The Finish Line

Wow, I’m so relieved to finally be writing this blog post after what seems like an eternity of digitizing, testing, editing, emailing, (/Instagram/ Facebook messaging), re-editing, redrafting, re-re-editing, and very little sewing, (of anything other than the Forsythe Dress). Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy/ed the process (mostly), but it has been a real education for me and, I must be honest, there have been some pretty tough lessons!

As someone who has battled with perfectionism my whole life, I’ve always related to the well known words of John Updike: “Perfectionism is the enemy of creation”. This project was certainly no exception, and my little lifelong fiend has been hellbent on derailing me from ever launching this pattern! Because guys, if I’m honest with you, and with myself, this pattern is not perfect. I could probably devote an entire blog post to all of its imperfections, but I’m not going to do that. I’ve been painstakingly “perfecting” everything for months now and it seemed like it could go on indefinitely. The other day my mom gave me a much needed reality check with “Sarah, people release patterns all the time with mistakes. Don’t you ever go on pattern review?” (I don’t).

That really got me thinking. Nothing is ever perfect, do people even expect perfection? I had the most incredible group of pattern testers whose contribution to this finished pattern is impossible to quantify. They offered me so much in terms of actual practical and technical advice (that was the part I kind of expected), but I was also overwhelmed by the emotional support as well as the insights and perspective that they offered to me daily.  You can check out their lovely versions  here.  Another thing I learnt from the pattern testing process is that peoples perceptions of “perfect” are all different, and that trying to please everyone is an exercise in futility.

I do wish that I had been able to find the time to illustrate the instructions for this pattern (or the means to employ someone to do it for me). I wish I had time to take better photographs of me in my dresses on the few weekends that it hasn’t rained lately. I wish that I didn’t have to work a 9-5 job and that I had a babysitter so that so that I had the option to take decent photos when the light is good and not just on the weekend when the twins are napping. However, that’s just not my reality right now, and so I give you The Forsythe Dress. 

The Forsythe IlustrationI have made a lot of versions of this dress while getting to this point and I’ve got to tell you, I really do love this pattern. The dresses are not anything fancy, nor are they a groundbreaking style, but they are just so super comfortable while somehow still managing to look “pulled-together”. Mornings can be pretty hectic in my household, and as much as I would love to co-ordinate a stylish outfit everyday (or any day for that matter), that’s pretty much impossible for me at this stage of my life. This dress saw me stylishly through Summer and eased me effortlessly into Autumn. (I’ve gotta be honest, I’ve not been wearing it much mid-winter, but then again South Africans generally don’t have any kind of household heating infrastructure, other than a fireplace or the odd plug-in heater – we have neither, so my house is pretty icy in June/ July). I still do wear them on the occasional sunny, winter weekend outing and it really has proven to be a versatile layering piece.

This is my most recent version of the Forsythe dress that I made up in a French Navy and white striped Viscose.  I have only made two versions of the “final” fit pattern of this dress (there has been some refining of fit along the way),  but many in the process of getting there . A lot of the testers seemed to prefer sewing up this pattern in very lightweight, drapey fabric (like this one pictured) and, although I really do love this version, I personally slightly prefer the fit of the more medium weight fabrics like one that I made in a Linen/ Rayon blend (I have had not yet had a chance to take decent photos of that one, but you can check out different fabric variations in my Tester Roundup.)





Forsythe 7

Forsythe 10


Forsythe3 copy

Although drape is an essential component of any fabric used for this pattern, there’s something about the body of medium weight fabric that I personally prefer.  I like having the option of folding back the cuffs and not having to permanently secure them them like I had to do with the one pictured.  It’s probably mostly because it’s Winter here now so Viscose is not my best friend! This day was lovely and sunny (the first in ages!) but it was much colder than it appears in the pictures and I was loath to off my cardigan to get these shots!!

Personal preference and differing opinions….something that I encountered a lot of during this process. In the interest of all my hard work ever seeing the light of day I had to learn to trust my instincts and to educate my omnipresent self-critic to that fact that perfection is unattainable and that devoting all my (there was not much at this point) energy to to the pursuit of such a thing was counterproductive and would never result in any pattern, albeit the imperfect, yet very loved (by me) one that I give you today.

15 thoughts on “The Finish Line

  1. Julie says:

    Congratulations! Really like the style of this dress and am a fan of your style in general. Look forward to making up a Forsythe and to seeing what you do in the future!


  2. Emma says:

    This is so lovely. I’ve been following it on instagram and waiting for it to come out. Like you, if dealing with very chilly weather and little heating here in Perth, so it’s not quite the right time yet but I’m really keen to try this as soon as Autumn rolls around. I love the dropped waist, it’s not a feature you see very often and I really like it, it reminds me a bit of dresses from the 1920s.


    • Sarah-May says:

      Thanks so much Emma!
      I love dropped waists too, they’re so comfortable! Apparently Perth and Cape Town are very similar weather wise (or so I hear). Hope to see your version on IG if you do decide to make one 🙂


  3. tine says:

    Hello! Congratulations on that lovely dress and all that work!
    I think I’m definitely going to buy this pattern but I’d like to have your opinion on what size to choose: my bust is a size M, my waist a S and my hips a L (hahaha). Which size would you suggest?


    • Sarah-May says:

      Hi Time! Thanks so much 🙂. What is your hip measurement? It’s quite a relaxed fit so you can def get away with a M, maybe even a small. Just want to check the finished hip measurement to be sure


  4. tine says:

    Hello and thank you for your quick answer! My hips are 102 cms.
    While I’m at it, are the buttons necessary? Some bloggers say you can put on the dress without opening the back.


    • Sarah-May says:

      Hi Tine. Yes you can just see both seam allowances of the cuff to the sleeve, you don’t need to fold under the allowance if you don’t want to. It just looks nicer on the inside if you do, but is not really necessary. You can prob omit the buttons, I never undo mine- I just pull over my head


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