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 😉

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 has 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. I finished them all, and others obviously 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, this 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. 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! 🙂 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 – Lolita Patterns #3013 Sugar Plum (testing), size 10

Fabric – 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, 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! 🙂

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.