The start of 2023 has been great for my motivation to sew. One of my sewing goals this year was to really pick projects that help to develop my skills and to only sew items that I would wear repeatedly. Seems like an obvious goal but when I started sewing, a lot of garments were beyond my skills. I tried the big four patterns but often instructions were a bit illusive to a novice sewist like me. When Forget Me Not Patterns generously offered me a pattern for review, I was a bit worried about this, but the instructions and illustrations are one of the best I’ve ever sewn with.
The Valerie Raglan Dress was the pattern that I chose to review. It’s a dress with a fitted bodice and A-line skirt. The sleeves are raglan sleeves but are tailored with a dart at the shoulder, so it doesn’t have the bulky look of other raglan sleeved dresses or tops. There are so many sleeve options included with the pattern. I chose to sew the short sleeve with a flounce, there is also a long sleeve option with a cuff which I’m planning to sew for winter and there’s also the ¾ sleeve and short sleeve version. Along with all these options are also cup size options which is great for obvious reasons!
Fitting the pattern was a breeze with the comprehensive and logical instructions. In fact, the second page of the patterns gives such good instructions on how to choose which size to sew up. I fitted in the medium bust range, so that is equivalent to a B cup to C cup and my dress sizing was between the 38 and 40 for my measurements of 37 inch high bust, 33 inch waist and 38 inch hips. The pattern alteration tips were fantastic because I toiled bodice graded the size 38 bust to a 40 waist and hip. The other impressive thing about the pattern were the little notes that helped me to pause in my sewing so that I would go and check the fit physically. It’s such a good practise to develop as I didn’t have any sad surprises at the end of my sew.
Sometimes the mention of an invisible zipper sends a sewist screaming into the bush, but I had no problems installing it. I just followed the instructions step by step and before I knew it, I had installed it perfectly! It’s not a technique I’m familiar with but the result was the easiest invisible zipper I’ve ever installed, and this is even without an invisible zipper foot! It’s great to learn more professional techniques in a pattern. This was evident again with the facing attachment. This was attached using the stepped-back method. I watched the video and had a few attempts but unfortunately, I was unsuccessful, so I attached it my way. The great thing is, next time I come back to the pattern, I will try it again and I have the resources to help me.
The fabric I’ve sewn with is a rayon which has beautiful drape and is so good for summer. I’ve sewn a lot with rayon because it’s what I reach for in this heatwave called summer. Sometimes, I’ve read comments about the difficulty of sewing with rayon so I put together a little Instagram reels to share some of the tips that were generously shared with me.
Thanks for reading and happy sewing!
*Full Disclosure: Pattern was gifted for a review but all opinions expressed were my own.
Sewing the Niya Dress was a great adventure! It was a happy discovery when I won a PDF pattern from J. Desiree Studio Patterns by participating in the Sew Giving 22 Sewing challenge which was hosted by @yagabyrdsews. I chose the Niya dress because it had so many unique features and can also be sewn as a wide pants jumpsuit.
The bodice is quite loose initially and is attached to the skirt only by the front bodice. The back is open and there are two options. I chose to sew the half closed back but there is also a fuller opening as the other option. The skirt is gathered by elastic in the back and the front is initially sewn flat. While constructing the dress, I had a lot of doubts about if I was sewing it correctly, if the dress would suit me or whether I should construct it differently? I’m glad I stuck to the process and followed it until the end.
It really started to come together when I realised that the front bodice had a channel which I had accidentally sewed up. I used the seam ripper to reopen this to create a channel so that the ties could be fed through it. Both ties are then fed through the channel in the front skirt piece where the elastic for the side and back waistband are located. Once the ties are in, this creates tension in the front bodice which draws in the loose fabric in the front and prevents exposure from the side. The engineering was so interesting in this make as I couldn’t quite picture how it could come together without the traditional side seams.
Looking at the other Niya Dresses by other sewists, I can see that everyone managed to thread their ties through the channels however, I had a lot of trouble. It might have been that the rayon crepe I used did get a bit bulky once sewn. Instead, I halved the width of the ties and made them quite narrow which I really liked the look of. The pattern has the option of making shoulder channels for more ties, but it was already gathered in the front shoulder bodice. I loved the look as it was without the ties, so I left them off my dress.
The sizing of the Niya Dress is very flexible. I made the medium with a mini skirt option. With the open back, it would look beautiful as a jumpsuit or a ball dress with maxi skirt. I needed a summery beach dress so the mini dress version was the perfect version for me.
I was looking to purchase a basic tank top pattern in the Black Friday sales last year when it occurred to me that I already had the perfect pattern with the Hana Tank Top! I had sewn up the dress version previously but remembered that Patternscout Patterns are always such good value for the options that they offer. Sure enough, after digging out the pattern, the Hana can be also sewn up as a v-neck tank top pattern. There are so many options as it can be a cropped length, tie waist or as I’ve chosen, a curved high-low hem.
The bonus of sewing a familiar pattern is that I’ve already invested time and effort in sticking the PDF pattern together and I’ve already worked out the sizing. Now, saying that, I sewed up the size 12 for my size of 37-inch bust and 33-inch waist which was a good fit but for some reason the armscye is slightly tight under my arms. When I sew this pattern again, I’ll be sure to correct this by widening at the underarm area. The only reason I can think of for this to have occurred is that I may have installed the bias binding a bit too tightly in the tank top as this was certainly not an issue when I made the dress version.
The fabric I used was leftover linen from the Megan Nielsen Pattern Shop when there was still a physical shop to visit. Unfortunately, it has since closed which is a pity since there aren’t a wide variety of fabric and haberdashery shops around town. One of my sewing goals this year is to use up majority of my scrap fabric and leftover fabrics. I had about 1.5m of this lovely linen which was the perfect amount for the Hana tank top.
With each sew, I feel that I make a little progress either building the skill of sewing or working out a better way to construct a garment. In this sew, it was the curved hem that I made progress with. I’ve always felt that my curved hems were messy, and I didn’t like the way it would curl up with a folded finish. I could never iron the curves evenly or get close enough to the edge to make it even. Someone on Instagram shared how they made a facing to finish off their curved hem, so I decided to try it out and I’m pleased to say that this worked out perfectly! Definitely the way to go with a curved hem. Now it sits flat and even.