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Closet Core Fiona Sundress

The Closet Core Fiona Sundress in Red Vivaldi Linen
The Closet Core Fiona Sundress in Red Vivaldi Linen

To the Core

Closet Core Patterns recently changed their name from Closet Case, and for good reason!

In the email that founder Heather Lou sent to her wholesalers apprising us of the change she said, “This small business grew out of a humble sewing blog called Closet Case Files back in 2011, which evolved into Closet Case Patterns a few years ago…[though] based on a detective pun… it’s [always] nagged at me that “closet case” is an unkind way of describing someone who hasn’t come out of the closet yet, even if that was never my intention. Over the years we’ve debated changing our name many times. It always felt a bit overwhelming, but after doing a lot of brainstorming recently, the solution emerged. Closet Core Patterns struck a chord… I love how changing just two letters somehow changes everything.” (Lou, Heather. It’s a New Era: Say Hello to Closet Core Patterns. Closet Core Blog 2020.)

We applaud Heather and the Closet Core team for their initiative and follow-through. We’re all learning everyday how to take responsibility for past mistakes and missteps, and Closet Core has set a wonderful example for us all.

Aside from the inclusivity that this new name brings, I love the implications of the word ‘core’. The clothes you make often end up becoming the best-loved pieces in your wardrobe. Not only are they sewn to fit you, but they are often made by you, and wearing them makes you feel proud and capable!

While I didn’t make this gorgeous Fiona Sundress out of our Red Vivaldi Linen, I can certainly say that Closet Core’s new name reflects exactly how I feel about this garment. It has indeed become a central item that I look forward to wearing out.

A Delightful Design

Since featuring this pattern in our Cool Tones, Summer Swatch Card, I’ve become slightly obsessed with it. A fitted, button-down sundress with princess seams, a straight skirt, the option for straight or crossed straps, and two views – this pattern is cute no matter which way you slice it!

I chose the long View A with the crossed straps because I adore the flirty side-slits, and I think the lowered back is elegant.

Shapes & Sizes

A fitted, summer style, I have difficulty purchasing pre-made garments of this design because my top and bottom halves are very different sizes. Lucky for me, my varied shape is actually suited to Closet Core’s drafting!

While Bonnie certainly had to grade between sizes, we discovered that – based on Closet Core’s sizing – I am solidly a size 10 in the bust and a size 14 in the hips, so fitting turned out to be relatively simple. As is recommended, Bonnie did size up just in case, but my initial measurements proved true. Once sewn together, Bonnie took it in a little at the hips, but, all in all, very little alteration was required.

Just as it Seams

As a side note, Bonnie made particular mention of the Fiona’s front princess seams which line up precisely with the large pockets. Because they must line up, any fit adjustments should be made at the side seams and the pocket pieces themselves may have to be adjusted if the garment is taken in by more than an inch or two.

Fiona Line Drawing
You can see the princess seams line up with the pocket edges.

Level-Up

If you’re a new, but energetic, sewer like me, you may be nervous to attempt a fitted, intermediate pattern that’s potentially persnickety. But, what’s excellent about the Fiona is that it’s instructions thoroughly discuss sizing and fitting. What’s more, they include the link to an ebook that walks you through “diagnosing and correcting any potential fit issues you may encounter”. Thus, the ‘advanced beginner’ can feel good about attempting this semi-challenging pattern.

Wise in the ways of sewing, Bonnie suggests making a muslin version (particularly of the bodice) if this is your first time working with princess seams. But, if princess seams are old hat, you can always skip the muslin and use Swedish Tracing Paper to do a pin fitting instead.

No matter how experienced you are, a pin fitting is always recommended.

Lay Me Down in Sheets of Linen

This Vivaldi Linen in Red was (and I quote the fabric-whisperer Bonnie here), “a joy to work with!” With plenty of drape and a satisfying heft, it is suited to the Fiona’s structured design.

Made from 100% linen, it sews and washes well, and has some natural ease. As linen is wont to do, it wrinkles quite a bit, and may become looser with repeated wearings. Similarly, during the sewing (or in my case the sewing, stitch-ripping, and re-sewing) process, this fabric will naturally stretch a bit, just as it does after being worn. But, don’t worry! Washing and drying, dry cleaning, or even just steaming/pressing will help the fabric to recover.

As always, be sure to prewash your fabric, and, when pressing the Vivaldi, be aware that a high heat may cause a temporary color shift. It should return to its normal color, no problem, but a pressing cloth and lower heat setting may take some of the anxiety out of ironing!

Satisfactory Selection

As far a fabric section for this pattern goes, feel free to think outside the box! A light weight linen or lawn is not suitable for this pattern, but you can use anything from stretch a denim to a twill to a linen blend, as long as it had some structure and is of a medium weight.

The Button Conundrum

Another reason this pattern is categorized as intermediate? Buttons. Many buttons! And, therefore, MANY button-holes! If you’ve been looking for a way to brush-up on your button-holing technique, the Fiona would certainly be an appropriate pattern to practice on.

This sundress calls for buttons between 1/2″ and 5/8″ wide. At least 15 buttons are needed for the shorter View B, and as many as 21 are needed for the long View A.

Unsurprisingly, it is very difficult to find 21 matching buttons, and that’s coming from someone who works in a fabric shop! I had trouble finding 21 matching buttons in any size, not to mention 21 buttons that I liked! So, in order to minimize the number of buttons needed, Bonnie and I decided to go with a 3/4″ size. Though bigger than the recommended size, I really love how the larger button looks on the wide band.

fiona buttons and pockets
3/4″ buttons spaced approximately 2.5″ apart.

With the larger 3/4″ buttons, Bonnie surmised that she’d only need between 15 and 17 rather than 21. A marked improvement, but I was still having trouble.

An Incredible Journey

I should tell you that, since Bonnie made this dress, I have been working to ‘up’ The Confident Stitch’s button game, and here’s why. When our button selection wasn’t satisfactory, I went to Jo-Ann Fabrics and was extremely disappointed. Their button section was far smaller than ours, and the buttons themselves were seriously blah.

Next, I went to the Import Market because I’d purchased fun buttons there before. But they had nothing in a 3/4″. Finally, I had no choice but to go to Michael’s, and the best they could do was a large bag of mixed buttons. I purchased two bags and went home to sort. One hundred buttons later, I still didn’t have 17 matching buttons!!!

What I ended up doing was flipping the Michael’s buttons over and using the wrong side. The buttons seen on the finished garment are actually three different 3/4″ buttons that look the same on the back!

In the end, my hard work paid off. Bonnie used 15 buttons along the front (four on the bodice), put a hidden hook and eye at the waist, and -as a cute afterthought – used the two remaining buttons as pocket decorations. I’m happy with how these wooden buttons look, but never again will I take for granted a good button selection!

A Successful (Core)tship!

Though a bit more intense than other dress patterns, the adorable outcome makes the extra work you’ll put in on the Fiona Sundress worthwhile. Closet Core has always produced well-drafted, easy-to-read patterns that are super user friendly. Add inclusive new name to the pros list, and you’ve got yourself a stellar pattern company! I’m so lucky to be Bonnie’s occasional guinea pig, and you can bet that, once I attempt a few button holes on my own, I’m going to give this pattern a try!

Summer and Ice Cream
Happy Sewing!

 

Closet Core Fiona Dress Vivaldi Linen in Red

 

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