We first heard about Candice’s year of Upton Dresses on the Cashmerette Facebook group and just had to learn more! Check out our interview with Candice here.
Tell us about yourself – where do you live, what do you do, how long have you been sewing?
I’m Candice, I live in South Australia, Australia, with my fabulously supportive partner, and our eggseptionally personable chicken girl, Ophelia. We live on a largeish block, right on the edge of the city, which works well for me, as I am a country girl at heart, and can’t wait to move back there one day. It has enough room for a vege patch, chickens, fruit trees and general ‘space to be outside.’ I am blessed to work from home as owner, creator and do-er of all things at Sew Says You, sewing bags, wallets, planners and planner accessories.
Sewing I think is one of those things that is sometimes just in your blood. I remember sewing cushions, and tube tops and toys with my Mum and Grandma when I was young, and moving onto barbie clothes, and dress-ups for myself as I got a little older. Rocking some pants made out of sheets and lace curtains shortly after I finished high school, and telling everyone I was one day going to have my own sewing business even whilst i was working my first ‘real job’ in a bank. However the curvier I got, the less I sewed for myself. I had attempted to grade up some of the big 4 patterns, but, FBA’s were scary and things needed SO MUCH grading, so I mainly sewed ‘things’ and instead subjected myself to continue wearing store bought.
What first attracted you to the Upton Dress? What are your favorite features of the dress?
A few summers ago, I found a basic tent style maxi dress in a shop here, and decided i could use it for a pattern to make others with the same style. I threw a belt around them for ‘some shape’ and decided that maybe I did like dresses after all. Money was tight, and come winter, it was easiest to invest in some stockings and a cardi to go with the dresses, than a whole new winter wardrobe and by the time summer had rolled around again, I knew I wanted to continue this trend and find something that was well fitting and that I loved to wear all year around. Right around then, the Cashmerette Upton Dress was released! I loved that it was woven, I loved that it was fit and flare, I loved it had different skirts and necklines in the same pattern and I loved the timeless lines it had, knowing once I got it to fit, I could use it as the base for alterations too.
Oh! And I TOTALLY loved that it had cup sizes! I had already tried the Harrison Shirt & discovered how amazing it is to have a pattern with an FBA already made, so, felt the dress was going to be just as wonderful!
Oh Oh Oh and the pockets!!! I loved the pockets so much I made a meme to share to the Cashmerette Facebook group! (And my partner loves the pockets too as I dont ask him to carry my phone / wallet when i wear dresses now!)
What kind of modifications have you made to the pattern?
After my very first muslin I knew I would never, ever, ever use the waist band. It got eaten between my bust and my stomach – And I didn’t particularly want to widen it, or add interfacing to stiffen it – so I did away with it. I also realised I had a shape that allowed for putting on and taking off the dress without using the zipper – so I did away with that too.
Currently I have 13 Uptons – Some other changes that have been made amongst them:
Bias binding finishes (2) , turned finishes (1) , princess seam bodices (2), lengthening to maxi dresses (3), shortening to top/tunic length (1), fully lined top and skirt (2), simple gathered skirts (7).
Some changes I haven’t made – every Upton uses the same round neckline, and either a gathered or pleated skirt – I mean to try the v neck and gored skirt options, but, then I get out my fabric and the pattern and keep going back to what I know and love!
Some changes I really should make – A small FBA, as it does provide some ‘support’ and ‘shaping’ as it currently is, especially in the thicker, or fully lined bodices. I should also lengthen the bodice maybe an inch. But – even without these changes- I love them and am complimented on them.
I have plans for many many more uptons, and am hoping to pull one out of the naughty corner and fix up the hemming on the flutter sleeves soon!
How did you end up wearing them for over a year? Was it a deliberate challenge? Something you just fell into?
I wanted a more mindful wardrobe. I kept reading about how all the most successful people have a ‘uniform’ they put on each day, so it is one less decision they have to make. At the time, I was really unwell, and I wanted simplicity. Not just to know what I put on would look nice and put together and something I wouldn’t have to obsess over every aspect of, but I wanted less clothes over all, less washing to deal with, few enough clothes they would actually fit into my small wardrobe etc.
So It started with that thought. I took the previous years maxi dresses & cut them up to make my first few Uptons & I liked them, and really liked not having to put so much energy just into getting dressed every day. So I made a few more. And I shared them in the Cashmerette Facebook group and commented about how I had been wearing them every day for almost six months – but – that there was a fateful washing day incident when i had to wear jeans – but that they were amazing and everyone should make one, or two, or 9 (I think i was up to 9 at that stage.)
Just recently, someone was asking about Uptons again, and I said I had 13 (and some still in the works) and remembered the previous conversation, and and decided to look it up and realised I had literally been wearing an Upton every day for over a year. So while mindfulness played a huge part in my decision for my ‘uniform’ to be a dress (with cardigan/leggings/boots etc. in winter) – it was really the complete flexibility and adaptability of the Upton that made me keep coming back to it – and the reason That I didn’t notice a whole year flying by! The only reason I broke this pattern was because I pattern tested some jeans for the Curvy Sewing Collective and wanted to wear them about for a little while to give an accurate review on them (jeans were my previous uniform, until I realised just how poorly RTW jeans actually ‘fit’ me.)
What is your favorite Upton?
My favourite Upton was the swirly bright cotton Upton in the collage, it was an upcycled quilt cover, but it was so vibrant and happy and it got worn to death (and is relegated to around the house now). Last Christmas I needed a new dress for Christmas / functions and made my bright maxi length Upton and that is my new complete favourite (which never ceases to amaze me, as, it was $1/m clearance fabric i bought as it ‘might be ok for muslins.’) I was never a “bright clothes” person, instead sticking to darker colours, denim, black, jewel reds, and greens – but – something about these dresses makes me feel beautiful and alive and feminine, even on bad days – and dull, drab fabrics aren’t even a consideration for me any more!
What advice would you have for people thinking about making an Upton Dress?
Trust your measurements – the most common mistake I see (and the mistake I made myself) was to go for the larger size, it is a FIT and flare dress, it’s no time for you to think you should give yourself extra room – all you are doing is giving yourself extra headaches to remove the extra folds of fabric & gapes you are giving your dress!
Also – Don’t judge a bodice on its own – it really does need that skirt to pull it down and get it sitting where and how it should – so take the time to baste the skirt on before you decide the bodice is too short! It really is a flattering dress for every body shape – and the beauty of sewing for yourself is you can make it your way!
Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with us, Candice! We are so glad you love your Uptons!