February 12, 2014

Maggie Misses Dress by Violette Field Threads

Whew! School is finally back and I feel like I can spend a little more time sewing and blogging again. Today I'm sharing a review on Violette Field Threads latest women's pattern release - the Maggie Misses Dress. Here's the cover pic of the dress on their beautiful model.

As per usual, the photos of their dresses are amazing - I don't know where they dig up all these beautiful photogenic people from, but the cover I think definitely makes you want to buy this pattern.
I actually pattern tested this pattern around a month ago, which means that I got to give it a really good working over. For those that haven't pattern tested before, it is not something that you volunteer for willy nilly. Its a big thing for someone to entrust their pattern to you and to let you read though, sew it up and critique it. And you have to be prepared to give it the time it deserves. Ive been getting requests to test quite a bit of late and I have to say that I am starting to get  a bit picky with what I will and won't test. I was delighted to test this pattern for these two ladies.
The Maggie Misses dress has a vintage feel, but with a modern take on it. It is an empire waisted dress, and the instructions include a lovely belt if you choose to make it. The dress is suitable for both knits and wovens and does suit a wide range of body shapes and sizes. I think my absolute favourite thing about this dress is the hemline. It is beautiful.

I ended up making two versions of this dress for the purposes of testing. The first version was a little big and I don't have many pictures to put up of it. I suspected it would be too big, but when pattern testing it is really important to stick to the sizes that the pattern indicates you should cut. Even if it is a bit big, like this, its really important for the pattern makers to understand that, so that they can adjust the pattern accordingly before it goes to sale. I personally expect adjustments to be necessary with pattern testing, especially for women, and enjoy being involved in the whole process.

My second version I went with my gut a little more and opted for a smaller bodice size and a more slimline skirt. The fit was way better and I'm really happy with the results. I also fiddled around with a shorter sleeve length and  modified the back slightly.

I do feel that I need to make a comment about the photos. I did let the girls down somewhat with them - I had big plans on heading on down to Blue's Point and getting some fab shots with the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House in the background. Somewhere in my deluded thoughts, I though this would be straightforward to juggle with two kids into their 6th week of school holidays (bored silly) and a third - a 1 year old who had had enough of her brothers! And of course the week of the testing happened to be that week where temperatures soared and it was ridiculously hot. Anyway, the trip to Blue's point never happened, we ended up in my friend's lovely garden instead, where I got plenty of good pictures of Zoe (blog post coming on that one) in her girls version of this dress), but right when it was time to get photos of me, one of the boys dropped the camera despite being told NOT to touch it, and broke it, which left me with the good old iphone. Not exactly a great camera.
So these shots of me are at home out the back with the 5 year old taking pictures of me. Not exactly the professional shots that were asked for.

Anyway, I called my friend Analiese and she took a few quick pictures for me to get some better quality photos. Thanks Analiese, you are a real trooper.

I ended up really loving the second version of the dress I made, but foolishly sewed it up in a rayon blend knit from Girl Charlee. This has caused great frustration for me as it is really bad quality fabric. It has faded substantially after just a few washes and will pill very soon. I plan on making myself another from a better quality fabric very soon, but just haven't found the fabric that sings "Maggie" to me. I did just order some amazing cotton lawn from MissMatatabi (that lady has got some beautiful fabrics in her shop - pretty sure the upcoming double gauzes that are due in in March are going to really blow my budget) and I am hoping when I see them in person that I will find one perfect for another Maggie. ONe thing I love about this pattern is that it is suited for both knits and wovens! Awesome.
 So a few technical things on the Maggie. I think this is an advanced beginner/intermediate sewing pattern. The instructions are brilliant and will walk you through every single step, but it is not a dress that you only allow yourself and hour to whip up. By the time you've made a couple it does get quite quick, but there are some things that are essential to the design that can't be rushed. The shoulder yokes are the most fiddly thing with the pattern and it is important to allow them the time that they deserve, because they are soooo pretty when you get them right. Also the hemline needs to be sewn precisely to get it to drape properly. I personally LOVE the hemline.
 With regards to the fit of the pattern on your body - it is not a pattern that is easy to adjust after you finish it - you can't just run a side seam in here and there without taking alot of the garmet apart. For this purpose I would recommend you make a quick muslin to get the fit right, especially through the bust. I pretty much always make muslins when I sew for myself now regardless of the pattern. I have said this before, but sewing for women is not like sewing for girls - girls are so straight up and down and generally just fit a pattern. Women on the other hand can have identical measurements and completley different bodies, and if you want a professional looking garment that fits, making a muslin really helps. This is a beautiful and elegant dress and if you give it the time it deserves you will be really happy with the result.

 This dress may be a little low at the front and the back for some (whip out the push up bra ladies), but it is an easy adjustment to raise the neckline and back a little. Anyone who is unsure how to do this let me know, and I'll chuck some pictures up when I cut out my next dress. I think I will do this for my next dress, just in preparation for the dreaded cooler weather that will be on its way in another couple of months (I hate winter).
 Anyway, anyone who wants to read my review on sewing.patternreview.com please click here.
 This is a really beautiful dress, I feel really elegant yet somehow cool and chic when I wear in and not like a frumpy mother whose life only exists to do the school run. We've all felt like that....
Violette Field threads actually has a really awesome competition going on at the moment that gives you the chance to win all their patterns that will be released this year for free. Its like the most amazing belated Christmas pressie ever isn't it! Pop on over to their blog here and check it out. There is even a 25% discount code available for the pattern. This dress is perfect for the transeasonal weather like Spring and Autumn that is ocming up wherever in the world you may live.
 Thanks for having me pattern test for you Violette Field Threads. It was a pleasure as always to sew one of your lovely patterns and I'm really looking forward to seeing what those clever heads of yours come up to this year.

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