Sunday, February 5, 2012

Pattern Review: Brooke Dress

The AuthorLittle Lizard King
Pattern Difficulty: 1 out of 5

Fabric and Pattern
Fabric Choices:  Pink and Purple (cotton woven) (for 2 tops), Valentines prints (cotton woven) for 2 dresses, Tinkerbell and accent (cotton woven) for 1 dress

Why I chose this pattern:
I had one of my best friend's little girls had a birthday a couple week ago.  Since little girls all love spinning dresses and princesses, what better to make than a spinning skirt with princesses embroidered on it.  The only problem I have was I needed a top to match (not many people have princess tops laying around).  Thankfully I had the awesome Brooke Dress and top in my pattern stash.  Giving me the chance to not only make a wonderful birthday gift for this special little girl, but also to knock out my first sewing challenge for January.

What I disliked about the pattern:
There wasn't a lot I didn't like about the pattern.  However, if I had to pick a couple things;
-I would have liked to see more pictures of the different variations on this pattern, particularly in the sleeves.  -Personally I like more pictures with models showing off a finished pattern since it helps to inspire me with different fabric combinations etc.
-I also would have liked to have seen a casing option for the shorter sleeve, although that was easy enough to add on, so not a huge deal.

What I liked about the pattern:  
-I found the directions easy to follow and the pictures were very thorough and helpful.
-I was able to make my first top start to finish (including cutting) in 1 hour and 15 mins.  This time included reading through the new pattern, cutting, and sewing (with lots of stops for re-reading).  After the first top, I was able to go back and make another 3 dresses and 1 top in about 2-3 hours (including cutting).
-I loved the fact that with a yd of fabric I was able to make 2 tops or dresses, depending on the size.
-The sleeve options gave me very different looks and I LOVED that.  I was able to make a few short sleeve options for my friends here in FL, and some longer sleeved options for my friends in OR.  
-The pattern printed out wonderfully, giving me little opportunity for error.
-Since this is an e pattern, I was also able to save it to my hard drive and will be able to print it out over and over.
- It also have a very large size range, going from doll size (which you could use on a premie or infant) up to size 12.
- I found the sizing pretty true to store bought clothing as well.  I guessed my friends kids sizes based on their ages and sizes and the outfits fit wonderfully.
- This pattern was super fun to make and very, very versatile.

Dress Short Sleeve Option
Top Short Sleeve Option
<Brooke Top- Short sleeve option 4T (I bought 1 yd of these 2 fabrics which was enough to make a twirl skirt and this top, plus a couple of bows)

Brooke Dresses- Short Sleeve Option             >                                              
 (I bought 1 yd of each fabric and was able to make both dresses, plus have enough left over for either 1 more small dress, or multiple hairbows)                                                              
This is a very special Tinkerbell dress I made for a little princess that loves fairies.                                                                This dress was done with the 3/4 sleeve option 

Things I changed or improvised on:
Since this pattern was so versatile, there were a couple things I felt I could easily change, without really changing the spirit of the pattern.  For 1, I added a sleeve casing on the short sleeved options.  The pattern called for the elastic to just be sewn into the sleeve, leaving it exposed to the child's skin, personally I didn't like this, so I just folded over my "hem" 1 more time to make the casing.  This did take a little more fabric than I originally anticipated, especially on the smaller dress, since those sleeves are already so tiny.  Next time I will be sure to add a little to the length of the sleeves to make the casing a little easier to make.  I also sewed this together in a little bit of a different order than called for.  For instance, after cutting out the pieces, I sewed the boarder on first, then the sleeves, etc.  I also always press where my hem is going to be before I start sewing, it makes it MUCH easier to get the hem to come out mice and neat.  I did not use the allotted seam allowance (I used 3/8", out of habit), and I did serge all the seams.

Other changes I plan to make:
Next time I make this top/ dress I think I'm going to try a 3/4 sleeve and add a ruffle to the bottom of the sleeve and the top/ dress.  I'd like to see how that looks, I think it would make for some super cute dresses.

Would I make this pattern again?
I definitely plan to make this again.  At least 5 or 100 more times.  This is perfect for last minute birthday gifts, stash buster days, giveaways, baby showers, or even "pillow case" type dress drives.  I think these dress came out beautiful.  I only wish I had more pictures of all these pretty little girls wearing their dresses.  I'll edit and add them once I grab some pictures :)

Would you recommend this pattern to a beginner?
I definitely think this is a beginner pattern.  I plan to teach my 12 year old how to make it, since I feel it's just that simple.  This pattern had few pattern pieces, easy to follow directions, and was very simple to put together.  I feel anyone that can sew a straight stitch could easily do this.

I was not paid nor did I receive compensation of any kind to write this review.  This is a pattern I purchased for myself and decided to to a review on. The opinions within this post are solely those of the author.  If you have any questions or if there is something you would like me to add to the next review please jot me a note.   

The Challenge- Stash Attack!

After having a conversation with a friend we both decided we have too many untouched patterns and WAY too much fabric to go with them.  Personally, I could cloth my entire family (or a small village) for probably several years.  I have bolts of fabric.  I have bins of fabric.  I have shelves of fabric.  I have closets full of fabric.  And because I ran out of room I have a table COVERED in fabric.  I have fabric I bought to sell.  Fabric I bought to make things.  Fabric I bought and forgot.  I always have the best of intentions, but it just seems like at the end of the day, time has run out and I still have fabric.  

Patterns?  Well those aren't as obvious, since I only have 1 bin of those.  Now with this nifty new way to purchase patterns and have them emailed, most of them are on my computer, or printed and in a file drawer, binder or sitting in my cutting room just waiting to be sewn.  I have a much easier time purchasing patterns, since my husband never sees them, since they don't technically come into the house (at least they aren't delivered by the man in the black and purple shirt), they must therefore not exist.  I think if my husband ever found out the number of downloadable patterns I own, well we'll just leave it at it wouldn't be pretty.

My husband has grown accustomed to my small quirks and ummm obsessions.  The fact is I LOVE buying fabric and I LOVE buying patterns.  There really is no feeling like the one of the FedEx guy pulling up with boxes of fabric.  Opening the box to find an entire stash of bolts, colorful, bright, beautiful.  You mind races with thoughts of everything those pretty fabric will become, skirts, dresses, shirts, tops, the list goes on and on.  Things you could make, things you want to make and even things you need to make.  But the sad truth in my life is, more fabric comes in than ever gets sewn.  This has become quite a problem here in the last year or so as we gear up to finish some construction we put on hold while Phil was in school.  So now what to do with all this fabric and all these patterns.  

The simple answer was start sewing, but really I just can't force myself to sew, I just have too much going on. So as I discussed this with my friend and then with my Facebook group Me Time Sewing I found I wasn't alone.  Knowing it wasn't me just hoarding all the lovely fabric, that I wasn't the only one that didn't want to cut those beautiful prints, that others were as intimidated by the patterns and trying the new techniques they held as I was, was well, encouraging.  Then Megan challenged me.  In a side comment, just making a joke she said, "We should agree to sew 1 pattern every month until we've been through all our patterns".  Ok, hold on Megan, let's start small.  Let's try and go a year, then we'll talk a life time :) Thus The Challenge was born.  

I put the challenge to my group, challenging all of them, the way Megan challenged me.  Sew 1 pattern each month from your stash.  For extra credit try and ONLY use the fabrics you ALREADY have.  Soon we had a name for our project and people sewing.  We already have people (me included ;) that have sewn their February (before Feb even began!) projects.  We have people trying things they never thought they would get to try, and lots and lots of people there to help when we get stuck.  

The Challenge:
Each month for the next 12 months, sew 1 pattern out of your pattern stash.  Pick something you have been wanting to do forever or something you picked up last month.  But sew something.  Use fabric from your stash to complete the project.  At the end of the year, you should have at least 12 new projects and at least 12 less patterns you can say, I own it but never got to sew it.  So how about it?  Would you like to join us?  What will you sew today?