Sunday, 31 May 2015

Dixie DIY the Bonnell pattern test

Dixie DIY recently brought out her new dress the Bonnell. In April she asked for volunteers to pattern test the dress before launching it to the public. I was very happy to have been selected to test this lovely dress. If you haven't already seen the Bonnell it is a fitted bodice with cut-out detailing at the sides. It has a lined bodice with a softly gathered skirt with pockets.

This is the second pattern test I have completed (the first was the Dolores Pocket skirt last year) and I really enjoyed the experience. Dixie was a lovely person to work with sending out helpful e-mail suggestions whenever anything new cropped up.

The instructions for the most part were very clear (Dixie has since clarified a few steps) and the PDF was relatively small considering it is a dress. The aesthetics of the PDF were very appealing and had Dixie's trademark colours and clean lines like her blog.

Before embarking on the construction I made a few little sketches to get my creative juices flowing. I hunted in my stash for appropriate fabrics.

Is it bad that I have this many possible options in my fabric stash? Please tell me I'm not alone here!
I wanted it to be a wearable muslim as it has a lovely fully lined bodice with cut-out features that would make it a pretty summer dress.

I love these Liberty print fabrics but I didn't quite have enough for the full gathered skirt of the Dixie Bonnell
Fantastic print on this fabric but it's a slippy rayon / polyester and I felt it might be a bit tricky to work with on this occasion
A lovely colourful cotton with a little bit of lycra. Perfect for the Bonnell!
Onto the construction of the dress. Judging by the sizing information I needed to grade from a 2 bust to a 4 at the waist and hips which I graded straight on the pattern before cutting into my fabric.
When I make my next Bonnell I am going to stick to a straight 2 all over as the waistband is too wide - It was only apparent when I had finished sewing it all together.
Instead of gathers (as per the instructions) I created a few equal pleats around the waistband. I also added about 8cm to the length of the skirt so it would hit my knee, as I think it would be a tad too short for my preference.

Here are a couple of photos of the dress during the construction stage:

Bodice with the lining
Pinned and basted outer waistband
Pinning the lining waistband
The finished dress 
The waistband is a little loose and I think the small lycra content of the fabric makes it drop slightly
Next time I need to move the zip higher to intersect with the finish of the back seams
Slightly wonky waistband application at the back right - Oops!!
Overall I really enjoyed the challenge of sewing a new dress and following the instructions of a new pattern. I am certain this dress will be a very popular addition to any sewers wardrobe and you can always add net / lace / contrast fabrics to the 'cut-out' section if you are a bit shy about revealing any side-flesh!

The changes I will make for my next Bonnell are as follows:
  • Use 100% cotton for more structure
  • Cut the same size throughout so the waistband will be a better fit
  • Improve the insertion of the zip
Thanks to Dixie for giving me the opportunity to test her fab new pattern!


  1. looks lovely - I like the fabric, it makes your eyes go funny!

    1. I agree about it making your eyes go funny - That's my excuse for messing up the zip insertion!

  2. Looks lovely, hope you do get some wear out of it. Lovely colours in the fabric, but I can't look at it too long on the screen!

    1. Yes it is a bit crazy. I wore it to work and a colleague had to walk away because it was making his eyes zing. Maybe not a good dress for work? More like an evening at the pub!

  3. I'm really impressed with your drawings! They look great! I'm such a drawing noob ;) Haha! And yes I also have a great assortment of fabrics and I often cannot decide which one to take. Sometimes the process takes days ;) I think you have chosen the perfect fabric for the dress and I really like it on you, great job! :)

    1. Thanks Katharina x
      I enjoyed doing the drawings and the process of testing this pattern - it was fun. Your dress is so cool because of the bold directional print! Maybe I should make my next one in an African wax-print?!

  4. Hi Caroline! That dress is lovely the pattern is really on trend with the cut-outs and the fabric looks great, I'm new to sewing so I've been sticking to straight-forward dress and skirt patterns I'd love you to come visit at :) xx

    1. Thanks Helen. Yes the cut outs are a lovely feature of the dress. I must improve the finish of them on my next Bonnell dress x