Eleni Top and Dress by DesignerStitch Patterns, Includes a Pregnancy Version!

Another DesignerStitch pattern test for both a top and dress. The Eleni (Aff link**) is a modern design that can be easily modified to suit your fashion and comfort specifications. It comes as a top, tunic, short dress or maxi with a number of sleeve variations and optional ruffle or straps and instructions for a modesty panel or to convert to a peasant style outfit. Plus a neck and waist tie. Value for money people!!!

I offered to test* this pattern knowing my baby bump may affect the way this top draped. I chose the top version with the flounce and straps. I chose to omit the sleeves altogether and just added bias binding around the armholes, but otherwise construction was as per the instructions. My fabric is some sort of paisley cotton, my fabric catalogue goes hazy at the start of my pregnancy!!


As a personal preference I also made the straps half the width of the recommended pattern piece. It still covers my bra straps perfectly. As is visible from the photos though, the baby bump raises the front hemline, I assure you it’s definitely straight. I didn’t take this into account when cutting because will more than likely wear this top post baby.

Additionally, I hadn’t realised until my photos were posted on Facebook in the testing group that I had worn this top incorrectly, ie it should be going over the arms, not under, so bare this in mind, yours will look different.

For version 2 I decided to make a maxi dress, again with the flounce and short sleeves. This is using the finalised pattern. I cheated and made this from knit fabric so it can actually stretch/grow with me for the last few months of pregnancy, but also hoping it would recover well post pregnancy and be comfortable for breastfeeding (without the straps). I sized down by one size as there is some ease with this pattern.

To the left is my inspiration. I wanted a basic black version but wanted to do some stash busting and so used this grey jersey knit instead, plus I had 4 metre of it. I  went with the waist tie with the thought that post pregnancy it would help with the waist definition. I again added the straps to this version but to half the width of the pattern piece. My chest needs all the support it can get so going strapless at this stage isn’t an option, although they can easily be removed at a later date if necessary. Here it’s shown with my bump at 38 weeks.



Coral Off Shoulder Ruffle Maternity Maxi


*The pattern was provided to me free of charge for testing but all opinions expressed are my own and I received a copy of the finalised pattern for taking part.

**This post contains affiliate links to DesignerStitch Patterns


Chloe Top and Dress by Lily Sage & Co for Me and My Mini-Me

Where have I been?????? Busy with life. I am now expecting munchkin number 3 and have so much more going on that it is hard to focus on blogging, not to mention that sewing has been slow going anyway. So before I get into my new makes I’m going to try and catch up on my draft blog posts waiting patiently to be published.

I have yet another edition of my testing* journey. I have tested both kids and women’s patterns for Debbie from Lily Sage & Co, before and was eager to test this one too as this style has been on my radar for some time and it’s currently on trend, it’s the Chloe dress. Mind you, testing for this was way back in May 2016, so a long time ago…

The Chloe dress comes with a short or long dress options and a top. I chose the top version during my test hoping to make a dress after, but that hasn’t eventuated.

It’s a simple dress in that there are only three pattern pieces, but not simple in that the edges are finished with bias binding. Keep that in mind if you are using a delicate, lightweight fabric and making your own bias.

There is a lot of ease in this pattern and I went down a size. My fabric is some poly chiffon 4587 in blue (100% polyester) and I used store bought electric blue bias binding. The good thing with this top is that you can wear all your usual under garments or tank tops for modesty.

Conveniently, Debbie also drafted a kids version, ages 5 – 10. Who doesn’t love mummy and me outfits? I agreed to test* this one too using some #1 zig zag rayon in black and pink (100% rayon) . Of course coming off the adult version, this one actually took no time to sew really.

We love, love, love these additions to our wardrobes. I must admit my daughter has really made the most of wearing hers to the point that summer is over and she still asks to wear it although it is a bit shorter on her now.

I’m hoping post baby I can get back into sewing some dress versions for myself.

*The pattern was provided to me free of charge for testing but all opinions expressed are my own and I received a copy of the finalised pattern for taking part.

Navy Roses for a Jenny Dress by DesignerStitch Patterns

You may or may not have noticed I really like to pattern test. I have mentioned previously why, and it’s because I love a challenge and being methodical.

The call went out to test* for the Jenny dress by DesignerStitch Patterns. Ann is the lady behind the label and is an accomplished pattern designer and teacher. When I see such qualifications though I usually think they know more than I, so I often hope that at least I can offer something out of the testing process. I guess for a designer assessing fit issues is as important as clear instructions and a great drafted pattern.

Jenny front                      Jenny side (3)  Jenny side (4)

The Jenny dress is a simple sheath dress with bust darts and waist darts at both the front and back for a great fit. There is the optional wrap which adds some interest. Often I fear adding extra fabric to the waistline as it can add extra “weight” but I think in this case the design is perfect and hits at the right spot. The wrap in this case is sewn into the side seams and are bagged as when tying them up the underside shows. Probably a good opportunity to play around with different fabrics.

Jenny backI went down a size after fitting the dress because my printed navy burgandy roses cotton sateen (97% cotton/ 3% spandex) had some stretch. The dress was a perfect fit straight out of the envelope. I didn’t need to make any alterations to the fit but chose not to do the 3 cm hem and turned up 1 cm instead, I didn’t want to loose too much length and next time would personally probably lengthen from the outset. Normally I find I need to shorten the bodice and take in the upper back for the big 4 pattern companies, but not this time.

I liked that this dress also had a small sleeve and the facings were nice and big to completely finish off the armholes/sleeves without having separate facings or needing to do bindings.

jenny front facingjenny back facing

I usually make a second version of the tester garment using the final pattern but didn’t need to because this one fit pretty spot on. Having said that I may need to make a black, wrap free version, as a wardrobe staple and will lengthen by an inch. I will be sharing a number of pattern tests for DesignerStitch Patterns in the coming weeks.

jenny unwrap

DesignerStitch Patterns launched the collection of beautiful women’s PDF patterns on Monday 23rd May 2016 and is having a 20% purchase discount to celebrate. The size range is from 6 to 26 and available as A4 print-at-home or A0 Copy shop files. Check out the designs at:

20% coupon code = designer20 (expiry 3rd June)

20% coupon code = designer20 (expiry 3rd June)

*The pattern was provided to me free of charge for testing but all opinions expressed are my own and I received a copy of the finalised pattern for taking part.

Diana Wrap Dress by Wardrobe By Me

I have tested for Wardrobe by Me before but have the draft of that post still sitting on the computer, hopefully it will be published shortly. Nonetheless, who can refuse a dress inspired by the famous DVF? Not I. I have been searching for a perfect fitting wrap dress, and have made a couple, such as this one, or this one, but neither of those have the ideal comfort or fit factor.

                  WBM wrap side WBM wrap side 2WBM wrap front

WBM wrap backThe Diana wrap dress is perfect! I’m not just saying that either because I was a tester*.  I didn’t make any pattern adjustments and quickly made two versions during the testing time frame. The pattern comes with 4 sleeve lengths and 2 collars, as well as a sleeveless version. The sneaky thing about these collars is that they are detachable so you can really get two different looking dresses from one sew.

The wrap dress ties around the waist and has a slight flare from the hips. Instructions are provided for lengthening the skirt to a maxi dress version. There is a layered option for printing and no trim pages. Ideal fabric to use should have a minimum of 3% lycra or elastane, you really do need something with good drape, ask me how I know!!!

Version 1 above was made with vintage flowers charmeuse fabric (98% polyester/2% spandex). Construction is really well written in the final version with nice pictorials. I found that although the size was perfect, my fabric choice made the dress a bit tight around the bust and arms but entirely my fault as my fabric wasn’t stretchy enough.

I decided to make a second version with the recommended fabric, it’s an ITY blue knit (95% polyester/5% spandex). The fit is much better overall and extremely comfortable. I can’t wait to make more versions, especially in the different length sleeves. This is a classic pattern and a great fit. The seam allowances are small (0.7cm) and although knit fabric rarely frays, I chose to overlock my seams for neatness. This meant I had to overlock the pattern pieces before sewing as an opening is left at one of the side seams so the belt can be threaded through.

WBM Diane front                  WBM Diane side WBM Diane side 2

WBM Diane backI didn’t change the length of the pattern and think it sits right at my preferred length. Both these dresses have been in regular rotation since making them for a number of reasons, easy and comfortable to wear and they don’t require ironing :).

*The pattern was provided to me free of charge for testing but all opinions expressed are my own and I received a copy of the finalised pattern for taking part.

TEEN/WOMENS Lil Luxe Maxi Dress by Lil Luxe Patterns

The story behind this is that Lil Luxe Patterns released the cutest children’s party dress, the Lil Luxe dress early last month. All the tester versions appearing on the web were just gorgeous and I am usually smitten when it comes to seeing pretty girls things aided by the fact you could use horsehair braid on the hem contributing to extra twirl.

As luck should have it, a tester* call went out for the women’s equivalent. I would love nothing more to have a beautiful, full, twirly circle skirt dress BUT without an occasion to wear it I opted for the maxi dress version instead. A bit more practical for my lifestyle. The Lil Luxe Teen/Womens dress is available in sizes 00 to 20, with either a gathered maxi skirt or shorter circle skirt option and a back zip (either invisible or exposed).

It was my first time making anything from Lil Luxe Patterns, although I have the mini button up blouse and moto pants cut, ready to sew for my oldest. The dress went through many versions as the designers wanted to ensure they were delivering the best product to their customer. I really value that attitude and work ethic and it made the process rather enjoyable.

My first iteration was made with a cap sleeve to make it a bit more sun friendly. I used cobalt rayon (100% rayon) for the bodice which was self lined, and the skirt was multi printed rayon zig zag (100% rayon). The major draw card for this design is the low back. I chose to use invisible zips for all my versions however instructions are provided for an exposed zip also.

Lil Lux coral side  Lil lux coral side 2 Lil Lux coral backLil lux front belted

After some pattern changes, such as removing the cap sleeve option. The next version was ready for testing. I ended up making a top as I was short on fabric, I used the circle skirt option instead this time, although the pattern calls for joining 2 circle skirts together to get extra fullness and the pleats. I used black and white printed dots rayon (100% rayon) with black pongee (100% polyester) for the lining. After wearing my “blue” version I realised I probably should go down a size in the bodice, and the fit was pretty much spot on this time.

V2 top front                      V2 top side 2 V2 top back

The pattern was tweaked a bit more by the designers such that the fit around the armholes and bust was near perfect and the back was lowered further. The great thing is you can still wear your normal undergarments with this design. Thus the final version I made using aqua tribal rayon (100% rayon), white pongee (100% polyester) for the lining, and green rayon chirramon plain (100% rayon) for the skirt. I would say for myself, the final pattern release is perfect. I normally need to shorten the bodice but it sits perfectly, although I did shorten the skirt mostly due to the fabric as it has a crinkly texture that stretches.

                    V5 front V5 front 3 V5 side

                                     V5 back (2)              V5 back 3

The pattern is easy to print and put together. Detailed instructions and photos are provided for dress construction and there is also lots of information in regards to materials required as well as sewing techniques. So in a short time frame I have added 3 new items to my wardrobe and have worn all versions of the Lil Luxe Dress and they have been positively commented on.

The pattern is being released today and you can get a 10% discount when buying both the childrens’ and TEENS/WOMENS patterns, using the code LILLUXEDRESSBUNDLE.

*The pattern was provided to me free of charge for testing but all opinions expressed are my own and I received a copy of the finalised pattern for taking part.

Butterick 5947 Yellow Satin Dress

I was desperately trying to get rid of UFO’s before the years end and came close, bar 2 tops and a skirt. This Butterick 5947 dress was cut out in July of 2015 and thought it would be an appropriate New Years dinner dress. The dress is made from yellow delustered satin floral #1 (100% polyester) and the lining is black pongee (100% polyester).

Butterick 5947 front       Butterick 5947 side 2             Butterick 5947 side Butterick 5947 back

I had all the pieces cut for view A with view C skirt length, and just needed to sew it together. It took me much longer than it should have because I made the same mistake twice while sewing the bodice pleats, which aren’t highly evident in this busy print anyway and haven’t turned out as neat as I would have liked. Probably not the best choice of fabric on my part.

pleatsI cut the included lining pieces for the bodice first to check for fit and decided to completely line the dress so used the skirt pieces to cut the skirt lining. Instructions call for attaching outer fabric to lining at the armholes and neckline and then ironing down the seam allowances for the lining shoulder seams and then hand stitching them together, if that makes sense. I much prefer bagging my lining, of which there are many tutorials online.  I also under stitched as far as I could, mainly because the pleating at the neckline has a bit of bulk and I wanted it to stay as flat as possible. Although all the seams were enclosed for the bodice, I trimmed the seam allowances with pinking shears as both the lining and silk frayed terribly. Probably would have been just as quick and more secure to serge them. I installed a 22 inch (56cm) primrose invisible zip – stash busting. I serged the hem of the skirt and lining separately and turned them both up by 1cm for the first fold and then 1.5cm for the second fold and stitched however I cut the lining about an inch shorted to begin with so it wouldn’t show.

                                     lining back lining front

I ended up shortening the bodice by 1 inch, my usual body adjustment. I also took in the upper back by a fair bit, about 3.5 cm from each centre seam and tapered to the normal seam allowance at the waistline. I didn’t bother trimming the seam as it would be enclosed within the dress anyway. I also went up a size for the skirt compared to the bodice as I wanted a bit of extra room as this fabric has no give.

I chose not to make the included self belt as I would wear this with black mostly but wish I had made belt loops. The fabric is very slippery and the belt has a tendency to shift up when worn.

Whilst I didn’t love this dress initially after completion, maybe it’s the colours, I don’t normally wear yellow. I did receive lots of compliments when I wore it, funnily enough, because of the colours. Goes to show that everyone has a different perception on things.

I think the pleats add a bit of fullness to the bodice, and I’m not sure if that is distracting or not, but overall the dress has grown on me. It fits nicely but next time I would probably go with a single coloured fabric and one less slippery to work with.

Simplicity 1354 Dress in Navy Broadcloth

Another item finished in 2015 but just getting blogged. Last time I made this Simplicity 1354 dress it was in a fancy fabric for my friends wedding, kind of a test run for my version for the SWAP 2015, although probably makes more sense to do it the other way around next time. I really like the fit of the dress and it’s kind of boring from the front, party at the back.

I made view A again and don’t have much else to say this time around except I went down a size as I had to take in the first version quite a bit and didn’t line this version. This pattern comes with the various cup sizes and I kept the cup size the same as last time. I used some navy broadcloth (100% cotton) instead of black as originally planned, as I wanted to change it up a bit although looking at my back log of recent sewing projects I have enough blue items to last me a lifetime. I also wanted a light and cool summery dress which this fabric definitely is. I constructed everything as specified, leaving the side seams until last to refine the fit, as per the amazing fit “motto”.

Simplicity 1354 side                       Simplicity 1354 front 2 Simplicity 1354 front

I didn’t have enough fabric to make the armhole facings so used 12 mm single fold navy bias binding to finish off the armholes. The dress fit well after construction but after wearing it a few times I felt it had stretched out, probably due to the loose weave of the broadcloth. Anyway, I had to take in the bodice by 2 cm on each side so it was more fitted, and that is what you see in these photos, the “after” alterations.

I didn’t have enough fabric to make the skirt as gathered as I would have liked, nor make big pleats as my original version so I just made two small pleats at the front and back to minimise bulk. I also lengthened the skirt by 15 cm. The pockets were made using some navy nautical voile #2 (100% cotton) scraps left over from my Sewaholic Lonsdale dress. Have I mentioned how much I love pockets? Well I really do!!! I serged the hem and turned it up 6mm and then by 1 inch and stitched.

The back has button closures at the neck but I found I could get the dress on and off without having to undo them so I sewed the neckline closed and sewed on three 1 cm white pearl buttons. There is a 12 inch (30cm) navy invisible zip and I have stitched on a hook and eye at the top of the zip although I couldn’t do enough gymnastics to do it up myself for the photos, thus the little gap. Keep that in mind when making this, ensure the zip does in fact go to the top and doesn’t have a gap like mine did. The pulling visible in the photos isn’t there in real life, I think it’s the way I’m standing.

Simplicity 1354 back

This dress has had a lot of wear already. I have worn it “dressy” as per the photos but mostly with sandals as day wear.

I’m really happy in that my SWAP 2015 was mostly complete, especially as I often sew what I feel like and didn’t think that I would complete the majority of what I planned.