Homer+Howells, the pattern company by Scottish designer duo Nic and Susan, is definitely on my radar now. Since I discovered their patterns this winter I’ve tried quite a few already, and the designs are for the most part firmly within my preferred aesthetic. Recently I wrote about their new pattern, Ingrid, which has the most interesting bust tuck instead of darts.
After testing the Ingrid pattern last month I got an itch to try the dress version, too. It has a pretty and fun asymmetric gathered skirt and comes in two views, a mini with t-shirt sleeves and a midi with the same puffed sleeves as the top. The tuck adds shaping to the top, and the crew neckline sits high. Together the dress’ various design elements come together as current, modern and very much on trend.
I love style and fashion. I enjoy reading about personal style and trends, and I don’t mind trying new styles myself. Exploring the relation between styles, trends, culture and society is very fascinating, and it is endlessly intriguing about how the way we dress says so much about us. I read a few style/fashion blogs and newspapers more than fashion magazines, and I enjoy people watching. Real people are so much more interesting than commercial and styled fashion coverage. Some people say they never pay attention to trends, but I’m definitely not one of them, and I think it must be really difficult not to be influenced by trends at all. That doesn’t mean that I will be into all trends, far from it. On the other hand I’m often curious to give some new to me styles a chance. That is the only way I will know for sure if they are for me or not.
Case in point, when I received the first line drawings of Ingrid my initial thought was this is not for me. In general, I don’t favor wearing dresses with gathered skirt and no defined waistline. I always worry they will swamp me. Thus, I opted for the top version when testing the pattern. Its puffy sleeves and bust tuck were interesting on their own without the skirt, and I love how the top turned out. However, when seeing the many gorgeous tester dress versions I soon regretted my decision and knew I would have to take my chances with the dress as well. Since I’ve already tried the puffy sleeves I opted for the slimmer sleeve instead, making this a view A with the sleeves from view B. I’m very happy with the result. The somewhat slimmer sleeves balances out the skirt very well, I think, and I love that they are elbow length and still quite wide.
Ingrid is meant for a mid weight fabric with some body to keep the tuck and gathers from collapsing, so I chose a lovely linen from Mind the maker which is 180GSM, which means it is a very versatile fabric for shirts and dresses. I got the inspiration from this blog post, and I think her mini version in white linen is perfection. For me, a mini dress with a gathered skirt seemed too daring, meaning I would feel too self conscious wearing it. If I’m going to show that much leg I prefer a skirt with less volume. It looks fabulous on her, though!
At first, the skirt had almost too much volume and was billowing out, but after some ironing the gathers relaxed enough to lay smooth. My initial fabric choice, a lighter tencel/linen blend would not have worked this well I think, but you never know. The relation between a pattern and fabric is endlessly fascinating, and I sometimes think I should be better at developing a few TNT patterns and explore this more systematically. The allure of the new and shiny is leading me astray I’m afraid. However, I do try to make most patterns at least a couple of times to explore their capacity.
One thing I missed when sewing the top was that the bodice probably is a little too long for me. I fit really well into all the Homer+Howells patterns I’ve tried without having to make adjustments, but I forgot about height. The patterns are drafted for a slightly longer person than me (I’m 163 cm), and since I’m a little short waisted I should have known better. The result is still good, but if I make it again I will shorten the bodice with two cm. I think the big pockets (which are perfect otherwise) sit a tad too low, and I would prefer to have the gathers slightly higher. It is not a problem, though.
The actual sewing is very straight forward, and the instructions are really helpful. This time I was a good girl and stay stitched the neckline as suggested. The keyhole opening in the back turned out a lot better than on the top, and this time it doesn’t gape at all. Another thing to remember is to pair each skirt panel with the corresponding bodice piece, and please do yourself a favor and mark the wrong side with a chalk pen or something. It can easily get very confusing because they are all a little different, so you don’t want to mix them up. Homer+Howells have a great sew-along tutorial on their blog which will be very helpful if you haven’t made this pattern before.
I test drove the dress at work yesterday. It was a humid day, not particularly warm. It turned out to be a perfect dress and fabric for that kind of weather – airy, but just insulating enough. The linen has beautiful drape and if you would like to see it in motion I have posted a video reel on Instagram. I felt completely comfortable and at ease all day.
I have more ideas for Ingrid, so I might sew another one later on. I would like a version for winter in needlecord or lightweight denim, or even a light wool perhaps. For winter I will extend the sleeve length. Wouldn’t it look nice layered over a turtleneck, you think? I think a sleeveless version for summer would be amazing, too. Another hack could be to replace the keyhole opening in the back with a visible metallic zipper. Too many ideas as usual! Time will show wether I manage to realize some of them or not.
Either way: Ingrid in blue linen has turned out to be surprisingly versatile, incredibly comfortable and absolutely wonderful – pure freedom!
Pattern: Ingrid dress from Homer+Howells
Size: UK12 (EU40)
Fabric: 2.5 m Nisa softened linen from Meet Milk/Metermeter
Time: A couple of hours here and there over a week or so, probably around one day in total