**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. ***
I really like pattern testing, it's a lot of work, but I enjoyed the process. I learn something every time I test and I come out with a wearable garment. For this test, I tested the Amelia dress pattern by Bella Sunshine Designs. I was part of pretesting which was interesting, very fast pace and I got to see how changes effect the design and outcome. I went through two muslins to get this fit, but the BSD team was there to look at my pictures and make recommendations, that's what makes testing fun, I wasn't alone. As an advanced beginner/intermediate sewer, sometimes, I can't read the drag lines or fitting issues so this process was super helpful. There is a wealth of information on Facebook an most groups are there to help if you have a question. The sewing community is a great resource and very accepting.
Ok, ok, about this dress, here are the details from the website :
The Amelia is the perfect dress for any occasion. It can be dressed up for a fancy brunch or casual enough for a stroll on the beach. The wrap front bodice beautifully accentuates the body. The empire waist is flattering no matter what your shape is and the gathered band gives a nice detail not often found in dresses like this. The knit bodice can be paired with a knit or woven skirt. And since the pattern comes in sleeveless, short sleeve, 3/4 sleeve, and long sleeve, you are ready for any season. On top of the multiple sleeve lengths, the pattern includes options for a top length, knee length dress, and a maxi. Also, as with all our knit women’s pattern, and optional full bust adjustment is included in the pattern making fitting a breeze.
Sewing Level: Confident Beginner
Sizes: Ladies 0-30 with Optional Bust Adjustment
I sewed a size 16 with FBA, and used size a size 18 skirt. I really like the included FBA's in this pattern, one less thing to worry about. For a beginner step 4 could be a little confusing but the instructions are clear and and the Bella Sunshine Design website and Facebook group have a wealth of information and help for any areas that may seem tricky.
I adjusted the bodice for length by adding three inches to the bodice front and back, I'm 5'9" so I usually have to add length, however, for this pattern, I add almost three times the length in the bodice; I was not a fan of that adjustment as it can distort the pattern, but it came out good in the end. I also added 2 inches to the skirt and I didn't hem since I used a knit. Speaking of knits, I used a super cute ITY for both the dress and lining and I really like the way it came out.
Most times on casual dresses I make from knits, I wont hem since they don't fray, and because I'm lazy! This dress bodice is lined, so I chose to self line (using the same fabric for bodice main and lining), I couldn't prevent the lining from peaking out in the back so I used the same fabric to remedy that. I would recommend taking care with overlapping the front bodice pieces and adding the waistband, there are a lot of layers to include gathering stitches, so take your time and line up your pieces and baste before sewing your final stitches.
This pattern has a separate pattern piece for the lining and bodice mains which I really like also. Overall, the dress is great after I make my length adjustments and find the right fabric.
Tip/Technique: There is a tutorial on how to gather with clear elastic here from the BSD team and that will be super helpful if you work with knits.