Hello! I would like to introduce you to my new favorite knit pattern - the Bronte by Jennifer Lauren Vintage. I am a definite fan of sewing knits so for something to jump to the top of the list, it has to be pretty special right? This is a great pattern for pear shapes, with its flattering neckline shape, and is also a super quick sew. Win, Win. Oh, and it can easily be hacked into a dress :)

I was sent this pattern, as part of the newest Perfect Pattern Parcel. By now, I'm pretty sure everyone has heard of PPP, especially 'round these parts. This is my third time participating in the tour, and probably my favorite collection so far - I mean, just look at that top row - CUTE KNITS GALORE! :)

Pattern Parcel #6: Choose your own price and support DonorsChoose. Win/win!

Perfect Pattern Parcel supports indie pattern designers. You can name your price for each parcel! Part of your price can even be donated to the charity Donors Choose. Pattern Parcel donates all profits after expenses from Parcel sales to the charity as well. So far, it has raised over $12,000 for classrooms in need, like mine!!!

I knew as soon as I saw the new parcel, I would be making the Bronte top. It reminded me so much of one of my favorite old tops that I wore to death! I looked around for some heart fabric to recreate it exactly, but nothing was striking a chord with me, so off I went to lurk the shelves of Joanns for something suitable ;)

Version 1 - The Top

Fabric: 1.25 yards Beige Sweater Knit with gold polka dots from Joann's (in store)

Top Sizing/Fit Alterations:

- Size 10 at the bust/shoulders, graded to a 12 waist and 14 hip
- I added 2" in length to the top, at the "lengthen/shorten here" line
- Sleeves are 4" shorter than the long sleeve length, as that was all the fabric I had, which makes for a nice 3/4 sleeve

The metallic dots make me want to par-tay!
Top Construction Notes:

- Stitched with Archibald (my sewing machine) only - no serger
- Ballpoint needle, polyester thread, narrow zigzag stitch

My "I've made a huge mistake" moment: When attaching the front and back bodice pieces, I was slightly confused where to attach them. Instead of matching the tip of the binding to the notch on the bodice, I matched the notch on the binding to the notch on the bodice, on the front and back. This, in effect, made the armscye 2" smaller/tighter :( It wasn't until I finished the top that I realized my mistake.

After re-reading the directions, and the helpful explanation from this Bronte sewalong post, I discovered my error and fixed it on my next version. Guess what... it fits much better!

Version 2 - The Dress 

Fabric: 2 yds (48" wide) Silk Jersey Print in Red / Blue / Mustard / Ivory from Mood (new colorway available here)

Dress Sizing/Fit Alterations:

- Size 10 at the bust/shoulders, graded to a 12 waist
- Cut bodice 1" below original "lengthen/shorten here" line
- Added gathered skirt with remainder of fabric (just two rectangles)
- Sleeves are half length (just below elbow) - would have been longer BUT I accidentally cut out two right sleeves. To save fabric for the skirt, I moved the pattern piece down and re-cut the left sleeve from the same piece (thanks Ashley for the awesome tip!), which took away a couple inches.

Dress Construction Notes:

- Stitched with Archibald (my sewing machine), with serger only for skirt side seams, and hems.
- Ballpoint needle, silk/cotton thread, narrow zigzag stitch

Skirt construction
- Cut out two evenly sized rectangles from remaining fabric
- Stitched up side seams
- Gathered skirt with two rows of basting stitches
- Adjust gathers to match skirt top to lower bodice edge
- Attached clear elastic over gathers with zig zag stitch (check out this tutorial from Coletterie)
- Stitch bodice and skirt together

Clockwise from top: Dress neckline, Inside dress waistline (separated to show elastic), Inside top neckline
The Verdict:

Dress = LOVE, Top = Eh

I absolutely love the way the dress turned out. I have been hoarding this fabric in my stash for the longest time, waiting for a pattern that was simple but special. The neckline of Bronte is extremely flattering, and the close fit and straight gathered skirt fit well on my narrow fabric :) Silk jersey is the most amazing fabric to wear, OMG, I want more now!

The top is fine, I like the colors, but it has two issues that I know will keep me from wearing it. Firstly, my mistake which made it tight and scrunchy at the shoulders/arms. Secondly the metallic dots are not flattering around the tummy/hips in a tight fitting top like this. It would be a lot cuter as the dress version, actually.

Also, a quick note about the pdf pattern - it is expertly designed, fitting together perfectly. Each large pattern piece prints on it's own set of pages - FINALLY! And it is only 24 pages total, so super quick to put together.

Pattern Parcel #6: Choose your own price and support DonorsChoose. Win/winI will absolutely make this pattern again! It is such a great neckline, especially flattering for pear shapes like me, and its a knit, so... duh. If you are digging it too, go check out the Perfect Pattern Parcel - it includes this pattern and 4 or 5 more, plus you can support EDUCATION, STUDENTS and TEACHERS! Oh yeahhhh! :)

“I would always rather be happy than dignified.”