Pattern Testing Win … Bonnell Dress Pattern by Dixie DIY

I’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting to publish this post, all! I was fortunate enough to be a pattern tester for the newest pattern being released today from Dixie over at Dixie DIY, and woohoo! is all I can say.

I’ve been a *mostly silent* follower of her blog for a few years now, and have made up her Summer Concert Tee no less than 6 times. It’s the perfect… well, summer tee! So when she started posting sneak peeks of her newest pattern, the Bonnell Dress, I jumped at the chance to test it out. Additionally, I had some great tribal-esque border print fabric that I snagged for a song years ago in my stash, and this pattern was the perfect vessel for it.

I love the slight nod to the 50’s this dress lends, with a fitted bodice and gathered skirt. But what really caught my eye was the side cutouts and the gorgeous V-neck in the back. This is the perfect dress pattern for a summer wedding, a night out on a patio, OR – toss on a lightweight blazer (Morris, anyone?), and it’s perfectly appropriate in a biz casual work environment. I love pieces that do double duty!

Following the pattern was very straightforward, from assembling the PDF to constructing the dress. I didn’t clock it to the minute, but I was able to put this together in one afternoon of about 4 – 5 hours worth of sewing time, so that’s awesome. The instructions were concise, with clear illustrations at necessary parts. An eager beginner could tackle this project without much difficulty at all.

I sewed a straight size 14 for this pattern. It fit fine with no alterations required but… is a little snug in the bust.  I always think I can get away without doing a FBA, but I’ve come to realize that I need to suck it up and just DO IT! Dixie includes a link to a comprehensive FBA on her blog post of this particular pattern.

I also did not make a muslin as recommended *sheepish grin* (are we noticing a trend here? I’m impatient!) nor did I interface my waistband. These are two things I will do with my second make (and third, and etc). I’m learning more and more that it’s worth the little bit of extra time to take the additional steps, and usually the result is a better fitting and more professionally looking garment at the end of the day. So, patience is a virtue I am *trying* to apply in my sewing world.

I always have a tough time being on the other side of the camera, so forgive the  awkward poses that ensue. I enlisted my momma to play photographer for a bit, as I’m still getting comfortable with my wireless remote + tripod. Baby steps!

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The zipper was promptly ripped out and reinserted after I saw this photo! Symmetry is a beautiful thing :)bonnell4

… and one outtake for good measure!

bonnell2All in all I’m so happy with this dress – it’s a fresh take on a classic silhouette, and a great summer pattern. Looking forward to making a few tweaks and having a few of these hanging in my closet… if summer ever arrives; this happened today, a few hours away from where I live. YIKES! May 29th in Manitoba, gotta love it.

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Of note, I was provided a copy of this pattern free of charge to pattern test – all opinions are my own! 

Sewaholic Saltspring!

A year after purchasing this pattern I finally got around to putting it together. Better late than never! Now that I have, I foresee many more in my near future. Simply put, this is an easy, flattering sundress that can be whipped up in an afternoon, even for a beginner sewist. Dress it up, pare it down; styling possibilities are plentiful.

For make #1 I chose View B, the maxi dress. I know some people shy away from long dresses because they feel they get eaten up by all of the fabric, but I’ve been blessed with long legs so I’ll be darned if I’m not going to take advantage!

The fabric was a score from my favorite haunt; I purchased two and a half yards of this tiedyed rayon/voile/Idnno blend, and it was juuuuust enough to eek out the dress. The bodice lining was some mint voile I had on hand – I like the combo of mint + grey. I omitted the pockets as I thought they would be too heavy for such a lightweight fabric, and I wanted it to be as breezy and flowy as possible.

I cut a 14 for the bodice/bust and graded down to a 12 for the skirt. Sewaholic Patterns are designed for a pear shape, of which I am not at all; quite the opposite, I usually end up having to cut a larger size up top and grading down substantially due to my lack of waist/hips.

Because I’m lazy I opted out of a muslin… and we all know what happens when you choose to dive right in. While I’m pretty happy with the fit, the bodice is a little baggy at the side bust/armpits. Despite measuring and choosing a pattern sized based on these measurements, yet again I’m left with too much room in the bust. I realize an FBA was also an option but (see: lazy). So, for my next dress I will cut a 12 bodice and grade to a 10 waist, and see how that goes! Speaking of lazy, I also omitted the zipper in the back, after reading several posts from people who left it out with good results. Additionally, the straps are a little too long for my liking, so they’re getting chopped down as well.

In all honesty I like summer sewing projects to be quick and instantly gratifying, so by making the few alterations above I achieved my goal; easy, breezy, and oh so comfortable to wear :)

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Hi-lo, hi-lo…

I have definitely jumped on the hi-lo hemline craze this season. It’s really just a wonderful look, adds a lil’ something something and assures that you won’t accidently trip over your hemline while going up (or down) stairs. It’s got an easy, breezy look that is simple to dress up (or down). I whipped this one together for a lake wedding in early July, so I wanted something that was a little beachy but still dressy enough for a formal dinner.

Pattern is Muse (Butterick B5886) in view B. Fabric used was a super flowy coral on coral crinkle chiffon from Fabric.com… 3 yards for $12, not too shabby. I went wrong with my lining choice, and paid the price in the sticky, humid weather. Lesson learned, no polyester! I’ll do better next time.

I finished this dress well in advance (translation: day before), and even had time to whip up the turquoise/cream clutch I’m sporting, since I was fresh out of summer appropriate handbags.

All in all, love the pattern. Would like to make it again in a more stable fabric (what is it with my poor fabric choices? I’m just a sucker for a pretty print, fibre content be damned).

So what started as this:

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Ended up being this!

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And finally, the requisite full ensemble shot (excuse the squinting, the sun came out right when the photo was snapped)!

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Swimsuit Season… cringes not necessary.

This past December, I was on the hunt for either a sewing pattern for a retro one-piece, or an actual suit. I needed one to accompany me to the Dominican Republic and help me ring in 2013 in style. After indulging all month long on Christmas goodies (ooops), I wasn’t really feeling a bikini & wanted something classy and chic that didn’t scream “old lady swimwear”.

After an extensive search that resulted in zero sewing patterns, I did the unthinkable… I purchased a suit online… without having tried it on. The one I found was from Unique Vintage, purveyors of retro prom dresses, rock-a-billy wear, and swimsuits. The site had pretty specific measurements, so after taking my own I felt relatively comfortable taking the plunge (har har) and ordering.

The price? A lil on the steeper side, at $75.00 for the suit, as well as $30.00 for shipping to Canada. We won’t talk about the additional $20.00 charge I got from FedEx a month later, for customs or something – how that wasn’t included in the $30.00 S&H is a mystery to this day.

The suit I ordered is the one pictured below, in black, available here. Cute, right?

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Overall I was mostly happy with it. It held up well in the ocean, had a shelf lined bust, and the stitching was very solid and well constructed. However, the skirt portion gets pretty heavy when wet, and this bad boy takes a long time to dry. I felt comfortable wearing it, and far from dumpy. BUT! I wasn’t prepared to pay another $100+ for a second suit, so the search for the perfect sewing pattern continued…

Until yesterday when I stumbled upon this lil’ gem of a website, and the swimsuit pattern to answer all of my prayers!

Heather Lou of Closet Case Files is even hosting a sew-a-long, starting June 17th, so that you too can make your own Bombshell Swimsuit! Come on, you know you want to. Pattern is available here.

I’ve got my pieces all cut out, fabric is en route. The Fabric Fairy, of all places (mostly kid fabrics), had this fantastic geometric/chevron print in black/white/coralish salmon. CANNOT WAIT!

The River

Lately I’ve been on a free-forming, DIYing it sewing kick. I wanted to take a break from total pattern sewing, so I’ve been using a few existing articles of clothing I have as inspiration and going from there. This particular item stemmed from a great workout sweatshirt I already have and love – only this baby wasn’t for me. Instead I whipped it up for a girlfriend who loves Garth Brooks, and has recently developed a love for running. You need a great sweatshirt when you’re out running the hills, right? The actual sewing portion took about 30 minutes tops, as the neckline was left raw and everything else was encased with ribbing. Four pieces of fabric to cut, people! Total cost was a whopping $12… hey big spender.

I used a fabric paint and the freezer paper stencil method to create the words. Basically I freehanded in my cursive writing “Chance the rapids” onto the freezer paper, cut it out with an exacto, and then ironed the freezer paper onto my sweatshirt fabric once the top was sewn up (keeping in mind to place some cardboard in between the layers of fabric!). This took three coats, and I let them dry an hour in between and overnight to set. “Chance the rapids” is a part of a line from Garth Brooks’ song The River. Great song, great lyrics, great workout shirt!

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