You know how sometimes you see something and buy it because you just like it, but don’t really have any use for it at the time? That was me signing up to test this pattern. I really wanted to try the whole crop top look. Kept seeing it on all the curvy fashion blogs and liking it more and more with every pic posted, but still unsure it would look good on me. So how could I not try it out for free? Well, free in principle, as this pattern took me 2 weeks to get through and ate a whole lot of fabric.
Pattern: Winter Wear Designs Crop Dress
Price: USD $9.95
- Downloadable PDF only
- Sizes 00-24 (Bust 28-50″/ Waist 23-47″/ Hips 31-54″)
- Modern silhouette features close necked crop overlay, a fitted knit bodice, and a high-waisted circle skirt.
- Sleeve Options: Sleeveless, short, elbow length
- Skirt Lengths: Midi or Knee length
- Suggested Fabrics for Tank (1 yard): Stable knits with strong recovery and at least 30% stretch, Ponte, Performance Knits, Swimwear, Scuba, etc.
- Suggested Fabrics for Crop Top (1.5 yards) & Skirt (4 yards): Wovens, can be structured or drapey depending on the finished look you want, lace, denim, leather, rayon blends, etc. You can also use stable knits for the crop and skirt.
- Optional Tulle Overlay requires 6-8 yards
- Pattern 38 pages
- Tiled & Trimmed for A4/ Letter Paper, with printing layout guide
- Sizes specified by different colour and style lines
- Suitable for printing in Black & White or Colour
- Large Format A0 also available
- Instructions 28 pages
- Written instructions, include illustrations and some photographs
- Not suitable for printing in Black & White/ Can read on devices
- Pattern Line Drawing, but does not highlight all options available
- Body measurements size chart, but not finished garment measurements
- Fabric requirements are general instead of size-specific
- Notions requirements
- Cutting List, however suggested cutting layout only provided for skirt
- Tips/Suggestions for Better Fit
- Tester Images
Sewing knits, sewing curved seams, sewing French seams (if necessary), doing a princess seam FBA (if necessary), doing a dartless FBA (if necessary), blending sizes (if necessary), hemming circle skirts, installing zippers.
Plum stretch taffeta for the crop top and Black Stretch Cotton Twill for the skirt; both from local store Abed’s. For the tank, Magenta/ Cream/ Black Abstract Cheetah Ponte Knit from Fabric Mart.
Size 16 crop top with Elbow Sleeves, size 14 Tank, and size 14 Skirt
I was getting major puckering at the armscye of the princess seams on the crop top and ended up have to take a 1″ wedge out of both the front bodice and the corresponding part on the sleeve armscye. There’s still some puckering, as you can see from the pic. I might have also needed to take out a bit more out of the sleeve, because the fabric was still trying to gather when I was joining the sleeve to the bodice.
I ended up removing 2 inches from the back waistband at CB and also taking out 2 inches from the skirt at CB, which obviously created a CB seam that is not in the pattern. This worked out great for me though, since I had to use an invisible zipper instead of an exposed one. For my height, and my particular preference, I also cut off 4 inches from the skirt hem.
Based on the chart, I cut a size 14 tank and used a ponte knit. However, I had to reduce the side seams by half inch, as well as take half inch wedges from the shoulder seam at the neck and also for the top of the side seams at the armscye. This was to eliminate the gaping I was getting at the armscye. I might have to try 12 armscyes next sew to see if that has the same issue. I had to make my usual 2″ sway back adjustment to the back of the tank. I may increase the tank length at CF by about 3/4″, as it does seem a smidge high to me, but I’ll see how I feel about it when I try this again.
I bound the neckline of the tank to the inside with black cotton lycra bias tape and then bound the armholes to the outside with the same bias tape. This was not intentional, mind you. I had a little issue with the original bias tape disintegrating as I was sewing it on to the armholes so I ended up having to cut it off, and the seam allowance for the tank itself as well. So I needed to get the coverage back with the new bias tape.
*Please note that the final pattern would have incorporated fixes for issues with the waistband, skirt length, and tank length that many of the testers experienced*
This dress can go from day to night or casual to formal depending on the type of fabric and colours used. Of course, the sleeve options on the crop top or the footwear worn with it can also change up the look.
The peekaboo effect at the back means you can use up your 1 yard stash of those fun or extra pretty knit fabrics for the tank.
POCKETS. #nuffsaid. Really can’t go wrong with having pockets in a dress.
The princess seams on the crop top make it easier to make any bust or waist adjustments. The wide band of the skirt nips in the waist and holds up the weight on the heavy skirt. The back zipper will help with having to get in and out of the dress much easier than trying to pull it on over your head, especially with that heavy skirt.
Love the shape and depth of the neckline of the crop top as designed – not too wide, not too high, not too low. It’s just perfect to me.
Although it looked really nice on the testers that sewed both together, I much prefer the versatility of wearing the crop separate from the dress, or possibly making another colour or fabric type crop top to wear with the dress.
My crop top was finished separately from the tank, so I can’t speak to the instructions for joining the two. I didn’t have any great difficulty understanding the instructions for the version that I ultimately made, but reading through the instructions for the connected tops had me a bit baffled, as it did some of the testing group. So it’s a good thing that those who understood were able to guide the others and I believe those specific instructions have been better clarified in the final pattern.
Because they’re not attached, the tank back neckline does also peek out above the crop top back neckline. Not sure if I like that effect, so I would try to avoid that for another make.
I wasn’t sure exactly how much we were to fold over the CB of the crop top after binding the edges. I assumed it was to be half inch as the pattern standard, but that wasn’t clear. I actually folded it over 1″ and love how that looks, so I’m probably going to stick with that. If you’re not binding the seams at CB of the crop, or using French seams, then be mindful of the possibility of your crop top insides showing if the top blows up or open.
Before I could make my final version, a good set of the testers had finished their lovely creations and one thing really stood out for me – was the crop top supposed to cover the waistband completely or partially or not cover the waistband at all? Suzanne said her vision for the design was to have them they meet each other, but depending on your body type it might overlap or gap. Since I seemed to be the only one confused by this, I’m guessing that with the great variation in their final looks, everyone else left this to their personal preference. You can see some of the tester pics on the pattern page in Suzanne’s shop.
Changes I’d Make:
The full circle skirt, albeit gorgeous to look at, is a such a fabric hog at the four yards estimate and would probably fine if you’re going for a really fancy formal look. Otherwise a half circle skirt is more than sufficient, in my opinion, for either a casual or formal dress. My wedding dress was a floor length half circle skirt made with just about 3 yards and look how fabulous that turned out!
Hemming a circle skirt is the most time consuming and boring task ever, so I would certainly recommend doing a narrow rolled hem on the serger, if that would suit the type of fabric used. For the real fancy frocks, definitely go the bias tape hemming route though.
Overall opinion: Special Occasion Quick Sew
If you have a semi-formal or formal event coming up and you don’t want to over-think your outfit or spend too much time figuring out garment construction, this is the pattern for you. The hardest part sewing this dress would be fitting the woven crop top, which is essentially normal for anyone with the usual fitting issues (SBA/ FBA, small shoulder, etc.) The most time spent will undoubtedly be hemming the skirt, so plan appropriately for that 2-3 hour task, depending on the hemming method you prefer. Alternatively, this pattern can also work well for work, depending on the fabric and sleeve options chosen.
Now imagine my joy when huzzy came home with an invitation to the Governor-General’s 85th birthday party, knowing I had the PERFECT DRESS TO WEAR! With a new do, makeup slayage by the fabulous Tennille (who did my wedding makeup), and my handsome husband at my side, we were hauteness! We snuck in a few pics at Government House and tried to get a couple when we got home, so the quality isn’t the best…
DISCLAIMER: As a tester of this pattern, I received the final pattern for free in exchange for my working with the designer to create this awesome pattern for all of us sewists out there. My opinions remain entirely my own.