For months now, I've been ogling the popular Wiksten Tova pattern -- specifically the dress/tunic version. Here are a few of my favorite iterations: Prosestitch's Tova and Nova's Tova.
I've hemmed and hawed, browsed hundreds of images (thank you, all of you who have posted pictures of your finished Tovas!), shuffled my feet, and cogitated far too much over a $10 purchase. I ended up downloading the pattern in a sort of frenzied spontaneity, as if to counteract all of my stalling.
So here, at long last, is my Tova:
Can I just say that I absolutely loved this project? The fabric is the linen blend from JoAnn's that I purchased several months ago. If anything, I like it even more that it's been made up into a dress. As you can see in the pictures, it's somewhere between green and blue, depending on the lighting. Miraculously I had the exact shade of thread in my drawer; I can't remember how it got there, but I somehow doubt it was intentional. Somehow a happy "accident" seems more likely than actual planning on my part! *ahem*
This is possibly the best pattern I have ever used. I can't put my finger on "why," though I suspect it's a combination of good design and the crisp, neat finish that the linen provides. But whatever the reason, I absolutely loved every step of sewing this together. Usually in a project there are one or more spots that I'm less than enthusiastic about, sometimes to the point of dread or loathing. With this dress, however, everything came together like a breeze and I was just excited to move on to the next step. I found the pattern instructions clear and well illustrated, and the pieces fit nicely. The finishing is also great -- I love the top stitching, the placket constructions, and the sleeves -- which were probably the first set in sleeves I've done that actually look set in, not gathered! The front inset was easier than I'd anticipated (based on other reviews), and the collar construction was quite clever, in my opinion. I did tack the plackets together for modesty's sake.
My plan was (and still is) to wear the Tova as a long tunic (or "short" dress) over a pair of leggings. In order to fulfill my personal modesty standards, I wanted to make it long enough to reach almost to my knee -- and for that reason I did add several inches. If you add to much to this garment it starts looking like a nightgown (I know because I'd added extra length just to be safe, and the results were not very flattering!), but I found that a few inches were fine. I do have a proportionally long upper leg, so perhaps that influenced the length? Oh, I also did a 1~" hem with a double row of stitching, instead of the 3/8" hem that it calls for. I thought for a dress a little more heft might be nice (plus, I had the extra length to work with).
I'm still trying to figure out how this dress manages to look flattering. Nothing in its design seems (to me) like it would be particularly amazing -- the pieces are relatively straight, without any fancy curves -- and yet, the finished result is great. Comfortable, easy, and just shapely enough to not look like a bag.
Fortunately I read in other reviews to size down if you're between sizes. I went with my bust measurement and made the size small, hoping that my waist and hip measurements would work -- the waist, I figured, was not fitted, but I was a bit worried about the hips. I did actually add a little to the hip area when I cut out the pattern, but had to unstitch the sides and take out the extra. It looks much better as "written!" So much for my clever planning...
In case you're similarly shaped and are wondering how the Tova will fit you, my measurements are 34" bust, 29" waist, and 38" hip, and I'm 5' 5." I just hope you appreciate the fact that I shared my measurements on the interwebs for your benefit! *wink*
I debated about the sleeves (Sleeveless would work with cardigans... it's the middle of summer... sleeves might look too blousy), but I'm so glad I went with them. Besides, the linen breathes really well, and I actually found this dress far cooler than my knit tops.I'll probably try a sleeveless version in the future.
I'm not used to my sewing projects coming out almost exactly as I envisioned them; it's a nice sensation. *wink* The dress also goes splendidly with my new(ish) Fossil bag. I've been wanting a leather bag for some time -- something that would go with either brown or black, something large enough to hold all of a mom's accessories, and something tote-ish and simple in style. Preferably Fossil, though that was an admittedly frivolous qualification. So when a tan Fossil tote popped up on clearance at a Burlington, I snapped it up. I was willing to pay a bit more for a quality bag, since it would also be my only bag (with the exception of my diaper bag and a small black Thirty-One purse I found at the thrift store), so finding exactly what I wanted for over 70% off retail was quite a boon.
Final thoughts on the Tova? I can find only two downsides -- my least favorite bit is probably the back, which is less fitted than I would like. However, I have a feeling that comes with the territory of a dress like this. Also, the inside is finished very nicely (via serger) with the exception of the bodice inset. If I'd thought it through I could have probably come up with a good finishing technique. Something to remember for next time. However, these little nitpicks are far outweighed by the many great aspects of this pattern (which I think I've sufficiently gushed over).
I think I'd be quite happy with a closet full of Tovas! I can already envision one in chambray with contrasting top stitching (perhaps in an unexpected color?), and I'd love to try one in a subtle print. Hmm, I wonder what would happen in knit....
I've also just finished up my first me-made swim suit, which I'll hopefully be sharing in a few days!