Friday, April 19, 2013

Painted Portrait Dresses (x2), my review

I have made two Painted Portrait Dresses and I really like them!

I made one last October for my trip to New York City.
(Fabric: Free Spirit Fabric, by Jay McCarroll, Center City in Downtown)

And I made one last month (March).

Pattern: Painted Portrait Blouse & Dress by Anna Maria Horner
Fabric: info is listed with my photos above (Note: I think this dress looks best with lightweight cotton, voile, or rayon. The drape is nicer with lighter weight fabrics, in my opinion.)
Level: Intermediate
Skill(s): straight stitching, lined yoke/bodice, gathering, simple bias tape-making and attaching, bias tape hem, hand sewing
Fit: XS-XL. I would say it runs true to size, but check out the finished garment dimensions on the pattern cover to make sure. 

This pattern gives you a few choices: make a dress or a blouse, make it with sleeves or without, with pockets or not. As you can see, I chose sleeveless dresses without pockets. I like the sleeveless version because I can wear it in warm weather. If it gets chilly, I can add a cardigan. It's comfortable to wear and I like the fitted bodice with an empire waistline.

I enjoyed figuring out how this dress comes together. The instructions are well-written and make sense. If your sewing skills are "beginner", give this dress a try but take your time. Read through the pattern cover because it has helpful information and definitions. As with all of my pattern reviews, I have a + and - section where I talk about what was good for me with sewing a pattern and also what was not so good. Find +/- at the end of this post.

Each of these dresses has a hem that is slightly different than what is instructed.
The hem on the October dress is done with store bought bias tape that shows on the outside of the dress. (The instructions suggest you wrap the bias tape to the inside so it isn't visible.) I wraped it to the outside because I wanted to define the bottom edge of the busy Jay McCarroll print.

The hem on the March dress is done following the instructions of the pattern except with a fun twist. I didn't make bias tape for the hem because I didn't purchase enough fabric for it. Lesson learned here, read the fabric requirements thoroughly when you're buying fabric!!! So, rather than have this dress become an unfinished project, I used the scraps from the dress pieces. The selvage scraps, that is. I could have used pre-made bias tape from my stash but I liked the selvage idea better. It's not bias cut but it still works and now I'll always know which fabric I used.

+I like the design of this dress--yoke and side panels.
+I enjoyed constructing the yoke.
+Bias tape is a great way to finish a hem and armholes.
+The short length of gathers in the front and back are sweet.

Not so good:
-I did have some difficulty in lining up the side panel to the yoke. The top of the side panel folds over if you match the notches as instructed. This happened with both of the dresses. My "fix" was to lower the side panel until it fit nicely inside the yoke. These pictures show you the difference.

Here's a shot of what the Painted Portrait Dress looks like on.


  1. A great review of the pattern. It looks adorable. Thanks!

    1. Thank you, Amy. :) Have you tried making this one or will you?