Summer always has me wanting to sew dresses in their hundreds but my wardrobe is well stocked with them so I've been trying to focus my sewing on separates and more practical items this year. However, a little while ago Sew Over It got in touch to see if I'd like to test their recently released Rosie Dress and I cracked! The main reason for this being that the pattern is based on a 1950s style dress they used to run a class for. It was a good few years ago when this class launched but I remember being so smitten with the design that I wrote to Lisa to ask if there was any chance the dress would be released as a pattern in it's own right. The answer then was possibly in the future and now that time has rolled around I could hardly say no could I?!
The dress has some really lovely features and options. There are three variations; one skirt and two dresses with wide or skinny straps and an optional collar. As my fabric choice was quite busy I kept it simple with the skinny straps and no collar. I've tested for Sew Over It a number of times and made up a couple of other patterns too. Their testing process is really through and they are always very responsive to any comments their testers have, I've seen a number of changes based on my feedback which is why I'm happy to test for them again.
I've previously got on really well with their drafting and this one is no exception. The shape of the princess seamed bodice is to die for. I really love the shape of that neckline and where it sits, there is something distinctively 1950s about it. I cut the size 10 following my their measurement chart and the fit is bang on sewn straight up, even the bodice length. I'm pretty lucky with their patterns! As I'm 5ft 3" the skirt is longer than intended on me. Usually I'm not one for a midi length and I'll cut a good bit off but for some reason I absolutely love it in this style. I thought I would feel kind of overwhelmed with fabric with such a full long skirt but it's the opposite! That skirt is a bit of a fabric eater but I tend to wing it a bit with cutting layouts and got mine out of 2.5m of 150cm wide fabric.
Sew Over It supplied me with my choice of fabric from their online store and I chose this tropical palm tree print cotton which is unfortunately no longer available. I liked that whilst it was a summery print the colours were quite muted so it wasn't too bold. I was, I will admit, a bit disappointed with the fabric when it first arrived. Whilst it's a good weight it's got a kind of coated feel to it which wasn't highlighted in the listing and whilst a wash softened it a little it was still pretty crisp with an unusual hand. As it was a test I ploughed ahead anyway and I'm delighted that I did as that stiff hand has a taffeta like quality to it which gives the skirt beautiful volume and shape. I'm usually a bit wary of a gathered skirt as I find adding bulk around my waist isn't the most flattering look for me. This skirt has a clever inverted box pleat at the centre front though so it keeps it flat across the troublesome tummy area. I'm also not really a fan of the process of gathering but I'm really pleased with how evenly I managed to get my gathers distributed around the waist. I adore how full this skirt is. A nice deep 2cm hem is recommended which is what I used, giving it even more body.
The shape of the bodice is aided by lightweight plastic boning. The method for inserting this is really straightforward and secure but differs to how I've been taught to insert boning before so it was a really interesting process for me. You cut small squares of your fabric and fold them over the ends of your boning pieces. Then you sew through the fabric and the boning itself to attach the boning along the seam lines of your lining. I was a bit apprehensive about the boning only being attached at either end rather then being secured in a channel but it works really well. I found it easiest to press my little scraps in half before folding them over the boning and then sewed along both the top and bottom edge to keep it secure. The recommended fabrics for the pattern are cottons and linens which should be nice and sturdy for covering the ends of your boning but if you veer away from that and use something more delicate as your fashion fabric the sharp end of the boning might tear through. You could use a tougher fabric or alternatively melt the ends the boning just a little to give it a softer edge.
As it was a test and I had plenty of fabric I opted to self line the bodice. The slightly strange fabric actually feels quite nice against the skin. You get a lovely clean finish with under stitching the top edge of the bodice and a bit of hand sewing. It was one of those super straightforward sews where everything matches up like it's supposed to. I did have a little list of feedback but it was really minor stuff and illustrations and wording of instructions have since been changed to clarify any confusing parts.
I adore the super skinny straps, there's something really elegant about them but they did take some time to turn through You definitely need to aggressively trim those seam allowances and use a loop turner! The strap position is marked on the pattern based on tester feedback but obviously everyone is a slightly different shape and if you want the wider straps to cover a bra strap you definitely need to baste and try these out before you attach your lining. I positioned mine between the notches for the wide straps where they were marked on the test version.
And now on to the good news for you guys! In return for testing I received the fabric for my dress and a copy of the finished pattern...and the ladies at Sew Over It have ever so generously supplied me with a second copy to give away to my lovely readers. All you need to do to enter is follow my blog (by any method you prefer, Bloglovin', Feedly, email subscription in the sidebar) and leave a comment below. I'd love to know your initial thoughts on fabric choices if you were the lucky winner but that's not essential, juts me being nosey! Please make sure your email address is clearly visible in your profile or comment as I will contact the winner that way to get your address. The giveaway is open internationally and will close on Sunday 14th August at midnight GMT. Good luck!