The Tamzin Dress

By Hand London

The tricky part about pattern testing is that you’re not always guaranteed a dress that you’ll end up loving and wearing afterwards. Sometimes the fit isn’t exactly your style, other times you make it in a fabric you’re not in love with just in case it doesn’t work out, but then new projects pop up and you never get around to making it in your dream fabric. 

Other times you make the pattern up and it instantly becomes your favourite new dress that you want to wear every single day. That was the case with the new Tamzin Dress from By Hand London. 



The Tamzin is described as a folk dress with a square neckline, 3/4 sleeves and a gathered skirt (both with tuck details) and 2 different waist tie options.  The neckline has an external facing so that you can have fun with different embroidery or beading techniques. As with all of By Hand London’s new designs, the dress has the option of either the standard B cup or the new D cup size band (just note that the D cup band starts with a US size 12)

I really like the way that By Hand London patterns are organized. I find it easy to reference the information such as yardage and notions needed and see the layouts (even if I don’t use them). The tucks were surprisingly easy to do and gave a really nice (and original) look to the dress. And that neckline is beautiful! There are so many embellishing opportunities with this dress.

So, as I mentioned, I didn’t use the cutting layout for the dress. I rarely do, but in this case I definitely didn’t want to. I have to admit, I absolutely hate cutting out rayon. I love the way it looks and the way it feels on and you can always find the most amazing prints, but it is slippery and it hates to stay in one place when you’re cutting it. You lay it out flat, and then if you breathe too hard you find that you need to start all over again. I figured that if I tried to cut on the fold and the layers slipped, it would be really obvious since there is a very clear grid on my fabric. So, using it to my advantage, I cut everything out flat and used the lines on the fabric to line up the pieces instead of measuring to the selvedge. 

Dress Details

Size: US 12 / D-Cup

View Made: Variation 1: Front Ties

Adjustments Needed: I shortened the sleeves by 1.5″. I also shortened the skirt (See comment in changes made)

 Fabric: Rayon from Tania Textiles (Quebec City)

Changes Made: I (unintentionally) changed the size of the tucks in the skirt. I miscalculated how much to shorten the skirt by, and when I tried it on, I found that I didn’t love the length (I had shortened it to just above the knee). So, I decided that I loved the dress too much to not to fix it and resewed the tucks at 1″ instead of 1.5″. That ended up giving me back 3″ of length and I love how that turned out. 




I love how easy it is to throw on the Tamzin and go. I have found in the past that dresses with no structure and no zips or other closures drown me in fabric, especially because I am a big fan of sleeves (less chance of getting a sunburn) and midi-length skirts. I usually find it helps to add a belt or some sort of tie. This dress has the tie included which makes it so much easier to get ready. It’s also helpful for this post (mid) quarantine time where we have gotten used to wearing things a little comfier and a lot more forgiving. This dress is the ultimate secret pyjamas that just look so nice!



Final Thoughts

I love this dress. It is one of my new favourites and I can’t wait to make more versions of it. I think it would look really nice is a fall weight fabric (like a lightweight wool), in some sort of houndstooth or herringbone print with with a contrasting collar and also with hacked sleeves that are more of a puffed shape (by adding elastic into the sleeve hem). I also love the addition of the D-cup band in By Hand London patterns. With the time I save from doing an FBA, I can work on other fun hacks to the patterns.

The Kitty Dress

So Over It


I am currently on a So Over It pattern kick. This is my second pattern in a row that I’ve made from them, and I have plans to make more, especially as part of my fall back-to-work wardrobe.

So, why do I keep coming back to them? First of all, I love their styles. They are a perfect mix of vintage with a modern feel. They have some patterns in their range that are directly vintage styles (The Joan dress for example) and others that are more of a nod, like this one. 

Another reason is that I know what changes I need to make to the patterns before I even start. This is the forth pattern I’ve made from SOI, so I’m hoping that I can just make the changes to the patterns in the future without having to go through the muslining process. 


For reference, my standard changes for their patterns are:

  • doing a 3/4″ narrow shoulder adjustment (I could probably do 1″, but many of their modelled pictures show a slightly relaxed shoulder)
  • reducing the bottom of the armscye by 1″. (I just fold back .5″ of the side seam (front and back bodice pieces) at the armhole. Then I redraw the cutline from my new underarm point to about the bust line. To make the sleeve fit the new armhole, I just mark a point .5″ in on either side of the underarm seam and then redraw the cut line to match up with the wrist. 
  • (Note: For the Pussy Bow Blouse pattern, I shortened the sleeve by 1″)

Finally, I love using SOI patterns because I have not had to do an FBA (full bust adjustment) on any of their styles.  I don’t mind doing a narrow shoulder adjustment (it’s quick and relatively painless), but doing FBA’s on different bodice shapes and with different directions of darts, cut on sleeves, etc. does get a little tiring. 

Dress Details

Size: UK 16

Adjustments Needed: 3/4″ narrow shoulder adjustment (The next time I make this dress, I will take in the armscye by 1″ and shorten the back bodice by about .5″)

Fabric: Rayon from Tania Textiles (Quebec City)

Buttons: Red Shell buttons (Accent Mode) from Tania Textiles (Quebec City)

Additional Changes Made: I had to slightly reduce the size of the pockets as I had a very small amount of fabric left. The pattern called for 3.1 metres, and by cutting it flat, I was able to make it out of 2.5 metres (but with slightly smaller (but still very roomy) pockets.


The illustrations in the pattern booklets are clear and helpful. I always appreciate it when the diagrams are so clear, you can construct the garment (or at least most of it) without having to read the instructions.

A shawl collar is something new for me. I have never owned a garment with one before and I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to do. I just need to keep in mind that the facing is the part that shows on the outside. Usually a ripple in the fabric when you apply your fusible interfacing isn’t a big deal, but here it’s on display for everyone to see. 

For this particular pattern, I didn’t really enjoy the pocket insertion. I found it quite fiddly for the same result as other methods. Next time I make this pattern, I will serge the edge of the pockets, attach a pocket (RST) to each side seam, press them away from the skirt, and then sew the front and back pieces together, going around each of the pockets. It will be much simpler (and probably faster too)


Final Thoughts

I’m really happy with how my  Kitty dress turned out. I think I will get a lot of use from it, both at work, and more casually. I would like to use some of the other versions as well, and possible even a hack without a collar (more of just a v-neck with buttons)

I think the next Sew Over It project I’ll tackle is the Betty dress (hopefully while the weather is still hot) and then I’d like to try some more pieces from the Workwear to Weekend e-book that I have. I have already made 2 Edie tops and a Kate dress from the collection, but I’d love to sew the whole e-book as a capsule. I know, I’m getting way ahead of myself here, but it’s a dream.


The Minna Dress

Schultz Apparel


I love following Amalie from Schultz Apparel on Instagram. Her feed is full of the most beautiful pieces that are a mix of modern and vintage and they are exactly what I want in my wardrobe right now. She has recently started selling her designs and I am so excited about it!


The Minna dress has 3 different views and they are all beautiful. I made view C, with 3/4 sleeves, a gathered skirt and buttons up the front. The best part, it has an invisible zipper up the side, which means it isn’t even necessary to make buttonholes for the front buttons. 





I chose a cotton print from my local fabric store (Tania Tissus). If you haven’t heard me rave about it before, it truly is the best. The people working there are very helpful and the selection is excellent. It’s one of those places where you walk in, and they’ll show you all the new things that they got since you last time you visited.

The instructions for this pattern are clear, and the illustrations are helpful. There are also a few handy tips in the explanations. Instead of creating large pattern pieces for the skirt, the pattern gives you the measurements for cutting it directly on the fabric. This cut down on the number of pages to print, which is appreciated).

I had to make a few small changes to the pattern for fit. I shortened the sleeves and took a little bit more out of the darts. I also made the skirt 4″ narrower (but that was because my fabric wasn’t quite as wide as the measurement I needed. In the end, despite making a muslin, I ended up needing to take up the shoulders. I had only created the muslin version of the bodice, and with the weight of the skirt, it pulled everything down slightly. Add that to the list of things I am still learning!

Pattern Matching

After cutting out the skirt, I could see that I would have some extra fabric leftover, so I decided to do some pattern matching.

I know that there are many ways to do this, but here is the method I use. 

  • First of all, I make sure that I do all of my prep first. That includes having the pattern pieces on tissue paper, laying the fabric out flat and choosing where in the pattern I want the pattern (I’m sure we’ve all seen some flowers that are not strategically placed in RTW)
  • Cut out one side of the bodice (respecting grainlines and original idea of where you want the pattern placed)
  • Fold back the edge of the cut piece along the centre front line. That way you are matching the very centre of the shirt where it comes together. Note: If you aren’t working with a buttoned bodice, fold the seam allowance back. Iron (or pin) in place.
  • Place the cut pattern piece on your fabric so that it is directly covering the identical image
  • Flip over the pattern piece (to mirror it) and fold back the tissue paper to the centre front. Line this folded edge up with the folded edge of the piece you cut first.
  • Pin the pattern piece down to your fabric close to the fold. Once it is secured, remove the piece you cut first, fold the rest of the piece down and pin it. 

Final Thoughts

This is by far one of my favourite things I’ve ever made for myself. The style and fit are exactly what I was looking for, and the fabric from Tania Tissus is perfect for it. 

Will I make it again? Absolutely! I already have the fabric ready for the short sleeved version.


The Lola Dress


Forget-me-not Patterns

And just when I think I’m going to slow down on doing pattern testing this year, Forget-me-not patterns comes out with this beautiful dress and top pattern. So here I am again. This is the Lola dress and it is so perfect for spring. 


The Lola Pattern includes a top and dress with two different neckline options (boat neck and scoop neck). The back of the garment has a yoke, inverted box pleat and optional ruffle. But, the best thing about this pattern is that there are three different front pieces depending on your high bust to full bust ratio. That means you can choose the small, medium or full bust piece and not have to worry about doing your normal bust alterations. 

My version of the Lola dress has the boat neckline and the ruffle at the back. I used the tie at the waist to give me more definition, but it can also be worn without it for a looser silhouette.

The fabric is the Famous Maker Amara Abstract Rayon Challis from LA Finch Fabrics. I am so happy that I finally cut into it. I bought this (and a few other) amazing fabrics from them during their Black Friday sale, but haven’t found the right thing to make with them. As soon as I saw the pattern, I knew this was perfect. Although the pattern calls for 3 yards of fabric for the dress in a size 38, I only had 2 yards of the fabric and was able to make it with room to spare. 


I was able to reduce my fabric consumption significantly by doing the following:


  • choosing the boat neck instead of the scoop neck. The scoop neck requires a bias strip for the neckline. Cutting a piece on the bias always increases fabric use
  • cutting the pieces flat instead of on the fold. I was able to get both the front and back pieces to fit beside each other which reduced the amount of fabric by quite a bit
  • instead of cutting the tie belt parallel to the selvedge and mirroring it on the short edge, I cut two tie belts perpendicular to the grain, added a 5/8″ seam allowance on one side, and sewed them together in the middle. Other than having a back seam in the belt, I don’t think it really makes a difference. 
The fit on this dress is really nice. The cut-on sleeve is comfortable to wear and the silhouette is forgiving, but not sloppy. During testing, we found that the neckline of the boat neck was slightly too high, so that was brought down a little bit to make it more comfortable to wear (and easier to put on). Also, for me, the pockets are a little too low. I may lose things that are at the bottom. This may not be the case for everyone, as I am a short sewist. 


Final Thoughts

This pattern is really well written. I loved the explanations for the pin hem and double-folded hem. Jo also gave great instructions for how to choose the right size to make. 

I am so happy that I had the opportunity to sew this dress during the testing phase. I know that it will get a lot of wear, and that I will make it again in both the top and dress forms. After all, I need to try all of the neckline/hemline combinations! I may opt out of the ruffle for the next versions, as I almost always wear a sweater and so it might look a bit bulky under there. 

The Eilidh Dress

Pipe Dream Patterns


Is it too early to have already decided on my favourite make of 2020? Because I have, and this is it! This is the Eilidh Dress by Pipe Dream Patterns. I had the absolute pleasure of testing it this January. It comes in two different styles; one with a twist in the front and the other with a twist at the back. This dress is still in the testing phase, but Joann was nice enough to let me share these makes before the pattern is released. Make sure you follow Pipe Dream Patterns onInstagramor check the websitefor more information about this pattern’s release.




View 1

View 1 of the Eilidh Dress features a twist front. The dress can be made in a solid colour, or colour blocked with each side a different colour. It also has the option of a high back (which I made) or a low back.

I made my version in a solid crepe scuba knit from Fabricville.

Although the dress looks complicated, it was surprisingly easy to accomplish. The instructions are clear and Joann even included scaled down pattern pieces so that you can try the twist on scrap pieces before cutting into your good fabric. I made a couple of small changes to the pattern. One was to add an extra 3 inches to the length, and the other was to shorten the sleeves by 1.5 inches.

After I had completed the dress, I realized that I should have done a sway back adjustment. I will have to do that on my next version.



View 2

View 2 has a high neckline, short sleeves and a low back with a twist. The neckline is finished with a band which is then topstitched to keep it in place.  This view must be made with a just one fabric (unlike view 1)


I made this version in a Liverpool Knit from Club Tissus.




Out of the two dresses, I found the twist on view 2 a little more complicated. I’m not sure if it’s because I used a lighter material, or because it doesn’t really take shape until the dress is constructed (and there is a body in it). After taking my time, and reading (and rereading) the instructions, I was able to do the twist. Instead of matching letters together, I used coloured pins. So, when constructing the twist, I needed to match the two pink headed pins together, then the two yellow. And the rest of the dress comes together really quickly. Again, the only change I made to the pattern was to add 3 inches to the length.

Final Thoughts

There are so many things I like about this pattern. First of all, you have some options when making it, including changing the sleeve lengths up or sewing up the slit in the twist front dress to different lengths. Also, even though both dresses contain a twist, I find that the two dress views look quite different from each other. That’s really nice when buying a new pattern. It is also laid out very clearly and has helpful diagrams to follow when constructing the dress. Finally, it does not require a lot of fabric. Even with adding an additional 3 inches to the front and back pattern piece, I was still able to get view 2 of the dress out of about 1.5 metres. 

The Nina Dress

Sewing for your Life


Introducing my favourite make of 2019! 

In December, I was lucky enough to be a pattern tester for this dress. I will admit, I had never heard of the pattern company Sewing for your Life before their tester call went out, but when I saw the sample of the dress, I knew it was something I wanted to make. Sandra’s designs have a vintage feel, and are available on her Etsy shop.


The Pattern

The Nina Dress is a vintage-style dress inspired by the TV show The Collection. It features a Hepburn collar, elbow-length sleeves and a beautiful (and twirly) skirt. The fabric recommendation is for a woven fabric with a small amount of stretch. I made mine from a polka dot stretch cotton sateen that I bought from my local fabric shop. This dress requires 4.5 metres of fabric which, according to the size I made, had to be at least 140 cm wide. I think that the dress could be made from a non-stretch fabric without any problems.



My Changes

I was very happy with the drafting of the bodice, as I found that both the bust and the waist fit perfectly. I only had to do my usual adjustment of widening the centre of the bust dart to remove extra fabric bulk from under the bust.

I did find the sleeves to be a little roomier than I’d like, so I tapered the sleeve seam down. I reduced the hem of the sleeve by 2″, but kept the underarm seam unchanged. 


The instructions for the Nina Dress were, for the most part, clear. Sandra added a few details about why things are done the way they are, which was a fun touch.

There were a few new skills that I learned when sewing this dress. First of all, I had never sewn a Hepburn collar before. The result is super flattering and I can see myself adding it to other garments in the future. I especially love the back view of the collar. It looks a lot more complicated than it is in reality.

It was also the first time that I had hemmed a circle skirt with bias tape. And I’m so glad that I had this option. The final skirt was 9 metres to hem (but isn’t it beautiful!). The pattern suggested completing it by hand, but I think it looks just fine done by machine.Finally I decided to add a belt. After looking at some tutorials, I set off to Fabricville to get what I needed. I think the belt helps the dress look finished, and it was fun creating something new. (The belt buckle came in a two-pack, so you can expect a belt on another project soon ;))

The result and Final Thoughts

I cannot say enough good things about this dress. The construction was straightforward, however, it still taught me some new skills that I will be able to use in many of my future projects. I wore this dress to my work Christmas party and was asked many times where I bought it.  This may not be the reason I sew, but it doesn’t hurt either. 

I have plans to make another Nina dress, this time in a solid colour, with a contrasting colour for the collar, belt, and turned up cuffs on the sleeve.

You can find this pattern, and Sandra’s other patterns here.


The Addie Dress

Seamingly Smitten

This year is the year of the statement sleeve. The bishop sleeve is everywhere and it looks so good! I’m so happy I had the opportunity to test the Addie dress for Seamingly Smitten patterns. 

The Pattern

The Addie is a 2-for-1 pattern. You can make it in a top or in a dress form. I chose to make the dress form, and cut it at the petite length. Jenny’s patterns are simple to follow. They are in S/M/L sizing (as opposed to numerical) and the lines on the pdf pattern are colour coded. The pattern comes with step-by-step instructions and photographs. You can also cut the pattern in petite or tall lengths.



I choose a peach skin fabric (100% polyester) from Fabricville to make the dress. I would recommend the fabric because it has such a nice drape for the sleeves. I needed just over 1 metre to make it . The dress itself was very easy to put together. The sleeves are not set in, so the side seams and arms are sewn in one line from the hem of the dress to the wrist of the sleeve. 

My Changes

I am glad I made a muslin version of this dress before cutting into my fabric. Based on my bust measurement, I should have cut the XL, but decided to make the L for a slightly more fitted bodice. There was a lot of added ease and when I cut the L, it was much too roomy on me. I originally cut the tall hemline so that the dress hit my knees, but I decided to cut the official version at the petite line.


Before cutting my final dress, I decided to grade the pattern from a Large through the shoulders and bust to a Small at the waist. I did not reduce the width of the skirt, so I have a few extra gathers. I also trimmed about an inch off the whole sleeve. 

The Results

This dress turned out so much better than I was expecting. It is very comfortable to wear, and the shorter length looks great with tights and boots. 

Final Thoughts

Seamingly Smitten patterns are great beginner patterns. They are easy to follow and have some great design details. The only downfall is that the sleeve is cut on the fold, giving a little extra bulk at the front of the sleeve.

I have plans to make this dress again with a couple of changes. I love the sleeves and skirt, but I don’t love the loose style bodice (even though I know it’s really popular right now).  I find that if things aren’t fitted under the bust, I tend to disappear in fabric. So, when I make this dress again, I’d like to try making the bodice more fitted and putting a zipper down the back. I would also like to add another layer to the bottom of the skirt, because lately I can’t get enough of skirt ruffles.   

Interested in this or other Seamingly Smitten patterns? Feel free to use my affiliate link below.

Seamingly Smitten Patterns

The Kate Dress

So Over It London



The Kate Dress represents a couple of firsts for me. It is my first So Over It London pattern, the first pattern I made from an e-book and the first time I went to a copy shop to have patterns printed on A0 paper. 


The pattern

The Kate dress is a 3-in-1 pattern. It can be made as a dress, a skirt or a top. It is classified as an intermediate pattern because there are a few elements that can be a bit challenging, but completely worth it in the end. The Kate dress has a hidden button placket down the centre front. It also has a side zip for ease of getting on and off. Even through the construction can be a little tricky, the instructions are clear with photographs of each step.


My changes

The pattern calls for 3.5 metres of cotton lawn, rayon or lightweight crepe. For a dressier look, I used a cut of matte satin from my stash, which I had bought from Fabricville. And with some effort, I was able to make it work with only 3 metres. To do so, I had to cut the pattern out flat (and not on a fold), and instead of cutting the back bodice in one piece, I added a seam allowance and cut it in 2 pieces with a seam up the centre back.

After constructing a muslin version of the bodice, I noticed that I had some extra fabric around the armscye that had to be removed. (More about how I did that alteration in a future blog post). I also needed to add a little width to the bust dart between the bust point and the waist. 

I chose not to do the side slits in the skirt. This made construction easier, as I could just serge the seam allowances together instead of serging both sides of the allowances separately and pressing open. 


The Result

This dress is perfect for outings in the park to see the fall leaves change.I will definitely be making another version of the Kate dress, as well as the Kate skirt.



Final Thoughts

Next time I will choose a solid fabric or a non-directional print to save with fabric consumption (the gores of the skirt take up a lot of the fabric, especially if they can only be cut one direction. 

I would also like to make a version of this in a viscose twill that will be more appropriate for the office. 

Also, don’t forget to let the skirt hang for a few days before hemming it. The parts of the skirt that aren’t on the grain will stretch slightly after hanging. If you hem the skirt without letting it hang, you will end up with a crooked hemline.