Saturday, 27 December 2014

Named patterns Ama Cowl Neck Frock

This fabric was a present.  In fact - the first sewing present I've ever gotten, which made it special.  It is a lightweight woven rayon, and was the end of the roll so when I finally got around to cutting it I noticed it was not all on grain.   I wanted to keep the fabric design intact so I hit on the idea of making a maxi dress.  I searched for some options and found a very basic old McCall's pattern, and the Named Ama Cowl neck, which had just come out and had no reviews.  I really liked the racerback of the Ama dress so I settled on that pattern.  I had a number of concerns - whether the armpits would be as loose as they look in the model, and whether the elastic waistband was strictly necessary.

Some Named patterns have seam allowances, and some don't.  I haven't completely figured out which - maybe PDFs don't.  But the need to put seam allowances on my pattern actually delayed the project dramatically, and I left Seattle in September without it done.  I finally started sewing it before a vacation in the States, hoping to wear it in San Diego, but I didn't quite get it done in time (and it rained, so really there wouldn't have been a great chance to wear it!)

I made the Kielo on purpose before this in order to get a feel for Named sizing.  I found it true to my measurements when I cut a 38 for both patterns.  The fabric was a shifty pain.  If I had wanted the stripes to line up perfectly, I needed to cut it on one layer, which I did not do.  It lined up ok, except for one piece - the back!  The pattern places it on the opposite side fold to the front, which means that although I had it lined up perfectly, it was upside down.  I did not have enough fabric to cut another one, and as the main stripe crosses to the front, I decided I didn't care too much. (I can't see it!)

This was easy to put together, however Named has the disadvantage that they try to do some creative things, and they have really terrible translations of the instructions.  The most troublesome step was inserting the shoulder straps into the hexagon and sewing them in the correct orientation, without bits falling out.  I had to do that six times.  I advise heavy pinning and checking of work, or basting, prior to finalising this step, as it also determines the tension and the way the entire dress hangs based on the angle you use when inserting these straps. Next, I didn't understand -at all- what was being said about sewing the lining to the top.  I think you are supposed to sew it inside out and bag the lining.  Instead, I just finished the bottom of the lining and sewed it down, then sewed the elastic tunnel above it.  I did consider without the elastic but I determined that it actually breaks up the design nicely and adds more shape to the dress.

I only made knee high slits as I can't be bothered to make a skirt to go along with this dress.  I cut off about 6'' when I cut out the skirt as I recall Named makes very long patterns. That was exactly right (I am 5'4''.)

I am actually happy with this dress!  I think the challenge is finding a fabric fine and drapey enough - I lined the top with cotton voile, and I don't like how the cowl sits.  I considered sewing it into a pleat, but I just tucked it inside itself instead.  The fit is amazing for wide shoulders, and I am seriously considering making a tank top version for summer.  The dress is also really comfortable, despite the elastic waist. 


  1. thanks Renae, that is my favorite part of this dress too! I was thinking of even making a tank top but the front drape is too weird.