The Josephine Top and Dress

by - 20:47

Back in February I applied to test for Bella Sunshine Designs (BSD). I knew it would be a dress, and made from woven fabric instead of knit, but essentially I went in blind. I had not sewn anything by BSD before, but was not new to testing, and I thought it would be a good opportunity to try out this new to me pattern company. I should add, I do actually own Gabriellas Winter Coat pattern, and have done for probably nearly a year, but have never sewn it up. I really should get round to it.

I got picked, partly due to my profile over on Sewing Portfolios. If you haven't joined, I recommend it. It's an online portfolio of your sewing work which businesses can then search through, and hopefully make connections with you. It worked in my case here to test this dress.

I was chosen to try out the top version of the Josephine Top and Dress, which was actually what I wanted to do which was a bit of luck! The testing process with BSD is very thorough, everyone has a specified size to make, and knows exactly what they're doing thanks to the handy pinned post. I had to grade over 3 sizes for my daughter, to take into account her height, chest and skinny waist. I graded for age 4 chest, age 3 waist and hips, then age 5 height.

The pattern includes detailed instructions on the best way of grading the individual pattern pieces. I haven't seen clearer instructions in any other PDF pattern yet. Not only that, but detailed finished garment measurements are included too, making it even easier to select a size based on how much ease you might want. In the end, the testing process went through four versions of the pattern to perfect it. This was a very well tested and thought out pattern, that resulted in a very neat final version.

The pattern pieces are notched to help you line them up. A lot of PDF patterns don't include notches, but you'll find them on most of the commercial paper patterns. You might think they're unnecessary, however, for detailed pattern pieces to line up, such as in the curved princess seams, they are a necessity that can't be ignored.

You can choose to have a full princess seamed bodice front and back, or just use the princess seams in the front, or not at all by using the lining pieces for both main and lining fabric. The bodice is finished by cute little cap sleeves, importantly not cut on the fold, instead, shaped for front and back for ease of movement.

The bodice is closed in the back with an exposed zip. I chose a bright pink zip in my final version to contrast the blue/green fabric colouring. In my first version I simply chose a matching zip which complements the dark blue fabric. Finally, you can make the top version like mine, with the sweetest little peplum style skirt, a vintage length (mid thigh) or dress (knee) length dress. All styles have a fully lined bodice, and even a lined skirt!

I found a gorgeous fabric by a French company, Petit Pan called Calamity Orage which I bought from Mauds Fabric Finds. The bold, bright colours matched my daughter's bright personality and suited her perfectly. As soon as I saw it online I had to have it for this pattern.

I added self-made piping to my final version along the princess seam lines. I found it really fiddly and hard to do. The piping was quite fat in comparison to the garment itself, despite buying the smallest gauge piping cord I could. I think if I opt for this look again, I will omit the piping cord, and instead just use a strip of folded bias. It will add the contrast without adding bulk.

My daughter has chosen to wear her two tops frequently over the past 5 months, but they are beginning to get a little tight now (she has been doing 6 hours of gymnastics training every week since Christmas, and is beginning to get a gymnast's build!). I think it may be time to sew up another version, perhaps in vintage dress length this time.

The pattern runs through sizes 6 months to 12 years, so is exceptionally versatile. If you don't like printing and sticking together PDF's at home (like me) then there is an A0 copyshop file available. Or if you're happy cutting and sticking, the pattern is layered so you only have to print the size/s you need.

The Josephine was originally released in One Thimble issue 15, a wonderful online pattern e-zine featuring many different designers. But it is now home with BSD and is on sale for $5.50 until Friday 11th August. You can get your copy here.

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*Disclaimer: Some of the links in the post are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission (the price stays the same for you) which will help me in the future to buy more patterns to share them with you!*

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  1. She looks like she loves it - love all the sassy poses! I really like both of your versions.

    1. Thank you! Sometimes, if she's feeling in the mood, she can pose beautifully.