Thursday, May 9, 2013

Pattern Review: Elle's Princess Twirl Dress

Okay, I was rushing a bit, so I didn't take many pictures, unfortunately, but Elle asked me to review her Princess Twirl Dress.  I received the Snow White version, and thought it would be perfect for a birthday present for Nikki.  (This pattern--an updated version of it, that is--is available at Elle Garrett Designs)  My first glance over the pattern gave me... issues.  First of all, aside from some arbitrary RTW sizing, it doesn't have any sizing information.  Bad idea.  After having tried it on Nikki, I'd say that it runs small.  She's just starting to get into 2T in most brands, and it was tight on her.  My thought of her being able to put it on herself isn't going to happen.  In fact, it wouldn't surprise me if it doesn't fit in a month or two.  It's just that tight.  I'm a measurement girl.  I want measurements.  I need them.  I just don't want the measurements of a child that will fit into a certain garment, I want finished measurements, too!

See, this is a 2T cut to a 4T length.  And it was perfect for length on Nikki.  I guessed and cut it one size longer and it turns out I was right.  The directions were also too brief if you're aiming for a beginning sewer.  I actually followed them since I was testing the pattern.  Truthfully, there are easier ways to achieve this garment.  There were absolutely no instructions for the waistband casing.  The neckline casing and arm casings would have been easier to achieve with bias tape--less bulk to sew through, and less ironing.  Since I was working with polyester satin and organza, I really should have done it my way because there would have been a lot less fraying.

The pattern itself had no instructions on how it should be assembled.  Part of my difficulties might have come from that. I taped it together as best I could without any information on how it went together.I'm sure that it was slightly bigger because I'm used to sewing with PDF patterns from places like the Peek-a-Boo Pattern shop that have to lay the paper side-by-side and tape it instead of on top of each other.  There was also nothing on how big the seam allowances should be or if they needed added in. 

Next, the skirt and the waist seams didn't match--I had to ease in the skirt because the opening was bigger than the bodice bottom.    Also, there were no instructions as to reinforcing the raglan sleeves.  This is a common problem, and to be honest, I've never seen a pattern or sewing book that says to do it, even though it's a necessity.  My mother and grandmother taught me that--if you don't reinforce it, the sleeves will easily rip out.

Another thing, there were no provisions for attaching the sash.  I ended up using crochet thread and making some hand crocheted belt loops to keep it in place.  The fabric here is slippery.  Without them, the sash will slip down and off.

And next to last--these are full circle skirts here.  If I didn't sew vintage, I'd have no idea how to go about hemming them, and I certainly wouldn't know that it needs to be hung up for a minimum of 24 hours to allow the bias cut bits to stretch before you hem it.  And that wasn't mentioned.   The skirt was a full two inches longer in some places after being hung up.

Last but not least, fishing line through the hem, as the pattern suggests, will only give the desired result if it's the correct weight.  The pattern doesn't give a weight of line, so I used what was laying around... and it wasn't the right weight.  My version doesn't have that lovely ripple effect in the pattern picture because  I didn't use the same fishing line that she did.

Nikki loved it, though.  She calls it her "Super dress" as in Supergirl.  :) Baby Alex's nursery is decorated in Superman, and the colors are right, so it's on the brain!  Look for Ricky's birthday present post in the next few days.



  1. That was a very helpful and educational review! Would you mind sharing exactly what you do to reinforce the raglan sleeve?

  2. I'll do a tutorial for it in a few weeks time. I need to power through birthday presents before I make some peasant blouses for Nicole and Grace.

  3. This is perfect for a little princess. I'd love to make one for our upcoming birthday girl's Disneyland trip.

  4. Laura gave great and specific feedback about the pattern. It allowed us to make improvements so the pattern would be more comprehensive and easier to use. Please check out the updated version at

  5. This is such a cute dress and a great comprehensive review of the pattern. If I had a little girl, I'd be whipping up one of these for her :)