Sunday, 29 June 2014

Pattern Testing: The Martini Dress from Capital Chic

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) 

She's started with a bang with a collection of six gorgeous womenswear designs, each with multiple variations and print-at-home or print-at-copy shop options. The designs are focused on workwear, cocktail wear and day-to-night looks and are intended to have a modern, fashionable feel with clean lines and well thought out details. They are also each named after a well known cocktail which suits Sally down to the ground! The patterns are currently available in sizes UK10-18 and come complete with fully illustrated instructions. I'm delighted that they are designed with intermediate to advanced sewers in mind and so give indie pattern lovers the opportunity to try out some new techniques and develop their skills. Make sure to check out the whole Summer line here.

Diary of a Chainstitcher: Capital Chic Martini Dress Two Piece

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.

Diary of a Chainstitcher: Capital Chic Martini Dress Two Piece

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.

Diary of a Chainstitcher: Capital Chic Martini Dress Two Piece

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.

Diary of a Chainstitcher: Capital Chic Martini Dress Two Piece

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.

Diary of a Chainstitcher: Capital Chic Martini Dress Two Piece

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

Diary of a Chainstitcher: Capital Chic Martini Dress Two Piece

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.

Diary of a Chainstitcher: Capital Chic Martini Dress Two Piece

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

42 comments:

  1. Hello gorgeous!!! You look sensational in this (I knew you would) and your insides are exquisite :-)
    I really appreciate all of your help throughout the testing progress, thank you so much!
    Thanks also for posting such an honest review of this pattern. I agree with your comment that people might like to wait until they decide on the final length of their crop top to choose the right length of zip, as some types of separating zip can be tricky to shorten. I do agree that this pattern would be great for fabric with a slight stretch as it is designed to be very snug. If you're at all nervous about this, I recommend making a muslin prior to cutting your fashion fabric.
    Also, per your advice and some of the other testers, I did add extra words/diagrams to the lined vent instructions to make it easier to understand. I am planning to (eventually) have a photo-tutorial on the new company blog that people can refer to as well.
    Thanks again - I can't wait to see your sweatshirt!

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    1. You are so welcome Sally! Thanks so much for asking me to test I absolutely love this pattern and if you think I look great in it that's all down to you!
      Cheers! Clink clink to Capital Chic!

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  2. You look awesome! I love this colour on you, it's beautiful!

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    1. Thanks Emmie! Purple is one of my favourites! Plus every colour looks great in cotton sateen!

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  3. Fiona, this is absolutely gorgeous on you!! WOW! The color you chose is so sophisticated and flattering, the fit is spot on, and the finishing on the inside is really spectacular and professional. I'm blown away!! Great job using this new pattern to its full potential. The only thing missing from these photos is a cocktail in hand! :) Congrats on a superb project.

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    1. Thanks so much! I definitely missed a trick not posing with a cocktail didn't I?! The finishing is absolutely all down to the instructions, I'm incredibly proud of that vent!

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  4. That's gorgeous!! And I love the color too! I'm really curious about your take on the sweater :)

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    1. Thanks Nilla, I had this piece of sateen in my stash for ages and can't believe I haven't used it earlier now I know how beautiful it is sewn up! Sweatshirt coming soon!

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  5. This is eye-poppingly stunning! I love this pattern, it's so super cool and great to see the two-piece version made up. It looks so RTW as well and so tidy inside. I feel like my skills aren't quite there yet but I'd love to make this one day. Love that last pic of you two as well!

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    1. Thanks Katie! The fact that it's so on trend and RTW is one of the things I love about all of Sally's designs. You could absolutely tackle this Katie! The instructions are great and your sewing skills are definitely at this point!

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  6. Just wow! The colour is just gorgeous on you. Thanks for the in depth review and photos of the inside - it is beautifully finished.

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    1. Thanks Claire! You are very welcome, I'm very proud of the insides so wanted to show them off!

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  7. Must be my fave capital chic pattern ( but what a collection!) and this looks stunning!!!!!!!

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    1. Thanks Winnie! This was my favourite when I first saw the designs but I've got to say I really love the White Russian having made it now!

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  8. This is absolutely gorgeous on you! I really, really, really love it on you! So fab, girl!!!

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    1. Thank you Sonja! I love it even more than I thought I might, the fit is fab and it's so flattering!

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  9. This looks fantastic!! I really want to make this up for myself!! In EXACTLY the same color and fabric. You chose so well!

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    1. You'd look so fantastic in this Nettie! I can see it already! Please do make it!

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  10. Wow this is fabulous fiona! The fit looks perfect and what a great colour on you!

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    1. Thanks Jo! I was unsure that the purple was a bit bright when it was on the roll but now it's made up I'm in love!

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  11. your outfit is amazing! the colour is so lovely.
    I definitely want to make the White Russian sweatshirt, but also the Bellini blouse is SO CUTE. love the whole collection!

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    1. Thank you Rachel. The Bellini is stunning, I'm torn between making that and the Champagne skirt next! I highly recommend the White Russian as you'll see soon!

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  12. your look pretty good in that dress! Very successful one!

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    1. Thank you! I feel pretty good in it!

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  13. First time commenter on your blog! Thanks for the great review of this pattern, it looks gorgeous on you.

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    1. Welcome Sam! It's lovely to hear from a new reader and thank you for your lovely comment. Hopefully you'll like my White Russian too!

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  14. You look beyond fabulous in this dress / outfit and it looks as though it's beautifully finished! Bravo!

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    1. O thanks so much Vicki Kate! I'm very proud of this one. It's probably not a style I would have looked at in the shops but now I can't stop thinking about crop tops!

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  15. This is soo cute!! You look stunning in it, the color is really perfect for you and I am totally in love with that crop top. I'm definitely going to be making this, thanks for letting me know about it.

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    1. O I'm so glad I could introduce you to the pattern, you'll look fantastic in it! I'm plotting what fabric to use for the dress variation now!

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  16. I agree with everyone: you look gorgeous in this. Very chic and perfect on you.

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    1. Thank you! It's a very chic design and perfect for cocktail drinking isn't it?!

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  17. Absolutely beautiful! This was the standout pattern in the collection for me, so it's lovely to see it made up and reviewed - thanks!

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    1. It's definitely the one that grabbed my attention first! Thank you Danielle!

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  18. Gosh Fiona it looks gorgeous on you!! Stunning - you really do look ready for a hot night out on the town ;-) It's certainly a pattern I'll keep in mind if I have a special 'do' to attend!

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    1. O definitely do! I can't wait to play around with the crop top some more, perhaps for some more casual looks too. Thank you!

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  19. You look fabulous in the Martini Dress, and I very much appreciate seeing all of your photos of the insides. I have been sewing for only a year now, so I am a little bit intimidated by the special couture techniques, but intent on trying them on the one-piece version of the Martini Dress. In the meantime, I ordered the White Russian pattern last night, within moments of seeing it. I cannot wait to start working on my quilted lion shirt.

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    1. O fantastic! I really enjoyed sewing up White Russian so I hope you do too. The instructions for the Martini are really great so once you feel confident with basic sewing techniques I definitely recommend trying this out as a challenge to step up your skills. There's nothing horrendously complicated involved if you take your time. Good luck!

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  20. Wow, you look ridiculously chic in this. I definitely would want to make this, although I'd have to lengthen that crop top because I'd be scared of giving everyone an underboob alert, haha! I think it's really nice though, sexy without being too revealing.

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    1. Thank you! That's exactly how I feel about it! I think I probably will lengthen the crop top next time as I do feel a little wary of what I might be flashing if I lift my arms. But for drinking cocktails it's just about perfect!

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  21. This is stunning! Perfect on you :)

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I love hearing from readers of my blog so please feel free to leave a comment letting me know what you thought about this post/make! Any hints or tips to improve my sewing are always much appreciated too!