Dance of the Sugar Plum…Dress

A wee while ago…as in June…I volunteered to pattern test for a new Indie pattern company called Lolita Patterns. You might remember we interviewed them as part of Indie Pattern Month.

Finally the pattern has been officially announced and a couple of weeks ago I received the all clear to blog about it. We just had a long weekend here in NZ with glorious weather so I finally caught up on photographing my finished items.

I thought I better share this one first ๐Ÿ˜‰

The pattern is called Sugar Plum and you can find it here in their online shop in both envelope and pdf format.

I received a final envelope version as a thank you for testing and I have to say it’s pretty cute. The top flap has two slits that slide over the bow which hasย a metal backing, you fold the bow together to open the flap.

I’ll be honest, there were a lot of issues with the pattern when I tested and I found it a lot more work than with any previous pattern testing I’ve done. The girls have made a huge effort to correct the errors and get the pattern out.

I made the bodice of my dress in a rayon remnant from this project and the skirt from double knit/ponte. This was my very first time sewing with double knit (yes, I know!) and I have to say that stuff is AMAZING! So amazing I went back to Arthur Toye the next day and bought 3 meter in fuchsia for this dress. Did I say AMAZING yet?

So let’s take a look shall we and talk about the good:

(Please ignore that I am missing a button, I have no idea where it went!)

So obviously I love the double knit skirt. After a few sample tests to find the best needle/tension combo, it stitched up beautifully. Also, I didn’t need to finish the edges so the seams look nice and clean under the fitted skirt.

The fit is really good, although I do feel a little bit self conscious. The minimal ease means the sizing is more “true”, I stitched a straight size 10 and required no adjustments although I will admit I should have done a FBA.

I’m not sure if it got changed in the final version but I doubled up my collar pieces, no one wants to see the “wrong” side of the fabric.

At first glance the sleeves are cute (we’ll get back to them in a second) and the front shield is clever and worth stealing as an idea for other button front projects. I’ve already said I really should have done an FBA on this bodice (I can often get away without it) so luckily the front shield helps with the little bit of any gape-age.

The inside of the dress is finished very clean, the upper bodice fully lined.

Although this pattern is rated advanced I think that it is a great pattern to try for a first lined dress, it’s not really a huge leap from a skirt and a blouse joined together. The instructions are very thorough, I found the rating confusing, so much detail and “hand-holding” (also a million notches, too many imo) really makes this a pattern that an advanced beginner/intermediate sewist could tackle.

And now the not-so-good:

I originally intended to make the version with ruffles however I found it very difficult to finished them evenly on the overlocker. I used a rolled hem which was beautiful until I got to the tight curves where it didn’t hold together too well. Iย finishedย them all, and othersย obviouslyย have as well, but the standard of finish was just not high enough for me and the suggested method of attaching left me feeling very Becky-home-ecky so I decided to leave them off. You might be able to finished them better with a different fabric or by increasing the pattern piece size to give your overlocker more to “grab” onto.

I also omitted the pockets. I tried on 4 different pairs of knickers before I found one that gave me no VPL so I have no idea how you could possibly hide the pocket bags on such a fitted skirt.

Now, let’s get back to those cute-but-evil sleeves, thisย is how high I can lift my arms:

They are very tight, I can’t swing my arms forward either. They are so tight in fact that after a day of usual wear I have a deep mark across each upper arm.ย I have worn this dress only twice (three times if you count this photo shoot) since making it because of how much it hurts my arms. I can’t do simple things like drive my car, eat or use a computer while wearing it.

Obviously I gave feedback about this and I was looking forward to comparing the new pattern piece and re-cutting the sleeves so I have to admit I was really disappointed to see that the sleeve was not changed on the final cut. Perhaps I was the only pattern tester who couldn’t lift their arms? Do my arms look gigantic? I strongly suggest you make a muslin of the sleeve to test before cutting and make any changes you need.

So that’s it! ๐Ÿ™‚ If I can be bothered one day I will have a go at re-drafting the sleeve because apart from that it’s a nice dress.


Pattern –ย Lolita Patterns #3013 Sugar Plum (testing), size 10

Fabric โ€“ย Top: Rayon remnant from my stash, approx 1.2m x 114cm wide – Joveeba relocation sale, Perth. Skirt: Double knit/ponte, approx 0.7m x 154cm wide – Arthur Toye,ย Wellington. Lining: From my stash – Empire Rose sale, Perth.

Other notions – Buttons, invisible zipper.

Harri was enjoying some outside time while I was taking photos. She has discovered the Kowhai tree and LOVES climbing. Aww look at that liddle face! ๐Ÿ™‚

PS: If you are reading this in a reader or other means please click through for a look at my new redesigned blog, I’m quite proud of it, I’d love to hear what you think.

34 thoughts on “Dance of the Sugar Plum…Dress

  1. Pingback: Sugar Plum–A long long time coming | Sewing Adventures In The Attick

  2. I wanted to test this pattern too, but unfortunately I was to late with my reply… Makes me even more sad now that I see your great Sugar Plum. I love the buttons! They are really really cute! I’d say good choice for not adding the ruffle to the center front, I think it would have been a bit too much, the ruffles at the neckline are just the right touch for your fabric!
    It’s a pity the sleeves are too narrow, I sometimes have the same problem. But the gathers on the sleeves look really cute.
    The blog looks really nice! I love the background and really like the circular recent projects! Great work!

    • Thanks Wendy. It’s a shame you missed out on offering to test, hopefully they put out the call next pattern.

      I’ll get to those pesky sleeves one day, then it will be perfect ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. This is so pretty and incredibly flattering on you, love the fabric combination. You’ll have to just wear it when you can keep your arms down! Do you have enough fabric to swap out the sleeves for say a plain cap sleeve?

  4. The Sugar Plum is definitely one for the office hey! The shape/features of the dress are great, but it is a pitty about the arms – that is a game changer. I love LOVE your choice of buttons, they are so sweat and the button loops & placard look right at home on the dress.

    The spring clean of your blog looks awesome. I love your background – that is a definite keeper ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Another superb outfit. Love the fabric and love the flower buttons. Sometimes I think there should be a small piece of stretch fabric under the arm, just in case you wanted to put your bag in the overhead locker! lol Maybe that’s why in the old days, men rushed to help women because their clothes were so restrictive! lol

  6. The dress looks lovely, you’ve done a beautiful job. I love the fabric you’ve used and those are seriously cute buttons. Wow that sleeve looks incredibly narrow, that definitely wouldn’t fit me either. I love this dress though and it’s on my wish list and it looks like slashing and spreading should solve that problem.

    • Yes I think a good old fashioned slash and spread would sort it out, I think when I get to it I’ll just compare it to a sleeve from a favourite pattern that I know works and see what the differences are ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Your dress looks lovely, too bad you need to walk around like a robot to wear it! Welcome to the world of ponti – it’s lovely fabric to sew with and wear

  8. The new blog looks nice and thanks for the thorough review! Do you think that the arm holes were not high enough perhaps? Or is it that the sleeves are too tight? Wondering….

    • I think the arm hole is ok, perhaps a bit more depth in the back but mostly the sleeves just need more circumference so maybe slash and spread? I’ll probably compare them to a sleeve I know works for me and see where the differences are.

  9. I love the new look of your blog. It is so clean and neat and fresh looking! The dress looks nice- I am sorry about the sleeves! I bought the pattern and will definitely take in to account your suggestions. I appreciate that you pointed this out and will DEFINITELY make a muslin WITH sleeves! ๐Ÿ™‚ ~Laurie

  10. I’m pleased your review is honest, and it’s made me think quite long and hard about buying this pattern. I *always* have trouble with sleeves on garments due to my larger upper arms, and sleeves are tricky beasts to alter. Coupled with the fact it’s a dressier garment I probably wouldn’t find much occasion to wear, I think I won’t be buying it any time soon.

    Also, I think your website looks good! Clean and easy to navigate.

    • I’m glad I’ve helped you make your mind up Kirsty – it’s important to buy patterns and make items that suit your body and your lifestyle, it’s taken me a while to work that out, believe it or not! ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. It’s really pretty and I know we all appreciate honesty in your review. Sometimes I feel people sugarcoat their experiences with indie patterns. You got a great result and I hope you do revisit the sleeves-it would be a shame to let this languish in your closet ๐Ÿ™‚ it’s a sweet look on you! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • It’s important not to sugarcoat too much, we should all be as honest as we can to encourage each other…wait until you see tomorrows post, it’s got a great confession, I think you in particular will enjoy it! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  12. The mobile version of your site looks gorgeous! I was worried you’d got rid of the pattern background thingy, which I’ve always loved ๐Ÿ™‚

    I’ve always had trouble with sleeves and since I always wear cardigans I just make all my tops/dresses sleeveless. I think my upper arms are not in proportion to the rest of my body, ah well ๐Ÿ™‚ except for the fact it took me forever to find any information of how to adjust sleeve patterns.

    • I can’t take any credit for the mobile version, WordPress have just upgraded the mobile side ๐Ÿ™‚ And I did take the background away for a while but I missed it, glad you like it, thanks

      My usual arm/sleeve problem is too much sleeve cap to ease and I end up with puffy sleeves – I just made up two Papercut patterns and the sleeves went in beauitfully, no excess ease/puffyness, it was bliss, so it can be done! This is the first time I’ve come across super tight sleeves, ahh, sewing! ๐Ÿ˜€

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