Tuesday 25 June 2019

Chelsea Pattern Tester Dress

Just in time for winter and rain - here's a dress for the middle of summer.
Back in February I got the opportunity to be a pattern tester for the new Chelsea Dress from Amy Nicole Studios. I've previously tested her Patti Pocket Skirt and incorporated that pattern into a dress as well. I really enjoyed that pattern, so when I got the email with the first picture of the Chelsea Dress asking for testers I thought it would be fun to try.

As this was a tester version, this was made exactly to the pattern as it was at the time. I made size 0. There were a couple of small changes to the final pattern, but nothing significant and nothing that has any bearing on my experience sewing it up. There are options on Amy Nicole's blog to do a full bust adjustment or raise the deep v neckline, but I did neither. There's also an option to make this a maxi dress, but I made the short version. So my review is just on the basic pattern, but there are options for changing it if you need to.

The bodice is very closely fitted and designed to have no ease. It is fully lined and understitched, with elastic along the plunge neck to keep it in place and stop any gaping. Sewing the elastic in is very straightforward, but understitching is a bit fiddly as the pieces are pretty small. The width of the straps and the fact they are angled to be closer together at the back also helps the dress remain secure. As I said the pattern doesn't really have ease, so the waistband is meant to be snug. The zipper and hook and eye fit very close to the body, so it's important to check the sizing is right.

I didn't have any problems with making the dress, but I did make one dumb error - I forgot to check the printer settings and it printed far too large. The skirt was easy enough to adjust - just cut thesides and length off a bit - but the bodice pieces are not easily adjusted. So, I printed out the half dozen or so sheets again before I cut into my fabric.

The bodice and hem fabric is a linen-like remnant I picked up at a Sydney Spoolettes fabric swap a few years back. I had wanted to make a short sleeve blouse or shell top out of it, but the piece was long and diagonally cut which made fitting pattern pieces tricky. I tried a few times over the years, but couldn't find something that fitted well on the piece. When I got the tester pattern for the Chelsea Dress and saw Amy Nicole's colour blocking suggestions I got this piece out again to see if I could jigsaw the bodice and hem into place and excitingly it fit!

The skirt and pockets are a basic cotton poplin. It's just slightly stiff, so it stands out with a bit of fullness. The dark blue matching the spots on the bodice and hem band was semi-accidental - I already owned both fabrics, so when the bodice pieces fit on the spots this blue was the obvious choice for skirt. The skirt is very simple, just a very basic shape gathered at the waistband with good sized pockets in the side seams. Because I'd printed the skirt pieces out too large I couldn't use the marked notches to guide where to place the pockets, so that was a combination of measuring and guessing. But they are a usable size, which is always a great bonus.

I haven't worn this dress properly yet so can't report on how it goes with a full days' wear. But it's a lovely style and the colour blocking options make it very versatile. It is a slim-fitting design on the bodice so isn't going to suit everyone, but it is an easy sew. But if you like the look of the pattern I definitely recommend it.

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