FARRAH DRESS x CHALK AND NOTCH
I'm not even sure what possessed me to fill out the tester application for Gabriela of Chalk and Notch. I've never tested before, I hadn't sewn more than a knit skirt for myself in ages, and I wasn't even sure the pattern would suit my more recent mom-bod. Maybe my reasoning skills were diminished by excessive exhaustion as I submitted my application half asleep in bed late one night. Regardless, a couple days later I received an email from Gabriela inviting me to test her new dress--and I'm so glad I did!
The Farrah Top + Dress is the second women's pattern from Chalk and Notch. Its a shift style dress (or top) with a split hi-lo hem, arm gusset, and two ruffle options. I made a dress with ruffle sleeves but there's also a sleeveless option with a lovely front ruffle.
I used a cool, drapey rayon from Art Gallery Fabrics that I picked up at Harts Fabrics (love!) in Santa Cruz. This pattern is so perfect in rayon--the ruffles cascade beautifully and the dress just *feels* good to wear. For a more structured look, cotton lawn or linen has looked awesome in other testers (take a look at them here).
Some things I love about the Farrah: first, enclosed seams! All seams are enclosed by way of lining or bias tape, and it really amps up the professional look of the dress. Half the fun of sewing is a spot-on inside! And I love being able to use bias tape to add a fun pop of color or interesting pattern to a garment. Its the little things, people. Second, no darts, front or back. They have their place, but sometimes its nice to sew something up that's straightforward and requires a little less prep work. And that hem! Every time I wear this dress I still notice the hi-lo hem. The split hem is constructed with mitered corners (another thoughtful detail) and there's something about it that just feels fun to wear. Now, I'm really short (5'1"), so even after adjusting for length my tester was still longer on me than the pattern intends (above the knee) but with a pair of wedges I actually really like it. And if you need to adjust your Farrah top or dress for height, Gabriela has done a great job adding shorten/lengthen markings to the pattern. Overall actually, this is one professional pattern. Clean illustrations, easy to understand directions--it was actually a joy to sew this dress because of the thoroughness with which it was created.
Lets talk about the ruffles. It is possible to do the narrow hem by hand but a narrow hem presser foot is very much recommended. I actually got one for Christmas a few months ago but after one try I was like, "forget this!". But I was definitely not interested in hemming those curved ruffles by hand so it behooved me to try again. I still need some more practice with it but the narrow hem foot really was a time saver and the sections where I had it down look seriously awesome. Another option for the ruffles that I've been thinking about is doing them in a coordinating drapey knit, that way no hemming is needed.
After having two kids my body has changed a lot over the last few years and honestly I'm still trying to figure out my shape nowadays but ya know what? I've read dozens of posts about what to wear for body type XYZ, and that's some useful information--like really, its refreshing to try clothes on and say "this garment doesn't really work for me and my body" instead of "my body doesn't work for this garment". But there is something to be said for liking what you're wearing regardless of "the rules". So yeah, I may not know if I'm technically supposed to wear shift dresses, but the Farrah is comfortable and I feel good in it. And isn't wearing confidence such a game changer? But personal rambling aside, go take a look at all of the other fabulous testers. This pattern is beyond flattering on everyone, and I feel like that's because Gabriela worked really hard to pay attention to how things fit different bodies and created a quality pattern that is accessible for so many women.
I'm a big fan of the Farrah Dress and can't wait to sew more! Which option would you make, ruffle sleeves or ruffle front?
This review is my honest opinion of a pattern I received free of charge from Chalk & Notch as a tester for the Farrah Dress pattern.
photos by Morgan Slade Photography