Introducing the Muse Patterns Manuka top and dress

I had promised myself to take a hiatus from testing patterns for a little bit and then immediately broke my promise when Kat posted about Muse Patterns next pattern, the Manuka top and dress, which was designed by Johanna Morris. It just happened to be the exact thing that I wanted to add to my wardrobe.

The Manuka top and dress is a loose fit with a dropped shoulder that skims over the hips. The pattern comes in three lengths: crop top, hip length, and dress length. As with all Muse Pattern releases, the first week the full profit of the sales goes to a charity. This time it is Kids Can.

I absolutely love the models for this pattern. They both look fantastic.

I made the crop top version with short flutter sleeves. I chose a size 48 with D-cup and I think the fit is spot on.

The reason I wanted to make this top was to go with this skirt. I have a couple of red tops, but they are all long sleeved tops instead of something nice and light for summer. The top also has no closures on it so it just slips over my head and shoulders with ease. It’s really great!

The length hits just above my belly button in the front and a little bit lower in the back.

Since the skirt is high-waisted, the top still tucks in nicely.

I love the sleeves on this top. They are circles and the shape of the shorter sleeves are perfect for summer. I definitely feel cool whenever I wear this top.

I really love the look of the top tucked into the skirt with a bit of a blousey look in the back.

I can’t wait to try out the dress version. I love the way it looks on the plus sized model! ❤

In other news, I have a few posts on other blogs that I am proud of and really excited to share. Check them out:

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Blank Slate Oceanside Shorts

April was a busy month for me. I was slow to recover completely from the pneumonia. I am still a little low in energy in comparison to before, but the pneumonia is definitely gone. My chronic cough is now being managed fully by medication. I’m so relieved that it is finally responding to the many meds I am on. I am also not having a lot of sinus issues likely as a result of the antibiotics.

I saw a doctor last week who may have significantly changed how I approach my life. It’s a shame that she was a specialist and is not part of my primary care, because the advice and guidance she gave me was excellent. The biggest take away is that she advised me to focus on keeping a steady weight instead of losing weight like other doctors. She commended my nutrition, but said to supplement that with a long list of vitamins. I’m supposed to stop doing heavy housework and focus on using my hands for the things I can’t give up, like sewing and cardmaking. Guys, I basically got a prescription to get out of housework. Haha!

No braces for me yet. I’m probably going to get finger splints, though, on my own. Other than that, KT taping is working wonders. I actually went to bed last night without a throbbing hip so it seems to be healing my hip bursitis. The overall joint dislocation and cartilage damage is still sadly happening, but the bursitis was extra pain on top of that and terrible to deal with. It was especially difficult for sleeping.

Spring also tends to be a better time for me as there are more warm days. Unfortunately, there has been a steady stream of rainy and cold overcast days which is leading to migraines, but there is sun on the horizon!

I managed to get some of my sewjo back last week with pattern testing. The deadline with pattern testing tends to get me back into the sewing mood. Blank Slate is a great company to test with if your sewjo is low. Their process tends to include tighter deadlines and lots of fitting and fit guidance for the larger sizes. I think it’s pretty effective for getting a good fit, learning fit tips, and testing that the pattern can do the pattern alterations you need. It’s always a positive process and really puts me back in the mood for sewing.

The Oceanside pants/shorts are an older pattern recently sized up to 3XL. I made the 3XL and did 4 muslins to get a good fit in the shorts. There are a couple of changes I would make going forward: add a couple of inches to the hem of the shorts, make them in capris length, and embellish like crazy: I’m talking scalloped hem, laced hem, bias tape finishes…. etc. In other words, I am happy with the fit I have for them now. There are minor issues there, but they are minor. They are great for a relaxed fit short with an elastic band waist.

Blank Slate Oceanside shorts

Blank Slate Oceanside shorts

Blank Slate Oceanside shorts

I made my shorts in a turquoise linen that I got from the thrift store back in the fall and used lime green buttons for the pockets. I need all the linen now to make a bunch more.

Blank Slate Oceanside shorts

Blank Slate Oceanside shorts

Blank Slate Oceanside shorts

Real talk now. I haven’t worn shorts in public since I was really really young. When I was a teen and bullied horribly, I stopped wearing anything that remotely showed my shape for a really long time. When I was 25, that started changing when my friend Lisa took me clothes shopping and challenged me to buy fun clothes. I also self-harmed and my legs were covered in cuts from age 16 to 21. I now have the scars internally and externally, but have emotionally healed so much and haven’t self-harmed or had a suicide attempt since I was 21. I’m so proud of myself for how far I have come since then. Now I mostly wear skirts and dresses in the summer with little bike shorts underneath to prevent chub rub and for the ever fun wind incident. But shorts…. Not sure why they are still a barrier for me. I feel like I must have worn them and gotten some mention from the bullies on how they felt about my legs at 13 and stopped wearing shorts as a result. My legs became a target for me and I stopped showing them. I even stopped swimming for the most part. I loved swimming but I stopped feeling comfortable in a swimsuit. After healing my mind, I’ve done a lot to find joy in my body. I have a genetic disease that has effected me my whole life and I can’t change those genetics. I can only care for it and love it and try to stop it from deteriorating further.

Shorts are something I’ve been making over the past year in various forms, but I haven’t made a pair that I felt comfortable leaving the house in. I have a few more cut out and one UFO needing a quick fix. But these really helped me remember my goals to overcome these irrational clothing fears. I also need to get back to that UFO two piece swimsuit that I was making back in the summer so I can join the YMCA and get back in the water.

It was great to have the opportunity to test the shorts and be reminded of the things I want to make to support loving my body.

Look at that butt:

Blank Slate Oceanside shorts

That’s a good butt.

Verity Dress Plus Sized Re-launch by Moxie Patterns

Disclaimer: Received the pattern for free. Opinions my own. Dragons were not harmed in the making of this dress.

My blog has a contact form and occasionally I get contacted by companies for weird promotional purposes. It’s pretty rare that happens and I usually actually ignore the emails. I know, terrible, but sometimes they have nothing at all to do with sewing so why would I even bother wasting my spoons on people that are clearly spamming anyone with a blog? I’ve been contacted about posting promo for men’s fashion, women’s fashion, ray bans, etc. Recently, Rebecca, the creator/owner of Moxie patterns, contacted me for a pattern testing opportunity about her increased size range for the Verity dress plus a new collar. I generally leap at free stuff and decided to go for this. I will say, though, I’m probably not going to leap at future pattern testing unless it is from Cashmerette or Muse Patterns. I’ve had a lot of spoons go toward it lately and I really need to focus on an accessible wardrobe instead of the next new and shiny new pattern. Of course, I am a magpie and generally have trouble saying no to the next new and shiny. If I go back on that, please remember I am a weak human creature.

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The Verity pattern grabbed me because it reminded me of my favourite ModCloth pattern, the Coach Tour dress (fyi, none of these are affiliate links…I’m not making money from my blog at all). Back in the day, when I was buying clothes instead of making everything, the Coach Tour dress was my favourite ModCloth dress. I got a similar looking dress from eShakti later on, because the $60 US price tag was a big rich for my blood. eShakti dress was purchased on sale during a buy one get 2 free sale so it was afforadable. I also added sleeves to it. I still wear it to this day because it’s a gorgeous red. But every time I wear it, people ask me if I made it and I have to say no… I would buy ModCloth on sale and then take a hit with customs prices. I also loved the Windy City dress and actually had it in a bunch of colours and styles (okay…three). So if someone out there could make a knock off pattern for that or recommend one for 51 inch bust…that’d be great!

Back to the Verity dress. I had trouble saying “No, I can’t test this as I really need to make new bras and a swimsuit and costumes for the end of October and a crib set for a friend…” So I didn’t… I said YES and made grabby hands motions.

Although, I did make sure that Rebecca was okay with the fact that anything I post anywhere is accompanied by my honest opinion of the pattern. She was! So I hunted for fabric for it, because clearly I suck at stashbusting…

I found this lovely soft cotton/rayon knit at a local store.

It’s medium weight with a quilting texture and is super soft. It was a bit more that I was looking to spend for a pattern test, but it was definitely the right choice for the dress.

Rebecca has really made the instructions for the pattern great for beginners. A person of any level can sew this dress with all the detail in the instructions. She also includes alternative options and ways of constructing the dress so that if one way seems too complicated for a beginner, they can try another way. Or if you prefer one method over the other, it helps to see the two methods there. For experienced sewers, there are shorter instructions in the style of say…Burda or StyleArc where it tells you sew up side seams instead of taking you through how with pictures. Of course, all these details make for an incredibly long instruction booklet. I would recommend viewing it digitally if you want to save paper. The pdf pattern is 60 pages as well as the 42 page instruction booklet. That’s a lot of paper! The pattern includes three different sleeve lengths, as well as sleeveless options, shirt versions and a dress version. The sleeves are puffed and have bands. You can also make it with various neckline options: band, cowl, split cowl like the ModCloth dress, and the new peter pan collar version. There is gathering under the bust, a waistband, gathering at center back, and a circle skirt.

Verity Dress by Moxie Patterns

 

Verity Dress by Moxie Patterns

For my test version, I chose to make the dress with elbow length sleeves and a split cowl neckline. You will notice in the pictures that the sleeves are not puff sleeves or elbow length (in the picture of my back, the sleeves are bunched up slightly to the elbow; they are readjusted for other pictures). The issue with puffed sleeves has been resolved in the final pattern, I am told, as well Rebecca said that she was going to deal with the length of the sleeves/skirt. I am also 5’4″ so on the short side with tyrannosaurus arms so take that into consideration. This is something I told Rebecca to take into consideration for the length. The pattern is drafted with a 5’6″ height in mind.

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I really enjoyed making the dress. I made it in one evening including cutting using my serger for the most part. I used my machine for stitching the collar with a lightening bolt stitch. I just serged the hem. I originally was going to do a proper hem, but the fabric isn’t flipping and the hem looks pretty good as is so I’ve decided to leave it as is.

Verity Dress by Moxie Patterns

In terms of fit, it’s pretty good. I actually am between a 5X and a 6X in this pattern. The extended sizes go up to 8X or a 57.5 inch bust. I settled on making a 6X. Looking at the fit of this, I’d definitely size down next time since I have no negative ease in the bust and have a bit of positive ease in certain places. I was very impressed with how the shoulder fit on the dress. I didn’t need to narrow the shoulder at all!!! I usually narrow the shoulder by about 1-2 inches on any pattern I use. The only adjustment I made was to cut the length for 3X instead of 6X, because I was pretty sure I would need to shorten it. Even with that, it ended up longer than the above the knee length of the pattern photos, but, like I said, that is something that was adjusted for the final pattern.

Verity Dress by Moxie Patterns

As I have stated in the past, I don’t do a star-rating system for test patterns, but when I make the pattern again, because I will make it again using the final released pattern, I will give it a star rating at that point. I have a brilliant idea of making it out of some gorgeous two-tone stretch velvet for a classy winter dress. There is some locally that I might splurge on for my birthday next month!

Verity Dress by Moxie Patterns

Anyone else get Western vibes from my dress? 😀 Do-si-do!

The increased size range with the peter pan collar is available in the Moxie Patterns Etsy store along with the straight size version or through Creative Notions, Rebecca’s blog.

Verity Dress by Moxie Patterns

Introducing Blank Slate Pattern’s Auberley dress

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:

Blank Slate Patterns Auberley dress

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.

Blank Slate Patterns Auberley dress

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!

Blank Slate Patterns Auberley dress

Blank Slate Patterns Auberley dress

Blank Slate Patterns Auberley dress

Blank Slate Patterns Auberley dress

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.

 

 

Introducing: The Melissa Dress by Muse Patterns

Disclaimer: I was asked to test the Melissa dress by Muse Patterns. I was not asked to write this blog post or give a review. My opinions are my own and they are for the test garment only. I know it’s hard to be objective when you are friends with the designer and get really excited about something, but I tried to be!

Further Disclaimer: I know my collar is not turned the right way in my pictures and my hem caught on my leg in a couple of pictures. I cannot tell you how I didn’t notice that, but it drove me nuts. I thought about doing all the pictures over, but I’m just too lazy for that! Just know the collar sits just fine, I just didn’t primp accordingly. 

I was going to hold off on testing more garments until after the wedding in July, but it is really difficult to say no when Kat throws the words: shirt dress, 1940s influence, pocket details, and sizing for B-cup and D-cup.

I thought maybe it should be called the Andie dress, because it seems like it was made for me!

I’m all about vintage styles. I would love to work from actual vintage patterns one day and add a modern flare to them for my own particular style. One day, I will do that, but first wedding planning and upping my sewing skills.

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The Melissa can be made in either a blouse, dress, or skirt. It has v pockets on the bust and on the skirt as well as a v on the back. These lovely details along with the sleeve cuffs allow for contrast colours to make them stand out. The Melissa has princess seams which add a feminine shape and make it easier to alter for fit.

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I sewed a straight size 50 with the D-cup variation. My Melissa dress is made with pink and black cotton and in one weekend. The cutting process is lengthy as there are a lot of pattern pieces. I suggest marking all pieces and laying your front pieces together and your back pieces in a separate pile. You will thank me.

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When I cut my pieces out, my fabric slipped a little. I didn’t use enough weights to keep it in place, I think. As a result, my dress has puffed sleeves, which was a way for me to deal with the slippage and extra fabric in some areas. I will be making another Melissa dress so that I can show you that the sleeves do in fact work. I even went through the work of ensuring that the pattern pieces were correct and it was in fact my wonky cutting (was I drinking?!) that caused it. In spite of the wonky cutting, I ended up having the most amazing seam match-up at the shoulders there. Look at that! Dance party! Not so much in the back v. 😦 It’s off by half a centimeter and is driving me nuts…

Kat’s instructions were very clear as always. The sewing process was made a lot easier with her instructions and the pictures in them. I would say that the pattern is more for an advanced beginner or intermediate sewist, because of the different construction methods for the pockets and facing. I highly recommend following the instructions very closely. Be prepared to press a ton! I mean, you should be anyway. Pressing is important. A lesson I’ve learned in the past year.

Kat listens very well to her pattern testers and also lets them know how their feedback changed the pattern. It’s really a great thing to hear and see the things I suggested on the long list. I can’t say no when Kat asks me to test her patterns, because it’s such a pleasant and wonderful process. 😀 Okay enough gushing over how much I like Kat…. 😛 Let me gush over how much I love this pattern.

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(WTH, my hemline caught on my leg, there? The hem is fine… I just failed at this photoshoot!)

Edit: There is some pulling in the bust. My high bust measurement is more than 4 inches for the D-cup specifications. I also spaced my buttonholes out further from the edge than necessary. My next version will accommodate that fitting issue.

This was the first time sewing up my Melissa dress and, while there are some fitting tweaks I will make, overall I love how it looks and how it fits. I even love the fact that with the fabric I choose I look like a waitress from the 1950s. It’s perfect! Want a milkshake, dearie?

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Mmmm…. milkshake…..

I love how the pattern is drafted and the pocket construction with the v details is very smart. You fold and press a lot of areas. I won’t go into much detail, but it’s a neat way to do it!

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It was very bright when I did my photoshoot (yay Spring!) and that damn upturned collar! Photoshoot fail, I guess, but lazy me means that’s all you get until my next Melissa dress. 🙂 I’ll make sure that photoshoot doesn’t fail so much…Sorry…

My only issues with the pattern is how tiny the pockets (they are meant for a small smart phone or pen and not for my entire purse…crazy!) and that the sleeve cuff was tight on my large upper arms. Kat has increased the size of the sleeve cuff for the final pattern by 1cm. I will report on that change in future versions.

The princess seams and the flare of the skirt at the natural waist give a great shape to the dress and the details/contrasts are fun for the eye. It’s definitely going to become a TNT (tried and tested) pattern for me!

I can’t wait to make another version. I just need to see what fabric works best out of my stash. I want

As with all of the other pattern releases, Muse Patterns is offering the Melissa dress, blouse, and skirt at 15% off for the first week and 100% of the sales are going toward the Life Flight air rescue and air ambulance services. Check out Muse Pattern’s blog entry for more details on the sale code and the donation.

TL:DR Review

  • Pattern: Muse Patterns’ Melissa dress, blouse, & skirt (Test Pattern)
  • Pros: Interesting design/details, clear instructions, good structure/fit
  • Cons: Pockets are for a pen or smart phone, but too tiny for hands/my purse/book  (unreasonable criticism alert!). Sleeve cuffs are a little tight, but I have large upper arms and this is something that has changed for the final version.
  • Make again?: Absolutely! I plan on making it using the final version of the pattern and reporting on that.
  • Rating: pink-star-black-md pink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-md5/5 stars

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Welcome to the Gillian Dress from Muse Patterns!! And a giveaway!

Muse Patterns created by the amazing Kat from Modern Vintage Cupcakes just released their second pattern today! It’s the Gillian wrap dress!

I had the wonderful opportunity to test the pattern in the past week and a bit. I received the pattern for free, but all my opinions and glee are my own.

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The pattern is made for lightweight stretch materials, such as merino wool, jersey, and other knit fabrics with stretch. This pattern has three variations: dress, top, and skirt. I chose to make the top in long sleeves for a lovely light fall cardigan.

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It’s definitely fall here in Canada! Obligatory leave-throwing shots!

I love this pattern! The above is the test pattern only and not the final product that was released. There were some changes made from the test pattern, but I have yet to try them out since it was released today. I will, though, because I adore this top and want to make the dress and the skirt and make the top again.

It’s perfect timing to release the pattern with the Curvy Sewing Collective Wrapalong happening. I really recommend this pattern. I’m reallllly busty (H cup….. :S) and it has amazing coverage with no need for a camisole underneath. The pattern can also easily fit above the largest size on their size chart, because of the wrap. The details with the shoulder yokes are just lovely and really quite flattering. The waistband also hits in my high waist and is flattering for an hourglass figure.

I’m in love with it and can’t gush more about it. It was also my first time testing a pattern and made me really appreciate the process. I was very attentive to the instructions unlike in other sewing. I tend to just look at the pictures and do my own thing, but here I really focused in on the instructions and made sure they made sense to me. I made notes and went slowly. As a result, I am extremely proud of the top. The topstitching details are almost perfectly sewn. It was probably the most pleasurable sewing experience I’ve had yet.

Along with the release, Kat is offering a discount this week of 15% off the pattern (code: GILLIANDRESS found here), as well as from now until October 19th giving 100% of the profits to the NZ Breast Cancer Foundation!

Because of this awesome gesture, I am buying up a couple of these patterns myself this week to giveaway to two lucky people!

How do you enter? Easily! Comment on this blog post with your email address and then on the 16th I will randomly draw 2 names and send them the pdf of the Gillian wrap dress.

It’s my first giveaway! But I couldn’t think of a better cause. Giving to breast cancer research AND giving to wonderful sewists. I can’t wait to see your Gillian dresses, tops, or skirts.

Join the giveaway and support breast cancer awareness.

UPDATE: Giveaway is now closed and two names have been drawn