PDF Pattern Test: Sahara ladies top and dress

This is my first  time testing a PDF pattern and it was fun!  I found out about the opportunity to test a top/dress PDF pattern from Bella Sunshine Designs from the Curvy Sewing Collective's Facebook group.   I applied to be a tester and I was selected, I knew nothing about the designer, the pattern or what the process entailed, but after telling my husband about it he said, why not?

I'm sooo happy I stepped out of my comfort zone!  I have a new found respect for patterns and the time, blood, sweat and tears that are put into drafting and testing them. The pattern I tested didn't have a lot of bugs and it was a simple knit top so I only made two muslin's before cutting into my fashion fabric.  In terms of my sewing skill, I consider myself an advanced/confident beginner.

***Disclosure: I received this PDF pattern for free as a part of testing.  The thoughts and opinions reflected in this review are purely my own. ***

The pattern is available here (Affiliate link):Sahara Ladies PDF pattern

Pattern Description:  
If you are looking for a sophisticated dress in the comfort of knit fabric, you have found it! The design features a low scoop front and back; sleeveless, short sleeves, 3/4 sleeves, and long sleeves and fully lined bodice. The dress has a full circle skirt that you will love to twirl. The design comes with three lengths; top length (hits at the hips) Tunic length (hits below the hips) and dress length (hits just above the knees). It is a perfect dress, every day and all year round! And since a bust adjustment is included in the pattern, it takes the guess work out of fitting for the bust.

0-20  I was assigned based on my measurements a size 16 short sleeve top with FBA graded to a 18 at the waist.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?  


Were the instructions easy to follow?  
Yes, they are easy.  There are a few ways they can be better,there are no fabric lay out instructions for the bodice pieces, however, there is a diagram on how to cut the circle skirt out.  Also, the instructions are not clear on how to add clear elastic on the waist band and shoulder.  The instructions could benefit from showing how to trim elastic from the very edges of the shoulder to avoid bulk, and how to attach if using a serger.  For the waist, it says to sandwich the elastic between the skirt and bodice, when it should probably be added to the bodice. 

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?  

I don't have any dislikes with the pattern itself.  I really like:
* The two scoop neck option in the front and the back scoop.
*I like the different pattern pieces for the bodice variations (sleeveless, with sleeves, with FBA, without FBA).
*I like the sleeve and skirt variations.
* I like the use of clear elastic to reinforce the shoulder and waist seams.
* I like the print chart for the top, tunic and dress for the view you're using, super convenient and saves paper.
* I like that you don't have to remember to trim your seam allowances for the bodice lining, it's done for you!
*I love that the FBA is already built into the pattern, I mean that's awesome!

Fabric Used:
For both muslin's, I used a 4 way stretch cotton/Lycra knit per the pattern instructions. For the final top, I used a Rayon/ Lycra 4 way stretch jersey knit for the main pieces and lining.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:  
I cut the Sleeved bodice with FBA but I added about 3/4" to the crook of the armscye because there was not enough coverage, slightly raising the armscye.  I also did a forward shoulder adjustment and added 2 inches to the front and back bodice and lining pieces.

Would you sew it again? 
Yes, I'd also like to make the sleeveless dress in a rayon jersey.  I would also like to try the top in a stabler knit, maybe a two way rayon Ponte or a cotton interlock with good recovery.  I will play around with the the length increase based on the amount of vertical stretch in my fabric.

Would you recommend it to others?

 Absolutely, I would purchase this pattern, and I think that it is universally flattering and you would get so much for your money, a top, a tunic and a dress!  Pattern says FBA, but you still have to measure to ensure it's enough coverage if you have a very large bust.


I really enjoyed this process!  The pattern designer and BSD team were awesome!  Melissa was attentive and prompt, she answered all my questions, listened to my suggestions and gave me quality feedback to help me make my final garment a success.  Overall this was a good first pattern test and I hope it's not my last.

I want to hear from you, what do you think?  Have you tested a PDF pattern, did you like it, do you have plans/desire to test patterns? 


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