NEW RELEASES: The Paradise Island Shift Dress + GIVEAWAY

Do you ever create something with so much meaning behind it that its hard to even express to others? I designed the most beautiful shift dress. I could tell you all about the intricate neckline. Or how the fitted nature of the dress is designed to show off your curves. I can rave about how you can make one for both you and your daughter so you can match. Or how the ladies version has seven cup sizes so you won’t need to do a bust adjustment. But, for me personally, none of that really matters.  Instead, I’m going to tell you why this dress is the most personal design I’ve ever released.  Let me explain why.

I’m going to take you back to when I was 17. It was the summer of my final year in high school. The world was ahead of me and with my vivacious spirit, I knew I could do anything, be anything. I was headed to the mountains in the Carolinas for short summer trip. I had planned a little window shopping with girlfriends in the small town of Ashville. One of them had wanted a new dress, and in I walked for the first time into a Lilly Pulitzer store. Now not many people can say they remember the first time they ever stepped in any clothing store. But I can remember this moment so clear in my mind.  The bright colors, the detailed prints. The feeling that summer could last forever, and I could life life to it’s fullest.  That is how I felt the first time I stepped into a Lilly Pulitzer store. That 13 year old girl that wanted to be a fashion designer was awoken as I stared at those beautiful dresses with their neon textiles. They were beautifully lined and understitched with a lace trim adorning the hem. Each one was made to perfection.

Now I would like to tell you that I walked out of that store with my very first Lilly. But sadly my 17 year old self could not afford their $300 price tag. But I remember that I made a secret promise to myself that one day, I would come back and buy a Lilly dress. Fashion called to me like nothing else I can remember.  And it stayed with me so strong all these years.

Fast forward several years, my husband and I are on one of our very first trips to Nassau, Bahamas.  We were staying on Paradise Island near Atlantis when suddenly I see an advertisement for the most beautiful fabric. It stopped me in my tracks. It reminded me so much of Lilly Pulitzer. The colors were bright, the print was tropical, and it had a feeling to it, a quality that I hadn’t seen in quite some time. I can remember stopping my husband John and telling him I had to take a closer look to find out who sold this fabric. The company was none other than Bahama Hand Prints. I once again made a vow to myself that I would find and buy fabric made by Bahama Hand Prints. Only this time, I would design a dress and make it myself.

Ladies and gentlemen, that day is here. The Paradise Island Shift Dress may seem like a simple shift. But to my journey as a designer, it is so much more than that. It’s Lilly inspired and dream driven. It has got to be one of my most favorite things I have ever drafted and ever sewn. And for once, I did it just for me. Take a look below at the design featured in beautiful Bahama Hand Prints‘ fabric:

WOMEN-Paradise-Island-Shift-Dress-102 WOMEN-Paradise-Island-Shift-Dress-103 WOMEN-Paradise-Island-Shift-Dress-108 WOMEN-Paradise-Island-Shift-Dress-107 WOMEN-Paradise-Island-Shift-Dress-106 WOMEN-Paradise-Island-Shift-Dress-105 WOMEN-Paradise-Island-Shift-Dress-104 GIRLS-Paradise-Island-Shift-Dress-182 GIRLS-Paradise-Island-Shift-Dress-181 GIRLS-Paradise-Island-Shift-Dress-180

To say I am in love with this design is an understatement.  If you would like to see more tester photos, please check out the product listings here for ladies and here for girls.  There are simply too many beautiful dresses to put in one blog post.

melissa-shift-dress-v2-016

Also, in the spirit of giving, I reached out to Bahama Hand Prints.  I gushed about how I was such a super fan of their collection, and they graciously offered to sponsor this pattern with a free giveaway.  If you would love to have the honor to own your very own piece from Bahama Hand Prints, we are giving away a beautiful cosmetic bag from them. I have to confess, when they sent it to me in the mail, I almost thought about just mailing them the money for it and telling them I was keeping it myself. It is simply gorgeous, and I will be officially jealous of whoever wins it!

To enter to win the giveaway, enter the rafflecopter below.  And do me a favor and check out Bahama Hand Prints’ website and order yourself some fabric.  You will NOT be disappointed in it!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

So who will be making themselves a shift dress (or two!) this summer?

Is that REALLY my size?

 

“Whoa! Something must be wrong with your measurement chart. I have never worn that size before.”

“Oh my goodness! Is that cup size right?! My boobs are not that big.”

As a sewing pattern designer, I hear these things a lot especially when it comes to sewing for women. And there are a lot of different reasons why. First off, every brand uses a different measurement chart. This is not only true for sewing patterns, but it’s true for ready-to-wear as well. Let’s be honest, you might be one size in J.Crew and another size in Ralph Lauren. Same as some designers design for an hourglass shape while others cater towards more of a pear shape.Is That Really My Size? Why You Might Be Choosing the Wrong Sized Sewing Pattern

So basically, when you go to sew a pattern, I want you to ignore the thought of what size you normally wear. If we are going to spend the hours to make something for ourselves, we want it to fit right? So don’t worry about the size number and worry about the measurements. Nobody knows the size but you anyway unless you tell them.

We have a ladies dress coming out this week with SEVEN cup sizes. I’ll give you a moment to let that sink in. Yes, 7 cups in one pattern. The dress is a fitted shift dress (technically a sheath dress for those of you that are super strict about terminology,) and it is releasing this Thursday. Now I have to say as a busty girl with a super small frame, I get so tired of doing bust adjustments to every single pattern that I own (Can I get an amen?) So because I had to do the adjustments anyway to test the pattern myself, I decided to just include it in the pattern. You’re welcome.

But this brings me to my topic for this blog. How do you determine your cup size? You might say that some really nice lady in a department store 3 years ago told you that you were a B cup. And that’s great. But how did she find that out? There’s a couple different ways. For the purpose of this blog post, we are going to talk about the way we choose the cup size for BSD patterns. It also happens to be the same way you should choose a cup size for your bra for *most* companies. Every brand has its own size chart, but from most bra specialists I have talked to, this is the method they use.

Let’s take a moment and talk about how to read a measurement chart. Again, you are on the BSD blog, so I’m going to talk specifically about BSD patterns. Some designers do things differently, so I would definitely go with each specific designer’s suggestions on how to choose a size based on their chart. Let’s look at the ladies measurement chart for the soon-to-be released Paradise Island Shift Dress.

Is That Really My Size? Why You Might Be Choosing the Wrong Sized Sewing Pattern

Whoa. That’s a lot of numbers. It looks a little intimidating, but I promise, it’s easier than you think. Now, the most important numbers to look at completely depends on the design. Some designs are fitted through the bodice, but have a flowy skirt. Others, like the Paradise Island Shift Dress are fitted throughout. Because of this, you should alway refer to the pattern on what the most important measurements are. Because this design is fairly fitted, we will be looking at all the numbers. First things first, we need some measurements. If you are unsure how to measure yourself, check out this post.  It is relating to measuring children, but the principles are the same. For this blog post, I will use mine.

Underbust: 30″
Bust: 36.5″
Waist: 28″
Hips: 37″

For this pattern, the most important measurement is the underbust (which is why its in bold). According to my measurements, this puts me in-between a base size of a 2 and a 4.  Now here is where knowing your body and using your best judgement come in. I know that I have a very small frame with narrow shoulders.  Because of that, I’m going to go with the 2 as a base size.  This size is important, because that then determines what cup size you will sew.  If you look under the size 2 column, you will find that my bust fits perfectly under a G cup.  Does your number sound crazy to you? Just trust me!  I had a bunch of testers that swore there was no way the dress was going to fit and they were all pleasantly surprised when the bust fit was perfect.  But as always with ANY woman’s pattern, please make a test garment first before cutting into your prettiest fabric!

Now that we have the bust figured out, for this pattern we want to blend into the waist and the hips to keep it fitted (and in my case, make sure I can fit into it.)  I have two lovely children and because of that I have a bit of a mom belly so I definitely want to blend to a larger size to accommodate.  My waist and hips both fit into a size 6. All my newest patterns (including the Paradise Island Shift Dress) include blending diagrams, so if you are unsure how to do that, please check those. Also, I did a short video on blending that you can check out here.  It is geared towards children, but the principles are the same.  I hope it helps you out.

Now is also a good time to mention that if you have a bit of a belly, you might want to size up the hips. To determine the exact amount, check out this technique written by Kennis Wong of Itch to Stitch.  It will help guide you on choosing the correct size to prevent unsightly drag lines on your final fit. Oh, and if you don’t already subscribe to her blog, be sure and do so.  She shares tons of great fitting tips for women.

Let’s review our size selections based on my personal measurements:

Underbust: 30″ – Base bust size of 2
Bust: 36.5″ – Cup Size of G
Waist: 28″ – Waist size of 6
Hips: 37″ – Hip size of 6

And for fun let’s see a photo of the finished result:

Is That Really My Size? Why You Might Be Choosing the Wrong Sized Sewing Pattern

 

All you have to do is blend those sizes.  And the best part, no bust adjustment is needed!  I hope this gives you a better grasp on how to choose your size in our new women’s line.  As I mentioned before, just make sure and make a test garment on your first draft so you can make any small fit adjustments that are needed.  And as always, if you need help choosing your size, you can join our Facebook group and ask for help.

Did you learn something? Let me know in the comments below!

 

The Magic Way to Sew a Lined Sleeveless Garment – AKA the Burrito Method

This is one of my favorite techniques for sewing a lined, sleeveless garment. I joke that it’s a magic technique because it sure feels like it.  This method eliminates the need for tedious hand stitching and is perfect for garments that have a zipper or other seam that needs to be sewn before the arm holes are completed. I’ve used this method in several of my patterns like the Piper Peplum Top or the soon to be released Paradise Island Shift Dress which is shown below.

The Magic Way to Sew a Lined Sleeveless Garment - AKA the Burrito Method - Such a great tutorial! Must repin for later!

How to Sew a Lined Sleeveless Garment with No Hand Sewing

At this point I am assuming that you have already sewn your main and lining bodices at the shoulder seams, and then sewn them both together at the neckline. Ready to figure out an easy way to sew those armholes without ANY hand sewing? Read on!


The Magic Way to Sew a Lined Sleeveless Garment - AKA the Burrito Method - Such a great tutorial! Must repin for later!

With the dress laying flat and the right sides out, start at one side of the dress and tightly roll both the main and lining together towards the opposite shoulder as shown in the animation above. This step seems a little strange, but hang with me.

The Magic Way to Sew a Lined Sleeveless Garment - AKA the Burrito Method - Such a great tutorial! Must repin for later!

Flip the lining fabric on the unrolled side under the folded fabric. You will notice that your rolled fabric is in the middle.

The Magic Way to Sew a Lined Sleeveless Garment - AKA the Burrito Method - Such a great tutorial! Must repin for later!

Fold the main fabric on the unrolled side over the folded fabric and align the raw edges with the lining fabric. The main and the lining fabric should be right sides together. The rolled fabric of the bodice should now be between these two layers. Sew the armscye closed making sure to not catch the rolled fabric in the seam allowance. Make sure to clip your curves so your fabric will lay nice when you turn the bodice right side out.  Be careful not to clip through your stitching by accident!

The Magic Way to Sew a Lined Sleeveless Garment - AKA the Burrito Method - Such a great tutorial! Must repin for later!

Now here is where the magic comes in. Pull the rolled fabric through the bottom of the bodice. The bodice should now be right sides out with one armscye complete. You did it!  Now repeat the above steps with the opposite side and you will have completed arms on the bodice!

The Magic Way to Sew a Lined Sleeveless Garment - AKA the Burrito Method - Such a great tutorial! Must repin for later!

You are now so close to having a completed bodice.  All you have to do is sew up the side seams.  Find the under arm seam of both the front and the back on the same side of the bodice.  I like to start pinning at the underarm and then continue pinning down each side of the garment.  Then, sew your seam starting at the main and continuing on to the lining.  And hopefully you will actually align your fabric edges better than I did in the above picture.  😉

The Magic Way to Sew a Lined Sleeveless Garment - AKA the Burrito Method - Such a great tutorial! Must repin for later!

Tadah!!  Now finish your garment by adding a skirt or a hem.  Don’t forget to topstitch (or under stitch) your neckline and armholes!  Great job!

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Are there any other cool sewing tricks you’d like to see on the blog? Let me know in the comments below!