I've got some exciting news for you today! There's a new indie pattern company in town! I've long admired not only the classic and sophisticated style of Sally from Charity Shop Chic but her ability to turn at first glance ugly garments into beautiful pieces with some pattern cutting magic. So you can imagine how excited I was when she revealed to me a couple of months ago that she was releasing her own line of PDF sewing patterns as Capital Chic Patterns. (FYI I am lucky enough to count Sally as a friend and cocktail buddy but all the opinions I share with you here are unbiased and honest)
I was so happy to be asked to test and I knew I wanted to test the Martini Dress from the second I saw the preview. I love the flattering illusion the boxy crop top and (boned!) fitted high waist creates plus the shaping of the armholes and length of the skirt is so chic. I decided to go for it and try out the midriff flashing trend that is so popular at the moment so made up the two piece view B. There's also the option to make this up as a one piece which looks like separates if you are wary of having skin on show. I feel comfortable in this as it is but if making up this variation again would definitely add a little length to the crop top as I am wary of flashing something I don't want to! I'm fairly short, particularly in the body so if you are on the tall side you will definitely need to add some length.
I cut a size 2 and the fit was pretty much spot on straight out of the printer. Along with lengthening the crop top by and inch or two I might taper this bottom edge in slightly for some added security but apart from that it all sits really nicely. I used a stretch cotton sateen which I picked up ages ago in Unique Fabrics on Goldhawk Road. It's really great stuff and they have a great range of colours if you are looking for some solid sateen. I only needed 1.2 metres (150cm wide) to make this up! You can make the Martini in a non stretch fabric but I think I would recommend a woven with a teeny bit of stretch like this sateen as it does make it slightly easier to sit and manoeuvre in. I love the snug fit of the waist and skimming fit over the hips and a bit of give in the fabric meant I didn't have to compromise the look of this.
I can only speak for this pattern and the White Russian Sweatshirt which I also tested but I'm sure my thoughts about the pattern instructions translate across all the patterns as I know a lot of work went into these. The construction methods described involve some slightly more advanced techniques than other indie patterns I have come across and give you a beautiful clean finish. For me this all resulted in a garment that was one step closer to professional than my normal makes are. In fact this was intended as a wearable muslin but I'm so pleased with the construction it will definitely be getting worn to drink a cocktail or two!
Although these patterns are aimed at dressmakers with some experience I definitely think they would be a great choice if you are feeling confident with beginner patterns and want to step your sewing up a notch. The instructions may be more brief in places than you are used to but the more complicated steps are explained thoroughly and clearly. There were a couple of tricks involved which I had never tried before and I'm really pleased with the result first go.
So if you're tempted to challenge yourself what exactly is involved in making this up? Well it's fully lined, and the instructions for the skirt in particular ensure this is done in the absolute neatest fashion. I always like clean and tidy insides and it makes it so lovely to wear! The lining is mainly attached by machine, with the exception being caught to the edge of the zip on the crop top by hand. There's a really fun 'rolling' technique used to finish the armholes which reminded me of the 'burrito' method for constructing shirt yokes. I chose to use a purple silk habotai (china silk) I had lurking in my stash. It's possibly a little lightweight to be serving as the base to attach the boning too but everything stays in place when worn and it's nice against the skin.
One aspect of this make that I felt a little nervous about was the open-ended zip needed for the crop top as I'd never installed one before. It was just as straightforward as any other zip though and Sally has a great method for inserting both this and the zip of the skirt. You might want to hold off buying your zip until you've either made a muslin or sewn up enough to work out how long your want your crop top and therefore how long you need your zip to be, although it is possible to shorten them anyway. I got my zip from Maculloch and Wallis where I also got the sew in boning which I highly recommend. It gives just the right amount of support whilst still allowing some amount of flexibility plus it's so easy to use; just cut to length with normal scissors and sew it straight on to your lining by machine! Whilst we're on the subject of boning I must say I adore the inclusion of it in this pattern. This was the first time I'd used boning in any of my projects (with the exception of my tutu which was an entirely different kettle of fish!) and I had such fun with it. Sally's diagram to explain placement is fab and it really helps keep that
The one part I did come unstuck with was lining the centre back vent of the skirt. I read through the instructions a few times and did a bit of a google but was feeling pretty puzzled; it seems the construction of a lined vent is pretty hard to explain! In the end I just ploughed on ahead and gave it a whirl, the worst that could happen is a bit of unpicking after all. I'm not sure if I did it the right way but it ended up turning out beautifully! I have never felt so proud of any part of my finishing. I did feed back to Sally that I didn't feel I understood this correctly and I know she has reworked the instructions and illustrations for this part so fingers crossed you should now have no problems! She's also planning on putting up a tutorial complete with photographs for this step on the Capital Chic blog in the near future.
Sally, thank you for the fantastic pattern and congratulations! May there be many more patterns, successes and cocktails to come! I'll be back soon with my pattern test version of the White Russian Sweatshirt which I can't wait to share with you! Have you checked out the whole of the first Capital Chic collection yet? Which are your favourites?
|Sally and I at fellow Spoolette Roisin's Hen Do. Photo courtesy of What Katie Sews|