A Review of The Marcel Dress & Tank Top PDF Pattern by Chalk & Notch Patterns.
This is my first Chalk and Notch pattern and I was really excited to make The Marcel Dress & Tank Top after viewing all the promo pictures. I particularly liked the idea of using a striped fabric in opposing directions. Recommended fabric is a light to medium weight woven with nice drape. When I spotted this black and white striped Rayon Crepe in my local fabric store I knew it would be perfect!
The Marcel is a woven dress and tank top that is fitted through the high bust and loose through the bust, waist and hips. There are two dress views: View A is Midi length and View B is Mini length. View C is a tank top that ends at the high hip.
I chose to make The Marcel Dress & Tank in View B: a mini length dress. There is a small interfaced bodice piece at the front and back, a centre front and back piece and three gathered tiers at each side. It comes in sizes 0 - 24 with two cup sizes: A/B and C/D.
After printing all my pattern pieces I realised that the pattern notches had not printed and did not even appear on my size layer. I posted my concerns on the Chalk & Notch Facebook page and Gabriela, the owner of Chalk & Notch, was quickly there to help. Apparently, pdfs aren't infallible and they can become corrupt. I re-saved the document and the notches magically re-appeared. In future I will scan through a pdf document before printing just to check that everything is in place as it should be. I didn't want to waste paper and reprint so I continued with construction hoping that I could manage without the notches.
I am really impressed with The Marcel Dress & Tank Tutorial. The instructions and diagrams are really clear and easy to follow and the interactive pdf means that it is easy to navigate around. There is a custom fitting guide with instructions on how to make alternations for height, shoulder slope, armhole gaping and full bust.
Construction of The Marcel Dress is fairly straight forward and I'm sure that an advanced beginner could tackle this as a project. I made the bodice section first and tested for fit. The bodice is the only fitted part of the pattern. At this step you can also check your strap length. The bodice is only very small at this step and therefore I found it quite difficult to try on and know where it would sit on the body. I thought that the fit seemed ok though and went ahead with the rest of construction.
There is a fair amount of gathering to do with The Marcel Dress but because the pieces aren't particularly wide its not too tedious of a task and construction is fairly quick (obviously there will be more work to do if you are making a Midi or Maxi Version). I chose to sew then serge my seams to prevent the fabric from fraying. This gives the inside of the dress a pleasing neat finish.
Once I had finished constructing The Marcel Dress I tried it on and decided that the fit was not right! Even though the bodice fitted at high bust and under the arms it was too tight across the bottom of the bodice and sat uncomfortably across my bust. To make it wearable I had to sit the bodice quite high up on my chest which also meant that the straps were far too long.
I think that even though I made the C/D cup size I should have also done a Full Bust Adjustment (FBA). There are instructions on how to do this in The Marcel Dress Tutorial. It involves adding ease and length to the Top Tiers and Centre Front Panel. Interestingly, the FBA doesn't include making alterations to the Bodice - which is the part of the pattern that doesn't fit me well.
I didn't have enough fabric left over to remake the whole dress so I decided to remake the bodice section only. I traced the Front and Back Bodice pieces including the Facings and added an inch to each side, grading the line to the top of the Bodice. Once, the bodice was re-made I tried it on to check for fit and decided to shorten each strap by 2 cms.
I removed the old bodice from The Marcel Dress and re-attached the newer version. Because I had made my new bodice wider my gathers on the front and back centre panels are more spread out now but I quite like how it looks.
The Marcel Dress & Tank Top is drafted for a height of 5'7". I'm 5'4" but chose not to adjust the pattern pieces for height as you would have to work out the difference and then split it evenly over the tiers - perhaps I was just being lazy but I'm glad I didn't make any adjustments as this dress is shorter than I expected! To be fair it is drafted as a Mini but because the design is loose and billowy I will definitely have to wear my Peg Legs underneath to protect my modesty!
Final Thoughts: The Marcel is a fun flirty dress that I enjoyed making and will wear throughout the rest of the Summer. I'm not sure if I've got the perfect fit with it yet so I'll probably make more tweaks to the pattern in the future.