In all fairness, there are some things I didn’t do with this dress, that I would in the future such as interfacing the waistband and backing off the darts (and ironing- It’s an end of the day picture.).
Fit and flare empire waist dresses for woven fabrics with inseam pockets and a back zip. Cashmerette Upton and Sis Boom Carolina Mae both have a lot to offer.
The Upton is a sleeveless dress with v- or scoop neck options, high or low back options and a box pleated or gored skirt set at below knee length. It features an invisible zipper and the 2 dart bodice is fully lined using the burrito method. The Upton Sleeve Expansion offers butterfly/flutter, cap and tie sleeve options. Sizing is 12-28 with 3 cup size options C/D, E/F and G/H. This pattern is available in both PDF and printed formats. Currently the pattern costs $14 pdf, $18 printed with the expansion being pdf only and costing an additional $7. Please note that none of these sleeve patterns can be used to hack a set in sleeve without first extrapolating the sleeve head to fit the armscythe as each either covers only a portion of the armscythe or overlaps in the armscythe. This pattern features instructions and drawings. A free sew-along is available online. This designer also includes as her standard block a sway back and forward shoulder adjustment.
Carolina Mae is a choose your own adventure style pattern with the skirt and sleeve lengths and where they hit on various height individuals for above the knee through ankle length included in picture form in the tutorial. High and low scoop necklines and a set low scoop neck back neckline are included in the fully lined (burrito method) 3 dart bodice, which uses a standard zipper. The bodice also offers a ruched overlay option. The gathered and slightly puffed sleeves are finished with a narrow binding. This gathering would need to be accounted for before the sleeve pattern could be hacked. Sleeveless is also an option. The skirt is gathered and an optional bow can be added to the waistband. Sizes xs-3x (0-26w) Upper chest 29 1/2 tp 50 1/2 with cup sizing A-DD for the lower end of the range and B-F for the higher end of the range available. PDF only, $9.95 currently. This pattern features a step-by-step photo tutorial. This pattern while offering fabric purchasing guidelines doesn’t by necessity of the wide range of variables offers somewhat in exact guidelines and requires some fabric calculations before purchase.
Carolina Mae-lower price, better sizing in the low range, 3 dart bodice, variety of sleeve lengths, 1 skirt style, 2 bodice styles, 2 front and 1 back neckline heights, 1 neckline style, standard zip, photo tutorial, inclusive fabric guidelines
Upton-higher price, better sizing in the high range, 2 dart bodice, variety of short sleeve options (if you buy the sleeve expansion), 2 skirt styles, 1 bodice style, 2 back neckline heights, 2 neckline styles, invisible zip, drawings with photos online, swayback and forward shoulder adjustments pre-made, clear fabric guidelines
Two great dresses each offering something that the other doesn’t. I fall pretty much in the middle of each pattern size wise, though on the high end bust wise. If your purchase decisions aren’t already made based on where you fall in the size range, your love of printed patterns or the cost and you’re torn considering the design options consider the following.
If you want a dress for cooler weather your the Carolina Mae has long sleeve and long skirt options, however, while it (like the Upton) states all woven fabrics the gathered waistband becomes bulky quickly particularly as the skirt is cut as two giant rectangles, which in and of itself adds a ton of bulk at the waist. Each time I made this pattern I removed 3″ of fabric from each side of both the front and back panels tapering them down to meet the side seam just above the pockets (7″ down). When sewing with a heavy fabrics, including a heavy flannel, I also chose to change the gathers to pleats.
If you want a formal dress and aren’t looking for the ruched bodice option, the boxed pleat or gored skirt options for the Upton lend themselves toward a look more formal than the gathered skirt of the Carolina Mae.
If you love to see a pattern sewn up on different bodies before you choose your fabric and style options the Upton has about 3 times as many photos tagged on Instagram as the entire collection of Sis Boom Patterns.