So, I have been garment sewing out of necessity for a couple of years now. When I started I actually thought about the wardrobe I wanted but could never find or buy in Ready To Wear. One of the items I wanted was an apron. Back then there was no such thing as a cross over apron pattern for someone my size. And then, last week I stumbled on to the Apron Dress by The Assembly Line. I loved the look of it. It had simple yet flattering and thoughtful design lines, and it was offered in a size range, close enough to my measurements that I decided to give it a try. Full disclosure, I am a 48 inch bust, C cup, 48 inch waist, and 58 inch hip. This pattern offered only finished garment measurements in cm. The pattern is offered in a two versions: straight size and plus size. With the 3X finishing at waist at 51 inches, I decided my first attempt would be a straight 3X. I examined the skirt pieces and drew a line at about hip distance around both. I then measured and it came in large enough to accommodate my hips with enough ease. I was not sure how to go about grading this bottom skirt portion with its unique slanted side seams. I imagine a cut and slash method might work, but I was glad to not have to try it. The bib was going to be big for the first go around, but I was willing to accept that for my first attempt.
This was my first time working with a pattern from The Assembly Line. I bought the PDF and printed it out on A0 paper. The pattern offers multiple sizes, but all sizes are rendered in same solid black line. The lines are not marked near the intersections which caused me some confusion. A silly mistake for an experienced sewer, but a new sewer could be easily confused. I did end up cutting the bib section too large, but luckily I was able to discover my error and just trim down the original piece. Phew! I did do several things differently. It was a hassle but I did sandwich my front straps between bib and facing. I sewed the back straps intersecting diamond, to make it easier to get in and out of. I turned the single back pleat into two opposing pleats. Another down side to the plus size version, is it mentions several options if the pleats proposed do not work, but there is very little guidance for how to determine correct placement. My first attempt I installed snaps as directed, but since the straps were spaced so far apart the middle of back waist drooped in a very unattractive way. The waist was a bit large but the skirt was skimming my hips perfectly. I could not afford to go down a size. I did not want to move straps as their placement was part of the overall design line of the garment. I needed to find a way to cinch the waist and bring back straps closer together without causing problems for my hips. To save my first version, I added two more snaps to form two additional shallower pleats. This gave me the smaller waist I needed while maintaining the hip area. I decided on two opposing back pleats for my second version. I also reduced the width of the front bib by a total of 2 inches total to accommodate my bust. This required redrafting the facing and interfacing pattern pieces, which frankly was the absolutely worst part of this make. Something about paying money for a pattern and finding myself re-drafting multiple pieces makes me sad, but it was worth it.
How to determine your correct pleat depth if you choose two opposing pleats. Measure the distance between the straps on top of the back waist band (X). Then try on your dress and pin it to proper waist size, by pinching out some of the back skirt at center back. Do not over do it. Carefully sit with it pinned, to be sure you have left enough ease. Measure between the back straps again. Here is where math is your friend.
X = Distance between back straps
Y = Desired distance between back straps (after pinning)
Z = X – Y
If doing two pleats, your pleat depth will be Z/4. If you are sticking with single pleat, your pleat depth will be Z/2.
The distance between my back straps was 21.5″. I wanted about 10.75″ between the back straps to prevent back waist droop and comfortable waist. This resulted in two opposing back pleats of 2 5/8″. It worked like a champ on my second attempt. When considering future versions I may replace the snaps with a short corset lacing section to allow the garment to grow and shrink with my ever changing body.
I absolutely love my finished garment. It has been a long time since I have been so excited to wear a make. I love the fresh and interesting designs offered from The Assembly Line. My one caution is the pattern lacking proper labeling and differentiation between sizes. But, after that hurdle, the construction was straightforward and comprehensive. As for plus sizing, it will take some extra work on the part of the plus sized sewer to modify the pattern for different body shapes. A commercial pattern cannot possibly fit all possibilities. But for me a short, apple/pear shaped plus size, I managed to get a very flattering and well fitted garment. My next version is going to be in a light weight denim. This garment will work for multiple seasons. One could go wild with embellishing this garment as well. I just cannot say enough about it. Give it a try.
I am not affiliated with any of the following just a happy customer. The pattern is the Apron Dress from The Assembly Line. The fabric is cotton twill in blue and gray from Fabric Mart. The snaps are from KAM Snaps.