A month or two ago, I would have said that another dress is the last thing this girl needs. But recently, she’s been choosing dresses more often, especially the knit ones, and she was thrilled to add this one to her wardrobe. She already wore it on Monday and asked me if she could wear it again today (but it was in the laundry). The pattern is the Soleil Dress by Selvage Designs/Lauren Dahl.
A few things that I love about the pattern . . .
The design. I think the dress is adorable. I love that it’s knit – comfy and easy for my daughter to put on and take off herself. I think the cut-out back is cute and unique (though a closed back option is also available). I love the contrast binding and the opportunity to play with different fabrics in one dress. I just think that this dress is perfect for the summer! Just remember to put sunblock on your kid’s back if they’ve got the cut-out!
The pattern itself. Lauren has recently released an online course called Pattern Workshop to teach people how to create PDF patterns. So I was very curious to see how her pattern was – ya know, being a teacher and all, I would hope it was good. Well, it’s good. It’s quite beautiful, actually. It’s super clear and organized and easy to look at. The charts are neat, the diagrams are neat, the pages print neatly and all the pieces fit together neatly. It’s just kind of a sigh of relief for someone who’s a bit anal, like me. And though I didn’t try it, apparently the pattern comes in layers so you can print out just the size you want! So you don’t have to carefully track which dotted-dashed line or shade of blue is the one in your size. It’s all explained in the directions. If only I had bothered to read those beforehand . . .
The size range. The pattern starts at 12 mo. and goes all the way up to 12. That’s a HUGE range. This pattern will last you forever.
I made a few modifications to the pattern to add some extra color blocking. First I took the front bodice pattern piece and drew a curved line that mimics the curve in the back. Then I cut the pattern in two and added a 1/4 inch seam allowance to attach the two pieces. I also added a band along the bottom because I didn’t have enough of the pink fabric for the length I wanted. Adding the band also means no hemming! Bonus. Unfortunately, the band was a little short and I had to stretch it to fit the bottom of the skirt, so you may notice it’s narrower than the skirt. Oh wells.
I also used a regular knit jersey fabric for the binding instead of the ribbing or fold over elastic that is recommended. This was a little bit of a gamble, but I stretched it a lot while sewing to make sure that it would not be saggy. It worked pretty well and think it’s fine for this dress, but I don’t think it has as much elasticity as the recommended fabrics, so I’d probably stick with those for future dresses.
A couple of extra notes . . .
The directions in the pattern are clear, but in some places I feel like they are a little brief. I guess I’m the kind of person who likes thorough descriptions and if you’re a beginner, there isn’t a lot of hand holding. I think this pattern can be for beginners, but if you’ve never sewn with knits before, be sure to read up on some of the great knit tutorials available online first for helpful tips on how to sew with knits.
*SEE ADDED SECTION BELOW!*
The tricky part for me, was attaching the binding to the wrong side of the dress. This may have had something to do with the fact that I used jersey instead of the recommended fabrics, I’m not really sure, but when I flipped my binding to the wrong side of the garment and top stitched below the binding like directed, I had a really hard time catching the fabric, even when pulling it quite a bit. I’m thinking that what happened is that when I stretched the binding, it lost some of it’s width, making it harder to wrap around.
So you can see in the picture above, the neckline just barely was caught by the top stitching line and in some places didn’t make it at all, so there are a few places where it’s not attached. I tried a couple of times and then gave up. I’m hoping those sections are small enough that they won’t make a difference. So when I did the armholes, I made my binding wider by 1/2 an inch and then trimmed it after sewing. I’m curious if anyone else had this problem, or if it was just me.
*AHHH! I did this step wrong!! Heidi kindly explained to me that I was supposed to fold the binding in half lengthwise (this part is stated in the pattern) and then sew the folded binding, with both raw edges to the edge of the dress and then flip that open and sew the seam allowance down. THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING. I went back to the pattern and honestly, it’s kind of unclear the correct way to do it, since the directions are minimal, but I I’m pretty sure Heidi is right. The reason why this changes everything is because I’m actually missing about a half an inch of fabric on all edges (arm, neck and back cut-out) since I enclosed the seam allowance in the binding instead of adding width of the binding, if that makes sense. I really wish I had done it the correct way! Well, now you know . . .
This is what I got when I asked for a smile. Despite her lack of enthusiasm for modeling, she really does love this dress. When I asked what her favorite part was she said, “the pink and yellow and all the colors” and “the back pocket” which of course is the cut-out that she kept trying to stick her hand through. Yeah, didn’t get any pictures of that unfortunately. I think she loves that it’s knit and comfy and those pockets! Who doesn’t love deep pockets!? She actually tried to smuggle about a million mini hair rubber bands to school that day, so I suppose I don’t love deep pockets. :P
I think this pattern would be fun to hack into a bathing suit or leotard! Maybe a future project??
Thanks Lauren for providing me with this pattern to review! And if you’re interested in seeing other versions of this dress, Lauren has been doing round ups of Soleil dresses being made by other bloggers and you can find them on her blog.