Saturday, 9 February 2013

Fanplusfriend review - neutral

I feel like I wrote a novella. Read on if you dare!!

I recently bought the "Dolly Gothic Lolita: Cross Straps Collar Shirred Bust Jumper" from Fanplusfriend and thought I would do a review, since Fanplusfriend is widely known for being hit and miss in terms of quality these days. The dress is pretty much a replica of Mary Magdalene's Rote Rose OP however comes in many more colours and size choices than the original Rote Rose, which is why I ordered it.

I ordered this dress in dark green, size 65, knee length, which was their standard price of $75USD. Although I am not as small as their size 65 I had previously bought this dress in black second-hand in the same size and found it fit me that's points off for sizing accuracy already! I ordered it and paid on the 13th of January, and got an email from 'Jet' asking me to confirm the sizing as "The size lady 65 you chose is quite small, with only 76cm bust and 56cm waist. May you please check our chart and confirm your choice?" I confirmed this with them, and the dress was made and shipped by the 23rd of January (well within their quoted 2-3 week manufacture time), arriving at my house on the 29th of January. The dress arrived inside a plastic bag inside a fairly sturdy outer plastic bag - although that's not an issue for me, people with overzealous customs officers could have issues.

The short version:

Actually ordering: 8/10 - although not the greatest website in the world, I don't think it's particularly difficult to navigate. They also checked to confirm size.

Manufacture/shipping time: 10/10 - as it was as stated on the website

Packaging: 6/10 - it arrived in good condition, but if you have overzealous customs officers who like to cut into everything this could be an issue.

When I opened the package I was initially very pleased with the accuracy of the dress to the stock photo and also its similarity to the original, as well as the colour. The ruffle looked like it was slightly shorter compared to stock photos, but this may be because some of the dresses were the mid-calf length as opposed to knee length. I absolutely love dark green and this looked pretty true to other pictures of dark green items in this fabric on the website.
Photo taken with flash at night under incandescent light
I then tried it on to make sure I hadn't made an awful mistake buying it in the size 65 - I hadn't, and it fits me really well. For reference, my measurements are 31.5"/80cm bust, 25"/64cm waist. I also tried it on with a push-up bra that gives me a 33" bust and it still fitted well! I measured the dress flat, and got 34" bust/25" waist which is a lot bigger than the sizing chart's 30" bust/22" waist! The bust measurements make sense because of course the front part is gathered, but 3" of ease on the waist seems a bit excessive even though there are waist ties. This is a bit of a subjective thing though, as some people may like to wear lots of layers underneath their lolita and of course it is adjustable with waist ties. Length wise it is well below knee on me at approx 100cm long, but I did not ask for custom length, I asked for "knee length" and their standard height is 5' 5" whereas I am about 5' 2".
Photo taken with flash in the late afternoon/early evening
In terms of the construction of the garment, though, I was underwhelmed for my $75.
The good: all the seams are serged + straight stitched, the hems are rolled, and nothing's falling apart, the fabric choice is decent and drapes well. 'nuff said there.
The bad: patterning and what seems to be poor quality control.
One of the first things I noticed was that the zipper facings were entirely different. Now you may say "what's the big deal? No-one sees them..." however to me this indicates that either the patternmaker was lazy or the person who cut it out was lazy. The discrepancy between the two is something like 3/8" - imagine if they'd been 3/8" off with the length of other pattern pieces like the skirt!! I did not have this issue with the black version that I'd bought previously.

The second thing I noticed was that the invisible zipper...was not invisible. To me this is a huge problem as well - if a lower-priced chain store garment can sew in invisible zippers invisibly, I expect that a higher priced  garment would adhere to the same basic standard. This to me shows really poor standards. There is no reason for the zipper to be this visible - I'm not putting any pressure on this seam, the dress is just laying flat on my bed, and yet there is a huge black line glaring at me down the centre back.
"invisible" zipper...yeah right!
There were a couple of other small things that just made me even more wary of F+F. The following photo is the inside of the bottom hem + ruffle - instead of making it in several even parts, they obviously just guesstimated how much fabric they'd need as it's in 4 pieces of varying lengths - the shortest of which is shown below! Obviously someone was all like "ohhhh crap the ruffle isn't long enough" and inserted another part. I can't imagine this is particularly efficient production-sewing wise, and it seems like a pretty decent screwup especially for a standard size garment with no customisation at all - surely the pattern they use should have a standard ruffle piece, unless what they do is kinda gather up the fabric scraps left over from cutting to make the ruffle. This is again an issue I did not have with the black version.
Hi, tiny bit of ruffle...
(this is the right hand side of the bodice)
There is also thread visible from where the bust part is gathered to the underbust - which again indicates some sloppy sewing!

All these issues, although seemingly minor, to me indicate that FanplusFriend are definitely going to be hit and miss - this was not a custom order or asking for anything out of the ordinary, yet basic techniques like how to sew an invisible zipper in and how to pattern symmetrical facings seem to be beyond the skill level of whoever was sewing this dress. This makes me very wary from purchasing from them again as I have no idea whether my clothes will be fine or subject to major quality or fit issues.

The short version:

Accuracy to stock photo: 9/10 - although there was no stock photo of the green, the dress and lace appeared to be the same as the other photos, just in a different colour. Ruffle length may have been different.

Fit: 7/10 - Could be too big on someone who actually is size 65 on their chart, but the ease is appropriate for a fitted depends whether you like things to be close fitted or semi fitted really

Pattern/Construction/All dem sewing things: 4/10 - Fabric choice is okay, it's not lined but it's also not see-through and still drapes well. However, although all seams are overlocked/sewn together and it's not falling apart, the invisible zip is really very visible and looks like an amateur haphazardly basted it in with a regular zipper foot, which kinda defeats the purpose of an invisible zip. facing shorter on 1 side than the other, and ruffle is obviously not patterned correctly - low rating because these are very basic things to get right for a dress!

Price/Value for money: 3/10 - I'm paying $75 for an unlined dress from a factory that clearly has poor quality control in multiple steps in the manufacturing process. When I compare it to other garments that cost a similar amount (dresses from Taobao) I do not find the same faults. If it wasn't for the fact that I can't find that colour anywhere else I would definitely not have paid that much for this dress.

Overall: 5/10 - there are too many issues to simply ignore, especially given that it was a standard size and colour that they offer rather than a custom order. I might order again if there is a sale and a particular colour and style that I can't get anywhere else, but I definitely won't order again otherwise.

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