Wednesday, May 13, 2020

The Wilder Gown, Pattern Review

Forever ago, I promised you a review of The Wilder Gown by Friday Pattern Company.

I mentioned I was a bit disappointed over parts of this pattern, and naturally I would like to elaborate. 

I bought this pattern because I knew it was very much my sister's style and I wanted to make her the dress version for her birthday in February. See a photo of her dress HERE. It turned out amazing and she's very happy with it.
Now as you know, I don't only judge a sewing pattern on the result. I have opinions, and sometimes even knowledge haha, about the technical side too.
Before I cut into the glorious rayon/viscose fabric I bought for my sister's dress, I made myself a hybrid version between the dress and the top as a wearable muslin. I'm taller than my sister and have broader shoulders, but we are close enough that I can get an impression of how it will fit her if I know how it fits me.
She lives in Denmark and I live in the US, so even if I wanted to ruin the surprise and do a fitting, there was no way I could do that.

In the end of the post I'll put links to other things I've sewn her long distance. So far it has worked out by making not too fitted styles, phew.

So here is my Wilder Gown hybrid top/dress. Also made in a viscose/rayon (Telio, Van Gogh Rayon Twill. has some left in the black version HERE). I have also made THIS dress and THIS dress in this same type of fabric. It's a tad thicker than my sister's fabric but still with adequate amount of drape.

I made a size M(edium).

I'm calling it a hybrid because originally the top version doesn't have the below bust seam. But I needed to see where that seam (which would go in my sister's dress) fell on me, to determine if it was placed good for us, or needed moving up or down. 

Besides, the pattern description clearly encourages people to make whatever versions they want. In fact it says: "The design is fairly modular so it's easy to customize to your vision."
I made my lower tier about 20 cm / 8" less wide total (front + back) than the dress version though. I didn't wanted it to flare out too much.

 The instructions says the horizontal seam in the dress version is designed to hit just below the bust. It's obviously way lower on me, partly because of my small bust, but I liked this and kept it. 

I did find something else about that seam that did annoy me a bit though.
I know the pattern listing informed me of the pieces being modular, but the fact is, a person in 3D is round/cylinder shaped, not square. 
The bodice pattern is drafted like a full length top and then there is a line drawn for the dress version. But that line is just a straight horizontal line. Which means when you wear a loose style garment that has a line cut straight across (not slightly curved like a smile), then it will not look straight on me when wearing it. It will look slightly downward pointing. It's a small detail (and an easy fix) but it's just annoying to me. I think pattern drafters charging money for their patterns should know this.

Now someone would claim that this is done for simplicity reasons, this is labeled 'beginner' after all. And I'll be the first to admit it's a long time ago since I was a beginner so I'm not the best judge of this, but I just don't buy that argument. 
A beginner needs extensive sewing instructions more than simplified/square pattern pieces. A straight or slightly curved seam shouldn't make a difference to work with for a beginner, but it will affect the fit/look which the beginner might not know how to fix or why that happened. Sure a beginner might not even notice it anyway, because we often have to train our eyes to spot things like that. (I hope I'm not sounding like I'm making fun of beginners because I'm absolutely NOT. We have ALL been beginners once!) But just because they might not notice it doesn't mean they don't deserve properly drafted pattern pieces. The better patterns are drafted, the less a beginner has to fiddle with the fit. I'm generalizing here of course.
You don't have to agree. This is my blog and my opinions. :-)

So I unpicked my horizontal seam on each side of the side seams, and curved the seam as well as I could on an already cut piece. Plus I made sure to permanently fix the paper pattern pieces for my sister's version as you can see above. I curved up the seam using my French Curved Ruler and my regular rectangle drafting ruler. At the same time, I made sure my corner between bottom seam and side seam (in the red circle) is still 90 degrees, which means the seam is now ever so slightly (1-2 mm) longer. If I didn't do that, the trueing would be off, and when I sewed the two side seams together, it would create a slight 'v' shape in the curve, not a smooth line. Read THIS post and/or THIS post for more information and a tutorial on how to do this.

By the way, I also fixed (haha) the seam allowance to 1 cm. I'm saying 'haha' because for some, 1/2" seam allowance (SA) seems to be standard. Personally I despise it. To me it's a waste of fabric and it makes curves harder to deal with. It looks clumsy on the inside too. Almost every sewing step in the instructions has this sentence in bold letters saying "Trim away excess seam allowance." Why not just not have it there in the first place. Waste of time and fabric in my opinion. Yeah, it's a triple no from me, dawg.

Now my seam looks horizontal when I'm wearing it.

Another thing I was really missing was the lack of some very important notches. (No, I will never let the subject of notches go, lol). The pattern does have some notches to help you keep track of the front and back sleeve, great. But it does not have notches to indicate where to fold and stitch the neckline ruffle and tie band casing. That is no good in my world. 
I've said this countless times, so this opinion of mine should not be new to you. In my opinion a pattern should have all the relevant markings on the pattern pieces, so that IF you are experienced, you can sew it pretty much without using the instructions. I don't want to have to scroll through the instructions to find the measurements on how much I fold down the neckline and where to stitch. It is both highly inconvenient and more importantly, it greatly raises the risk of mistakes being made.
I sometimes hear people 'confess' that they happily ignore the notches when they cut out their fabric. And all I can think is, my goodness, why are you not giving yourself this huge helping hand?! And for what? Finish cutting 10 seconds faster? If you have your notches (and they are placed correctly by the pattern maker) you'll never sew in a sleeve the wrong way for example. Because the double notches on the back sleeve cap will match up with the double notches on the back armscye. And so on and on. They are little beacons, guiding you through your pattern, and helping you putting it correctly together. 
Do. Not. Skip. Them, please!

So I made those notches and lines myself. And after I did that, I folded the neckline on the paper pattern pieces to check the trueing, and discovered that the trueing was off on the sleeve pattern. So I also fixed that. Again, check THIS blog post of mine to read about how to check the trueing of a pattern. At this point I started to slightly regret that I bought this pattern. You can call me a grumpy fusspot all you want, but these things really take away my sewing enjoyment. 
So I sent the designer an email, and got a friendly reply back that she would look into it. That was in mid December 2019. I don't know what her conclusion was, but now you know to look into it too, if this is something you find important. 
I want to add the disclaimer that because of me removing part of the seam allowance AND the lack of notches, there is a risk that I got the trueing check wrong....hence my point about bigger risk of mistakes to happen when patterns are not marked properly. So basically I'm saying you should check too and not just take my word for it. 

The sleeve length is a bit of a mystery to me. It says there's a short or long sleeve option, but the model in the pattern listing is wearing a 3/4-ish length sleeve. If that is the 'long' sleeve then it makes sense why I both had to add 6 cm to the sleeve length, plus after a fitting I had to draft these extra cuffs that I for fun pulled an elastic through to get what I consider a long sleeve. I have long arms, sure, but the long sleeve is definitely shorter than other long sleeves. I always have to add length but never this much. I checked the finished measurement chart and it says sleeve inseam is 33 cm / 13", which on my arms makes a 3/4 length sleeve.
This isn't a critique of the pattern per se, but definitely good to know!


The sewing instructions contain this hot tip, and I just want to tell you to be very, very careful doing this. It's funny because the rayon I used for my sister's Wilder Gown was ripped at the store where I bought it, and it had caused perpendicular white lines to the ripping line more than 2.5 cm / 1'' in on the fabric. Now the store gave me extra fabric to accommodate for this, so it didn't cause me problems, except I think it's a shame to waste fabric. But if I had ripped my rectangles for the Wilder Gown, then I suddenly would have had quite a shorter dress. I know she says to test out the lower edge of the fabric, and I'm just here to REALLY emphasize on that part. If you insist on ripping your fabric, then please, please do a test first.

Now there was one good thing that stood out about this pattern. I really like the way the front split is made. It's a smart way to get around a detail that otherwise can be tricky for beginners, but at the same time looks absolutely great and professional.

A look from the back.

The last thing I want to talk about is sewing in the round. It's one of those small details, that together with lots of other small details makes a superior garment. I put it in this post because the instructions suggest doing it another way, but also because it's just generally good sewing advice. And I remembered to take a photo during the sewing process of how to sew a raglan sleeve 'in the round' for this one, ha.

So when it comes to a raglan sleeve, instead of sewing front sleeves to the front bodice, and back sleeves to the back bodice and THEN sew the full sleeve and bodice side seam in one go, you should sew it in the round like you see above. Sew the side seams of the sleeve and sew the side seams of the bodice, press both seams, and THEN sew the whole armscye IN THE ROUND like you see is about to happen above. It is not in any way harder than the other way, but it will improve your garment. 

This illustration above from the sewing instructions shows the front split solution that I mentioned further up, and really like. Plus it shows you that order of operations for the raglan sleeve, which I think you should change to sewing the sleeve in the round. 

Now like I said earlier, it's a small detail and I would never be able to point out from a photo on Instagram whether you have chosen one technique or the other. But garments in general 'hang better' on the body when seams are sewn in the round. So here's my preaching about the subject done for today. 

Ever since I started blogging 84 years ago (or something like that), I've wanted to make a separate post about that subject because there's obviously much more to say about it and many more examples to give, but so far I haven't gotten around to it. So I guess until then, I'll keep showing examples and encouraging it in random posts here and there.

So these are my notes for the Wilder Gown Pattern. If we compare it to a certain coat that turned out to be a 7.5 on the Richter Scale, this is just a little shake, and you will just go on with your day afterwards. But as you know, it's important for me to mention all these things, so we can grow and learn together. There might be an opinion or two in here that you totally disagree with. That's okay too. Opinions are not the same as facts, and there are a lot of opinions in this post.


As promised, HERE is the shirt I made my sister. And HERE is the dress. This dress I only showed worn in my Instagram Stories, so that's gone now. But you can see it on a hanger HEREHERE is another dress. And HERE, yup it's another dress, haha.

Thank you for reading!


  1. the proportions seem off to me. The top cuts you in half.

    1. Please see the previous post on my blog. It's a guest post written by Melanie about how to, and how not to, leave comments on other people's makes.

  2. So interesting to read - I really appreciate your honesty. I find it somewhat frustrating that no one ever discusses problems with patterns! X

    1. Right! Me too. So many frustrations could be avoided if more people talked about it. Whether they have a solution or not. Thank you for appreciating it!

  3. I learned to sew with Burda patterns, so I'm used to impeccable drafting but cryptic instructions for reasonable prices. So when I buy some indie patterns and then see that there are almost no notches, the darts aren't trued, or the front and back armscye are the same, I wonder why I paid three times as much, since I don't need very detailed instructions any more. Thank you for your reviews that allow me to find that stuff out *before* buying.

    Though when they are well drafted, it's a real pleasure. I made a blouse by Orageuse patterns recently and was apprehensive about the complicated neckline. It came together *perfectly* and easily, I was really impressed.

    1. "Impeccable drafting and cryptic instructions..." is such a good way of describing Burda patterns, haha. I love them too but I definitely see the problems in the instructions for beginners. Indie Patterns has made sewing accessible for a lot more people, which is great, but unfortunately not all of them should be drafting patterns / charging for their product.

  4. Thank you for the honest appraisal and comments. It's much appreciated!

  5. Thank you for your detailed analysis and tips. I'm a relative beginner and I never would have known about the need for the curved seam on the horizontal seam or sewing in the round (I'm assuming that applies to set in sleeves especially, which I find to be so tricky!). I wonder if you would tell us which independent patterns--if any--you find consistently well drafted. Thanks again. Your garments are always stunning.

    1. Yes, definitely sew set in sleeves in the round. Although I'll accept a knit sleeve to be sewn in the flat.;-) Chalk and Notch is high on my list in both drafting and instructions. I don't know if you would consider StyleArc independent? But to me they are my favorites. Full disclosure, I'm now sponsored by them but that happened because I became a mega fan. In other words I'm not just a fan because I'm sponsored by them! Their drafting and fit is fabulous but their sparse instructions does give some beginners problems. Their pattern pieces are expertly marked, so if you learn how to read those markings, you are well on your way. Ensemble Patterns, Named Patterns, Grainline Patterns and Coffee and Thread are good too. I'm sure there are more, I just haven't tried them. And thank you for the nice words about my makes!

  6. Thank you for the great review. I brought this pattern to make this summer but as half of Australia's was on fire we where advised to stay at home. The fabric I brought is to light for a winter version so I will keep the blog for next summer. Hopefully we will be able to get out by then. Thanks again.

    1. Oh dear, first fires and now this virus, ugh! Maybe just make it, so it ready whenever the world is finally ready for us to go back out there?! Take care and thank you for reading! :-)

  7. Thank you for your honest reviews, and also explaing why one thing works and another one doesn't. Hilsen fra Sverige!

  8. I agree with so many things you said. I find lot of the new indie patterns are so simplified that they result in a very boring garment, and also one that looks a bit cookie cutter if that makes sense. My pet peeve is bust darts that are horizontal, no slant at all so they look like arrows on the chest. I agree about the notches, dots etc. on a good pattern you should be able to construct without even reading the instructions :)

    1. Thank you for saying that. It means a lot that you agree with me on these things!

  9. Thanks for yet again posting a great pattern review with good information on how to deal with what we find in pattern drafting. I'm sure your efforts make a real difference to more sewists than you know! Your referencing the prior post made me laugh out loud! Well done - in SEW many ways!!!

    1. Ha Les, thank you SO much for saying that. If I can both enlighten and help people in their sewing adventures AND make them laugh...well, what more can I ask for! Take care!


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