Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Alice Dress by Tessuti

Holy's me on the blog again. Ugh, Gah and Argh. Okay, now that that is out of the way let's talk about the dress....and the fabric (insert a million emoji heart eyes!).

The dress is the Alice Dress/Top from the Australian fabric shop and now pattern maker Tessuti Fabrics. I fell in love with this pattern when I, as so many others, fell over THIS version on Pinterest. It's the stripy one I'm obsessed with but really all three versions in their intro post are perfection. The styling too!

The fabric, oh the fabric is two different qualities in the same print. The yoke and armhole bands are cotton voile and the bodice is knit. The print is designed by Leah Duncan for Art Gallery fabrics. It's part of the collection Morning Walk and the print is called Limestone Feel Indigo (no wonder I'm always confused about naming fabrics, ha). I immediately feel in love with it when I saw it.....although more when I saw it in real life than in these photos, ha. Dang, why are prints so hard to photograph!? Oh well, it could be worse. Let's move on!

This dress ended up borderline nightgown but that is solely my fault for combining this style of dress with that print. That was of course not the look I was going for but hey.....beeeep happens, ha. And I'm certainly not not going to wear it for that reason.
It is ultra comfortable and I feel great wearing it. And a belt always helps too.

I usually always make a muslin when I'm sewing new patterns for myself (for obvious reasons) and I definitely always sew a muslin when the real thing is going to be made with precious and rather pricey fabric (the quality is extremely nice too so don't worry it is more than worth it).
And I'm so glad I did. I made my muslin in a size S and ended up taking so much off in the width (only) that the final size is a size XXS in width and size S in length (and I probably added some extra length to the skirt hem but honestly I can't remember at this time).
Let me just say that is certainly the first time I'm wearing anything in a size XXS. In other words the pattern runs big. I'm even going to say it runs very big. I might not have a giant upper body (which is totally the size determinator for this style) and I certainly do not have a giant chest but there are still LOTS of women that are smaller than me. (I'm 178 cm /5'10" and have broad shoulders). So the fact that I need the smallest size that the pattern offer is a bit worrying. But hey, it's not the end of the world. It's quite easy to adjust. I adjusted mine by removing fabric from center front and back. This means you don't have to mess with the armhole bands etc. Removing width from the center though will make the neck opening smaller so remember to adjust that afterwards by simply curving it more.
I will also add that a smaller person than me might look better in a more loose version than what I do and in that case problem solved, yay.

Besides the width did I change one more thing to the pattern. The armhole bands are constructed to be loose and a bit like 'wings' but I didn't wanted mine to be loose under my arms only sort of from front yoke to back yoke. So I 'pinched' in the armhole band pattern piece in the curve under the arm both front and back and took off just about 2 cm / 3/4" with the slash and gather method. 

Here is a photo of the muslin and how I 'pinched' it.
This is not me saying there is anything wrong with the pattern in this area. We are all build differently and it is completely impossible to make one pattern that fits us all. It is expected to make adjustments to adult patterns. Another thing is fit preferences (just like with the sizing issue from earlier) some look great in loose styles and others, like me, needs it a bit more structured to look and feel the best.
SO if you are making the Alice Top/Dress and feel like making the armhole band less wide under your arm, well this is how you do it. 

There was one thing with that pattern that I found strange though and that was the big variety of seam allowances (SA). It is totally fine/correct to have a smaller SA on e.g. curved seams (to leave it all the same and have the sewer cut it off afterwards is fine too since we are not talking patterns sent to a production place. They don't have time for stuff like that, ha.) so that is not the strange part. 
The strange part is that this pattern uses 3 different SAs while sewing seams together (so I'm not counting hem SA which usually is different altogether). There are some seams with 1/2", some with 3/8" and then some with 1/4" and that is not very user friendly in my personal opinion. The front and back yokes ends up with all 3 SAs, yikes. Neckline 1/4", armscye (for armhole bands) 3/8" and shoulder and bottom seam 1/2". Oh well, again not a big thing but it does take away from the overall sewing experience.
There was also a positive thing about the SA on this pattern. The paper pattern itself had SA indications on it. That was definitely helpful.

And can I send out a request to all pdf-pattern makers. It's just a personal request. Please take it as a suggestion and not a critique.
You know how most pdf patterns have general info in the beginning and that usually includes seam allowance. It usually goes like this: "This pattern has X seam allowance unless otherwise noted in the tutorial." Which means now I have to read through the whole tutorial to make sure I'm not missing that the neckline has a smaller SA etc.
Oh, I SO wish all the exceptions from the pattern's general SA was ALSO mentioned in that general info in the beginning. Sometimes that is all the info I need to sew the garment. But it is info that you just need to know to be able to sew the garment correctly, get seams to match up and get the right size out of it, ha.
Thanks in advance!

Another thing that added to the positive vibes of the sewing experience was notches. And not only notches but useful and correct placed notches that helped with the sewing process. Where seams meet up, in tricky curved seams or where to stop the gatherings. Ah, thank you!

Since the bodice is loose it didn't make a difference that I used knit instead of woven so no need to adjust/downsize those pattern pieces. And my coverstitch took care of the hemming beautifully, yay.

I skipped the side pockets of pure laziness. Yup, there you have it. 

And I have a tip if you are planning to make this dress but haven't bought/printed the pattern yet.
The top used the same bodice pattern piece for both front and back but the dress version has two different ones. This makes me happy because it shows that they have been doing some fittings and realized that the fit is better in the dress if there is less gathering in the back piece. But it also means lots of printing and taping because those bodice pattern pieces are obviously big even though they are cut on fold. SO I did some measuring (after printing and taping it all together) and you can simply use the front dress bodice pattern piece for the back dress bodice piece too BUT you have to fold away 5 cm / 2" at the center fold line (so it will in total become 10 cm / 4" smaller than the front bodice dress piece).
Saving a little paper and ink (and time) here and there is also worth something, right.

Besides from a few details here and there is it a great pattern and the result is obviously great. I sewed my dress a bit different than what the tutorial recommends, hiding seams in between the yoke and overall making it pretty on the inside too. I won't go into that further in this post because I feel like I have already been babbling more than enough. I have plans of making many more Alices though so maybe next time.

Thank you for your patience if you made it down here and are still reading, ha.

Get your own Alice Dress/Top Pattern HERE.


  1. Oh this does not look like a nightgown! You look amazing! And the dress is perfect on you. I love this pattern but unfortunately the cut is not for me :'( Also, you take great photos of yourself, you need to teach me! <3

  2. I made it here, ha! Seriously, loved reading this. I also did the XXS and had to correct it a bit, especially around the armholes and I did it exacly as you mentioned it! And every time i do it I have to check the instructions because of the SA too. But it´s all worth it in the end! It´s a beautiful dress! :*

  3. Love the dress on you, casual and beautiful at the same time! The belt is a very nice touch. You look beautiful!

  4. Mie, I think you have the best pattern reviews out there. I love how thorough you are. And mixing the knit with woven is a great idea. I think the knit keeps the dress from looking frumpy for sure. This is one of those styles that probably would look maternity on most people, especially busty ones like me, but you've managed to make it look fantastic with your fabric choice and fitting knowledge.

  5. Thank you, Mie! I've got this one on my cutting table now, and these tips will all help greatly. I've read that it runs big, so I'll definitely be making a muslin. I love your version! Gorgeous!

  6. Great review! I'm torn whether this would be flattering on me or not, but it's lovely on you. I appreciate your technical notes - I always try to absorb them and be sure to address such issues.

  7. That's such a great everyday dress, Mie! You look amazing!
    And I agree with Justine, your pattern reviews are the best!
    (Thanks for the advice on the seam allowances. That's a great idea and I will do it next time I find time to make a pattern.)

  8. I knew this would be amazing!!! My eagle eyes didn't fail me heheh seriously you look Absolutely Gorgeous, and it's not nightgownish to me at all! The fabric is beautiful. I love reading your reviews, they are so helpful and I always learn lots by reading them, so thanks a million, you're the best! <3 and boy I just went back to see the photos again before finishing the comment and you're stunning, beautiful and your photos are perfect! xoxo

  9. Love that print! And I don't see nightgown at all! Looks perfect on you!

  10. Looks totally amazing Mie!! Love this style so much. Your attention to detail is remarkable - I'm not sure I even noticed there were 3 different seam allowances in the pattern - oops!

  11. Gorgeous dress, beautiful model, wonderful sewist, amazing reviewer. :) It is always such a pleasure to read your pattern reviews. So thorough and helpful. Thank you!
    And that fabric... What's your address again? I may have to pay a late night visit to your fabric stash... :D

  12. Im so glad you reviewed this particular dress! I've been so tempted to buy the pattern, but nobody writes reviews quite like you do-I always feel like I have a good picture of the strengths, flaws and challenges of any pattern you review, which is so much more effective than the standard gushing 'review' that seems the be the blogging-norm.

  13. I didn't make a dress as I was worried it might end up looking like a mighty, but I seriously love your version. A belt dresses it up nicely. That print... Looooove it! As always, a great review.

  14. Hello, not sure if you will see this since I'm 6 years late, but thanks so much for the info, I was just searching to see if anyone had any advice on how to hide the dress piece seams inside the yoke, and came across your blog. The dress looks excellent and those are great tips about sizing and the SA, thank you! If you did follow this up with more info on how you concealed the seams I would be really interested if you have a link. Thank you so much!

    1. Hey, I still get an email when someone leaves a comment on the blog. :-) I never ended up making another Alice, so I don't have any more info specifically about this pattern but if you get in touch on IG (send me a message), I might have some #miessewingtips posts to send you. I would also suggest you look up a newer post about the Bagging Technique because that can be used in this pattern and many others. Use the search function in the right hand column. Happy sewing!

    2. Kate, what about the burrito method for making the yoke, is that what you mean about hiding the seams?

      Mie: thanks for this super helpful review! I always love tips that help me save paper when printing at home. 💛💛💛

  15. Like Kate I only just found this pattern & then your review! So helpful!! Thanks so much. I wondered if the gathering could make it taught across the busy. Guess I’ll have to make it and see!! Thought about knit but don’t think the yoke would sit right so finding your review has given me lots to chew on before I try it out!

  16. Great review yet again, thank you! Beautiful dress, and no, it doesn't look like a nightie at all. I feel like you about all the random seam allowances - I just made my first Frankie dress and was a little stumped by the instruction to serge the shoulder seams with no seam allowance given. I shall have to check the pattern to see if there's an SA indication, but I don't think there was. I like narrower seam allowances at times - saves trimming - but yes, please, give us an indication at the beginning of the pattern! I don't know if you would like their style, but I have patterns from Anna Allen and Vivien Shao Chen which have impressed me with their drafting. The only thing I dislike they use 1/2 inch SA and then use 1/4 inch for necklines. - I prefer 1cm all the way through, except hems of course.


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