I made a cuff top by The Assembly Line last year and it was one of my most loved and reached-for garments during the warmer months. The relaxed, comfortable shape is so easy to wear, but the pretty details (topstitched seams, keyhole neckline and gathered cuffs) elevate it and make it feel special. Naturally, as soon as the dress version of the pattern was released I added it to my ‘things to sew’ list and decided to include it in my ‘make nine’ plans for 2021.
Before I bought fabric for my dress I did a lot of hashtag hunting to find versions I liked and see what they had been sewn in. I much prefered the look of the cuff dress when it had been made in a drapey fabric rather than something with structure, so I started to browse for things like tencel and linen blends. I had originally envisaged my dress being a solid colour, but then I saw this stunning deadstock viscose challis from Rainbow Fabrics on Elisalex’s story and couldn’t get it out of my mind… I decided it would make a really cute, swishy dress for spring, so I ordered 3m for the bargain price of £21!
As with the cuff top I read a lot of people mention that the dress runs very large, so I decided to cut the size XS even though my body measurements put me at a size S. I’m really pleased with the fit and I definitely recommend sizing down unless you want a very generous amount of ease. The neckline on my top was too wide (a lot of people adjust this to make it narrower), but the front bodice of the dress is very different to the top and I could see from the pattern pieces and line drawings that the neckline would be fine, so I decided not to make any alterations.
I actually didn’t make any adjustments to the pattern at all and I don’t think I would if I made it again either. If I used a more structured fabric I might consider removing a couple of centimetres in length from the bodice to make sure it wasn’t too billowy, but I think the XS is pretty perfect for me as it is. The only slight change I made was to use 25mm elastic rather than 30mm as that was what I had available and I’m pretty sure it makes no difference whatsoever.
In terms of sewing this is a super simple make and a confident beginner should have no trouble at all following the pattern. Construction is straightforward and the instruction booklet is comprehensive… that being said, considering this pattern is so expensive (£21 for a paper copy) there was something that disappointed me. The diagrams in the pattern quite obviously originate from the cuff top instructions, which makes perfect sense – why reinvent the wheel? However, two of the diagrams (step 6F and 8A) clearly show a centre front seam and there isn’t one on the cuff dress. Another diagram (step 4A) has been not very skillfully edited to remove the centre front seam. This is not the end of the world, but it could prove very confusing for some sewists and quite honestly, I expect better from a pattern that costs so much.
That being said… I really love my first cuff dress and I definitely think it’s a pattern I will make again. I had my doubts about the floral fabric while I was sewing as I kept getting ‘old lady’ vibes, but as soon as I put the finished dress on those doubts disappeared. It looks good with tights/boots and a chunky cardigan for the winter, but I can’t wait to style it with cute clogs and a wicker bag for the summer – and a tan too, hopefully!
I still have a version in a solid colour floating around in my mind and I think shortening it to knee-length would give it a lovely summery vibe. Emporia Fabric and Crafts have just listed some beautiful linen viscose blends which would be perfect!