From the outset, I admit that I'm a nosey little beggar who can't resist being in the know. I read soap spoilers on a regular basis, I turn to the last page of a book before reading the rest of it first and I fast forward to the end of WWE pay per views to find out the results. So, when the opportunity occurred to try and test Experimental Space's new Rosalee Dress pattern before its release, then how could I resist?
Normally, when pattern companies ask for testers, I seem to have a lot of other things going on, meaning that I can never be confident of finishing my testing in the set time period. However, when Andrea asked for testers of her new pattern, I had just submitted my assignment of my digital marketing degree after painstakingly working on it for the last three months and I felt I deserved a little treat, so I signed up with no hesitation! As the testing period was time constrained (just one week to complete the toiles and finished dress), I could not have done it if I had had any other commitments as well.
The Rosalee maxi dress looked right up my street; I'd never made a maxi dress before and I liked the special open back detail. Also, being a stockist of Experimental Space's other patterns, I know what a stickler Andrea is for making the inside of a garment as pretty as the outside, so I was excited to see how she was constructing this dress.
The testers had to provide their own fabric. In this case, it was 3.5m of a lightweight fabric, so I chose a lovely viscose that we've had in the shop for a couple of months and have had my eye on for a while! As well as that, we needed extra fabric for making toiles, so I just used a lightweight calico. Andrea asked us to at least make a toile of the bodice (if not the whole dress) so we could check the bust dart placement, comfort of the straps and to make sure our back bra straps didn't make an unwelcome appearance through the back opening! The only changes I made (along with a few other testers) were to lower the neckline slightly and scoop out the armholes to make the dress more comfortable; both changes that were included in the final pattern. Note, that this was the first toile I EVER MADE!!! I know, shocking!! :)
Andrea's instructions were fab from the start; I went through them with a fine tooth comb and I could only find a few things that could do with changing. However, in amongst them is quite frankly the most comprehensive explanation of the burrito method you will ever come across!! Despite having done this quite a few times, I can never remember what I'm meant to do (and I still have no idea how it actually works - it seems like magic!) and if I don't have good instructions in front of me, I tend to have to Google it to double check. Not this time! This is the first time when everything wen to plan just by reading the instructions, which was a good job as you have to do it THREE TIMES!!! By the end of it, I was burrito-ing anything that stood still!
The dress has an invisible zip at the side, which is a nice place for it as if it isn't perfect, at least it's hidden a bit by your arm!
TOP TIP: The pattern called for a 16" zip, but I only had a 22" one to hand, so I carefully made a new stopper where I wanted to the zip to end by over-sewing by hand and then trimming off the excess zip.
The method for inserting the zip is different to one I've come across before which involves basting the whole side seam together, sewing in the zip and then removing the basting stitches to reveal the zip. Many of the testers found this method a lot easier than the standard method, but I'm a bit of a traditionalist and I think I'll stick to the old-fashioned way myself. I'll let you decide which way you prefer!
One excellent design feature of this dress is that it has MAHOOSIVE pockets! I'm talking pockets that are big enough to hold your phone, purse, keys, tissues and an emergency Crunchie without hesitation! So what if all that weighs you down enough to give you an odd limp? It's strength building! :)
Finally, can we take a moment to swoon at the open back detail? This opening is in the ideal place so if you have a back complex (like me) you can be confident that not too much is on show, but just enough to add a bit of sex-ay to your outfit!
I really enjoyed my experience as pattern tester. I would definitely do it again, if ever the stars aligned again and I had the time to commit to it, and if you've ever thought about doing it yourself then bear in mind it is time consuming, but very rewarding to think that you've had a hand in helping to make a pattern the best it can be. What I also took away from my experience is that it is amazing how different everyone is. Our group of ladies were all different shapes and sizes and we all came away with lovely looking dresses!
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