About 3 weeks ago, Rachel at House of Pinheiro called upon sewers from all around the globe to be a pattern tester for a new PDF pattern she plans on releasing before the new year. She generously offered her Brasilia dress pattern (currently only available to try in a pattern of her own measurements) to anyone that was willing to take the pattern, grade/adjust it to their own body and make it their own. We were encouraged to use any fabric we wanted and add whatever personal touches or adjustments we needed to let this beautiful dress come to life on our own figures. I couldn’t resist joining the long list of seamstresses who wanted to make up this dress pattern. It didn’t take much arm-twisting as the version she made for herself was incredibly beautiful and looked amazing on her.
First of all, I have to say that this pattern is simple yet elegant. You can see from Rachel’s inspiration that a shift dress like this can work in a wide range of fabrics. I chose this beautiful 100% cotton printed fabric that I bought at Michael Levine’s during my trip to the Fashion District a few weekends ago. I think the print is so stunning and on top of that, the fabric is soft to the touch and light weight.
I thought it would be perfect for the interesting bust darts and for color blocking with the remnant black charmeuse I had from the dress I finished last week.
As I’ve stated before, I’m pretty lucky that I don’t really have too many fit issues with most commercial patterns. After looking at the finished measurements of the garment, I knew I had to make a few adjustments to the pattern, namely a small bust adjustment to the front darts, raising and widening the waistline and a slight sway back adjustment. I cheated a little and took my pattern blocks and laid them on top of the pattern to get the exact placement of the waist and hip lines, I thought this would be the easiest thing to do. The toughest part was altering the bust dart and front bodice as changes to the torso had to be made to the side front piece as well as to the armhole.
I, then, made up the dress in muslin to get a better idea of the fit. I found the front bodice armscye shape to be unflattering on me, or at least a little too wide, so I altered the pattern to make it more curved on the final version. I also shortened the length 2″ to make it above the knee, removed some bulk in the front bodice above the bust and took in the side seams a little to make the dress more fitted. Below is my Brasilia muslin on the dress form (my ironing job leaves something to be desired), but you can see that my original fit was a little too boxy.
After altering the pattern for the slight changes I wanted to make, I was ready to cut into the fashion fabric. Did I already tell you how soft this fabric is? Now, this was a good and bad thing. It’s great because wearing it feels amazing against my skin and it’s so comfy and has a little give in all the right places. It’s a horrible thing because the whole section of the front bodice above the darts is on the bias so the stretch is nutso from the bust point and upwards! I had a bit of a hard time working with it along the armhole and neckline even after stay-stitching and serging the edges – but maybe that’s just my own experience of being too accustomed to working with stiff/cheapy polyester?
Bias issues aside, the dress was a quick make. And it was definitely a pleasure sewing it because there was nothing too complicated to do and looking at this beautiful fabric for a few hours didn’t hurt either.
Isn’t the fabric stunning with this pattern? I didn’t get picky with pattern or print placement for this project as I have with other projects. It was a cut-and-go kind of experience. But I don’t think it turned out too bad or unfortunate, do you?
I contemplated for a long time what type of finishing I would do on the neck and arm holes. I narrowed it down to 2 options: Either encasing the edges with black self-made bias tape or finishing (like with a facing) with self-fabric bias tape. I decided on the latter. It’s so nice to make a garment that doesn’t have sleeves! I only needed 1 yard of the printed fabric to make this dress (self-fabric bias tape included)!
After seeing how this dress came together so easily, I feel excited to get my pattern blocks out and finally make something with them as I have been planning to do since almost one year ago. I actually believe that it could have been easier for me to copycat her pattern instead of making a muslin from it and then having to adjust it to my body. When I see her design notes, it inspires me to believe that pattern drafting is something I can do – maybe I can re-add it to my list of resolutions for 2014 and actually make it happen!
All in all, I love this pattern! It is simple, elegant, and flattering. On top of that, it has stirred up something in me to try my hand at self-drafting some patterns of my own! So, thank you Rachel for allowing me to be a pattern tester and most especially for the inspiration! Eventually I’d like to make this dress again in a heavier weight and possibly more luxurious fabric. When the pattern comes out graded and ready, I definitely recommend it for download because as the title of this blog post states, I think it’s truly “Beautiful, Marvelous!”.