Finding My Style ft. French Poetry Patterns 'Etoile' Dress & a Mini Downtown Cardigan

by - 9/20/2019

Hi guys! Time for a wordy post and some new makes in one. I didn't want today's post to just be a sewing pattern review, I also want to combine it with a little discussion about finding my personal style and moving on after my rebrand from The Crafty Pinup (there's a little explanation about that HERE). So this is the first bit of sewing (and knitting) I'm sharing since changing my blog to What Abi Makes and I think that this outfit really sums up my true style and where I feel most like myself, it helps that it's also super comfortable!

There's a little more behind this dress than normal as I didn't sew it on my usual sewing machine. Every September I dog sit at my parents for a week, and being away from work can be really stressful for me, so I thought I would distract myself and set myself up on my mum's sewing machine and make myself a 'slow sew' dress.

Normally I whizz through the sewing process (I like simple patterns and finishing makes in one sitting), but this time I wanted to take a little more time over the sewing process and try to enjoy it a bit more. Along with the fact I was also using a very basic machine compared to my usual. Mum has the JL110 machine from John Lewis, which I reviewed a while back HERE. Its a great little machine and worked like a dream on this project.

The pattern is the 'Etoile Dress' by French Poetry Patterns. I've been searching for the perfect button up, collarless dress pattern for months, but I'm not yet recovered after my awful first attempt at the Nina Lee London Kew Dress (I really effed that up). Then I saw this pattern release via The Fold Line and fell in love. I snapped it up straight away and paired with THIS floral viscose I figured it'd be a great match.

I'm not going to lie guys, this isn't my finest make and I'm so annoyed because I had the time to concentrate properly and I still managed to make a mess! The problem I'd like to say first, isn't with the pattern itself, more like me being an idiot. Let's talk measurements, my bust measures about 42" which puts me at the top end of sizing when it comes to most patterns, but that doesn't match the rest of my body compared to the size charts. I know I should do more full bust adjustments, but honestly, I like to opt for styles like a wrap or sew in jersey so I don't have to. In short, this was one of those occasions where I cut the larger size for my bust and ended up with a huge dress...

I was so in the zone following the instructions and having a jolly old time sewing and listening to podcasts that when I came to try it on just before doing the button holes, I thought 'oh crap what have I done'. So to rectify the massively oversized dress I made, I tried my best to pick up the shoulders without unpicking the sleeves as it was super long in the body and then I gathered the shoulders (because they were SO wide), I then took it in at the waist a little. I extended the length of the dress as I wanted a midi length.

Whilst technically this dress may be a little bit of a mess, I can honestly say I still LOVE it. Before I started this dress, if you saw my Makers Style File post or follow me on Insta, you'll know I've been wanting a midi length, viscose button up dress with a relaxed fit for some time, and this make ticks all the boxes. Even though it's large, it has that 90s style that's everywhere right now and I love it paired with my new boots. I've worn it a handful of times already and I made it less than a month ago so I'm counting that as a resounding success.

Sewing Summary:

Pattern: The 'Etoile Dress' by French Poetry Patterns

Fabric: Floral Viscose

Notions: 12 x simple black plastic buttons

Sewing time: I spread this out over about 4 days

Modifications: See above for the alterations I had to make

Fit: Again, see above for the alterations I made after making a size or 3 too big!

Difficulty: Pretty straightforward

Watch out for: I took extra care with the facing to get a flat and tidy neck edge. Lots of pressing!

Make Again?: Yes, I really love this dress, but I do need to fiddle with the pattern to get the sizing to work for me. E.g. narrowing the shoulders, shortening the bodice.


Knitting Summary:

Pattern: The 'Downtown Cardigan' by All About Ami

Yarn: Aran weight by Style Craft Yarns in 'Fondant' - leftover from a jumper last year

Needles: 5mm Knit Pro straight needles

Modifications: I used a smaller yarn and needles to create a smaller cardigan

Fit: I made a larger size as I was knitting in smaller yarn and needles than recommended. It's just what I wanted, a lil mini Downtown cardigan!

Make again: This is my second time making this. I made a huge squishy lilac one which I love. This mini one is super cute and great over dresses, I've already started it in red.

When I was out and about taking snaps of this dress, I haven't felt so myself in an outfit some quite some time. Having a blog called The Crafty Pinup made me feel like I was letting everyone down every time I made something that didn't have a vintage aesthetic, and when I talked about the blog name change recently with friends, one said he'd never seen me in vintage style the whole time he'd known me. It became really apparent I was trying to keep up appearances for the internet with boundaries I had set myself. The whole thing sounds so silly when I type it out now. Anyway, I feel so inspired to create new content for What Abi Makes, more so than I have for a long time. A lot has changed in my life since I started this blog, I sew for myself a lot less and I no longer have the space to set up my white backdrop for photos. But I feel more confident going outside to take photos and am planning my makes more consciously to suit my personal style, and I can breathe a sign of relief knowing that no one cares if I don't have victory rolls!

Thank you for the support for the name change/rebrand. I've got lots planned for What Abi Makes, I'll still be sharing sewing pattern reviews, I've got a big knitting for beginners blog series on the way and I'll be vlogging occasionally too.

Thanks for reading!
Abi xo

P.S. On the day me and my friend went out to take photos, it was the windiest day ever! So these are the best of a bad, very wind swept, bunch.

P.P.S. I also wore this outfit to The Handmade Festival and had a blast!

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  1. The Shelby dress and romper pattern by True Bias is a similar design to this dress but has princess seams, which would make it easier for you to adjust.

  2. This looks so cute on you! And I swear, no matter how much time I have I always manage to mess SOMETHING up with sewing, haha! It's just expected now.

  3. The sizing actually turned out perfectly!

    I've just discovered this blog while looking for reviews of some patterns I'm planning to try out, your makes look so professional! Glad to hear there are some disasters in the background as my track record right now is not good ��

    I'm also someone who's style has changed over time (although it's always been some form of "vintage") and it's great to read about your journey with that. I think that when people have a specific style that is, to quote all my extended family I see at weddings, "a bit different" you end up being really defined by that so it becomes harder to separate yourself when it just isn't you anymore

    Really happy you've embraced your style evolution instead of, as you say, keeping up appearances, thanks so much for sharing. Our talents define us, not a bit of red lippy!