One of the very interesting phenomenon of the sewing world is the amount of independent businesses that it harbours. From online fabric retailers, whose catalogues mirrors the taste and personality of the shop owner (Like Sew Amazing and Sew Me Sunshine are the first that come to mind), the incredibly creative Pink Coat Club with Joy’s witty sewing-themed pins, to the indie pattern designers that have re-set the bar of sewing patterns both for what concerns style and usability – with instructions that take the pattern from design template to learning tool.
These businesses are intimately connected with their users and they make a point of having a two-way conversation with their audience, dynamic that beautifully encapsulated by the practice of pattern testing, outsourced to the community. There is a lovely episode of the Stitchers Brew podcast that I really recommend listening to if you would like to hear more. With this in mind, I was really happy to get involved when I saw the call for help on the Damar Studio insta account (@damarstudio). A young, edgy pattern cutter with a Spanish background and based in Berlin, about to release her first pattern.
The pattern is called Darlila Dress, and it’s a sweet summer dress that dropped in my inbox just in time for the heatwave that has wrapped London in a southern Mediterranean summer. I’ve sewed it up in a gossamer-y rayon gifted to me by my beautiful friend & sewing fairy Lisa. I’ve recently helped her to discover her colour palette and she’s slowly, sneakily unloading onto me all the fabric she has squirrelled away that she knows don’t suit her bright, light colouring but that work with my deep palette. I am way to thankful to refuse, but as my closet simply cannot hold any more fabric, I’ve been compelled to use it straight away.
To me pattern and fabric were a match made in heaven. This viscose is lusciously soft and drapey, perfect to give some swish to the elasticated skirt without being see-through while at the same time thin enough to be used to line the bodice for a clean, smooth finish.
The pattern sews up very quick and the instructions are concise and to the point. I have changed a couple of things to suit my serger-less approach to sewing: french seamed throughout and created a channel for the elastic rather than sewing it in the seam. Still extremely straightforward and perfectly suitable as a first-ever make. I would also love to see it in a mini version for a young girl… but Damar has gone all the way and provides, aside from the pattern ready to sew, 3 additional customisation ideas to make a maxi version with a split, an asymmetric circular skirt (imagine the swishyness ladies!) and a handkerchief skirt. Each option comes with clear diagrams of how to draft the pieces yourselves – wouldn’t it be a super exciting way to pick up a couple of pattern hacking tips? So easy to apply to half a gazillion of other projects.
The Darlila Dress has been released today and is available for download here or on the Damar Studio Etsy shop and you can see all the other tester versions on instagram by following @damarstudio. Have a look, share your thoughts, ask questions… we might have learnt to give it for granted, but it doesn’t happen everyday to be able to speak to the developer of an idea!
Disclaimer: this pattern has been sent to me for testing only. I was under no obligation to review it and all thoughts are my own. There are no affiliate links in this post.