Pattern Review: Luana Apron Dress Shines In And Out of the Kitchen
When I first put my freshly-made Luana Apron Dress on, my kids blurted out that it looks really glamorous for cooking in the kitchen. It's the nicest apron they've ever seen! Thankfully, my husband thinks it's one of the best summer dresses (not aprons) that I've made.
I was really excited about this pattern when I spotted it because I've been scouting for something exactly like this for about 2 years since I saved the picture below on Pinterest:
Fabrics-Store.Com answered my prayers with this FREE!!! pattern on their website, with a picture (on the left) that is almost similar to the pin (above) that I saved on Pinterest. This is just one of the many free patterns that Fabrics-Store.Com offers. The great and generous thing about their patterns is that they come with no licensing restrictions, so anyone can use them for personal and commercial purposes. However, in order to download the PDF digital patterns, one must first download Adobe Acrobat Reader to access them. If one follows the very useful and clear instructions to download Adobe, which are provided on the website, then dozens of patterns will be available for free. The sewing instructions and tutorial for the Luana Apron Dress (and for all the other patterns) are provided on their blog, The Thread. All the PDF patterns have links that will connect you with the sewing instructions. I see from comments that there are some technical issues that some people experience while trying to download the patterns, but the technical team sounds patient and very helpful with anyone with problems. Don't let this deter you from checking out their free patterns. I downloaded Adobe Acrobat Reader and a few patterns without a hitch. Actually, I don't know why I waited all this time before downloading Adobe. This is a definite game-changer for printing out PDF patterns. I am a dinosaur when it comes to things like that.
Anyway, back to the pattern review. Sewing up the bodice was basically very easy-going and smooth. But I proceeded to the skirt and pockets and all hell broke loose. To be fair, there is a sentence in the pattern instructions to prepare you for this moment: "This pattern falls into the "intermediate level” category due to its complicated pocket construction." I didn't take this warning seriously. I mean, on the surface, this dress looks like it's just a bib with a waistband and gathered skirt with pockets. How difficult can it be to sew this baby up, right? Well, I was wrong.
The unique thing about the pocket construction is that the top edge of the front pocket bag is attached to the front waistband, and the top edge of the back pocket is attached to the back waistband. Weird, right? Most of the time, pocket construction has both pocket layers attached to the front waistband. But I went along with it until I hit a drafting snag. The width of the back skirt piece is exactly the length of the waistband, which means that there was no way that the skirt can be gathered up according to the instructions and illustrations. I am pretty sure that this is a drafting mistake. So it can be easily fixed by sewing an added panel to the back skirt so that it can be doubled in width in order to gather it up. However, it was not a possible option for me though because I didn't have more available fabric.
In addition, I can't figure out how my hips can fit through to put it on and off when the pockets are constructed the way that it is suggested. So I scoured the internet to see if anyone else was experiencing the same problems. It seems I'm the only one who is noticing that the width of the back skirt is drafted too short to be gathered. Others on Instagram mentioned that they had difficulty sewing the pockets but eventually managed to complete the task, and there were no specifics for me to figure out what I could be doing wrong. So I tore some hair out and took a break. I went into the kitchen, put on a real apron and made dinner.
Cooking can be such a great way to decompress, and give a fresh perspective on things. While cutting up the onions, I decided to go rogue and to sew up the dress in the way that was logical to me. Basically, the game plane is to attach both front and back pocket bag layers to the front waistband. That meant that there was some serious unpicking that I had to do to the front waistband which was already attached to front pocket layer and skirt. But it also meant that I didn't have to worry about not having enough ease to fit the skirt through my hips. And then I gathered up the back skirt so that the final back skirt width would fit on the back waistband within the notches for both side seams. This meant that there would be little overlap of front skirt over the back skirt, which meant that there may be small bits of hip flesh on the side peeking through between the button closures. That I could live with. I don't know if anyone can understand everything that I just wrote, but in the midst of all the angst involved with the problem solving, I didn't have the foresight to take pictures so that I can illustrate how the pocket construction wasn't working for me. I only have "after" pictures:
Don't get me wrong, all the above might sound like complaining - I am not. I am very grateful for the free pattern and instructions. I don't expect free patterns to be perfect. I also have to admit that because it was free, I didn't mind the angst as much if I had to pay for the pattern. In fact, there was as much enjoyment as there was angst in the problem-solving. This pattern is a great starting point for a romper hack that I have in mind. And if I do another dress version, I would definitely add extra skirt width for a more voluminous gathered back skirt. You can see from the back skirt in the pictures that it can afford to be more billowy and swishy.
Also, I might add more width to the back waistband so that it can be elasticated. Or construct a button-down gathered skirt in the back. Perhaps I can draft a skirt with an A-line shape as well. Oh, and I would make the pockets an inch wider and deeper because big pockets rule!
I am writing this blog in case someone else is experiencing the same snags, and need some reassurance and suggestions on how to get out of this jar of pickles. Maybe you want to make this dress, and I am saving you some heartache and seam-ripping right now.
Sizes for the dress come in 0/2 to 28/30, and I sewed up a size 0/2 with the aforementioned readjustments to the construction of the pockets. The fabric is gifted to me by my dear cousin who did a batik fabric haul on her trip to Indonesia months ago. The fabric was sewn up with the dimensions of a sarong, in the standard 2m X 1.2m size. It has a geometric border print that I just about managed to squeeze out enough for the straps, waistbands and skirt panels. The rooster print is hilarious and I guess my kids were right when they said it'll add glamour and spice to my cooking. But I would wear an actual apron on top of this apron to avoid oil splatters.
This dress is precious enough to save it from cooking stains. Not only because of the unusual fabric but the super-cute vintage-style bib and gathered skirt. The backless detail is a sexy and provides cool airflow at the height of summer. The front waistband rides a little higher than the waistline, but that makes it even more adorable for me. It's a great summer dress. Big love.
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