The Brasilia Dress – A Pattern Testing Adventure

As a avid sewer there are certainly styles I gravitate towards and others I shy away from. Chock it up to personal preference, lifestyle, or even societal standards. Mostly I sew with knits, and I make dresses with slightly fuller skirts.

But, every now and then it is a good idea to step outside the box, right?

When Rachel from House of Pinheiro put out a call for pattern testers for the Brasilia Dress I saw this as an opportunity to step out of my “comfort zone” and sew something different.

Here’s Rachel’s dress, which she made in the Fall for Cotton challenge (click here to read more about it):


Nice, huh? Look at those center bust darts! That side panel! Classic. Elegant. Sexy!

Totally not my style, but I love it! I wanted to try it out. Sometimes you have to set aside your preconceived notions about what you think looks good on you and sew it anyway, right?? You never know what it will look like until you try it. I also saw this as a grading challenge since Rachel was providing a one size (her’s) pattern and the testers would have to grade the pattern to fit their own bodies. Ooooooo, challenge accepted!

Armed with my measurements and my Fall for Cotton bodice (as it was fitted) I set about grading the pattern to my size.  I didn’t need to do much to the top of the dress, as Rachel as I are pretty similar in size from the bust up, but I had to grade the waist and hips out considerably. No probs, that’s what math is for, right?

I made up a quick muslin (super fast – seriously, the dress has only 3 pattern pieces) and tried it on. The fit was pretty good. I had done a bang up job grading the pattern to my size.

Well done, Melanie, give yourself a pat on the back!

The only change I needed to make from the muslin was to shorten the torso about an inch. I then was ready to slice into some lovely turquoise floral cotton sateen I got from Gertie’s shop.

Here she is:


Front View

ImageBack View

I skipped the zipper since my fabric has a nice stretch and my version is not as fitted at Rachel’s.

I used bias binding to finish the neckline and armholes as well as add piping as design element to the front panel of the dress. My fabric is a busy print and I didn’t want the panel to get lost in the print, especially since it such a great addition to the pattern.

I had to stitch the piping down so it would lay flat on the dress.


I also added a square patch pocket low on the front of the dress as I have learned if it doesn’t have a pocket it stays hanging in my closet. I trimmed it in piping as well so it wouldn’t  get lost in the sea of turquoise flowers.


I had to take a few inches off of the length when it came time to hem as I am only 5’1″, and I decided to do a blind hem to give the dress a clean finish.


All in all, I think the dress turned out swell.

My hubby likes it, but I am a little on the fence about how much I will actually wear the dress. It is a lot more fitted around the lower tummy and hips than my usual makes, and I feel a tad self conscious in it. I am hoping that I will get over myself, since it is super comfy and I love the fabric. Maybe if I wear it with a shrug or cardigan I feel a little better?

Anyway, my insecurities aside, I think Rachel has drafted an AMAZING dress, don’t you?

Happy Sewing!

18 thoughts on “The Brasilia Dress – A Pattern Testing Adventure

  1. It looks lovely! It’s a really good shape on you, the fabric is great and I love the patch pocket! We’re at opposite ends of the fitting scale height wise, you’re taking inches off and at 5’10” I’m trying to put them in! Lovely pattern.

  2. As my dear friend Kim would say; Wowzer Pants!!! That is one A-mazeballs dress, and you look fabulous in it too.
    I love the fabric, it’s beautiful. I agree with Gillian, maybe a little shrug (Carmine??) whilst you get used to the compliments 🙂
    Was the grading up tricky though?

    • Thanks! There were quite a few pics that didn’t make it on the blog (cough, cough, side view, cough), but I do feel a little sexy in the dress, a good feeling, but foreign to me.

  3. Pingback: Brasilia Dress | threadtime

  4. Pingback: Top 5 of 2013, Part II: Inspirations and Goals | TheSeedsof3

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