With so little time to make any new sample garments, I asked some sewing friends to help me out.  One friend, Marian F. was happy to do so as she was eager to try out the Cielo Dress by Closet Core Patterns.

Marian has been sewing for over 50 years, since her Home Economics classes at school. While she loves fabric and creating garments, she finds fitting a challenge especially with her narrow shoulders.  Gone are the good old days where she could just cut out a standard size and it would fit! Marion liked the Cielo dress pattern since it seemed like a quick and easy to fit project with its simple design. Read on to find out how she fared with this pattern!

The Cotton Linen Jacquard in Raisin inspired me.  I loved the texture and fibre content (I prefer natural fibres) so I had to have a piece.  I wasn’t sure what I’d make with it and purchased only 1.5 metres.  Luckily, it was a generous cut and was almost 1.6 metres even after a machine wash and dry.  My super stylish sewing buddy convinced me it should become a dress.  As I already owned Closet Core’s Cielo dress and top pattern, it seemed the perfect solution.  The Cielo is a loose boxy style.  The envelope shows two versions:  View C with front pockets and short sleeves and View D with pockets and longer full sleeves.  My amount of fabric dictated that I make View C without the pockets.

Although my bust (38”) and hip (40”) would indicate a Closet Core size 12, I had tried on a size 12 Cielo dress at another sewing shop so knew that I would need to downsize.  My first muslin was a top only (View A), size 10 at the neck, shoulders and sleeves, grading to size 12 below the armhole.  The fabric used was a lightweight but crisp linen mystery fibre blend and while the finished garment seemed a little big on my narrow shoulders, I convinced myself it was okay.  Onward to the cotton linen jacquard.
Unfortunately, I was disappointed with the results.  The jacquard is soft and lofty and the same size 10/12 combo looked too big and really stood away from my frame.  Furthermore, I realized I needed to drop the armhole bust dart. My sewing buddy and I considered the options for making the dress fit but decided there was no quick fix.  I decided I would be happier giving the dress to my non-sewing friend who has the shoulders to fill it out and starting over on a dress for myself.
 My next muslin (wearable) was based on Closet Core’s size 8 which has a 35” bust matching my high bust measurement.  FYI, Closet Core has a full bust adjusted front pattern piece (both C and D cups) available for download on their website.  Given the 3” difference between my high and full bust measurements, in theory,  I should have used the FBA pattern.  However, since the ease seemed generous in the bust, I decided to use the regular size 8 at the neck, shoulders and sleeve grading out to between size 10 and 12 below the armhole.  I redrew the dart, dropping the bust dart point by 3/4” and added 3/4” length at the hem. Success! The fit of top #2 was much better.
Time to forge ahead with dress #2.  This time I measured my fabric piece before and after laundering and found that the cotton linen jacquard shrinks about 5% – not unexpected in a natural fibre.  I cut the bodice of the dress the same as top #2 and added 3/4” at the hem.  My short skirt days are over!
A couple of notes on construction:  I found the ease stitching on the sleeves unnecessary to set in the sleeves smoothly. This was the case for both the cotton linen jacquard and the linen rayon blend used for top #2.  The pattern offers the option of neck facings or self fabric bias binding.  I used the bias binding on the linen rayon top #2 and the facings both times I made the dress in the cotton linen jacquard.  While the bias binding is a lovely neck finish, I thought the jacquard was a bit too lofty for the bound finish to work well.
I am happy with my dress #2.  After all my years of sewing, I suppose it shouldn’t take three tries to get it right, but sometimes it does!
Marian F.

The Cielo dress by Closet Core patterns.


Note the interesting back shoulder detail.


The successful third muslin! Three time’s a charm.


The larger size fit Marian’s friend better. Lucky friend!