The December Dress by indie pattern designer Kristi at George + Ginger came out last year as part of the 2019 Winter Collection. It was beautiful, looked great on every body, and yet still I was very hesitant to try this one for myself. There were indeed plus size/curvy testers which was reassuring, but no one that I felt was very similar to my body shape. I am a true apple shape in my opinion. I have a sewing size ‘C’ bust which means there is a 3″ difference between my upper bust and full bust. I’m just barely on the edge of having to do a small bust adjustment when I sew curvy patterns in my size depending on how much negative or positive ease is built in. My waist and full hip is usually 1 to 3 sizes larger than my bust as well because I carry weight in my mid section. As many of you probably also agree, this is why sewing is liberating – because I can grade between sizes! But I was still unsure because my concern was that the silhouette of the December Dress looked like it would add extra bulk to my widest area and thus not make me feel wonderful when I’m wearing it.
Well, what do you think?
So it turns out this might be one of my FAVOURITE new tunics! Now let me tell you why!
The Pattern: December Dress and Tunic
Designer: George + Ginger
Size Range: Tween to 5X
What I Made: 4X bust, graded to 5X waist and hip
Pattern Options: Tunic Length, 3/4 sleeve
Personal Fit Adjustments: 2″ Full bicep adjustment
Personal Style Adjustments: no pockets, front hemline lowered 1/2″
This pattern is only fitted at the bust and under bust area. If you’re not used to adjusting patterns much yet, one concept that can be helpful to understand is ease. If you already know about ease…feel free to skip through this paragraph. Designers use this to their advantage to guide the intended fit of the garment in the recommended fabric base. Ease refers to the size of the finished garment compared to your actual body measurements. Positive ease means the finished measurement is larger than the body measurement and would be typical of woven garments, relaxed or loose fitting styles. Negative ease means the finished garment is smaller than your actual measurement and will be snug to the body or even tight. You will find leggings, many patterns for knit fabrics, and anything with a snug fit likely relies on negative ease. While you should usually choose your pattern size based on the designers size table, it can be helpful to look at finished garment measurements as well so you know how much ease is built into the style. You can then adjust either way based on your personal fit preference or perhaps to accommodate the fabric you intend to use for your garment.
My muslin of this pattern was made in a double brushed polyester that has a bit less stretch and a tiny bit more structure than the final garment you see pictured here. The final is a very light and drapey bamboo lycra jersey from Blended Thread Fabrics. Since I was sewing this Dark Floral up as a strike off (a sample garment made to showcase the fabric design), I didn’t want to risk an ill-fitting garment. If you’re not in the habit of making muslins, I strongly recommend it. You’re less likely to be disappointed if you ‘waste’ your favourite fabric, and you can work out any adjustments that aren’t quite right. Once you’ve been sewing for a while, you can learn how certain designers fit your body. I can often make a pretty well fitting garment by doing my usual adjustments. But any time I try a new designer, or a style I’m really unsure about, I absolutely make a muslin. This was my first George + Ginger pattern.
So why did I make the style adjustments that I did? After looking through the tester gallery for the pattern, I noticed that the front hem is not straight across and has an upward curve. As I already have a full tummy and sometimes adjust for it depending on the pattern, I didn’t want the curve to look accidental and a sign of ill fit but rather as intentional. In this pattern, lowering the front hem by 1/2″ at midline was enough to accomplish the equivalent of a full tummy adjustment. I did not include the pockets because I was worried they would add extra bulk where I didn’t want it. Also, I find bamboo lycra tends to grow vertically more than some other stable fabrics, and I didn’t want the extra pocket weight distorting the stripes too much.
Good to Know…
- George and Ginger patterns have less page alignment guides than some other designers, so under lighting or assembling on a window can be helpful. Or, print the A0 copy shop version.
- You require fabric with at least 50% stretch, horizontal is more important here.
- Fabric content and drape will change the silhouette a fair bit. Structured fabrics (e.g. cotton lycra jersey, liverpool, ponte, scuba) will have more ‘poof’ or ‘wings’ at your hip, compared to very drapey fabrics that will lay closer to the body (e.g. bamboo lycra, double brushed poly, rayon blends, modal, tencel).
- If you are using bamboo, DBP or something similar, consider using a fusible hem tape instead of stitching the hem up. I’ll share more on this in my next blog post.
- If you are using a serger, make sure you are comfortable making a tight curve. The ‘wings’ are a quick turn and sergers can march right along very quickly. Definitely practice if it’s not something you’re used to.
- When I sew with bamboo and similar on a serger, I prefer wooly nylon in my upper looper. I always use a thread net with wooly nylon to prevent tangling and to help with tension. For other knits I would generally use maxilock stretch in the upper looper. Wooly nylon also means I drop my tension in the upper looper to 1 or 0, and the lower looper as high as 8 if needed.
- This pattern really isn’t any more difficult than a basic t-shirt but the end result is so much more dramatic and lovely.
- Oh probably about 10 more tunics! I wear tunics and leggings to work A LOT, so I can see filling my wardrobe with a bunch for all seasons including some short sleeve for summer.
- I will add pockets next time just to see how they feel. I don’t actually use pockets much though, so not sure how often I’ll add them.
- Ironically, I’m actually thinking about making a version with even MORE dramatic volume at the hips! I felt like a million bucks in this dress, and I feel like the silhouette does all the right things for my confidence!
I hope to challenge myself a lot more this year to try patterns that might be outside my warm and fuzzy comfort zone. Inevitably they won’t all be as amazingly successful as the December Dress, but I will definitely be trying more of the edgy George + Ginger patterns because they really are unique and different from what so many other designers are doing.