It seems to me that many sewing bloggers – many people in general – love a fit and flare dress. You know, a dress where the bodice stays close to the body then it flares out significantly from the waist. To me, a fit and flare dress is one that is shaped with princess seams and panels (not simply a fitted bodice with a waist seam and gathered/flared/circle/pleated/full in another way skirt). The Crafty Mamas Queen Bee dress fits this definition perfectly.
Firstly – this is NOT a silhouette that I usually wear. I feel that it best highlights a small waist and traditional ideals of female body shapes. I am very thick through my mid-section, especially on my abdomen. I’ve said it before – although I try to embrace my shape and accept that my body is what it is, I still don’t like to emphasise that middle, and you won’t often see side-on photos of me. I’m a committed feminist, but western societal ideas of beauty are still extremely ingrained. However, in the past I have found that Crafty Mamas patterns do a good job of emphasising the parts of my shape that I embrace and de-emphasise those that I don’t. And I’m often interesting in trying a new-to-me silhouette. Hence sewing the Queen Bee dress.
The description of the pattern from the Crafty Mamas website is as follows: The Queen Bee is one pattern we guarantee you’ll be sewing up often! In ladies sizes S (4-8) up to 4X ( 26-28), Queen Bee makes you look and feel fabulous! The flattering princess seams elongate and sling your torso, while the skater style skirt twirls magically about! Sewn from soft cotton lycra knits, you’ll also be super comfortable wearing Queen Bee . The dress hits below the knee, we have added our very cool pixie style hood, it’s longer than regular hoods and looks amazing knotted up a couple of times/ With a optional kanga style front pocket, choice of regular OR scoop neckline and sleeve variations of sleeveless, cap, short, elbow, 3/4, wrist, or long. The tunik hits mid thigh. Included at no extra cost is the photo shop size file to be printed out at A0 ( save you cutting and sticky taping!). Designed for knit fabrics only.
As you can see, I chose the dress length with long sleeves and a scoop neckline. There are plenty of options in this pattern. The fabric is a scuba knit, originally from Darn Cheap Fabrics but given to me from Anna – thanks Anna! It is a great fabric for this dress for me because of the way that it skims over bulges rather than clings to them. I also love the colours in the print.
I sewed the size L, which is 12-14. I did make a short back waist length alteration (pretty much the same as a sway back alteration), but it hasn’t completely eliminated problems with excess fabric in that area. It still looks a little long there.
I topstitched in green thread beside the front and back princess seams for a bit of added interest. Otherwise construction was on the overlocker, with hems and the neckband secured on the sewing machine in a zig-zag stitch – also in green thread. The overlocking was in green too – from memory, the colours that were in the machines from the previous project. Too lazy to change them!
There is a LOT of fullness in that skirt, it swishes beautifully! I didn’t anticipate that the scuba fabric would drop where the curves of the skirt are on the bias, but after wearing this dress a couple of times I think that it has. Looks like time to level out and re-hem. Or just embrace the “design feature”.
So, overall verdict? I have worn this dress a few times. It’s nice to play with a new silhouette, although it doesn’t quite feel like “me”. I probably wouldn’t wear a summer version of this dress, but in winter worn with stockings, boots, a scarf and a coat, I really rather like it.
Oh, I’d better comment on the cowl. It’s yet another Wintergreen Cowl, this one in yarn I had left after crocheting my Sea Flower Wrap. The yarn is Rowan Cocoon, and I crocheted it with a 5mm hook. Fast, satisfying, and a cowl that I have already worn quite a lot. It just sits so nicely around the neck.