In July, I was lucky enough to win a copy of the Charlie dress, by Mingo & Grace, and courtesy of the Dotted Whale. I love the style of the dress - the dropped waist and the gathered flounce skirt, teamed with the plain top, so I was keen to sew one up.
The PDF was very easy to tile and tape together. There's an option to print just the size you need, but I prefer to print the whole lot. Even though this pattern was very easy to put together, it's still time consuming and I'd rather just trace the size I need if I make the dress again.
There is a size chart included, giving chest measurements, but not height and also a finished garment size chart, detailing several measurements.
The first thing I noticed about the instructions, was the layout. It's very detailed, yet set out in such a way that if you don't need all the details, it's extremely easy to pick out the parts you need.
Definitions and descriptions of techniques are set out in greyed areas away from the actual step by step instructions. This is a good way to include lots of details, without cluttering the directions. Pictures are in the form of diagrams, with right and wrong sides easily distinguishable. Tips and explanations are spread throughout the pattern in clear separate sections, making them easy to skip over if not needed. Instructions are concise and to the point. Whether you are relatively new to sewing, or have been sewing for a long time, you'll find it easy to navigate your way through the directions.
In all my years of sewing, this is my first time making a button loop. It's a very quick alternative to button plackets and buttonholes. I personally like the finish of buttonholes, but functionally, the button loop works just as well.
This is the first PDF pattern I've come across with 5/8" seam allowances. There is such a variation in seam allowances now-a-days, it's most important to check the seam allowance width of each pattern you use. The wider seam allowance does mean you can let garments out as the need arises. It's also the width that was most used in years gone by.
The armholes and neckline are finished with bias binding. Instructions are included to make your own, or store bought could be used. I almost always make my own, as it's not hard to do, the quality is so much better and you get a perfect match for your garment.
Whenever I make bias binding, I always make extra. The photo above shows the left over binding, after sewing the dress. That's quite a lot of bias binding, all from the equivalent of a fat quarter of fabric. It's good to have on hand for those times when you can't be bothered, or don't have the time to make, but really don't want to have to resort to store bought.
I deviated from the pattern by putting the bias binding on the armholes after sewing the side seams, as I like the seams hidden under the bias binding. I have read a couple of reviews where others found the armhole binding difficult to attach. Adding the binding after the side seams are sewn, makes it a little bit harder again, but it's quite do-able.
The dress is a great fit once it's on, but getting it on is a bit of a squeeze. The tight point is across the chest. I based the size to cut on the chest measurement chart and went up a size, as there was only a 1" increase. I'm wondering if it would have been too tight to get on if I'd matched the chest and pattern size and gone a size smaller than I did. I was careful with measuring 5/8" seams and you can see it's not tight once it's on. The bias binding was also sewn at 5/8" from the edges. I haven't read of anyone else having similar problems, so I'm wondering if there's anything I have done, but I can't think what. The finished dress chest measurement is exactly the same as stated in the pattern. If you've made the Charlie dress, I'd love to hear what you think.
The pattern fits a wide range of ages, going from 12 months to 12 years of age, so I'm quite sure I'll make the dress again. Next time I'll put in a zip that extends to perhaps the middle back and that will alleviate any tightness when dressing.
So, what does Little Miss think of the Charlie dress? She loves it!!! She said it will be good for parties, twirling and dancing, but no good for riding bikes. Ha, ha... we'd spent much of the day successfully learning to ride a bike without training wheels, so obviously that was uppermost on her mind that night.
Photos by Little Ladybird