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Gemma’s Davenport Dress

Gemma received October’s Luxury box and made a Friday Pattern Company Davenport dress with the Art Gallery Fabric cotton “Stars Aligned Treat” from their Spooky n Sweet collection

Here in the UK the weather just seems unable to make up its mind – we are now officially in Autumn, however the sun and warmth has made a brief (yet very welcome!) return and is reluctant to leave us! 

So while I may have started planning my winter sewing, it appears I can still get a bit more wear from my summer makes. My box this month contained a beautiful Art Gallery cotton, the perfect #lilacloversclub shade featuring a subtle directional star pattern. Contemplating what to make with it, I decided that if I was going to make yet another dress then I wanted a new pattern to try, something to reignite my attention and be an interesting sew. It would be a double win if I could find a pattern that would make a good transitional piece, as it’s very satisfying knowing that you haven’t limited yourself to one season. 

I found the answer in a recently released pattern from The Friday Pattern Company: The Davenport Dress. I’m becoming a big fan of their patterns – they have interesting features and design details that look like they would be complicated but are actually really simple, and transform a basic item into something much more visually appealing. Because of this they allow wardrobe staples to have so much scope in terms of making the garment your own, and I find their instructions really clear and concise. I also really love that they show their patterns on a range of people and sizes, as this really gives me a good indication as to how it may work on me, as well as creating an inclusive look and feel.

I was really intrigued by the Davenport dress when I first saw it – it looks like a great throw-on dress as it does not have any fastenings (the neckline is elasticated so you can pull it over) and a really good nod to the tiered/floaty dress vibe that looks here to stay. 

It has a drawstring waist to add shaping (which is always a big tick for me and my style) and most importantly, big roomy pockets! It seemed too good to be true in terms of ticking all my preferences and I couldn’t wait to get started! 

One thing I did consider slightly was whether the cotton would be a little too heavy/stiff, as the examples I had seen were more lawn/viscose variations, and so might not have the same floaty-ness I would need. However in my mind I was after a comfortable day dress with some hold so thought I would go for it and see!

I really enjoyed this sew. After losing my sew-jo for a bit and despite battling a cold whilst making this, it was a really enjoyable process. It’s construction was the first thing that threw me – the top is not pieced together in a way I have come across before. It has front and back yokes, as well as gathers, a ruffle on the sleeve and an elasticated neckline.

At first I thought that this was going to be tricky, but the techniques to make these blew my mind with how simple it was – I was very thankful, let me tell you! But it also really impressed me that you could create such stunning features in this way, and that carried on when I got to the drawstring at the waist. This is made with a channel on that outside of the dress, and again, not complicated in the slightest. 

I like how these features all compliment each other on the design of the dress, and really add the wow factor to the look. I thought it was going to take me a while to make, but I had it sewn up in an afternoon: the longest part really was that bottom tier ruffle….. Oh the length of the hem! Again, I was truly amazed that it came together so quickly, and couldn’t love the pattern more for it!

In terms of adaptations I made one which is fairly obvious – I left off the sleeves and used bias binding to finish the armhole. Although they are another nice feature of the dress, I thought that it may be a bit too much visually in this colour, and I prefer sleeveless garments anyways, especially if I want them to be transitional for different temperatures so that I can layer them. 

On trying the dress on I am really glad I did – the bodice sits very fitted, and the sleeve head would have pulled too tightly on me, so I may need to go up a size to avoid this (I made a size XL based on the measurements given, which says 14-16) on a future dress. 

I also subtly played around with the direction of the print for the pattern pieces: the main body of the dress has the stars going horizontally, with the bottom ruffle and drawstring channel going vertically, so give a little unique interest.

On the topic of the drawstring, I would maybe consider using an actual drawstring rather than constructing one from your fabric (as it says in the pattern) as I find mine doesn’t stay tied tightly for very long.

One thing that does bother me is that bottom ruffle – it is cut in 4 pieces and joined together in a round, so that means you can see a seam on the front and back of the dress. I don’t like this (perhaps in a more flowy fabric you wouldn’t notice it) and so next time I would cut 2 pieces on the fold to avoid it, and also make them slightly smaller to take out some of the gather, as there is A LOT of gathering for my liking!

Other than those points, I love this dress so much. The fabric is great, really comfortable and gives it such a casual ‘brunch date’ vibe. I can really recommend the pattern, not only for being an interesting sew but for being such an easy one, and I know that I cannot wait to make so many more of these dresses – we all know how much of a repeater I am when I find a pattern I love!