Monday, June 23, 2014

Orange You Glad I Didn't Say Banana Maxi-Berkley Maxi Dress

Another week, another pattern testing.  I'm not sure how I got myself so into pattern testing this month.  This is actually the first pattern I tested way back at the beginning of the month and I am SO excited to finally be able to share it.

This lovely dress is the Berkley Maxi, once again by the fabulous Lynn at Bebelambs  It's finally being released as an instant PDF today!  The Berkley comes in sizes 2-26.  I made a 20 with a FBA based on my high bust measurement.  As added bonus, the Berkley Maxi, Dress, and Top pattern is on sale for $8 through Wednesday 6/25. 

Mr. R picked out my fabric, all from JoAnn's.  The bottom is a cotton/spandex blend.  It washed up beautifully and has just a touch of stretch.  I fell in love with the bodice fabric, a very sheer linen-look with embroidered flowers.  It matches the floral of the skirt so beautifully.  I opted to use my lining fabric, a orange-juice colored quiliting cotton, for the back as well.  I wasn't sure that the elastic would work well in such a sheer material.  You'll have to excuse some of the over-filtered photos.  Apparently, when you take pictures of a white bodice lined with a paler orange fabric in full sunlight, the resulting pictures all give the wearer the appearance of participating in a wet t-shirt contest!

This is Lynn's first foray into the wild world of women's wear and man, she has out done herself.  I tested one of the earlier versions of the dress.  Mine is the maxi version with an elastic casing back and a tied back.  Since I tested she has added so many great variations that add so much to the value of the pattern.

Let's look at some of the options.  First, the back.  The back of the bodice can be done in a shirred manner using elastic thread or, if you don't have that on hand or are still intimidated by it, you can do elastic casing.  That's the option I chose.  I haven't shirred before and wasn't up to the challenge this time.  The elastic casing is a bit difficult, not so much in technique, but its a lot of no-roll elastic to force through your fabric.  The elastic though does give some extra support.  It's a fairly narrow back so that extra support can come in handy if you're a bustier girl.

I did the maxi version.  I love a maxi so much.  In the summer I'd rather wear a long flowy skirt than capris or shorts any day.  They're just so comfy and breezy.  Other versions include a high-low hem, a knee-length, and even a tunic!  I've seen some incredible versions of all of these.  The tunic isn't the right silouhette for me, but on different figures its adorable.

Lastly, the back.  I did the knot/bow version.  The straps are connected to the front of the bodice and then threaded through a button hole at the center back.  The straps are extra long to allow for a nice big bow.  To me this is one of the features that sets the Berkely apart from so many other maxis.  The one down side of the straps being done like this is the top isn't very bra-friendly or supportive.  To avoid these potential problems, the pattern offers a cross back version where the straps are connected at the front and the back.  Fantastic!

One word of warning, the Berkley Maxi is drafted for a B cup.  It's advisable that a muslin be made for the bodice along with either a SBA or a FBA.  I made 2.5 muslins (my first one I chose the wrong size).  I ended up having to do a 1.5" FBA.  I'd never done once before and was a little nervous but the pattern includes a worksheet that made the whole thing fairly simple.  Once I did the FBA I didn't have any fitting issues.  I was concerned about not having a hip measurement to go by but the skirt is designed with a lot of ease so there weren't any issues thankfully.

A final note.  This dress holds the honor of being the first me-made garment that got the question "where did you get that?"  Can there be a higher compliment?


  1. Perfect for summer! Love the fabric!!

    1. Thanks! That mister of mine has some pretty good taste.