Pattern Review: Caroline Party Dress

by | May 10, 2017 | Clothing, Girls | 1 comment

The Caroline Party Dress from Mouse House Creations was one of the first PDF patterns I bought.  A friend of mine gave it great reviews and I love it’s clean classic lines.  I used it a couple years ago for a halloween costume (not blogged about because it was while I was still in a baby haze from having Nut-Nut).  Then my MIL sent me some lavender stripe fabric (looks and feels like poplin) and I knew needed to be a Caroline Party Dress for Nut-Nut’s Easter Dress.  Now.  Because I only had a limited amount of fabric and Nut-Nut keeps growing!

Bias Bodice Caroline Dress

Stitched by Crystal’s adorable yellow striped bias bodice dress is really what sold me on the pattern.  It’s modern without being plain even though the lines are simple.  See why that lavender stripe fabric HAD to be a Caroline Party Dress?  I really wanted to recreate the dress that got me to buy the pattern in the first place.

So I present a Lavender Bias Bodice Party Dress.  And a review of the Caroline Party Dress Pattern.

Bias Bodice Caroline DressFit

Initially I thought the Caroline Party Dress had a classic fit and flare silhouette, but now I feel like it’s more on an A-line without a belt.  It hangs away from the waistline unless you add the belt loops and pair it with a belt.  In fact, the side seams are perpendicular to the bottom of the bodice in every size.  So I imagine it will look even looser the bigger the sizes get.  Great if that is what you are going for, but I know my almost 8 year old daughter wants her dresses more fitted at the waist.

Bias Bodice Caroline DressMy main problem with the fit is the length.  Although the pattern gives a finished height measurement, it is from the underarm to the hem which seems really weird to me.  And the bigger issue is there is no indication of how tall that size is drafted for.  Only the instructions that if the girl is taller than average, cut the skirt longer.  I want the extra information with concrete numbers to base my decisions because definitions of what is average or tall can vary from person to person.

A minor issue is the side seams are not trued with the armscye.  Instead of having a smooth curve under the armpit, it makes a slight ‘v’.  Easy to fix if it bugs you enough.

Adjustments

Because I prefer dresses to be longer rather than shorter, I chose to lengthen the bodice to the 4t size and the skirt by .75 inches.  Instead of cutting the bodice front on the fold, I added 3/8″ seam allowance and cut it on the bias.  Although I didn’t see this when sewing the dress, Stitched by Crystal created a tutorial for how to do the bias bodice.  (I was actually taking pictures to make my own tutorial…but Crystal’s tutorial is exactly what I would have written up.) I also cut the skirt to a 4t length.

Caroline Party dress with GathersCaroline Party dress with PleatsAfter making the dress with gathers, I decided to change the gathered skirt to a pleated skirt.  I felt like it would show off the horizontal stripes really well.  My invisible zipper was pretty close to perfection, so I left it in and unpicked the rest of the skirt.  Then I pleated it to fit.  After I finished, I wasn’t sure I liked it any better with the pleats than the gathers-but I wasn’t going to change it again!  Unfortunately, Nut-Nut seems to have preferred the gathers…What would you have chosen?  Please or Gathers?

Style

I love the clean, classic, simple lines of this dress.  I don’t love how loose it is and I feel the bodice runs a bit short and wide as the girls get older.  I tried making a quick sash to make it more fitted, but didn’t love my fabric choice and didn’t get around to making a solid color one to try instead.

Opinion

Bias Bodice Caroline DressOther than my annoyance with the length measurements and how loose the dress is, I like the dress.  The faux cap sleeves makes it really fast to sew up even though it can be completely lined.  The invisible zipper can be hard to get zipped past the bodice/waist seam because of all the bulk, but that’s pretty common for this kind of dress.  I just need to get better at accommodating for the bulk.

Another unusual aspect of the pattern is that it uses 1/2″ seam allowances instead of 3/8″.  I rarely use that SA so I had to keep reminding myself to take a bigger allowance.

One thing I love is the Caroline Party Dress only has 5 pattern pieces to print, which helps it be a very fast sew!  The front and back bodice pieces are nested on top of each other.  The only other pieces to print are the optional Peter Pan Collar and Pockets.  I didn’t add either of those to this dress.  The pattern provides a measurement chart for the skirt pieces and optional belt loops.

Details

  • Pattern: Caroline Party Dress
  • Designer: Mouse House Creations
  • Style:Cap Sleeve Party Dress with optional Peter Pan Collar
  • Fabric: Woven-used fabric my MIL sent me from her stash-I think it’s poplin.
  • Size Range: 6M-12
  • Size made: 3 with 4 length
  • Lengths: 1
  • Sleeve lengths:1-Cap
  • Sleeves cut on Fold:N/A
  • Alterations/Hacks: Yes-lengthened bodice to size 4 and cut the skirt as long as my fabric allowed.  I also pleated the skirt instead of gathering it.
  • Clear Instructions: Easy to follow with pictures
  • Seam Allowance: 1/2″
  • Layers: yes
  • Trimless: Yes
  • Dislikes or desired changes? Although the pattern includes finished garment length measurements, the pattern does not specify what height each size is drafted for. That bugs me.  I’m so use to sewing from measurements and I don’t feel like these measurements give me enough information to accurately select a size or grade for length and such.  I also do not like how wide in the waist the dress is.  The bodice pattern piece has no shaping for the waist even though the measurements have proportionately smaller waist measurements in the higher sizes.  I assume that means the dress will fit even looser in the larger sizes.
  • Sew again?  Probably.  There are really only three pattern pieces-bodice, inseam pocket, and optional collar-and it comes together very quickly.
  • Would you recommend it to others? Yes, because it is so fast, the style is my jam, the finishings are good, and the lines  are quite classic even though I prefer it be more fitted.  But I was not overly impressed with the measurement chart which makes it a bit harder to decide what size to make.