I celebrated surviving my first 6 months at the university by taking my first vacation day since November. After nearly 13 years at the hospital, I was accustomed to having a sizable bank of days off at my disposal, and would frequently give myself a random Thursday free from work AND kids to just catch up on life. Housework, dental work, peace and quiet – mental health days. But my first months at the university were considered probationary, during which I could not take discretionary time off. May 16 was a little victory for me, six months in – I was ready for a day to myself.
But it didn’t involve housework (needed) or dental work (also needed). Instead, I made my first Blaverry dress.
Blaverry is a higher-end kids and tween pattern company that designs on-trend, boutiquey looks designed to raise the home sewist from “awww, you made that!” to “where did you get that?” It’s priced a little higher than the competition, but the owner’s slick website and gorgeous photos intrigued me. I downloaded her free pattern, the Zozo dress, a few weeks ago. In an unexpected Mother’s Day sale, I impulsively bought three more – Upton, Finn and Clara.
With a friend’s daughter in mind, I chose Upton for my first Blaverry project. Would it have been worth the full ($12) price?
I was a little confused when I printed the pattern pieces and noticed they were not of the no-trim variety that many designers brag about. Would I be sitting around snipping paper instead of fabric the first hour?
No. Because the clever designer made this happen:
Everything came together in delightful, tidy columns. I trimmed the bottom of each sheet only. And even with the trimming, it felt like it came together very quickly, as quickly as the no-trim kind. Maybe even faster, because there was only one edge to align in each join. That’s often the really tricky and time-consuming part, is getting all four sides matched perfectly. Thanks to the Blaverry designer’s foresight, that’s not an issue with this pattern. Just columns. I loved it.
Everything was cut from 95/5/ cotton lycra from Diaper Sewing Supplies, a company I love for being local to me and for reasonably-priced, high quality knits and absorbent materials. This pretty feathers fabric looked lovely with my new Tula Pink shears.
Upton features a kicky back pleat and rounded front yoke, providing ample opportunity to jazz up the clean lines with a little punch – or a lot. I liked the look of more feathers, not less, so I used them on the sleeves, yoke, and pleat. The on-seam pockets are nice and roomy. Although the instructions don’t call for it, I think I will understitch mine the next time. They lay fine as they are but I wonder how they will do in the wash. This dress is a gift so I’ll have to follow up with the recipient’s mom.
The neck binding was where my sweet Poppy really shone. Damn, do I love that IDT feature. I clipped the binding to the neckline in just two places and was able to stretch it evenly around the circumference with no issues. The stretch was perfectly even all the way around, with just my halfway marker clips to guide me. Then I rolled the fabric forward, per the instructions, and topstitched with a double needle to finish the binding. The finished result is probably as close to RTW as I’ve ever gotten. I love this method and will be practicing it a LOT. It looks so much more professional than a band with topstitching.
I did diverge from the pattern instructions a bit on the sleeve finishing. Upton calls for a 1-inch pressed hem to be stitched up BEFORE the side seams. I prefer to hem in the round for a more finished look at the end of the sleeve, so I did this:
- Serged sleeve ends
- Pressed serged edge of sleeve in about 3/4″
- Opened sleeves flat and serged side seams
- Turned the pressed sleeve ends back in
- Topstitched with double needle, catching the serged edge
I know you don’t HAVE to serge the raw edges of knit, especially good knit like I was working with, but it looks so much more finished on the inside. I followed the pattern exactly on the dress hem and did NOT serge, just did the twin needle topstitch. And it’s fine, but it alerted me to how much easier it is to have a nice, tidy topstitch when you have the serged edge to guide you underneath. It’s a lot easier to feel and keep your needle centered, since you’re basically sewing by touch. But hey, next dress, right?
I am extremely pleased with how Upton turned out and am excited to make more of these! It’s such a fast sew, from pattern layout to final stitch, and the yoke and pleat details give you lots of ways to customize your fabric choices. While the $12 price was a little off-putting at first, in hindsight I’d say it would have been worth the full price. Other girls’ dress patterns are $9 or $10, so the difference is actually pretty small. So many girls’ pattern choices are full of things I dislike – lots of ruffles, lots of closures, a peasant look. I’ve had the opportunity to connect with the Blaverry designer on Facebook, and I like her general style and they way she dresses her own girl. There’s not a Blaverry pattern I wouldn’t put on my kid, and the lines are great so I can keep these as they get older and might not be so down with mom wanting to make all their stuff.
I call it an investment.