If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you’ll probably notice that I’ve sewn up quite a few Pattern Scout patterns. That’s why when there was a call for pattern testers for the Ava Dress on the Pattern Scout Newsletter (always sign up for the newsletter because this is where all the good stuff is!) I signed up to do the testing immediately. I suffered a bit of self-doubt for a moment. I mean, who starts a new hobby as complex as sewing then signs up to be a pattern tester as a beginner? But I guess Pattern Makers would need testers from a wide range of skill levels and I was lucky enough to get in!
So, what is the Ava Dress? From Pattern Scout, “The Ava Dress is a sleeveless, popover dress with a faux wrap bodice and elasticated waist designed for woven fabrics”. In my own words, I would describe it as a wrap dress with a more minimalist aesthetic. It has a very neat silhouette which can be worn for work or play. It comes in two lengths which also increases the versatility of the dress and the sleeves are designed to just peep over the edge of your shoulders which is very flattering and very chic.
The testing turnaround was a week. I have no idea if this is the normal time given for pattern testing but I suppose if you’re about to put a pattern out, you need your testers to be giving you their feedback in that short amount of time to finalise your adjustments for the pattern. It might also prevent details of the pattern leaking out before launching. It was exciting to imagine that I was part of a secret mission and team that were tasked to secretly make this fabulous pattern and then wait for the release to be able to finally let our friends and family know that we contributed (in some small way) to helping the birth of a beautiful new garment.
But let’s be clear that the design is completely the work of the Designer, in this case the very talented Casey Sibley of Pattern Scout. Pattern Testers are asked not to “hack” the pattern during the testing. We sew up the pattern and simply give feedback on the instructions, garment fitting, pattern pieces and the feel of wearing the garment. There was also an inspiration board on what fabrics other Testers were sewing with. I chose a cotton linen to sew up the shorter version of the Ava Dress. According to my measurements of High Bust of 36 inches, Bust of 37 inches, Waist of 33 inches and Hips of 38 inches, I fitted best into the Size 12 B. Like with most new patterns, I made a toile of the dress to check the fit and it seemed that I didn’t need to make any adjustments. When I made the final piece, I just added an inch to the elastic for the waist and also left the hem a bit longer by folding over by 1cm twice rather than folding over by 1cm then by 1 inch. These are just personal preferences and not really to do with designer’s fit of the garment.
As a beginner sewing enthusiast, I tend to look for extra skill sets I can learn from a pattern. I look at purchasing patterns not just as items I’d like to wear but for the skill set that I can gain from sewing those patterns. In the Ava Dress Pattern, I love that Casey gives such clear instructions on how to french seam the garment, how to interface the facings in a neat way and the flat felled seam was also a first for me.
Would I do pattern testing again? Yes! Without hesitation if I’m lucky enough to be selected. But I would have to feel comfortable and I would have to love the design, as I do here. It does come with a little bit of pressure due to the time frame so it’s important not to let the designer down by not completing the mission (should you wish to accept). Other than that, the other sewists were so knowledgeable with their fitting expertise. It was inspiring to be in the same space (albeit, a virtual space). I felt so supported and included all the way in this community of sewing experts.
To have a look at the Ava Dress for yourself and to see what the other Pattern Testers made just go to https://patternscoutstudio.com/products/ava-dress-pdf-sewing-pattern