Tuesday, February 18, 2020

My Blue Velvet Bookstore Dress

I have been working on a new dress pattern this month, the Agnes Dress by Halla Patterns. It's a free pattern, and a simple swing dress style.

I wanted to test it out and check the fit before using my newest, fancy printed stretch velvet -- so I found some similar weight/stretch fabric in my stash and gave it a go.

I like to call this my "Blue Velvet Bookstore Dress". Why? Well, because my husband and I ran a second-hand bookshop for a few years called Chumley & Pepys Books. And this blue crushed velvet was what I bought to cover the stryrofoam sheets that we used as pinboards, and also to make a curtain to draw over the lower shelves of a counter that we used as storage. So I had a fair amount of it sitting around from those days!

This was a super easy dress. My fabric is stretchy, but maybe not as much as a rayon knit, so I could have cut it a tiny bit bigger. I used Size 10/12 and graded out to 14/16 at hip, then traced it off, and quickly cut it. I was only able to get around to sewing it on this long weekend, though! If I make it again in a similar stretch fabric, I'm going to add more width to move up to about a 14/16 bust and 18 hip though. It's a bit tight across the back for me.

Please excuse the odd way this is pulling. It was so cold out I was  shivering
while taking these last few photos! I'm sure the people driving by thought I was bonkers.

If you look at the back right shoulder closely you may note that I have a "secret seam" there -- I had to piece the top of the shoulder in order to fit it onto the length of fabric that used to be a curtain ;)

I just hemmed the sleeve although the pattern has an option for a sleeve band as well as various sleeve lengths. And I added the neckband and for once it worked out the first time! I think I just have to give it a little press and maybe a topstitch to keep it smooth.

The only flaw is that the pockets -- while they do exist! -- are a bit small for my hands. I think I'll use my default pocket piece in future. Otherwise I quite like this pattern, although I feel that it is one size too small for comfortable wearing, at least for me. It's a bit too clingy; I'll go up one size and perhaps use a fabric that has a bit more stretch next time around. But I love the colour and the fit in general, and I do think I'll be making this one again. It's a fairly nice design for a free pattern!


  1. The dress looks nice on you, Mel and it is a beautiful color. Thanks for the link to Halla patterns. I have never heard from them but they have some nice garments. Basic, but nice and nicely priced. It's so interesting that many of the tops and dresses have breast feeding options. That feature should make them popular, yet as I say, I've never heard of them.

    1. Thank you! Yes, I only recently discovered Halla Patterns as well, and agree with your assessment of the designs. I think this dress is the one most in line with my aesthetic, but they all seem like solid deigns.

  2. Very cute dress!
    I love the term "secret seam" (that I first heard from Gillian and have been pondering ever since). It's so much better than some alternative names I can think of! ('Seam hack' etc. ;=)
    I think I'll strive for 'secret seam design feature/detail' the next time I play Pattern Tetris!
    I've noticed secret seams in a vintage quilt I have. One of the Dresden plate fans itself is pieced. I always wondered if it was done to complete the pattern as the quilter intended.

    1. That's really interesting that you have a quilt with pieced pieces ;)

      I love this trick, and if you access to Threads magazine, there was a really good article about piecing to extend your fabric in the Feb/Mar 2017 issue

  3. To get this free pattern, you must fill out your name and address....why? so our address can be sold to companies?

  4. I think it's just standard with most companies - they would like to be able to promote their work to you if you've used their patterns. That said, I have not got any marketing or emails from this company. It could just be the way their online cart system in set up.


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