Three weeks ago, I promised myself NO MORE TESTING until the end of the year, or when I get all my Christmas sewing done, whichever comes first. But then Suzanne over at Winter Wear Designs just had to go and put out the call for her ladies’ version of the gorgeous Bateau Garden Dress (previously released for girls). I knew months ago that this was coming, and I couldn’t resist applying to be a tester. I think my pictures in my Mirri and Circle Skirt helped get me in the door. I should also probably confess now that I’m doing two other tests… but I SWEAR no more. We’ll see… For now, here is the link to the newly released pattern: Women’s Bateau Garden Dress (sizes 00-24)
Here’s the run-down on the pattern, what makes it beautiful and unique:
- Princess seams that come from the armscye rather than the shoulder seam
- Bodice and waistband are designed to hit you at your true waist, the narrowest part of your body.
- Two skirt options (rectangle or circle), both full and with flattering pleats
- Sleeve add-on coming soon (free), likely with the release of Suzanne’s next ladies’ dress pattern
- We testers made anywhere from 3 to 6 muslins EACH in every size, with multiple testers per size. This is what it takes to make a pattern like this perfect. Each version got important tweaks that brought us to the final pattern. You should only need to make 1 muslin (maybe 2) to figure out your tweaks. But you MUST make one.
Because fit is so important with this pattern, I want to give you my measurements, and what I did to make this work for me, so you can get an idea of how it might work for you. I need to say clearly though that this pattern has been extensively tested in every size, so I’m confident that if your measurements fall within the size range, this pattern can work for you.
- Pattern is designed for a B cup in the smaller sizes. Before you freak out, that’s a B SEWING cup, not an actual real life B cup. I am a 30 DDD and thought for sure I would need to do a full bust adjustment. Not so- in sewing, I’m only an A cup. How is that? This pattern determines your cup size from your high bust/ full bust measurements. My high bust is 33.5 and my full bust is 34.5. That 1″ difference makes me an A cup as far as most patterns are concerned. So check your high bust and full bust, and if you need to do a FBA, check out this tutorial: http://www.eymm.com/2014/05/14/princess-seam-full-bust-adjustment-fba-tutorial/
- My underbust is 29″ and my waist is 28.5″; my hips are 38-ish”; I have an average hourglass figure with a freakishly short torso.
- Make your muslin wearing the same bra you will wear with your final dress. I cannot emphasize this strongly enough. It DOES make a difference. I almost cried when I put on one of my muslins because the fit was so different from the last version. Then I put the right bra on, and it was all better.
- WWD measurements start at the bottom of the size, so if you fall in between sizes, you should generally size down. If you find you need a bit more room in places, you can adjust the pattern itself or cheat by using a slightly smaller seam allowance. Going from a 1/2″ seam allowance to a 3/8″ seam allowance on your 4 princess seams ends up giving you an extra inch of ease through the bodice, so be cautious.
- You want the bodice to end just above your waist, so the waistband sits exactly at your waist. The size 6 bodice fit me perfectly (length and width wise), but all my torso shortness is right in my waist, so I shortened my waistband by 3/4″. If you have a longer torso, you will need to adjust the bodice pieces and possibly the waistband as well.
- The apex of the bust curve sits just a smidge high- if you’re not as perky as you once were, you may need to add a bit of length to the top of the curve on the princess seams to drop the apex a bit.
- I used the circle skirt, because duh, I love circle skirts. This one has cute box pleats that line up with the princess seams to give you some extra oomph through the hips.
- I am also wearing my petticoat again, though the pattern includes instructions for an attached pettiskirt.
- I don’t ACTUALLY recommend making this dress (or really any dress) in vinyl. This was a personal challenge to myself to see if I could do it. I used my newly acquired walking foot to keep it feeding evenly through my machine and only broke 1 needle. I topstitched all my seams since I couldn’t press them. The waistband at the zipper is SO thick with layers I’m considering going back at it with a mallet to flatten them, then re-sew. (Seriously)
- I used a polyester charmeuse lining and it worked great. BUT if I were to do it all over again, for this dress, I would splurge and pick up some good moisture-wicking performance knit. I can’t really express just how sweaty I was after a few minutes in the Southern California sun.
- I’ll put up another post about my headpiece that I’m wearing because I love it and I want to wear it every day