Way back in May I was contacted by Lolita Patterns and asked if I’d like to be a pattern tester for their latest design, a mock-separates dress called Sugar Plum. It looked like something I’d totally wear to a business meeting, and their size 12 matched up almost uncannily to my measurements, so I went for it.
The turnaround deadline was tight (only two weeks), so I got shopping right away. The bodice of the dress is for lightweight wovens, and the bottom for stable knits (apparently to make it more comfortable for sitting at a desk all day, how nice!).
I don’t often go for prints, but I fell in love with this dandelion head fabric from Stone Fabrics, and to simplify matters, I also ordered a beige polyester crepe to line the bodice (since the dandelion crepe is semi-sheer), and a navy ponte jersey for the skirt. Normally I’d steer towards natural fibers, but my recent world tour reminded me of the importance of non wrinkling work attire, and I wanted this to unroll from a suitcase without the need to iron!
The two poly crepes were lovely to work with – they kept a crease if I pressed hard enough, but indeed resisted wrinkling when “scrunched” in the hand. The only big problem was that they frayed like crazy. This left me with two choices – either do french seams, or overlock the edges before sewing. Since it was a new pattern company and I was already skipping a muslin, I thought it unwise to do french seams for fear I’d need to unpick any, so I went the overlocking route. It did significantly add onto my prep time, but you really can’t see the overlocking threads through the fabric, and I’ve got piece of mind that the fabric won’t give out at the first sign of stress!
My test version was a pdf pattern, but it also is available ready-printed if you prefer that. I quite like that they’ve done two totally separate drafts for the smaller sizes (in which I fall), and the larger sizes. It totally makes sense that a size 24 is a different shape to a size 2, right!? The pattern makers explain the sizing here if you’d like to read more.
I found a few typos and made a few suggestions to the instructions (which are all fixed in the final version!), but they were really very well done – the order of construction in particular was very clever, and results in 90% of the seams being enclosed and without any hand sewing!
Since I already went outside my comfort zone with the print, I thought I’d play it safe and go for View B, which doesn’t have the front ruffles. The ruffled collar and gathered sleeves are already plenty girly enough for me, and I really like that the button loops are more prominent this way, too.
The skirt includes pockets, but I omitted these since I didn’t want any bulges, and I never travel without at least two bags for all my electronic devices anyway!
Even though there’s a fully-functioning button placket at the bodice front, in reality these are really only decorative, because there’s an invisible zipper in the centre back! I don’t mean to brag (ok, I do!), but how awesome is that invisible zipper?! The two-pass method (baste it first, then sew slowly with a regular zipper foot) changed my sewing life…
Countdown to my next business meeting!
PS: Lolita Patterns also have a free skirt pattern if you want to check out their sizing for yourself first!
I’m currently away in Mexico – this post was written and scheduled before I left (and the dress was sewn in June!!). Please leave comments – I’ll read them as I have internet but will probably not be able to reply!