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

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.

Annie Blue Floral Maxi by Violet Field Threads (VFT)

I think I have mentioned previously that I really adore the style of VFT patterns. I have a few more patterns in my stash ready to be made up but chose the Annie dress as it fits miss 4’s criteria of wanting dresses down to her toes, thus I chose the maxi length.

Annie front

Annie back

I used some bubble premium cotton sateen (96% cotton/ 4% spandex) for the bodice and lined it with white top pop poplin (80% polyester/ 20% cotton), and had similar fabric in my stash to the blue floral romper photo, dark blue rose cotton poplin (100% cotton), so used that as the skirt portion.  Pattern pieces are provided for the bodice and romper but for everything else requiring rectangles, measurements are supplied.

Additonally, instructions are provided to make the braided straps but I managed to find some white ready made triple braid, albeit it was a bit thick to sew through but I got there in the end.

I followed the instructions as specified for all steps and the dress came together quite quickly. The back is only partially elasticised and slightly on the big side but I did make a size bigger so we could get more wear out of the dress and eventually when it gets too short for a maxi I can cut it to tea length.

I waited for miss 4 to try it on before hemming as I wanted to get the length right. My fabric was 145cm wide which ended up being the perfect length for my girl so I serged it and then turned the hem up twice and stitched. I only had 1m of fabric and I think from memory I was out by 2 inches for the width of the skirt, but not noticeable as it is so full anyway.

When I showed her the almost finished dress prior to hemming, her response was priceless and that is why I sew for my girls. She said “Oh thankyou so much mummy, I love it, does it go down to my toes?” , “Yes it does”, I reply. Then I got the biggest hug and kiss and that makes it worth it :). It made for a very successful dancing dress when she wore it and she felt like a million bucks.

Annie back 2

I made miss 2 a dress to match the colour story of this dress and will post about that soon.

Black Boho Tiered Maxi Dress

I’ve identified some gaps in my wardrobe recently, but the biggest of all was the black/ dark coloured clothes, not to mention my every day wear. I went on a fabric frenzy to buy what I needed for a few of my projects.

The first one was a boho style maxi dress, something cool to wear in the humid weather. I have made this Burda style pattern 05/2010 tiered maxi dress #113,  in the past and really liked the fit but I don’t have the magazine with me at the moment. I didn’t want to purchase the pattern again, so drafted my own bodice. I believe I had mentioned a few posts back that drafting patterns isn’t my thing but I seem to be doing it a lot lately, probably more out of necessity than anything else. Regardless, once the bodice was fitting okay, the skirt was just some gathered rectangles sewn together.

Black tiered maxi front 2                           Black tiered maxi side 2 Black tiered maxi back 2

I made the dress up in premium black faille (100% polyester) and self lined the bodice. I used some trace and toile to draft my pattern, why have I never used this before? I thought all was good until I sewed up my fashion fabric and realised I had to take in another  1/2 inch from either side. My thinking is that fabric had a big part in this as my toile fit perfectly. Anyway, I fit as I sewed to get the look right. The model shot shows the bodice quite loose and I didn’t want that for myself so made it quite fitted.

I added three 12mm hexagonal black buttons to the front bodice for some visual interest. There is a 16″ (40 cm) black invisible zipper on the left side. Buttons closeTo insert the zipper, I attached the first tier to the bodice, leaving the left seam open and then serged the seam for neatness. I inserted my invisible zip as I would normally and then stitched the remainder of the left side seam closed. I was able to then attach the middle tier as per normal.

I cut 2 rectangles for each tier using the following dimension. My first tier was 13 inch x  26 inch, the middle tier 15 inch x 34.5 inch and the bottom tier 17 inch x 42.5 inch. I guessed the measurements I required based on the fit I wanted. Not overly loose but roomy, venturing close to the pregnant look from the side (NO I’M NOT!) and it can be worn with a belt if need be.

May_113_tech_drawing_largeI sewed the side seams together for each tier to make a closed loop and then gathered them before sewing to the layer above. All seams were serged as was the hem which was then turned up 1/4″ and then 1/4″ again and stitched. I hand stitched the bodice lining to the the seam allowance at the bodice-first tier seam and also to the zipper tape.

Black tiered maxi front 3Black tiered maxi back

I chose to omit a lining in this version as my fabric was dense enough. I may consider making this again in the future but just sewing the top two tiers and having more a midi version.

McCall’s 6744 Maxi Dress – Doesn’t Get Much Easier Than This

I wear maxi dresses quite a lot and had made this McCall’s Fashion Star 6700 pattern on 3 occassions, 2 of those with knit fabric and the other with a woven, and they have all been in constant rotation over summer. I wanted another easy dress to wear and McCall’s 6744 fit the bill. I made view C, a pullover dress with an elastic waist and narrow hem, mock wrap, very loose-fitting bodice with elasticized shoulders. It doesn’t get much easier than that.

I used an oriental printed knit flower in a grey colourway from Spotlight, 148cm wide (95% polyester/5% spandex) and I had 3m. Not much to say about construction of this dress as it went together really quickly. Due to the print of the fabric I cut the pieces in a single layer, which is why I used so much, to make sure both sides and the back were symmetrical and hopefully avoid any bad print placement.

McCalls 6744 frontMcCalls Front 2    McCalls 6744 Back

My major issues were with the narrow hem as per the instructions. The fabric shifted during sewing and the topstitching was a little wonky on the overlap skirt panels, and I did go back and fix this. I am showing you the worst area of topstitching but you catch my drift. I also figured a longer stitch length was much better.  What I have come to realise over time is that people rarely notice these flaws and are more impressed by the fact that I can actually sew clothes.

               mccalls 6744 topstitching mccalls 6744 topstitching fixed (2)

I wish in hindsight I just turned the hems once and topstitched and then cut away close to the edge. For the hem of the dress I used a twin needle rather than a narrow hem. For the life of me I always have such trouble with the twin needle. I’ve tinkered with stitch length, tension, sewing speed, types of needles and whatever other suggestion I have found online and always end up with skipped stitches particularly on my left needle. If anyone knows why, please help!

mccalls 6744 hem skipped stitches

The instructions also called for double stitching of seams, which I did do, but was double the work really, because I also serged them for a neat finish.

It is fairly obvious from the pattern photo the crossover front bodice is loosely designed and doesn’t provide much coverage but I tend to wear singlets under a lot of my clothes anyway (as you can see below I’m just checking everything is covered up). In this case I will need to wear a dress slip as the fabric is a bit sheer and given the split in the dress I can’t wear anything too long underneath. There is a lot of ease in the top part of the dress and I cut a size XS for this dress so it was more fitted. Next time I may cut the size up in the skirt so it has a bit more flow.

McCalls 6744 bodice

The skirt is a mock wrap and the overlap is not very big and too revealing for me, opening to the high thigh.  I stitched from the waist down to about 46cm, trying to match the prints. I find the split is still quite feminine and allows me to bend and sit quite comfortably at this length without any fear of indecent exposure.

                                                                                                                   McCalls 6744 spli                                          McCalls 6744 split when walking

My fit issue with this was that the lower armhole is a bit tight. I think because it is a knit and the weight of the dress stretches it a bit, it is ok, however this seems to be a common trend for me. It’s an easy enough alteration to make on sleeveless tops and dresses but requires more thinking and planning for those with sleeves. Does anyone recommend any good resources to combat this? My bad for not making a muslin and while I’m putting it out there, let me say I never make a muslin and fit as I go. I know its risky but I lose interest quickly and want to get things done so I can wear them.

I’m also a little silly in that I used white thread to sew this up when I think blue would have blended in more and perhaps showed up less of the imperfections. Oh well, live and learn!