Make Nine Challenge Sewing

Fancy Tiger Fen Tee

February 23, 2016

One of the patterns on my #2016MakeNine list is Fen by Fancy Tiger Crafts. I originally bought this pattern thinking the dress would become a very favorite of mine, maybe even a “TNT” that I could make and wear again and again. Welllllllll… it didn’t exactly work out like that. But! Two muslin attempts is a learning experience, and a learning experience is no failure. Besides, I’m happy to keep working towards a me-made wardrobe that I can love for a long time, not just love for a few weeks and then decide there’s something amiss.


In this case, the ‘something amiss’ was amiss before I even finished my wearable muslin. In the back of my mind I figured that might be the case, but I continued onward anyway and hoped for the best. To ramble backwards for a minute, last year I learned many valuable lessons in what I like to wear and what fitting changes I need to make to get things to fit me well. For example, the Hollyburn Skirt is one of my very favorite patterns (I made 4 last year) but a tight, high-waisted skirt made from woven fabric is really unkind to acid reflux, hence my desire to sew more loose, boxy dresses like Fen.


I also learned I have a rounded upper back and forward sloping shoulders, which I’ve lovingly termed the Lady Turtle* body type. I always want to sew built-in kimono sleeve patterns, like Fen, because they’re so quick, but every time I do I’m unhappy with how the sleeves fall on my slope-y shoulders, and how the shoulder seams (and therefore the sleeves) roll backwards on me with wear, throwing off necklines, side seams and the overall balance of the top. That’s the something that’s amiss, and that’s why both the Fen dress and the Fen tee won’t be a go-to pattern for me.

*I’m starting to collect my findings on this subject so I can start a new pattern fitting series for fellow LT’s!


It didn’t dawn on me that kimono/dolman style things never feel quite right with me until I tried on my Fen dress muslin (pictured later). I never wear my Staple Dress or my batwing t-shirts because they just don’t sit right on my shoulders. Looking back, those garments look totally fine in the photos because I wasn’t really “wearing” them, I was just posing in them. When I wear them out I’m constantly pulling the garment down or adjusting the neckline or fixing twisted sleeves, etc. To get a pattern to fit in a way I’m truly happy with, I need to go sleeveless (like my Tiny Pocket Tank – I worked hard on that fit!) or sew sleeves that are set-in.


These projects aren’t a total loss by any means, in fact I’m really loving this t-shirt even though it’s technically a muslin. The unfinished Fen dress will get scrapped for other smaller projects, and the Fen shirt makes a perfectly wearable lounge tee as-is. I’m still on the hunt for a TNT t-shirt pattern, and now I know I want one with regular set-in sleeves and a hemline that’s not so curvy and fussy to sew. Lark is still on my list to try soon and I’m remaining optimistic! Plus, you guys! I’m getting so much better at sewing with knits! This excites me!


As far as dresses go, it’s hard for me to predict what I’ll want to wear as soon as the warm weather comes back, but I’m not really in love with this shape of dress on me right now. I’ve seen some versions online that are seriously adorable, but I don’t feel adorable when I wear Fen. I do love the cut of the neckline, and the bust darts fall right where they should, and actually I don’t mind the way the sleeves fall either, but as I said, I’m constantly pulling the dress down or fussing with the neck because something doesn’t feel right at the shoulders. Not to mention the bodice is too short on me… But anyways, I don’t want to sound like I’m hating on this pattern, I’m just thinking out loud here, for myself, for future reference.


I can over-analyze the fit in the above photos all I want, but that won’t change the fact that when I put this muslin on I’m not inspired to make changes to the pattern and try again for keeps. Even my camera seems to be uninspired by my efforts, hence the oddly darker lighting out of no where – So weird. Oh well, there are plenty of other dress fish in the sea and I’ll figure out the right silhouette for me one of these days!


Speaking of figuring it out, I’m feeling very inspired by Christine Haynes and her Wardrobe Architect posts right now. I missed that whole boat when Colette first started it but I’ve been loosely playing along on Pinterest. I had a pretty rocky year in 2015 as a result of some big relationship/social/lifestyle changes. My wardrobe was all over the place and I’m still trying to evaluate what’s “me” and what isn’t. The snow makes me want to hibernate and not fuss with trying to put an outfit together, so I’ve been feeling very “meh” and uninspired on the fashion/sewing front lately. I know the sunshine will change that, though!


Outfit Details:
Shirt Pattern – Fen by Fancy Tiger purchased from Finch
Shirt Fabric – a red dot sale purchase from Jo-Ann’s
Hat – Sleep Season Slouch
Jeans – American Eagle
Shoes – Clarks
Glasses – c/o Victory Optical
(20% off all frames with code LUCKY20)

Guest appearances by Lucille, Karl, and Peanut the Cat 😉


If you skimmed through the above ramblings (which I can’t blame you for, really) I’ll sum everything up now: I love the Fancy Tiger aesthetic so I was also hoping to love this dress, but I don’t (insert sad face). It’s not a particularly inspiring dress on me in my opinion. The tee version is a much, much bigger win but I still don’t quite love it because kimono style sleeves tend to do weird things on my shoulders with wear, plus that roll-y bottom hem annoys me to no end (insert twitchy eye face). Now I know what I don’t want in a dress, plus I got some great practice in for future knit projects, so I’m still feeling like a winner here (insert smug face)!

Well, cross Fen off my Make Nine list! I don’t think I’ll be making this pattern again, but I did learn a few things for the next t-shirt attempt, as I said. I still have a Christmas gift card to Hawthorne Threads so I’d like to buy Lark and start on that next, but I should probably try to sew a sweater for Lucille before winter is over!