Tessuti Patterns Frankie Dress: Holiday Edition

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!! I hope you all are doing well, and enjoying whatever festivities may be going on in your neck of the woods. I'm having a big dinner at my house with a whole bunch of family, and we are doing our traditional, non-traditional meal: a BBQ. We have burgers, smokies, and hotdogs, with various BBQ style sides like salads and chips. It's definitely not the regular turkey dinner, but we really like it and we always have lots of fun.

Anyway, I thought it would be nice to share my Christmas dress on Christmas day. I probably won't wear this on Christmas Day, although it's comfy enough to do so. I think I will be to nervous that I will spill something all over it. But you never know, I might end up brave enough! Ha ha! Anyway, I actually made it for John's company party, and it was lovely to wear that night.

This is the Frankie Dress by Tessuti. I have been pretty much obsessed with this pattern since I first saw it, but for some reason I was a bit reluctant to pull the trigger and buy it. I think in my mind, I was thinking it was more of a spring/summer pattern so I was holding off. 

Anyway when I saw this gorgeous stretch velvet on the Blackbird Fabrics website, I had a lightbulb moment! I thought the Frankie would make a fantastic velvet dress.

And I was right! This dress turned out exactly as I hoped it would.

I whipped up a quick muslin out of a knit that had similar stretch, and then cut into my velvet. I made a straight size medium, and shortened it by 3 inches. When I shortened it, I had a bit of truing up to do at the side seams, so I ended up making it closer to a size small from the waist down, rather than the medium.

This stretch velvet was super easy to work with. I've heard horror stories about working with velvet, but lucky for me, I didn't have any of those bad things happen. I did however have a bit of a serger issue. When I was inserting the sleeves, my serger began to "eat" my fabric and get jammed. I had a bit of a meltdown as I was sure my dress was ruined and of course I was sewing it the night before the event. Anyway, I calmed down and rushed my serger into the store that I bought it at the next morning. They assured me it was my blades. Apparently the bottom, stationary blade on my serger had become dull. It's supposed to last the life of the serger, but because I have hit some pins with it on occasion (oops!) it had dulled. The upper blade was dull as well, so once they replaced those, which was a 5 minute, but $50 job, I was back in business. Anyway, if you look closely at the back of the armscyes, especially on left, you might see a bit of wonkiness, but I really don't think anyone noticed, or will notice in the future. Phew!! Thank goodness for knits! Oh and this is also the reason it looks slightly chokey at the neckline too. My muslin did not look like that at all.

Anyway, I absolutely love this dress, and I feel so good in it. I wish I would wear it every day! I love it paired with my little black booties too. I wore full footed tights the night of the party, which in my opinion, looked better as you don't get that little pop of skin at my ankle breaking up my leg. Ha ha!

I have some more stretch velvet in my stash, so I'm dreaming up more ways to use it. Leggings perhaps?

I hope you all are having a lovely day, and I wish you lots of joy and happiness this holiday season!

The Laurel Dresses

So I tried to move on, and skip over the last of my summer sewing, but I just couldn't do it. I have all the photos done, and these are some of my favourite dresses, so it just doesn't seem right to not blog about them. You'll have to endure (or skip over) one more seasonally inappropriate blog post from me before I move onto the myriad of jeans posts I have planned.

 I may have gone a little crazy with this pattern this summer. The Colette Laurel dress is the first dress I ever made, and I've made a couple since then, and I quite like my last iteration. I think a shift dress is super easy to just throw on, and can be quite flattering if you can get the fit right. For me that means body skimming, but not to boxy.

Get ready for a picture heavy post!

This one is made from a nice lightweight cotton I picked up at Fabricland in Salmon Arm last summer. It's the perfect weight for a summer dress.

I shortened the dress by 1.5" and the sleeves by 4". This makes for a pretty short dress, so I have to crouch if I drop something. No bending over in this little number.

I think this one is John's favourite. It's made out of cotton that he picked out for me at Fabricville in Montreal. I really love the navy and green combo. I wasn't sure if it was summery, but I think it works.

Apparently I wasn't too worried about pattern matching, but I'm pretty chuffed with my invisible zip. Where is it? LOL

This dress is made from a beautiful linen I bought from Blackbird Fabrics. I'm sure you've seen it around, it also comes in a taupe colourway too. The linen is really soft and perfect for summer.

Unfortunately, I think I stretched it a bit while sewing and ironing, because my bust area/darts are looking a little wonky.

I think I did a pretty good job with my stripe matching, and I didn't have a matching 22" zip, so this one got a 9" zip and that worked out just fine. John doesn't love this fabric nearly as much as I do, and he affectionately refers to this dress as the dishtowel dress. Now that's all I see, anytime I see this fabric.  I wore it a lot as it was super breezy to wear.

That photo's for all my fellow Napoleon Dynamite nerds.  You remember that photo shoot scene right? I was obsessed with that movie when it came out, and still quote it quite regularly.

You still with me? Now that we've gotten through all those photos lets talk about what I've done for fit alterations, and then I'll show you one more dress. I told you I went shift dress crazy!

I started with a size 6, then:

  • I did a 1.5" FBA (for 3" total)
  • a 1/4" high round back adjustment 
  • 3/8" forward shoulder adjustment
  • shortened the dress at the lengthen/shorten line by 1.5"
  • finished the neck and armholes (on the sleevless versions) with store bough bias tape
  • then I slimmed the dress from the bust down to the hem by about 1/2" - on my first floral version I did this before I hemmed it, but then I changed the paper pattern piece for the 2 other versions
  • serged and turned the hem under

Seems like a lot for a little shift dress doesn't it. The good thing about working out all the fit issues is when you're done you have a great fitting dress pattern, you can make over and over again.

Okay, if you've hung in this far, thank you! On with my last and favourite Laurel of the summer. It's definitely not the best fitting one of the bunch, and probably the least summery, but I love it! I also should mention that I keep putting it in the dryer which is such a big no no, because it shrinks a little everytime it gets washed. This seems to happen to all my handmade denim garments. Even my jeans!! When will I ever learn?!

This one is made with a gorgeous, polka dot, tencel denim I got from Blackbird Fabrics. It really is a beautiful fabric, and I really wish I had bought a lot more of it. It's so soft and drape-y, and how can you go wrong with denim? Sadly, it is now sold out, but there is this cool animal print-ish one. I may just make this dress again in that one.

I have wanted a denim shift dress since I saw Caroline Amanda's on the Sewaholic blog. But I wondered if it might be a little too plain for me. I am, after all, a bright colours and prints kind of girl, especially when it comes to dresses. But when I saw the spotty denim, I knew it just had to be. Then to top it all off, I saw this blog post - and I thought a split bust dart would be such a cool little detail.

This was my first time trying a split bust dart, and it didn't exaclty work out. Maybe I should have practiced/muslined a bit more before I tried it in my lovely fabric. I used this tutorial here, which was the only one I could find and I think I ended up taking a little to much fabric up in the darts. I had a hard time figuring out exactly how much room you put in between the darts. And that's why I think this one is so much tighter than my other 3. Plus the darts are a little long for my liking, but I think that was my error.

If you guys have any tips for me about splitting darts, or if you know of any other good tutorials,  I would love to hear about them, cause I love this idea. Fit issues aside, I still love this dress, and I know just throw a sweater or cardigan over it, and wear it lots. It will be great with tights and boots for fall/winter too. I actually wore it quite a few times already just as is, but it is a bit tight around the boobs, so it's not the most comfortable.

Other than splitting the dart, the only other difference between this one and the others, is that I actually made self bias tape to finish the neckline. Woo hoo! Oh and the sleeves are slightly longer too.

Alright,  that's it, we are all caught up on the summer sewing (well at least the stuff I wanted to blog about anyway). Thanks for hanging in there with me. Now we can get on with the Fall Essentials, and the JEANS!! Woo hoo!

More Southports!

So now that summer is officially over, and Fall has started, why not have a look at more summer dresses! I'm on track for my friends in the Southern Hemisphere. Ha ha! I actually made these dresses in the early days of July, but never got around to blogging about them until now. I wore them quite a bit though.

So just in case you are new to the sewing/blogging world, this is the Southport Dress by True Bias. I think when we look back at the summer of 2015 as sewing bloggers, it should be known as the Summer of the Southport Dress. I've seen so many of them pop up over the summer and it seems to look beautiful on every one. It's such a great staple, easy to wear and pretty easy to sew too.

I didn't actually make the maxi version this year, but it looked really lovely on the people I saw make it up; like this one, this one, and this one, just to mention a few. 

It's quite hard to see, but there are little green buttons on this version. My placket is sewn shut because I don't need it to get in and out of this dress, and I didn't want to leave it open to any potential gaping issues in these slippery fabrics.


This gorgeous floral fabric came from Fabricville in Montreal. It feels incredibly soft and silky, and the colours are nice and vibrant. I have no idea what to call it, but I'm sure it's some sort of polyester - maybe a polyester crepe de chine?

My second version here, is exactly the same as the first only with 100% more flamingos!

I am really satisfied with the fit, although this one looks like it could use a good press.

                                                                                                    Pug Photo Bomb!

I also like that this dress has a drawstring. It makes it really comfortable, and if you are having one of those bloaty days or going to an all you can eat buffet, it's easy to just tie the drawstring a little looser. This lovely flamingo rayon came from Gold Hawk Road in London. John wasn't overly enthused about it, but I just had to have it!

Now for the fit details. I made these two exactly like my last version, except I went up to a size 8 in the bodice. It was hard to see in my last Southport post because of the busy fabric, but it's slightly tight across the back. Going up to a size 8 fixed that issue. So for those of you interested, here are the gory details:

  • a 1 1/4" FBA (For 2 1/2" total)
  • a 1/2" high rounded back alteration
  • a 1/4" forward shoulder adjustment
  • used a size 12 skirt
  • sewed the front button placket shut

I could probably just sew a straight size 10 like my very first version, but I found it gaped at the neckline and didn't fit me in the shoulders as well. Fitting is not for the faint of heart and I really think it takes a lot of trial and error. But with every make I learn something new, and I'm getting to know my shape just that much better. It's all part of the adventure.

Also, I've read a couple posts, and listened to a couple of podcasts in the last little while that talked about sharing measurements. I am always a bit hesitant to share my actual numbers, but I started thinking that I'm putting all these photos of myself out there and if you wanted to, you could probably take a pretty good guess at my measurements anyway (especially if I'm telling you the sizes of the patterns I make). I also think that sharing your measurements helps other sewists judge what sizing/fitting fixes might work for them. So in the interest of helping others, here are my measurements: high bust - 37", full bust - 39", waist - 32.5", hip - 39.75" and my height is 5'2". Yes I am Canadian and should be using the metric system, but when it comes to sewing, I prefer the Imperial measurement of inches. I will mention that my measurements do fluctuate a bit, but these are the most recent ones that I've taken. So there you have it.

Have you made a Southport Dress this summer? Are you up for sharing your measurements? (It's completely fine if you're not.)

                                                                                  Gratuitous Pug Shot - Quincie during the Golden Hour :)

The International Anna Party

Hello Everybody! How are you? What do you think of the new digs? (I hope you like them cause it was quite a bit of work to change everything around. LOL)

This is my By Hand London Anna dress that I made for the International Anna dress Party happening today on Instagram.

I actually started this dress quite a while ago, but I never finished it for some reason. It sat on my dress form for forever. Which really isn't like me. It usually bothers me having an unfinished project lurking in the sewing room. Anyway, the #internationalannaparty was just the push I needed to get this bad boy finished.

The bodice of this dress is a straight size 12/16, and then instead of doing the panelled skirt that comes with the pattern, I decided to do a circle skirt. It took me awhile to get my head around the math part of making a circle skirt, but I finally got it. I have never been good at math. The bodice fits me pretty well, although my fitting brain is wondering if I could make it fit even better with a smaller size and an FBA. I seem to be all about the FBAs lately. I think the Anna dress is a really flattering sillohuette, and I think it looks really great on pretty much every shape. Just ask the Google, and you'll see what I mean. Anna was the second dress pattern I ever tried when I first started sewing, and it was so nice to sew so it will always have a special place in my heart.

I got this lovely daisy fabric at Walthamstow Market in London, seems appropriate, no? It's lovely, and drapey, and has a little bit of stretch to it too. I think it might be some sort of crepe, but I'm not 100% sure.

The circle skirt turned out really well, and all I want to do is twirl around it. I'm such a goof! The only bummer about a circle skirt is the hem. Holy crow that's a long hem. I took the easy way out and did a rolled hem with my serger. I'm happy with how it turned out. The black thread just fades into the background, so you can hardly even notice it anyway.

It wouldn't be a party around here without a pug or two, and it appears that they are enjoying have a look up my skirt. Silly pugs!

Did you guys join in on the Anna fun? 

The Southport Dress Take 2

Hiya friends! How are you doing? Hopefully the summer is treating you well so far. We are back at the cabin escaping the craziness that is Calgary right now. It's Stampede time, and the city always becomes filled to the brim with tourists, traffic, and crazy cowboys. The Greatest Show on Earth is a lot of fun if you've never been before, but if you've been a bunch of times, and you're not a fan of crowds and weird deep-fried food, it gets old pretty fast. Plus I am really not sure how I feel about the rodeo anymore. It just seems so detrimental to the poor little animals. But anyway, I don't want to get too controversial over here on the old sewing blog, so let's get back to the good stuff. I have wanted to sew up another Southport Dress for quite sometime, but haven't managed to get to it. Until now that is. And of course because I am being a crazy fit fanatic as of late, I wanted to make some changes to see if I could get my second version to fit a little better than my first version.


For my first Southport, I made a straight size 10. It fit pretty well, but I found that it was slightly big in the shoulders and a bit loose all over the bodice. I know that this dress is meant to have a relaxed fit, but when I wore the size 10 it would slip off my shoulders with movement, and I found that it was a bit gape-y in the front (the neckline was a bit low for me), especially if I bend down. I also thought the skirt was a little snug around the hips. So for this version I wanted to try and fix those issues.


I started with a size 6 bodice based on my upper bust size, but in hindsight, I should have chose the 8. I got everything to fit pretty well, but it's just a teensy bit too tight around the back/bust area. Anyway, I started with a size 6 bodice and adjusted the back pattern pieces first. I did a 1/4" forward shoulder adjustment - this involves shaving 1/4" off the front pattern piece, and adding 1/4" to the back pattern piece. Then I did a 1/4" high round back adjustment, and I wonder if maybe I need a 1/2" for this pattern, so I might try that next time too. Then it was on to the front pattern piece.


For the front, I did a 1 1/4" FBA. It's interesting how now that I have done a couple of FBAs, it seems like such a natural adjustment for me. I don't know why I've been so scared of it. Of course I haven't attempted an FBA on princess seams yet, so my confidence might recede.


For the skirt, I used a size 12 and it feels better than the size 10. I have a bit more room to move around and play with the pugs. I measured the pattern pieces to make sure that the skirt would fit the bodice and with my alterations they seemed to match up just fine. I finished the armholes and neckline with pre-made single fold bias tape. I love bias tape as it makes for a clean finish and I think it looks really profesh too. I also ended up sewing the button placket closed. I was being a bit lazy, but I also knew that I would be able to slip this dress over my head and that I wouldn't need the buttons. They are a bit hard to see because of the busy floral print, but the buttons are white and came out of one of those bargain button bags. John spotted them at Fabricville in Montreal and bought me two - one with coloured buttons, and one with black and white buttons. It takes a bit of searching to find ones that match, but it's nice to have a button stash.


Oh I almost forgot to tell you about the fabric. I have no idea what it's made of, I suspect come kind of polyester/rayon/viscose, but I can't be sure (are there any tricks for that?). I picked it up at Walthamstow Market in London. It feels nice to wear; cool and drapey, and I love the purple flowers.

I suspect I will be making a few more of these dresses before the summer is through. They are just so easy to throw on, and I love the drawstring waist; so comfortable (and easy to adjust after a big meal LOL). Plus pockets! I never really put anything in dress pockets, but I like to have them so I have somewhere to put my hands.

Anyway, that's all for now. Have you tried the Southport Dress pattern? Do you have any go to comfy sundress patterns? I'm always looking for good ones so let me know.

Two for the Price of One: By Hand London Kim Dresses

Howdy peeps! How was your weekend? Mine was pretty good; lots of lounging around at the lake and enjoying life, so I can't complain. We had a big rain storm out here on Saturday, super windy and sideways rain - it was a bit nuts but didn't last long. Thank you all for the responses and help with my Shingle dress in my last post. I felt a little self-conscious about such a body-hugging style, so it was nice to get some feedback. I am very much looking forward to making another version that fits better based on all your advice.

Anyway, onto the matter at hand. Way back in the very beginning of 2014, I started sewing clothes and I was delighted to find sewing blogs and Indie Pattern Designers (I had no idea either existed until Google and Pinterest introduced me to many). I noticed that there were a lot of By Hand London Anna dresses out there, and they all looked lovely. That pattern seemed to suit everybody who tried it. So I hopped onto By Hand London's website and I ordered it. It was the second dress I had ever made (a Colette Laurel was the first) and I was thrilled to discover it fit me really well right out of the envelope, and it quickly became my favourite pattern. It was fun and easy to make, there were no sleeves to set in, and it fit me and was quite flattering. So when those lovely ladies came out with the Kim Dress pattern and it started to pop up on blogs everywhere, I knew I had to have that one too.

IMG_6953This pattern has two different bodice variations: a plain scoop neck and a sweetheart neckline, along with two skirt variations: a gathered, flared skirt and a more fitted tulip skirt. For my first attempt at this pattern, I decided to go with the plain, round neckline and the gathered, flared skirt.

IMG_6960I hummed and hawed as usual, about what size to make. My measurements are really close to the size 12/16 size, but I know that these patterns are drafted for a B cup and I am typically a D cup. So really I should have chosen a size 8/12 and then did an FBA, but I chickened out because of the princess seams. There are a lot of great tutorials out there, so I don't really have an excuse, except that I was too nervous and too lazy.

IMG_6954But all that being said, the fit is pretty good. My only real complaint is that I keep feeling like the straps are going to slide off my shoulders, and they do when I move around a lot. I should have added little ribbons to the straps to attach to my bra ala Kelli. If you make this dress, I totally recommend doing that - it's a genius idea.

IMG_6956And speaking of bras, finding the right one to wear with this dress was a little tricky. Most of my bras are full coverage and I found that either the top of the cups would peek out at the front or the straps were too wide. I thought I was getting away with this little number, but here it is peeping out at the back. I guess I'll have to make one! ;)

IMG_6958I skipped the pin tucks on the skirt, and shortened it by a whopping five inches! What can I say? I'm short! I hemmed the skirt using bias tape. I love how it looks and that adds a little bit of colour to the inside of the skirt.

IMG_6972This fabric is a lightweight cotton from my local Fabricland, which I got on sale. Yay! I thought it was pretty cute with the lighthouses and I totally had this pattern in mind when I bought it. The bodice of this dress is lined which is how you finish the neckline and armholes and it gives a super neat finish on the inside. It does require a bit of hand sewing, but I quickly discovered that it is totally worth it. I am really proud of how lovely the insides of this dress look, so proud that I even took a photo.

IMG_7010For my second version, I went with the same skirt, but the sweetheart neckline.

IMG_6973This time I decided to shorten the straps to see if that would make a difference and keep them on my shoulders.

IMG_6977I just cut a 1/2" off the pattern pieces, so that removes an inch total. I think it helped, but I still think if I had done a proper FBA, the straps would be a little closer to my neck and that would resolve the problem.

IMG_6979Oops there's my bra strap again!

I totally screwed up the lining/finishing on this bodice, so the zip doesn't look nearly as nice as it should. After you finish the armholes and neckline, you are supposed to only attach the outer fabric to the skirt leaving the lining free, then you insert your zip, and hand sew the lining down. This gives a really nice finish, but I made the mistake of attached the lining and the outer fabric all in one go and I didn't realize what I had done, until I had serged everything. D'OH! Needless to say, no picture of the insides of this one. It's fine, just not nearly as pretty as my first one.

IMG_6981The fabric for this dress came out of the clearance section at this super cool store in Salmon Arm. It's got all kinds of quilting fabric, yarn, sewing notions, and scrapbooking stuff. It's really big and super fun to browse around. If you ever find yourself in Salmon Arm, I would recommend that you stop in. The lining is a pale yellow Art Gallery cotton I had in my stash.

IMG_6975I think this dress is the perfect combo of sweet and sexy. For my shape, I love the fit and flare style, but I am interested in trying the tulip skirt version too. I just have to find the right fabric.

So my love affair with By Hand London dresses continues! I'm actually really kicking myself that I didn't buy Flora before they discontinued the paper patterns. I can still buy it as a pdf, but I really loved their packaging. Oh well, live and learn - this lesson only feeds my compulsive pattern addiction.

Have you tried any By Hand London patterns? Which is your favourite?

Oh, I almost forgot, one more thing: did you hear about the International Anna Dress party happening on Instagram? It's being hosted by my pal Elle (along with two of her friends) and it's a great excuse to sew an Anna if you haven't already and to join in the fun. Plus there's a chance to win prizes. Anyway, if you are interested head over to Elle's blog for all the details.

Hope you all are have a lovely week!

Vogue 8904 - The Shingle Dress

Ola friends! Has it really been 2 weeks since my last post?? Crazy! I don't really have any good excuses for you other than I am a huge procrastinator and my blog always seems to get pushed to the bottom of the list. But not to worry, I am still sewing my little heart out and I have lots of projects to share. So let's start with something a little different shall we. IMG_6893Many moons ago, when I didn't sew but was still a clothes addict, I came across the Column dress at Anthropologie. I remember thinking that it was super interesting looking, and one of the sales girls told me that everyone who tried it on, loved it, and that it seemed to be universally flattering on every shape. Needless to say, I never got the courage to try it on, but it stayed on my radar. When I saw Marcy Tilton's Vogue pattern (8904)  for the same style of dress, I decided to buy it. And it sat in my stash for months.

IMG_6903Then I spotted Meg's version and it got added to my queue. I was still a bit apprehensive to make it as it seemed like it would be a lot of work with all those shingles, but I couldn't stop thinking about it. I don't have a ton of experience with the Big 4 patterns, and I find choosing the correct size tricky. This pattern is designed to be quite body hugging and I was a bit nervous about just how tight it might be, so I chose my size based on the size chart. I planned this to be a wearable muslin so I wasn't overly concerned, and because it's a knit, I figured it would be better too big than too small because I could always slim it down. I traced a size 16 for the shoulders and bust and graded out to an 18. I also went with the shorter version (but I left off the sleeves) as I am short and this seemed like it might be a bit tricky to shorten due to the shingles.

IMG_6911I ended up shaving about an inch off each side seam after it was made up - which means I took a whopping 4 inches off the circumference. It might be slightly tighter than I would have liked, but in the case of a knit body hugging dress, tighter is better than looser, I think. Next time I will probably go down to a 14 or even a 12. Which brings me to a question: how do you choose the right size? I have a bit of weird shape because of my belly (so my waist measurement is always in a bigger size than my bust and hip), and I never seem to get it right, so any advice you dear readers might have would be greatly appreciated. Maybe I'm not pulling the tape measure tight enough? What's the secret? I seem to do better with Indie Patterns, although my latest Papercut Jacket was way too big too. Someday I'll get it right.

IMG_6908The fabric I used for this dress is from Girl Charlee, and it super soft and wonderful to wear. The under dress (that the shingles are attached to) is a plain navy cotton spandex, and the stripes are a cotton jersey. It's actually a bit heavier than you might guess, but it's super soft and comfy - talk about secret pyjamas!

IMG_6909This is probably my main complaint with the dress - I obviously need some sort of sway back alteration to get rid of that pooling at the back. It's okay if I straighten it and stand still, but when I move it looks pretty bad. I'm not entirely sure how to go about doing that alteration because of the shingles, but I think I should be able to just pinch out the excess, and it will probably improve if I get my size right too.

IMG_6905I really love how the stripes look with this pattern, and it think that it works out to be quite flattering. I think it would still look cool in a solid colour, but I think that might make it a bit dressy, and I like to stick with the casual. The construction is really quite simple and straightforward, and because it's made with a knit nothing is hemmed, you just leave the edges raw on all the shingles. I did end up shortening this by about 2 inches, but that is to be expected - I am vertically challenged after all.

IMG_6918I imagine wearing this dress with runners (I love my pink ones, but I think it would be super cute with white converse too) and a denim jacket on cooler days, but it could easily be dressed up with heels. I think it's quite versatile. This is definitely a different style for me, and I feel a bit out of my comfort zone when I wear it, but I do plan on wearing this version and I do want to make it again. It's nice to have something a little different.

Do you ever venture out of your comfort zone with sewing? Would you wear such a body hugging dress? I curious to know what you guys think.

The Southport Dress by True Bias

Hello everyone, and happy Friday! It's bright and sunny here today in #yyc but still quite cool when the wind hits you. The air is fresh, things are turning green and starting to bloom, so it feels like spring. Bring on the light floaty dress weather! As you have probably heard/seen/read, Kelli (of True Bias) has released a new dress pattern! I was lucky enough to be asked to be a pattern tester for this dress, and it was a welcome break for me in between all my jeans sewing. I have been fortunate enough to have pattern tested for Kelli once already, and I really loved the experience. It's pretty cool to get a sneak peek of a pattern before it's released, but it's also cool to see how a pattern is re-adjusted after the designer has gotten a bit of feedback. I really like being a part of the process. Plus I have loved all of Kelli's patterns so far, so I had no doubts that I would love this one too! Anyway, if you are anything like me, you are probably wanting to see what it looks like on as many bodies as possible, so I made sure to get some photos last week so I'd be ready to post shortly after the launch.


It was pretty chilly outside when John took these picture of me, plus the sun was in my face so I'm a bit squinty-eyed. Once again that didn't bother Shanny a bit, and she was happy to get into the photos too.


The fabrics suggested for this pattern are lightweight wovens; my first instinct was to reach for a light-weight cotton, but I decided to up the ante a little and go with a rayon challis. I don't have a lot of experience with sewing slippery fabrics, so I'm trying to challenge myself a bit in that area. Plus rayon makes for a lovely, flowy summer dress. Anyway, this particular fabric came from "the Man Outside Sainsburys" at Walthamstow Market in London. Not only was I a little out of my comfort zone with sewing this fabric, it's also not in my usual colour palette (do I even have a colour palette? Good question.). I don't wear off-white or cream very often because it washes me out, but this fabric with the bright coloured flowers is really growing on me.


I made a straight size ten, which I chose based on my measurements. I didn't make any alterations at all (I didn't even have to shorten it!), and I think the fit is pretty spot on. In looking at these photos, I think it might be just a touch big in the shoulders, but I'm not sure it's really worth messing with as I think it's pretty close. For reference my Sutton blouses are a size 8.


I really love the drawstring waist, and how it gives some shape and blousey-ness to the dress. I also love the little button placket and the pockets. Kelli is always really great at adding in little details that make a simple garment special. One of the coolest details, which you can't really see in the photos, is that there are bartacs above and below the pocket opening for extra security. It's a small thing, but I think it looks really neat and professional. If I make this dress in a solid colour, I would be tempted to match the button colour, buttonholes, and bartacs in a contrasting thread, and if you wanted to get really bold you could do the topstitching in the same colour. I think that would just add a little something extra.


The instructions for this dress are very clear and straight-forward, although I did space out a little when making my drawstring casing. Looking back at it though, I know that was my lack of reading, not the instructions. Kelli had done a really thorough job with the instructions and definitions of techniques, and it's great that she always includes diagrams. This pattern is rated as Intermediate, and I would agree with that suggestion. It's a bit tricky working with slippery fabrics and making buttonholes and what not. That being said, I definitely think an adventurous beginner could tackle this dress (especially with the upcoming sewalong). Besides, I look at ratings as just a guideline, if you break everything down into small steps it becomes much easier, and intermediate patterns become less daunting. Whenever I am a bit nervous about a new pattern, I give it a practice go. Sort of like a muslin because it allows you to see fit issues, but I like to do all the finishing too so that you can try out any new techniques. And with any luck it will turn out to be wearable (but that's not always the case). There are some cheapie/clearance fabrics in my stash solely for this purpose.


I should also mention, that since I made this version, Kelli did some fine tuning with the fit. She lowered the armholes and the bodice a touch and then she lowered the hemline for version A (this version) by about an inch. As you can see the length is perfect on me, but would probably be a touch short for those of you without lollipop guild status.


I see this dress as being an easy summer staple with sandals or clogs, but for now I'm pairing it with boots and my favourite cropped denim jacket (which in my opinion goes with everything - although the hubs does not feel the same). And to be honest, the weather here still calls for tights. I was also thinking that you could layer it over a Nettie for an added layer of warmth in the fall/winter. Just a thought...

So this post has gotten a little fan-girly, but what can I say? I love True Bias patterns! Also side note, and total coincidence: I used to be a dental assistant, and the office I worked at (and still go to for dental work) is called Southport Dental. Anyway, right now Kelli has this pattern on sale for 25% off. I think the sale goes until April 26th, so if you are interested in this pattern head on over to her website for more details and the discount code.