Disclaimer: I received the Auberley dress pattern in exchange for testing. All my opinions and cheese are my own. Stay away from my cheese.
I do pattern testing already for Muse Patterns and Cashmerette Patterns. Both are run by sewing friends who I adore. I was pretty sure for a while that I wouldn’t do any more testing. Recently, before the Rue Pattern was released, Colette Patterns put out a call for pattern testers. I almost filled out the form. I’m so glad I didn’t, because I don’t think the pattern would work for me (or possibly anyone…) and I am not certain that “testers” were used for much beyond promotional purposes.
When I test a pattern, I expect my feedback to be taken into consideration and help make the pattern better. Perhaps I’ve been spoiled with two wonderful companies that really respect the testing process and take time to make changes to the pattern before the pattern is released. I can confirm that Cashmerette and Muse do this and both really appreciate their testers. It never feels like work. Instead, it is an exciting process and I get patterns I love out of it. See examples of all my Muse Patterns and Cashmerette patterns garments for proof of how much I love testing for these two companies.
Recently, Susan from Blank Slate put up a call for testers in the Curvy Sewing Collective facebook group. They specifically needed testers at the higher range of their sizes. Susan described it as “babydoll dress/tunic pattern with a square neckline, princess seams, and bell sleeves” and my heart went “I fucking want that right fucking now.” My heart swears a lot…and so does my mouth…
The turn around time was pretty tight. The post was up on September 17th and then I provided my feedback by September 25th. Originally, the feedback was due by the 21st, but a pattern change happened right in the middle of testing along with a change in the neckline and it got us all a sweet extension.
Pattern testing with Blank Slate was pretty different from anything I’ve experienced before. It was actually such a great process and testers got to see results as we were testing in the pattern. I used up a lot more muslin (thrifted bed sheets) than I ever have during a testing process, but it was a great learning process. It prompted me to finally print off my Marigold dress/top/skirt pattern for a sweet flowy peplum top. I will need to make some adjustments, but I am pretty confident in the pattern drafting and that it will work out. I’ve already been in love with Michelle’s dress version for a while.
All of this is to say that I’m really pleased with the process and, as long as timing is right, I hope to do more testing with Blank Slate in the future.
Testing the pattern also came during a major slump in my sewing. I haven’t posted in a while and well…. I have so little to show for all the sewing I have done and I’ve done so much sewing…. I have four or five (lost count) unfinished objects (UFOs) and several pieces cut out. I have two pairs of shorts and one pair of cropped pants on the go that will likely not be worn out of the house until the summer and still nothing finished. I’m dying here. Some of it is fit issues, others are sewing issues (like my serger decided to drop stitches and I need to resew because all the stitches are popping but I have to change my thread back to the other colour first to finish it…), and others are cutting the god damn wrong size of waistband for three damn skirts when I have no more of the damn fabric left to cut it out again…. SMH! It’s just been a series of unfortunate events and Count Olaf is off laughing in a corner somewhere.
Testing this pattern has revitalized me thankfully. My final fit isn’t perfect, but I love the dress and really love the style so I can go forward with confidence now and finish those UFOs.
The construction of the Auberley dress is pretty straight forward. It doesn’t have any zippers and simply pulls over your head. For the tester version, I was asked to sew it up as is. Susan did ask if that was okay given my shoulder issues and I figured I could go back and add a zipper if I absolutely needed it. I have found pulling the tester over my head isn’t too difficult, but I will be putting a side zipper in my next versions. The bodice has princess seams and is lined giving the notched neckline a lovely finish. The skirt is an empire waisted gathered skirt and there are ties at the back. The sleeves have two options: long bell sleeves, which I used for my tester version, and elbow length straight sleeves. In the hack pack, there are two additional necklines: v-neck and scoop neck; and three sleeves: cold shoulder sleeve, and long or 3/4 length bishop sleeves with ties. Lots and lots of options there. Also pockets!
With my version, I did two muslins before sewing up this final version. I’m not 100% happy with the fit since there are some lines along the centre panel of the dress, which I think are a result of two things: 1) the front panel needs to be widened slightly so the princess seam is actually going through my apex and 2) the front panel needs to be shortened. I’m sure I will get many other helpful suggestions on how to fix the wrinkles, though.
Look at me play with the wrinkles:
What an hilarious outtake! My husband took these pictures before we went to the new Second City show Come What Mayhem. Great show btw! Definitely a must see if you are in Toronto!
I also need to widen the sleeve a little bit since the upper arm is a bit tight and shorten it (although, my hands are in a fist in some of these pictures… I was cold). I used a size 26 sleeve. For reference, my upper bicep is 21 inches. In addition, I will widen the front skirt to match the gathering on the back skirt.
I started with a size 20 to match my upper bust and did a 5 inch FBA. I also added 2 inches to the side seams in order to make it easier to get over my head as well as have the size 26 sleeve fit. I used the size 26 skirt and ties, as well.
The fabric I used is a hunter green poly crepe that I got at the thrift store. It was a dream to sew. I have a navy blue poly crepe that might also become a Auberley dress, but I have a million ideas in my head right now so that might change!
I will reserve a full review for when I actually use the final pattern and try out the hack pack. I don’t assign a star rating to the test versions of patterns. I’m excited for more versions. One of the testers used a black lace in the front panel and sleeves and I really want to try something similar. I’d also like to lengthen the waist ties, too, so they wrap around the front. I see so many possibilities with the dress once the fit is completely tweaked. It will be a great winter dress to wear with some lovely leggings or knee high socks. I think I’m going to get some double guaze and some chambray and try out some fabrics I’ve never used before. Should be fun! I also am in love with the bishop sleeves so those are definitely going to be used like crazy.