sure to secure the ties. I finished the hem with a narrow hem. I serged the raw edge and then turned the edge twice.
The original pattern is fully lined. For my first Aubépine, I drafted a facing for the neckline. I will be wearing this version with a slip. The second version will be fully lined.
The Aubépine Dress
This dress is a dream! I finished one and already have a second one just waiting to be hemmed. I want to make a third, fancier one to replace a beloved dress that no longer fits. The Aubépine is flowy and beautiful and everything I want in a dress. The polka-dotted one has tucks and no lining; the moon-and-stars one does not have tucks but it is fully lined. I can wear them in the summer with open shoes or Havaianas and in the winter with tights, a cardigan, and boots (Los Angeles winter, people!). It is a bummer that the size range is so limited; I hope that Deer and Doe updates this pattern to make it more inclusive so everyone can enjoy the glory that is the Aubépine dress.
Do you have a “The One” pattern? Let me know in the comments.