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 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 Olive Top and Dress

Megan Nielsen


I love Megan Nielsen Patterns! They come in beautiful packaging, they are unique designs, and I find the explanations are clear and the illustrations helpful. So when an offer to test The Olive dress came into my inbox, I couldn’t say no.

The Olive dress has a relaxed silhouette, a gathered waist, dropped shoulder and a V-neck with insert. 

I will admit, I have struggled with finding the right fit with Megan Nielsen tops. I find that they have a lot of additional ease to create the relaxed fit and that often I end up with a loose fit that looks too roomy. They look like they don’t fit as opposed to looking like a relaxed fit. Knowing that, I made sure that I worked with the finished garment measurements and skipped the body measurement guide completely. My measurements would have put me at a 16 grading to an 18 at the waist, however, based on the finished garment measurements I ended up cutting the 10 and doing an FBA (full bust adjustment).


I used the Closet Case Patterns tutorial (here) for doing an FBA on a dartless top with a dropped shoulder because it was a similar shape. I added .75″ per side.

I also chose to handstitch the bias binding down to the inside of the neckline. I had originally done it by machine, but found that I had some rippling along the stitching line. 


The trickiest part of the pattern was the insertion of the V insert. I made 2 versions of the dress and on my first one I didn’t add interfacing. It was easier to turn the fabric at the bottom of the V. On this final version, I added the interfacing (as per the instructions) and I found it difficult to turn all the layers at the bottom. Fortunately, the method was changed between the testing phase and the release.



The pockets of this dress are amazing. They are big and placed well. I will admit, they have become my go-to pockets (and pocket insertion method) for dresses that don’t have pockets. 

Final Thoughts

I am so happy I had the opportunity to test this pattern. It’s not a style that I would normally choose for myself. Will I make myself another Olive? Probably not, or at least not exactly as is. I am planning to add a self belt, or even waist ties to this dress to help bring it in at the waist for a little more shape. I think that would help me get more use out of it. 


The Fleur Pinafore

Untitled Thoughts

Introducing the Fleur Pinafore, the new pattern from Untitled Thoughts. This was my first time making an Untitled Thoughts pattern and if you haven’t made one before, you’re in for a treat! Brittani writes her patterns as if she is talking you through them. And she even tells you the best time to pause for a snack break. (And you’d better believe I listened!)

The Fleur has 2 strap options (tie straps or button straps) and has a cute button placket on the sides and has an optional bib pocket. It is intended for confident beginners and up.

If you’re looking for more Fleur inspiration, check out the tester round-up here.


I made my tester version in a stretch denim that I’ve had in my stash for many, many years and lined the bib and waistbands with a plain white broadcloth. There were a few testers who made the pinafore in a solid and the lining in a really fun print, and now that’s something I’m interested in doing in the future.

I made the pinafore in a size 8. I decided to lengthen the skirt by 3″ just for personal preference. I also decided to use snaps and not buttons on the side placket openings because a) I didn’t have 2 sizes of matching buttons, and b) I wanted to make the waistband slightly smaller than it was (and it would be obvious if the buttons weren’t lined up completely vertically).

The skirt itself was an easy sew. The instruction booklet has clear pictures and instructions. Also, the method of doing the side plackets was new to me, and I love learning new sewing tricks.

The only problem that I ran into during construction was that the top of the bib didn’t lay flat. It would either gape quite a bit, or if i tried to push it back in, it would wave (as seen in the picture on the left). I wasn’t the only one who had the same problem in the tester group, but it seemed like it was only the people with a larger cup size that were affected. I decided that I would fix the problem by adding a strip of lightweight boning across the top, and it worked great. (Picture on the right)

Note: For my next version, I won’t need to use this method. I could just sew the boning in as I go. In this case, I had already understitched the lining and attached the waistband and skirt before noticing the problem.

Adding the Boning

I chose a lightweight plastic boning. I didn’t want to make the top heavy, because that would cause the same problem.

I sewed a casing for the boning. I took the measurement of the boning, added a small amount of ease and my seam allowances.

Trim the seam allowance and use a rouleau turner to turn the seam allowance to the inside. Press with seam centred on the back

Insert the boning into the casing and tuck the two ends under. Handstitch the casing to the top edge of the bib.

Final Thoughts

This pattern was so much fun to sew and is so much fun to wear! And the pockets are so nice and roomy.

I would like to try this pattern out again, but just as a skirt. I think the side plackets with buttons would make it an original and flattering skirt pattern.


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 Morrison Top and Dress

Blue Dot Patterns



My favourite part about pattern testing is finding new companies to try. I am so happy that I came acrossBlue Dot Patterns.



This week they released the Morrison Top and Dress and it is such a great addition to my wardrobe. This pattern includes a top and dress pattern and can be made in either knit or woven fabrics. I’ve sure you’ve heard me talk about how much I love versatile patterns, and this one definitely fits the bill. 


I chose to make the top version in a woven fabric. I had a small bit of this fabric in my stash left over from an Anna Dress (By Hand London) that I made for my husband’s birthday last year. I originally bought the fabric from



This top is rated as a beginner pattern, and I agree. The written instructions and diagrams are clear and really well done. The most difficult part of the construction is adding the bias neckband onto the neckline of the top. To add mine, I used a lot of pins and did the topstitching with my quilting foot that I bought from Amazon a few months ago. I honestly don’t know how I ever survived topstitching without it. 

The only thing I needed to change during the construction of the top was to raise the stitch line under my arm to make the armhole smaller. Other than that I did not need to make any modifications. 

Final Thoughts

There are many things I really like about this pattern. First of all, I love when you can make the same pattern over and over again and have it look different every time. The fact that this can be made in a knit or a woven really gives you options in terms of styling. When I originally saw the line drawing for the dress, I imagined it in a light knit fabric that would be perfect for a beach coverup. Now, having made the top in a woven fabric, I think the dress in a woven would look really cute with a jean jacket or sweater.

I also love that this pattern can be added into your existing wardrobe pretty easily. The pattern couldn’t have come at a better time for me. With my maternity leave coming to an end, I am starting to look at what I have to wear to work. This top can be dressed up with black pants or a pencil skirt for the office, but also worn on the weekends with jeans and a sweater. (pictured here with my Blackwood cardigan).

The only drawback of this pattern is that it doesn’t really have the option of adding longer sleeves, however, I tend to wear cardigans 90% of the time, so it’s not really a problem. 
Pattern Info
Difficulty: Beginner
Time to Make: An afternoon
Will I make it again?: Yes! Originally I had planned to wait until it was warmer outside (as in no more snow) to make a summer knit version of the dress, but I found a red peach skin in my stash that would make a great Morrison dress. 

Circle Skirt

Sewing For Your Life

 This month I had the opportunity to test Sewing For Your Life’s newest pattern. (Click here to see theNina DressI made back in December). This skirt has 8 different waistband options and 3 different options for straps (like suspenders). Sandra also released a double circle skirt and half circle skirt pattern with the same waistband and strap options.

When I saw the sample of  the skirt pattern, I knew that I had the perfect fabric for it in my stash. I purchased this fabric from my local fabric store (Tania Textiles), but I only had 2.2 metres of it. (I know that 2.2 metres seems like an odd length to buy if you’re just going to put it in your stash, but I bought what was left on the bolt). The skirt pattern calls for 2 metres if you are using a fabric that is 150 cm wide, but just over 3 metres if you have a fabric of 140 cm wide. Of course, this fabric was 147 cm, and I was not able to fit the front piece on the fold. Note:If your fabric is narrower than 150 cm, you have to fold the fabric so that the fold is perpendicular to the selvedge edges. 

In the end, I decided that my fabric choice was more important to me than the length of the skirt, so I trimmed the hemline of the skirt just enough for the pattern piece to fit perfectly across the width of my fabric. I’m happy with the way it turned out. Being only 5 feet tall, trimming an inch of the length didn’t end up making much of a difference to the overall look of the skirt. 


The circle skirt was easy to put together. It only required 3 pattern pieces (the skirt, the pocket and the waistband).

The only tricky part is that seam allowances are not already added to the pattern, so you have to cut the front on the fold, and then add a seam allowance to the fold line and cut 2 of the same piece for the back. It’s not difficult to do, but could easily be forgotten if you aren’t paying attention. 


Finishing Touches

The only other change I made to the pattern was to exchange the pocket pieces for larger pockets.

To hem my circle skirt, I used bias tape all the way around on the inside to give it a nice clean finish. Using bias tape helps you to have an even curved hem, and it gives it a fun contrast on the inside. For this project I needed to use just short of 5 metres to complete the hem. 



This is a skirt that I can see myself making multiple times. The silhouette is classic and it’s nice to have the different waistband options. I didn’t need to make any major changes to the pattern and was able to construct it in no time at all.

The only downside is that you need to let the skirt hang for 2 days before hemming it. (Circle skirts are cut with part of the skirt on the bias. This causes that part of the skirt to relax or stretch out a little more than other parts. By letting it hang for a couple of days, you will be able to cut your hem evenly and not have any surprises later). Even though the construction is fast, it will be a few days before you can wear it. 

You can purchase this skirt pattern (and Sandra’s other patterns) here.


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