Hello, and welcome to spring downunder. - I know, it's still freezing in Melbourne, and all those blossoms have been blasted off the trees by howling wind, but for the sake of the northern hemisphere audience, it's all sunshine and fresh air, right?!
I'm joining a blog tour today to introduce a Dutch pattern company: Sofilantjes Patterns
I'll confess to being very out of touch with who's who in the indie pattern designer world, so I hadn't heard of Sofilantjes until an email arrived inviting me to participate. A browse of their webshop showed a pleasing array of patterns and quite a number that I could happily have chosen to make for the (hopefully) upcoming warm weather.
Since that upcoming warm weather isn't here yet, I picked my summer-y dress pattern but then chose another pattern as well! I knew A would adore the Amare dress, and it appeared to be perfectly matched to the Aura Bolero. (you can get them as a bundle with the discount code at the end!)
Before we go any further I need to mention my fabric choice, as it did change the dress slightly, and that necessitates a little diversion into geography. :) ...'Lest anyone think I'm confusing my flatlanders!
The fabric is a panel from Bambiblauw via the Maaidesign shop. They're Belgian, and Sofilantjes are Dutch, ... well that is, they're from the Netherlands. The distinction being necessary as there are Belgians who speak Dutch too....
I think,... but sometimes they call it Flemish....
There is no such place as Flemland (no matter how funny your dad thought it would be to teach you there was)...
Ok, the clogs and the orange football crowds are certainly from the Netherlands....
The Belgians are the ones who either sound French or sound just like the Dutch but have a flag that looks awfully like the German flag....
It's entirely arguable who makes the better beer or chocolate and I'm guessing they both prefer mayonnaise on their chips to tomato sauce....
If it helps to think in UCI ProTour* terms (this is meant to be a sewing and cycling blog afterall), and it does for me; the Netherlands is the home of Sofilantjes Patterns and the Amstel Gold Race. Belgium on the other hand produces these gorgeous fabric panels, and hosts Gent-Wevelgem, Tour of Flanders, La Fleche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege
* The UCI, of course, being run by the Swiss :) .... in French....
All of that to say that my panel limited the skirt width and forced me to change up the pattern a bit. The resulting skirt is only about 70% of the intended width. In hindsight I can see a way I could have cut it, and gained width, but would have ended up with two side seams.
I omitted the centre back seam of the skirt to use the full panel width, which required making a keyhole facing where normally there would be a short section of open seam. The way the pattern does it is much simpler and this would certainly be a pattern that most would find quite quick and fairly easy to sew.
I chose the size based on A's measurements and made no adjustments other than adding some skirt length, just to make full use of the border print (and sewed a hem facing for the same reason). As you can see, the fit is lovely.
There is an option for making a cute little peplum style top rather than the dress, or for having a tying bow in the back rather than the belt bow at the front.
The Aura Bolero is the perfect complement to the Amare dress as the bodice lengths suit each other so well. I chose the same size for the bolero as the dress and made no changes. Loving that sleeve length!
There are options for either a gathered or pleated sleeve head. I had to make the pleat a little shallower than the pattern indicated as otherwise there was not enough fullness in the sleeve cap. I'm no fan of a poofy sleeve but think it could do with a little more than even this. Otherwise the shape of the bolero is delightful and it has instantly become her favourite long sleeved top to throw on over a dress.
In fact, she was so delighted with this outfit that there wasn't a moment's hesitation when I suggested getting changed and ducking out for a quick photoshoot. These pictures were taken in a brief 5 minute interval between rain showers, and a "lesser" outfit may never have been photographed at all!
Now, the poor folk at Sofilantjes probably hadn't read my blog or heard of my nitpicking tendencies, and I'm fully prepared to never be invited on a blog tour again, but I did find the patterns I used to be a bit "raw". When I'd finished sewing I went back through it all to work out where I'd lost some joy along the way. Admittedly there were mistakes that were very much my own, in misreading the cutting layouts for example, but there were also a few wayward illustrations or instructions as well as some typographical errors.
I was sidetracked by my own grouchiness into an internal monologue about pattern testing and promoting. I won't bore you with it all here, but I think if asked to test a pattern, we owe it to the designer to really test it. Pore over every pattern marking and every bit of punctuation, and make the pattern better through your testing. Likewise we owe it to other sewists to review finished patterns fairly and honestly.
And honestly, these patterns are quite good. They're not perfect, but they are good. They were easy to print and assemble, with the option of layered printing for sizes, and saving on paper where a pattern piece could be cut from a measurement. I appreciated the mix of line drawing illustrations and clear photographs for the instructions. The neatest bit of the instructions was an inclusion at the end of a summary in written steps and a summary in diagrams. Either or both of which could be printed to have at the sewing table and save refreshing the computer screen to view each sewing step.
Mostly what impressed me was the range of patterns available and some of the quite lovely designs. You can check out more of what's being made around Australia and New Zealand using Sofilantjes Patterns by following the blog tour links below
Monday Idle sunshine
Tuesday Horris And Deedle
Wednesday Little Cumquat, Bartacks and Singletrack
Thursday Tea, Dust and Stitches, Brave Fabrics
Friday While She was Sleeping, Mend and Make New
Or, hit up the rafflecopter widget below for a chance to win one and try it out for yourself - I suspect if you visit each blog there are multiple rafflecopters to enter, so click around and up your chances!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
There's also a discount code that you can use at the Sofilantjes Shop to get 15% off all summer patterns from now until the 16th of October. You could even bundle the Aura Bolero with a summery dress and apply the discount code to both.
Discount code for 15% off: DOWNUNDER
Thanks to Sofilantjes for reaching out to me and inviting me to join them. Now, feel free to call me whatever the dutch version of a Korinthenkacker is - sledging is like a national past-time downunder, and I love a bit of word trivia to boot!
Patterns: Sofilantjes Amare dress and Aura Bolero*
Fabrics: dress: Bambiblauw cornflower woven panel and turquoise quilting cotton.
bolero: Ponte knit
Notions: 4 buttons for dress and 1 feature button for bolero.
Alterations: dress: Added skirt length (about 5cm), reduced skirt width (by about 30%). Centre back keyhole skirt opening. Hem facing (turquoise quilting cotton)
bolero: essentially none.
* the patterns were gifted to me in exchange for participation in the blog tour.