I was hesitant at first to try this pattern because I had read a few comments about the instructions being confusing…but it wasn’t as hard as I thought to make this dress and top! Let me walk you through a little bit of my experience sewing this beautifully designed pattern.
The pattern is the Vali Dress and Top by Pattern Fantastique and like the name says, it has two views – a dress and a top. Both have a curved hem and elastic gathered voluminous sleeves. There are also two different neckline options; a standard neckline with one tie and a drop neckline with two ties. I made the drop neckline for the dress and the standard neckline for the top and I like both! I sewed a straight size 10 without any modifications and the fit turned out great for me.
The instructions can be confusing at times and what I think what makes this pattern trickier to follow is that the steps are minimal compared to other patterns that I have made. There are several steps to a page vs. 3-4 steps per page like I’ve seen in other patterns. There are diagrams corresponding to the steps but they look busy at times because they sometimes include 2 or more steps in each picture.
It also helps to have some experience with the techniques involved and familiarity with sewing facings to a neckline. Sewing the facing can be finicky, but not impossible! And it makes such a clean beautiful finish not only on the outside, but the inside as well.
I labeled all of my pieces with a chalk pencil to minimize confusion because the pattern mainly refers to them by their letter name. This was helpful for me specifically when assembling the yoke and facing.
What I found to be the most helpful resource was to watch Sewing Therapy’s sew along tutorial on YouTube. I watched each step before sewing it and then went back and referenced it as needed (which was frequently!). They also do some of the steps in a slightly different order, which I preferred to the pattern instructions. I highly recommend watching the video (linked below) if you plan on making either the dress or top!
The pattern suggests light weight woven fabrics like linen and cotton or viscose and silk for more drape. In my article, Patchwork Silk Scarf Dress, I share my process for how I made a Vali Dress for my Aunt out of 100% thrifted silk scarves – a challenging labor of love but it turned out just how I imagined!
For the dress and top examples in this article, I used a lightweight cotton I love how flowy they turn out. I would love to try it in a linen next!
The fabric I used for the Vali Top is from an Etsy shop called Fibers to Fabric that has a really lovely selection of authentic Indian block print cottons and was kindly gifted in exchange for a review. I picked this pretty navy, brown and cream print (which is no longer available, but there are so many other gorgeous options!) which I thought was perfect for fall. The fabric is so soft and flowy, washes well and was a joy to sew with. It’s really a great match for this pattern!
The fabric I used for my dress version is also an Indian block print from Blackbird Fabrics (this specific print is currently not available but they typically release new prints every year) and is a lovely lightweight cotton. I wore this dress more dressed up to attend a wedding but it can easily be worn casually.
I’ve been gradually using the leftovers of this fabric in projects like in my patchwork quilt coat and even a scrunchie. Head over to my tutorial How to Sew a Scrunchie to learn how I make my scrunchies – they’re a great and practical thing to make to use up leftover fabric!
Like I mentioned earlier, I made a straight size 10 with no modifications made to the fit but I should mention that I sewed in-seam pockets instead. The pattern has pockets built-in so that you cut them out when cutting out the dress skirt and then are later edgestitched to the skirt. I think I would have been totally fine making the pockets per the instructions (they look pretty straightforward!), but I instead went with what was familiar!
I am so glad that I tried this pattern despite being nervous about the instructions – sometimes you just have to try to decide for yourself! Sewing both these garments forced me to slow down and take my time which is important for me to remember to do. I hope that reading my sewing notes was helpful for you – feel free to ask any questions in the comments!
Thanks for reading and happy sewing!