Bella Sunshine Designs – Amelia Maxi Dress

Hey, sewists!  Are you on the hunt for a new summer maxi pattern?  I have a great one to share with you today!  I was lucky enough to pattern test for Bella Sunshine Designs again!  This round of testing was for the new Amelia Maxi Dress.  I was able to help test the bodice fit and provide solutions before the final test version went out to testers.  Since I enjoy pattern design it was a lot of fun to help out at this stage of development.  Pattern testing is not for everyone, but I like the process helping to fine tune the pattern and the instructions.  I made three different versions of the bodice during testing, which is why I say this process isn’t for everyone.  Those test bodices did use up 2.25 yards of random pieces of stash fabric from previous projects, so I will call that a win for me.

The Amelia pattern has a front wrap bodice with a deep V back neck and gathered front and back waistband.  Like the Sahara, with the deep scoop back, I love this deep V back neckline! For the bodice and waistband I made a size 16 and for the skirt I cut a size 24.  The skirt is gathered, so making a different size than the bodice meant I just had more gathers.  More gathers makes it fuller and a bit more flattering over my stomach.

I wanted to highlight the gathered belt on the bodice, so I used a sequin sample that has been in my stash for ages as a contrast. I didn’t have enough of the sample to cut it on the fold, so I ended up making a seam down the center front of it.  I underlined the sequin fabric since it has a mesh backing and I didn’t want my center front seam to be visible.  The seam also gave me an opportunity to stitch down my gathers in the front.  

Also, can we just take a minute to talk about the fabric I used?  The fabric is a rayon jersey knit with a navy and white sea life print.  This print!  I love it!  It has sea horses, shrimp, starfish, shells, and kelp!  I picked up 3 yards earlier this month at Jo-Ann’s for $19.47 and I used all 3 yards for this dress.  I also used 3/4 of a yard of an off white mystery knit that I got back in 2013 from a Fabric Mart mystery bundle.

That off white mystery knit was used for the bodice lining.  That is the great thing about the BSD patterns, all the bodices have linings to eliminate topstitching.  The lining also helps give a bit more stability to the bodice when using a 4-way stretch fabric like rayon jersey.

This pattern calls for using clear elastic at the waist to help support the weight of the skirt.  Instead of the clear elastic, I used white foldover elastic.  The sequin fabric I picked could not be run through my serger without breaking several needles. In fact just slowly straight stitching the gathers down I broke 2 needles.  I chose to encase the bottom edge of the waistband in elastic with a  zig zag stitch the finish it off.

Overall, I am pretty pleased with how this dress turned out.  I do enjoy the drapey quality of rayon jersey and the full gathered skirt of the Amelia really shows that off.  As for the pattern, just like the BSD Sahara, the fit is perfect.  The only alteration I had to make was shortening the length of the skirt by 4″.  Which was not a bad alteration since the pattern pieces have a lengthen/shorten line for a quick and easy process.


**I am an affiliate for Bella Sunshine Designs and do receive a small commission for each pattern purchased through the link in this post.  With that being said, I would not be an affiliate if I did not truly believe in the company behind the pattern. 

Battle of the Cotton Knits

Cotton Rayon Spandex Knit VS Cotton Spandex Knit

Hey Stashbusters!  Today we are talking about knit fabrics!  Inspired by Melissa at Mahlica Designs and her fantastic Versus series, I thought I would write up my own version of this.  I wanted to compare how the exact same pattern would sew up in two different knits.  Cotton Spandex Knit and Cotton Rayon Spandex Knit to be exact.

Let’s start with a little background on the pattern first.  The pattern I picked is M6559 in view D.  This is a pretty basic pattern as it only has two pieces.  It is a quick make, which is good for me.  These are the 3rd and 4th versions I have made using this pattern. Surprisingly, this is the first time I am really blogging about this pattern.  I kind of reviewed it here but not very much. For both versions I made a size 22 with no fitting alterations.  For both versions I did add a contrasting trim to the neckline and armholes and a simple rolled hem finish.  I love the contrasting trim I added as a different way to finish my openings.  I haven’t posted it yet, but I do have a pattern hack tutorial written for a different pattern that includes how to add this trim, so I am not going to post it here.  I really do love this pattern for its simplicity.  It makes a great summer dress for me that I am going to make over and over again.

Let’s get down to the main event though.  I compared each fabric in the following areas: sewing experience, all day wearability, first laundry cycle.


Musings of a Seamstress - M6559
Cotton Rayon Spandex Knit


First up is a Kumquat Teal Navajo Modal Cotton Rayon Spandex Knit Fabric from Girl Charlee.  I used 1.75 yards of this fabric that I purchased back in 2014 during their Black Friday sale.  The total cost of this one is $4.38.  I also used scraps of an Orange Rayon Spandex.  It wasn’t enough to count for anything though.  This is a very soft drapey knit, that clings in all the right places. It is typically used for sleep wear, making this kinda like secret pajamas.

Musings of a Seamstress - M6559
Cotton Spandex Knit


The second fabric is Pink and Black Ethnic Cotton Spandex Knit.  This one also came from Girl Charlee and was in the August 2015 Knitfix I purchased last year. I used 2 yards which was a cost of $11.50.  For the contrast I used some scraps of Black Ponte De Roma that I had laying around. For this version I added 3″ to the bottom hem since I did not pre-wash the fabric because I wanted to do a laundry test.  This fabric is a little thicker than the other, but it feels more like a comfy t-shirt.


Musings of a Seamstress - M6559  The Rayon Spandex print can go either direction, so I had no problems being able to match up the print at the side seams.  It is darn near perfect! Rayon Spandex does present it’s own set of sewing challenges though.  This fabric has a lot of stretch to it, so it was very important that I not stretch the fabric as I was sewing. Having a pattern to match at the side seams helped immensely with that. For all knits I make sure I use bulky nylon as my bobbin thread on my straight stitch machine and looper threads on serger.  I also make sure I use a jersey needle.


The cotton spandex, Musings of a Seamstress - M6559unfortunately, is a one way print.  With only having two yards the front and back panels go different directions, so there was no way I was able to match prints at the side seam.  This one has a good amount of stretch to it, but not as much as the rayon spandex,  making it a bit easier to sew with.  It would be a great knit to sew if you are new to knits.  The only downside to sewing this fabric was hemming.  The cotton spandex tends to curl up and my rolled hem is not visible now and I have a narrow band of the underside of the fabric showing.


Musings of a Seamstress - M6559Musings of a Seamstress - M6559I love wearing this rayon spandex dress.  I said earlier that it is like secret pajamas, making it a super comfortable fabric to wear.  The stretch and drape in this fabric makes it flattering in that it shows off my curves!  The fabric does tend to stretch out during the course of the day, but after letting it sit over night it recovered pretty darn well.






Since the cotton spandex doesn’t have the drape as the rayon spandex, it does show off my curves as well.  It is a little baggier looking in the waist creating more of a column look from the chest down. On the plus side, this one does stretch out a bit while wearing, but does not recover as well as the rayon spandex did. Since I didn’t wash it before wearing, the extra inches I added were slightly problematic.  Good thing that isn’t going to be permanent.






Musings of a Seamstress - M6559Part of the reason I wanted to wait to wash them until after wearing them was I knew how the rayon spandex would turn out and it performed as expected.  This is the biggest let down of rayon spandex for me.  In the picture the fabric on the left is unwashed and the one on the right is the finished garment.  You can see that the finished garment has white fuzzies all over it, causing it to have a faded look.  This is because of the rayon fibers.  I hate that this dress now looks super worn after only one wash.  Musings of a Seamstress - M6559The cotton spandex, by contrast, washed up wonderfully!  If you can see the dividing line down the center, the one on the left is the unwashed fabric and the one on the right is the washed garment.  They are identical in look!  No fading at all!  The fabric did become a bit softer though, which is a plus.  It did shrink up a bit in the hem, but not as much as I added to the hem, so I will re-hem this one.


So, which fabric does it come down to as being the winner…

Musings of a Seamstress - M6559

The cotton spandex knit!  I think the washability of the fabric was the deal breaker for the cotton rayon spandex knit.  I want my garments to be of great quality and how they wash and wear is a huge part of that.  The downsides of this cotton spandex can be looked passed because this fabric still looks great after washing and I expect it will hold up for quite a some time.  I do have another cotton rayon spandex knit that is mostly white and navy that I am curious to sew up and see if it washes the same as this mostly black version.

Cotton Rayon Spandex Knit VS Cotton Spandex Knit

Have you sewn up either of these fabrics before?  What are your thoughts on them?

Sew Long Summer: Summer Crush

I know I am a day late in posting this for the Summer Crush theme last week, but I had some family things to take care of yesterday that prevented me from finishing everything up.  Not to worry, everyone is doing good now.  Eric and I just had to attend to several different family members yesterday all for different issues.  It was a busy weekend for us, which culminated with me having jury duty today.  Luckily, I didn’t get picked, because I don’t think I could handle the case that was being presented.

I still want to share the garment I made for Summer Crush though. Here it is, better late than never.

Musings of a Seamstress McCall's 6073 frontOn Saturday, I mentioned my summer crush this year is the maxi dress.  Here is the newest one I have made. Another version of McCall’s 6073!  Big surprise, right?!

Musings of a Seamstress McCall's 6073 backThis is my third version of this pattern this year and I am not even close to sick of it.  The pattern is so flattering to my body type that most of my dresses are this type of style.  The belt does a great job of accentuating my midsection, while the crossover shows off my curves well.  The overall length of the bodice hits me in a great spot so the skirt makes me look taller.  The gathers of the skirt help to hide my tummy too.

Musings of a Seamstress McCall's 6073 sideThis version is a whole lot of floral!  I love the print of this ITY Knit and I also have it in a purple colorway.  Both of these were purchased from my job way back in June at $1.12 a yard. I also added an underlining to the bodice of white swimwear lining for to help support the weight of the skirt.  I used 3.25 yards of the ITY and .75 yards of the swimwear lining for a total cost of $8.24.  Not too bad! Not bad at all!

Musings of a Seamstress McCall's 6073 sidebackI  did make a couple of minor alterations to this version.  First, I took the crossover at the belt down by about 1″ to eliminate some of the gaping open at the chest.  This didn’t quite do the trick so I took the shoulders up in the front only by 1.5″ and now it is perfect.  There is no gaping open and it fits nicely around my curves.

Musings of a Seamstress McCall's 6073 frontThis weeks theme is Never Ending Summer, where we are sewing garments that keep us in a summer state of mind all year round.  I have one garment ready but am not contemplating making a second.  Head on over to Melissa’s blog to read more about this week’s theme and join the linky party!

5 Tips to Speed Up Your Sewing

sewlongsummer-badgeHow is your summer sewing going? Sew Long Summer is off and running, and it is not too late to join in on the fun!  This weeks theme is Summer Crush and it is all about trying those patterns you have been crushing on but not sewing up for one reason or another.  My personal summer crush is maxi dresses.  I have made 5 this summer.  I will be sharing my newest one tomorrow, after I have a much needed photo shoot.

This weeks theme runs until tomorrow night, so you still have plenty of time to get something sewn up for it.  I have a few tips to help you save some time too!  Working in the garment industry has given me some great insight on how to speed up my personal sewing.  I want to share a few things I have learned and adapted for home sewing.  Maybe you can try them throughout this sew along and beyond.


  1. Pre-cutting projects – I tried this out this past spring with great success!  Take a few hours and cut out several different projects.  Cutting is my least favorite part of sewing and as a result I can some how magically make it last way too long before I get to the actual sewing.  I found that if I set up my cutting table in front of the tv and put on Netflix, I can watch several episodes of a series or a couple of movies and end up with 3 or 4 projects cut and marked.  Then I can take a day over the weekend and sew up all those projects.  Depending on how busy work is, sometimes I just get a project cut out, after diner, each weeknight and then sew them up on the weekend.  As a bonus, it is super gratifying to end up with multiple finished projects in one day.
  2. Sew the same color garments – Sewing garments that are similar in color will allow you to change your thread less. Less time changing thread, searching for coordinating thread, or going out to purchase thread means more time sewing.  If I have black thread on my machine and serger I might as well sew up the black dress, skirt and anything else that I have been wanting to get too.
  3. Sew similar styles of garments – This same philosophy from the last tip goes for this one too.  If I have cut multiple projects out I try to make them similar styles. It is easier to sew this way because the basic order of construction stays the same between styles.  Small details and techniques may vary but if you are sewing a top you are going to stitch the shoulder seams, insert sleeves, close up side seam and sleeve, then hem.  Why not make it an assembly line process?  Have 4 tops cut that could all use the same thread, then complete the same steps for each garment instead of sewing one garment at a time, start to finish.  You will be surprised at how much time you save by when you do this.
  4.  Sew without pins – This is huge and it took some practice.  Have you ever stopped to think about how much time you spend pinning garments as you sew?  Try timing yourself when you pin each seam, dart or hem.  I can sew princess seams better and faster without pinning them and all it takes is a little practice.  Start by pinning your seam like you normally would.  Remove every other pin.  Now sew that seam.  Continue this until you are comfortable sewing with half the amount of pins.  Then do it again.  Keep going until you are down to no pins.  You will learn to have better control of the fabric and the final outcome.  When I sew without pins I start by making a few stitches, line up my ends and never let go of it in my left hand, find a mid point with my right hand and stitch away. Keep practicing this, you will amaze yourself with how quickly you can pick it up.
  5. Plan your sewing – All of these tips lead up to one big one.  Plan what you sew!  If you are anything like me you may have a large fabric stash, with a lot if pieces having been acquired with the thought of  “Oh, this would make a great (dress, top, etc)”.  I know that is generally my fabric purchasing mentality.  As a result, I have a lot of garment ideas just begging to be in my closet.  With this, I can pull a few pieces from the stash and match them with the desired pattern easily.  About once a season I go through the stash and pull fabrics and patterns I am inspired to sew up and put them on my shelf in full view.  Then all I have to do is pull the similar styles and colors to cut and sew when I am ready too.  It makes it easier to build a solid wardrobe as well when you have a plan of what to make.  I know that if I am making a top I also have something I can make to wear with it.  There have been several times, in the past, where I have made something awesome like a top, but cannot wear it because I didn’t have a coordinating color, fabric or style to go with it.

I hope you enjoyed these tips and can use them in your own sewing.  Let me know how they work out for you.

Next weeks Sew Long Summer theme is Never-ending Summer, where we will be sewing garments to keep us in a summer state of mind all year long.  

Simplicity 1355 Maxi Dress

Musings of a Seamstress - Simplicity 1355This past week I did a little stashbusting and I am pretty stoked about it.  I made Simplicity 1355 view B, the maxi dress.   I styled it with my version Simplicity 2227 that I made back in April and one of my favorite tan belts.  I ended up using 2 yards of stashed scuba from Girl Charlee that I bought on Black Friday last year and some small scraps of white swimwear lining for the straps. The total cost of this dress, $7.00.  SCORE!!Musings of a Seamstress - Simplicity 1355This pattern has pockets, so you know it had me from the start! Originally, The pattern had a seam down the center front of the skirt with a slit. I opted  to put both the front and back skirt pieces on the fold because I didn’t want to have to print match a seam in the center front.  It just looks cleaner to me with out it.  I still wanted to put a slit in it for movement, so I put one in each side seam.Musings of a Seamstress - Simplicity 1355For fit I made just a couple of alterations.  First, the amount of ease in the side seam is out of control!   I ended up taking out 3″ from the top of each underarm and tapering it down to nothing in the side seam of the bodice.  I also ended up taking 3″ out of each strap too.  Without those alterations the dress just hung so low below the band of my bra that I knew I would be uncomfortable wearing it.  Musings of a Seamstress - Simplicity 1355My only real issue with the finished dress is the back. The cross over is so low my bra hangs outs the top, plus the straps do not quite hit in the right spot to cover my bra straps.  This probably means I should just find a different bra to go with this dress.Musings of a Seamstress - Simplicity 1355 Overall, I am pretty pleased with the outcome of this dress.  I like it paired with my denim jacket and I think it would work great with one of my white cardigans too.  I hope to wear this a lot this summer and try to make the jumpsuit version too.  You can read my full review of the pattern here on Pattern Review.

For now I am off to sew up another chevron maxi.

Simplicity 1801 Review

Musings of a Seamstress - S1801Of course I made a new maxi dress!  Maxi’s are my favorite summer uniform. I cut and started this dress in May, but didn’t get to finish it until this week.

Musings of a Seamstress S1801

I love this dress!  The biggest change I made was that I used a knit instead of a woven like the pattern calls for. Because of this change I eliminated the zipper and made the dress a size smaller than I normally would.

Musings of a Seamstress S1801 I also added an underlining to the the entire bodice and an interlining to the yokes as well as the belt to help support the weight/stretch of the ITY skirt.

Musings of a Seamstress S180

I eliminated the facing around the neckline in favor of a narrow turned and stitched seam finish.

Musings of a Seamstress
Before alterations

I also had to make a minor adjustment to the center front.  Much like when I made Simplicity 1804, the neckline of S1801 was way too low cut for my preference.

Musings of a Seamstress

To solve that issue I took my center front seam up 2.5″.  When taking it up, I ended up taking out about 5/8″ more.

Musings of a Seamstress
After alterations

Taking it up definitely helped.  I am much more comfortable with this neckline.

Musings of a Seamstress S1801

The best part of this pattern is that it has pockets!  I think all dresses I make should now include pockets.

Musings of a SeamstressThis back view is kinda wonky with all that bulky fabric at the waist.  I think I am just standing funny with my hip popped weird.

Musings of a Seamstress S1801


I ended up using 3 yards of purple and tan sparkly heathered ITY knit from Fabric Mart, $3.00.  For the underlining I used half yard of black swimwear lining from Jo-Ann’s, $4.59.  Total cost for this new maxi is $7.59.  Pretty darn good in my book.  Oh and all 3.5 yards of fabric came from my stash.  That brings my total stash fabric used this year to 49.25 yards.

You can read my full review on Pattern Review.

Me Made May Day 4: M6073

McCall's 6073 M6073

I know I said I would only post a weekly review of my outfits, but I was just so excited about my new McCall’s 6073 maxi dress I had to post it now!

Musings of a Seamstress M6073This is one of the four garments that I have made over the last two months that has gone unblogged about.  Today it was a warm 77 degrees.  Perfect temperature for sandals and a maxi dress.  I choose to wear the dress with one of my white cardigans today, but the denim jacket I recently made (also unblogged) would look great with the dress too.

This is only my second version of this particular pattern and I don’t know why.  I love this style.  My other version from 2012 is one of my favorite maxi dresses, so I feel like I should have made several others since then.  My review from then still stands.  I didn’t change anything from that

M6073 Musings of a Seamstress

For this version I used .5 yard of black ponte knit from Fabric Mart and 2.5 yards of black and white chevron ponte knit from Girl Charlee (I’ll leave this here, just in case.)  Both of these pieces came from the stash, purchased last year.  The total materials cost for this dress is $10.13.  Yep, $10.13!  I know that I could not buy a similar dress for that cost…ever!
So, where did the inspiration for this dress come from? Pinterest, of course!  First, the dress teal and leafy print dress here.  The style is
exactly what I made and love, but I was also intrigued by the idea of a print bottom with a solid top.  Then I found the  chevron dress here.  Now, as a bigger busted chica this version would not work well as I would not be able to wear a regular bra.  Too bad though because I do not have any dresses with this neckline.  Maybe someday in a shorter version. Anyways, getting back to the inspiration, I looked at my stash and realized I had the amazing variegated chevron and a solid black ponte.  It was a divine moment.

M6073 Musings of a Seamstress

The clouds parted, the sun shone down on me and angels sang.  Just for a moment all was right in the world.  Divine I tell you!

How many more versions of this can I/should I make?  The verdict is still out.


Simplicity 1804 part deux

Oh hai there!  It has been awhile hasn’t it?  Well I have been sewing a lot this month, that is a whole other post though.  Then there are all the other projects I have sewn in the last 3 months that I have not blogged about.  Maybe some more tomorrow.  Definitely not in another month though.  Today, however, is dedicated to the dress that I made over the weekend!

Musings of a Seamstress

May I present my newest maxi, view A of Simplicity 1804!

I love it!!

Musings of a Seamstress

This is my second time using this pattern.  Last time I made view D.  View A has been on my must make list since I got this pattern forever ago.  The only thing stopping me was fabric.  I could never settle on one I liked the best for it.  Until last year, when I got this pale pink and gray floral print from Jo-Ann’s red tag section.  It is a super soft swimwear like knit.  I think it has just a bit too much stretch and delicateness to be serious swimwear though.

This pattern did require one major adjustment though.  The following pictures are just for your amusement and hopefully you will be able to avoid the issues I had.

Musings of a SeamstressMusings of a Seamstress

The picture on the left is exactly how the pattern was originally.  It is hard to tell from this picture, but there is about 1/4″ of my bra hanging out.  Now I am all for showing a bit of cleavage, but wowzer that is way too much!  The second picture is where I pinned it at a spot I thought would work better.  I took in the center front seam by 3″ total.

Musings of a Seamstress

Once I tried it back on it was still a quite a bit lower than I thought when I had pinned it.  So I took it in another 3″ tapering this one down to the bottom of the bodice.  I then had a lot of excess front skirt fabric so I created a reversed box pleat to add a little more tummy hiding fullness to the front.  I am so much happier now that I took in the center front.

I really like this style, but I am not sure if I will make this pattern again though.  The twisted band across the bust seam is very distinctive and I do not think that I need another one at this time.  If I do make it again I will probably add some sort of inset belt between the bust and skirt.  For now I have several other patterns I want to try out  this summer.

Reviving my maxi

Pattern Description:
McCall’s 6073 Misses’ and Women’s dress in three lengths: Pullover.
Pattern Sizing:
8-16 18w-24w. I made a 20w.
Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
I made version C, the maxi dress. For the most part it did look like the version on the envelope. I made a few minor changes to my version and that is why it is not exact.
Were the instructions easy to follow?
They were. I originally used this pattern a couple of years ago to make version A for a friend and had to refer back to the instructions a couple of times, but they were very easy to follow.
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I love the ease and quickness that this pattern goes together. It is a great pattern to use to build your summer or vacation wardrobe in a short time.
Fabric Used:
I used 3.5yds of a spandex/tricot/4 way stretch fabric of some variety. I am not sure of the exact contents as it is one I got for free. The fabric has this great green, white and black geometric print with silver foil sequins on it.
Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
I made only a handful of minor changes. First, I eliminated the elastic in the shoulder seams. I eliminated the neck binding in favor of a narrow hem. To still get that “V” in the center back with the narrow hem, I did a .5″ dart at the center of the neck. I changed the band from the same print to a solid black tricot to break up the print and add a little more visual focus. I also used 3/8″ elastic around the waist instead of the recommended 1/4″. As a bigger girl I wanted a little more security for my elastic.
Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
Absolutely! I am actually thinking that I may do version D, with the contrasting bodice, skirt and midriff, next for a great color blocked look.
After all of the initial problems I had with this dress, through no fault of the actual pattern, I am beyond pleased with how it turned out! I even made a matching hair bow for it.  I am planning on wearing a lot of dresses this summer and this is a great way to start out that collection. I have also decided that I now need to take a vacation just so I can show off this dress, and hopefully
some more, to their full summer potential!