Pattern Testing · Sewing

Pattern Testing: Blank Slate Marbella Dress

Ever since Melissa Mora posted this beauty on her Instagram, I have been stalking the Blank Slate Patterns Facebook group for the more information on when it would be released. At first, I thought she had hacked her beautiful Marigold pattern for knit fabric, but then she mentioned she was actually working on a new pattern. Wait, what? A knit shirtdress pattern? SOLD. So when the tester call came through the group, I was on that train immediately.

Blank Slate Marbella Pattern - Line Drawing

Pattern Name: Blank Slate Patterns Marbella Dress

Pattern Details:

  • Sizes 0-26 (Bust 31-53 inches/ Waist 24-44 inches/ Hips 34-55 inches)
  • For knit fabrics, using 2 2/3-3 1/2 yards depending on options chosen, and wovens can be used for button placket and collar
  • Suggested fabrics are light to medium jersey or ponte knits without vertical stretch
  • Bodice available with button placket or as simple v-neck pullover
  • Three skirt lengths – peplum, knee and maxi (ankle)
  • Two sleeve lengths – elbow and long
  • Optional side seam pockets
  • Printing 19 pages of instructions and 32 pages for pattern for letter & A4 paper

Price: USD $11.95

Difficulty:  Intermediate

Techniques Required: Sewing knits, hemming knits, making buttonholes, attaching collar, sewing darts, doing an FBA (if necessary), blending sizes (if necessary).

Fabric used: I had bought 4 yards of this purple and oatmeal cotton jersey from Girl Charlee during last year’s 4th of July sale and had it stashed for a maxi dress pattern. I originally had dreams of some kind of fancy stripe design, but I knew Marbella would be PERFECT for it. Side note: am I the only person who doesn’t own fabric that they don’t like and so never have ugly fabric for muslins?

Size made: For the test, I made a size 16 button placket top with size 14 maxi skirt. Point to note that the larger bodice fit the smaller skirt without any stretching of the skirt to match the larger size.

Blank Slate Marbella Collage 04

Pattern adjustments: No FBA was necessary, but I had done a sway back adjustment after the initial fit. Under the arms were a bit snug, so I could probably benefit from lowering the armscye an inch on both the sleeve and bodice. The sleeves were also cut size 16, but they too were snug around the biceps and I would add about 1/2″ – 3/4″ there next make.

Concerns: I’m not sure about the waist. Can’t tell if I need to take it in some or drop it lower at the front to better balance my body shape or if it needs a waistband. Or maybe the stripes are just messing with my mind. As you can see, I tried a sash with it, but I’m still undecided. Melissa and even some of my other fellow testers styled their final versions with belts. So maybe it does need something there. I really have to try this one in a solid colour to get a better feel on the waistband issue.

Blank Slate Marbella Collage 02

Now the buttons… OMGoodness, the buttons. Busty women everywhere know that shirt buttons are our nemesis. They just must gape and annoy us. I actually take all the blame on this one though, as I should have made the spaces between the buttons on the bodice about 1″ or 1.5″ apart instead of 2″ that I had done. Reducing the amount of fabric between the buttons is one of the simplest ways to fix button gaping. This is the only thing I don’t like about my dress and chances are very high that I will sew down the whole placket anyway, since the dress can come on and off without even opening the buttons. I would also love to try this placket with snaps instead of buttons, but no one seems to sell plastic snaps here in Barbados and I’d have to order them online.

Unfortunately, I discovered with this project that my Singer 6160 does not like to do buttonholes on knits. I’m not sure if the knit was too light, even with the knit interfacing, but my machine effed up that entire process. I think I only have two halfway decent buttonholes out of the total nine. Yup, you would notice that my buttons don’t run the complete length of the placket; I stopped them just above my knees to give the skirt some extra flair.

What else would I change about Marbella? I’m a sucker for sleeveless dresses, so I would have liked to see that option included, as well as a shorter sleeve length, even though they are both simple hacks.

Blank Slate Marbella Collage 03

Overall opinion: Wardrobe Staple. Every woman should own a well-fitting shirtdress and with this being a knit pattern, it should definitely be added to your stash. I definitely like this pattern, but again I’m shirtdress-biased. Shirtdresses are just one of my favourite garment styles, like skater dresses, henley/ Mandarin collar shirts, tank tops, and bermuda shorts.  Please do check out some of the other tester versions over on Melissa’s blog.

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.


7 thoughts on “Pattern Testing: Blank Slate Marbella Dress

  1. Wow, that looks great! And yeah I’m not usually a belt person but it does break it up in a very eye-pleasing way. When I get my sewing room set up in the new place, I may have to try this!


  2. If someone told me, “There’s a knit shirt dress pattern out there…” I would laugh in their face and say, “IMPOSSIBLE!”

    But alas, here’s one and one that’s mighty stunning. It looks like you get the best of both worlds – the chic-ness of a shirt dress with the comfort of a knit. This is great and I love those stripes!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know right? That’s the same shock I had when the tester call came out. But it’s an amazing pattern and I actually have 2 other versions cut out, just haven’t gotten around to sewing them yet.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love this!
    As always, your review is so thorough. I really like reading it 🙂 I really like the dress almost the sash. It kind of breaks it apart a little and adds some interest. But it does look good without it as well. Great job!


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