Itch to Stitch: The Marbella Dress in spring floral and a pattern giveaway!

Thursday 6 November 2014
When I accidentally came home month last with a few unplanned purchases from the Remnant Warehouse during their recent sale (admitted to in this post), I thought about making a boat neck tulip shaped dress from the vibrant cotton sateen I had purchased. Much like this short sleeved version I made in fuschia cotton drill using one of my most favourite Burda patterns - #128 of 8/2009 (which I've also made in elbow length sleeve version and even a maternity version!)

But of course since my sewing supplies are now spread between my house, my parents house and the back of my car during open house inspections (where I stash lots of bits and pieces actually!) the pattern was proving a little hard to locate. Then out of the blue I received an email from Kennis Wong, the designer behind Itch to Stitch patterns, offering me her Marbella dress pattern to try out (and presumably publicise here on my blog). And it turns out the Marbella is a boat neck tulip skirt dress, exactly what I was after so of course I accepted.

Image via Itch to Stitch
Now you've probably noticed I don't sew many indie patterns, or get involved in pattern testing. To cut a long rant short, while I think it's great that people are following their dreams to make a sewing pattern, I'd prefer to buy patterns that have been drafted by properly trained pattern makers. I also don't want to pay a lot of money for basic patterns - wrap skirts, shapeless shift dresses and tracksuit pants are just not unique enough for me to part with top dollar. I also don't like pattern testing because I don't like the pressure to make something in a given time and I find it awkward giving criticisms.

So why have I done it this time? Well, Kennis has been sewing for more than just a few years, and while she's not a trained pattern maker the Marbella dress has been pattern tested and reviewed (by more generous bloggers than me!) so I thought I'd give it a chance. Plus it was exactly the pattern I was after so I took that as a sign. And here's my version:



I have to say, I think this fabric is so pretty that it wouldn't matter what pattern I used it would still look good. But that said, I do quite like this pattern although it took quite a bit of work to get it fitting right and it's still not quite perfect but acceptable enough to wear.

The good:

  • the pattern not only comes in sizes 00 to 20, but also comes in cup sizes A to D which hopefully means that for most of us there's no need to do a  fiddly bust adjustment. I made an A cup and the fit at the front came out perfectly:

  • the PDF is better than most I've seen - it has layers built in so that you can select what size to print so you don't have numerous confusing lines. I printed out two sizes so that I could grade between my bust and hip measurements, and only having two lines made it much easier. Also the pages are watermarked to help make it easier to put together, and the pattern pieces are well located on the pages so that you don't get a pattern that is on four corners of four separate pieces of paper.
  • the dress has a yoke at the front and back plus side panels which would really look great colour blocked or piped, although I've gone with a fabric that mostly hides these details!

The iffy:

  • fitting patterns to our bodies is such an individual thing that no pattern could ever be perfectly drafted for, so it's almost silly to criticise on a fitting issue. But I'm about to anyway, mainly because I did notice the same issue I had on a few of the tester's versions. I used an A cup pattern for the bodice, and the fit on the front was perfect but the back was really quite large with a bulge in the centre of my back. And unfortunately you can't discover that until the dress is pretty much fully assembled so I had to unpick the yoke, princess seams and side seams as well as the invisible dress to take it in 1cm at each seam line at the back. And as for the bulge at the back, I noticed that the pattern piece for the back princess seam is as curved (if not more curved) than the front:

I didn't have any other princess seamed patterns around to compare it to see if this is normal, but even though I have quite sticky out shoulder blades I don't have any boobs on my back so I couldn't quite understand why the curve would be so pronounced! Anyway I straightened the curve out and it then fitted much better.
  • I had a huge amount of excess fabric at the top of the skirt at the back. I tried pinning it out in another dart to get a better fit but then it was too tight to sit down so I had just had to leave it as is. It is noticeable though (the wrinkles below my belt there at the back):

I think it's happening because there is so much extra ease in the front due to the pleats, that it gets pulled around to the back when I move because the back skirt is quite fitted. When I try on my other tulip shaped dresses I can see the same issue (although to a lesser extent) so it's not a criticism of this pattern specifically, just an observation of this style of dress.

My verdict:

I quite like this pattern, despite my complaining above! I didn't make a muslin so it was to be expected that some fitting alterations involving substantial unpicking would be needed. But now I've got those bits sorted out the next time should be much easier and quicker to sew because this pattern isn't complicated or difficult. So I probably will make another version eventually, in contrasting fabrics if I could ever decide on what fabrics to use.

Want to try it yourself?

So hopefully I havne't put you off this pattern, it really is a lovely style and having to work on the fit is no different from practically any pattern. I see that the pattern is currently on sale over at Itch to Stitch, but Kennis has graciously given me a pattern to give away to a lucky reader as well. It's a PDF pattern so it's open to anyone living anywhere with an internet connection! Just leave a comment about what you like on this post by Wednesday 12 November, and I'll pick someone at random.

Disclaimer - I was given this pattern free of charge to try with no strings attached and I think I've given an unbiased review. I was offered an affiliate link for patterns purchased via my blog but I declined the offer - if you choose to buy it, good for you and Kennis! 

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