REVIEW: Rumi tank dress by Christine Haynes for Sprout Patterns

I’d like to start this post by anwering a question regarding these Sprout reviews: I am not doing this on commission.

Sprout Patterns did not ask me to review their products, and they don’t provide the goods to me for free or at a discount. Neither am i contracted by any print designers on Spoonflower. I choose the styles, the prints, and the fabrics and pay for them myself. I review these projects on La Bricoleuse because it falls under the purview of this blog’s mission: sharing information to expand the knowledge and resources for contemporary costume production artists. While it’s true that Sprout/Spoonflower are headquartered right up the street from my house, I’m not in their employ in any way.

Now, on to the real subject: the Rumi tank dress pattern by Christine Haynes!

Thus far, I’ve chosen my Sprout Pattern projects with a focus on garment styles of which one can easily purchase plain off-the-rack versions, but that might conceptually appeal to a costume designer when made in a specific print—the Concord tee, for example, and the Sloan leggings. Given the right design aesthetic, you could costume an entire dance concert with those two garments alone.

(I’m thinking specifically of a ballet from a few years back, choreographed to Horst’s “The Planets,” that involved a LOT of complex “spacescape” paint/dyework on leotards and tights. A volunteer-costumed community dance group could mount that ballet and use Sprout to make pre-printed starscape leggings and so forth.)

The Rumi tank dress though, this was all about me and my desire to own a swingy trapeze dress for summer in some weirdo print; and i hate to say it, but the resulting garment is my first caveat emptor. I’ve wound up with a dress that I personally won’t wear other than for the photos accompanying this post, and it is entirely due to a succession of poor design choices on my end of the process.

I decided to make this project my first foray into choosing different prints for different pieces of the garment. At the same time, this would also be the first garment in which i tried to achieve a level of accuracy in print placement in terms of how i would oherwise choose to lay out and cut a garment on print yardage. I didn’t try to match a pattern across a seam or anything, just balancing and centering the placement of a motif based on the online 2D pattern manipulation feature. Oh, y’all, how i failed at that.

Do you see why i have replaced my phone with this goblet of wine in order to cope?

I went with a Ouija theme for the dress, in which the body is a red planchette design and the contrast border a black Sun/Moon scatter. The neck and armscyes are bound in solid black. While i was able to make sure that i didn’t have an unfortunate “planchette pasties” effect on the front, i was less successful at centering and balancing the motif on the center back. It looked right on the website, but in person you can see that i’m about 1/4” off. A snap-to centering feature would be an excellent fix for this in terms of a feature for Sprout to offer, if that’s something the programmers can finagle. Even a “show CF/CB guidelines” toggle would probably be better than eyeballing it, i think.

And I wish, in retrospect, that i’d swapped the prints—a black sun/moon dress with a red hem band…except the planchettes’ scale is all wrong and the direction of the print is not conducive to a shaped border of this width, and see what i mean? Design issues totally chalked up to my own poor choices.

But wait! I’m not done at screwing this up; let’s talk about my fabric selection. I went with the Performance Pique because i LOVE that fabric in the Concord tee. I now have made (and own/wear) four of them, so it seemed like it would be fine. But in practice? Nope, what works in a tee is—to my taste—FAR too flimsy for this dress. Because of the volume of the trapeze cut, the weight of the skirt pulls down on the tank straps to create some unfortunate draglines across the racerback; i see now that the style would really be best made up in Sport Lycra or one of the jerseys. Live and learn.

The pattern itself is fine. The draft is sound, the seams and notches match well, and the instructions are straightforward. I’m not as fond of the way Haynes suggests you bind the neckline/armscyes as the method put forth by Cashmerette for the Concord tee—Cashmerette advises you to zig-baste your binding in half first and then stitch it to the garment, whereas the Rumi instructions just have you do it all in one go without basting, which works fine but the baste allows for better control of a quality result. I did my bindings with the Cashmerette baste.

I’m also not as fond of the Haynes instruction PDF’s use of photographs to illustrate construction steps rather than the standard line diagrams used in both the Cashmerette and Hey June Handmade patterns, but whatever. On a garment this simple, it’s a quibble. I might find photos actively problematic on a more complex garment where the style-sheet illustration would offer more clarity to a step which was fiddly and odd (setting in a sleeve gusset maybe, or a lapel-notch turn).

Much as with the Concord tee and the Sloan leggings, this was a quick, easy, and fun project for an afternoon. It took me just under three hours total, with my home-sewist practice of cutting on my living room floor and stitching on my domestic (rather than availing myself of the cutting tables and industrial machines at work). If you’ve made a stretch garment before, you can do this in a similar amount of time. If this would be your first time sewing stretch, you can probably still make the garment in an afternoon. I recommend that basting trick on the bindings and overall using a serpentine or stretch zig for the structural seams, if your machine has those options.

I had a good time sewing this dress even though i’m so critical of my own missteps. I will definitely make another Rumi tank dress as a Sprout cut-and-sew pattern at some point (in sport lycra! or modern jersey maybe!). If you like the basic style of the dress, please do take what’s useful away from this review and go for it on your own iteration!


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