Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Pattern Review: Fen Dress by Fancy Tiger Crafts

The Fen Dress pattern was released a year or so ago and for some reason did not grab our attention much at the time. But suffice to say it's grown on us, a LOT, and we now rate it as an absolute winner!

Fancy Tiger Crafts is a fabric and yarn shop in Denver, USA. They have released a small range of patterns and we've just stocked the Fen, Sailor Top and Adventure Tank.
I made the Fen dress in a washed linen (sold out but lots more linens here). It works beautifully in linen, and we can also imagine this versatile dress made up in a woven wool for winter, a breezy seersucker for summer or a light denim or chambray for year-round wear.
To test the fit I made a quick muslin of the bodice in size 12, which most closely matched my measurements. The fit (such as it is, in a loose-fit pattern) was great and the only adjustment I made was to narrow the neckline, curving it in about 2cm on the front and back pattern pieces. It really is quite a wide neckline and I didn't want to have bra strap issues.

The other change I made to the pattern was to make a neck facing instead of binding with bias. This was a personal choice - I'm fond of stitched down neck facings at the moment - and I also thought it would help stabilise the wide neckline in this soft linen. I had admired a large scooped stitched-down facing on the back of a RTW garment recently and made one similar. It gives a neat finish when the garment is on a hanger, which I guess is a RTW requirement, but I also like the look of it on the outside back.
I added a small strip of fusible interfacing just at the seamline on the neck facing, and also on the inside edge of the pocket openings, to prevent stretching.

Things I love about the Fen dress:
- oh so comfy, and great for bicycling
- pocket perfection
- bodice darts front and back make this shapely-casual, not baggy-sack
- slight high-low hemline sits right where I want it (for reference I am 5ft3"/163cm)
- layer-ability, I can see myself wearing this year-round
- easy-fit and easy-sew, truly beginner-friendly
- good instructions
- as others have noted, the skirt gathers are placed so they don't puff out over the hips
- this would work in so many different fabrics! Fiona and I are walking around the shop at the moment saying 'I could Fen the heck out of that!'

There are just two things I would caution about with this pattern:
- the round neckline, as drafted, is very wide. Easy to alter though, and I recommend you make a bodice muslin to check this for personal preference as well as general fit.
- the fabric requirements stated on the pattern are on the generous side. I managed to eke this Fen out of 1.75m of 140cm wide linen - BUT I did have to narrow the back skirt a couple of cms (not a problem with the gathers) and I made a neck facing instead of using bias. The stated fabric requirements would have had me cut 2.7 metres - almost a whole metre more! If I had not cut the skirt pieces side by side (which I did to save on fabric and help me match the plaid across the side seams), I would have needed about 2.2m. So be aware of requirements if you have pattern matching to do, or if you need the width for larger sizes. But use a bit of common sense and you can probably get away with less fabric than stated.

There are many variations you can choose with the Fen, including a shirttail hem (may account for extra fabric needs), a long sleeve, v-neckline and a lovely simple top. Personally I'm currently blinded by my love for this dress version and can't see past that but never say never....

PATTERN: Fancy Tiger Crafts Fen - view B dress
FABRIC: Washed linen, 175cm x 140cm wide (see notes above)
SIZE: 12
ADJUSTMENTS: narrowed neckline, made neck facing
COMMENTS: Can I wear this every single day?

- Jane & Fiona xx


  1. i love that you're in the fabric selling business but that you're telling us we could buy less than the pattern recommends. hooray for retail honesty!! or perhaps you know that i'll just buy a bit more of something else....

    1. Haha, yes, perhaps not the best business ploy :D But fabric waste just makes us sad. And of course if it means you can buy a useful amount of something else too, win-win!

  2. What a seriously awesome dress! And it looks AMAZING on you! Love it!

    1. Thanks so much Rachel! It's such a great pattern, so easy to wear but feels 'smart casual' enough for many occasions.


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