Sleek Silhouette

The Salme Sonja Swap Sundress


Like my alliteration? :) Let me break it down for you, I’ve been making this dress in between revising and practicing for the interviews I have going on at the moment. I feel a bit guilty about spending much time sewing as I really need to give myself a good shot, so I’ve been choosing projects that I think will be pretty quick and simple.


It’s finally sunny enough (and warm enough) to take photos outside :)

I started with the fabric choice – I was given this gorgeous fabric by Marie at the recent London Meet up as part of the swap (hence swap in the title). I knew I wanted to make a dress, but which pattern? I had thought about using my block, but then I happened upon this lovely dress pattern  by Salme patterns called the Sonja dress (more alliteration). The best thing about this pattern? It’s FREE! That’s right, you can download it here.

So the choice was made, and I’m so glad I chose it. I love the shape of this dress!


Now, free fabric, free pattern, I make that a free dress!! (well, apart from the zip I guess…)


wow, I need a tan!!!

Talking of zips, once I had decided to use this pattern I knew I wanted it to have an exposed zip. While I love the print on the fabric, it appears to either have a huge repeat or just not be symmetrical in any way.  I gave up trying to match it and decided a big exposed zipper would hide it all :) I have also liked this design extra for a while but haven’t attempted it yet. I do think exposed zips are probably on their way out, but not before I’ve had a go! And to be honest I really need to have another practice, so be prepared to see more exposed zips! I used this tutorial from burdastyle which was easy to follow. After my last experience with a chunky metal zip, I decided to interface the hell out of this one to make sure the same thing didn’t happen – and it must have worked. It sits pretty perfectly :)


However, do not be fooled into thinking this dress is as pretty on the inside as it is on the outside. Well, for the most part it is but I made a HUGE error when making it! Just to prove it says this clearly on the instructions I took a photo. See how it clearly states that the pattern does not include seam allowances? Well I didn’t… I only realised after I had cut it all out…


In another aside, I used Marie’s technique of folding over the paper pattern to get to the correct size in order to preserve the pattern but to avoid having to trace. She explains it much better here. I am now a convert to this way of doing things, so simple!

Back to my seam allowance issue… So I had cut it out without seam allowances!! To make things worse, I had cut out the smallest size around the waist – so there really was NO wiggle room. Remember how I wanted this to be a quick project? Well it undoubtedly would have been had it not been for this mistake. I decided to persevere and sewed it all together with a 3/8 ” seam allowances (by keeping the edge of my presser foot in line with the edge of the material) apart from the zip (obviously!) and zig zagged all the seams immediately to  make sure they were strong. I used a 1/4″ seam allowance on the straps. To my surprise it fitted ok, if anything it was a little big! I had graded out at the bust to a size 10 but found that I didn’t need this as it actually made the dress gape.


So I took it in a couple of cms on each seam (meaning I got rid of a total of 8cm’s across the bust). This solved the issue – no gaping. When it came to putting in the zip I also found that it was too big across the neck so I needed to take some more out there too. Basically, there was no need to grade out at the bust and neck. Next time I think I’ll just make up the size 6 with no alterations. (I can’t believe I just wrote that sentence!). Even with the extra width at the bust and neck I still didn’t have any seam allowances at the waist – it would have fitted perfectly had there been some! So I ended up sewing on an extra piece of fabric so I had something to attach to the zip. As I was having an exposed zip, I could cover the join with the zip, perfect! It does mean that the inside of the zip looks…interesting, but luckily no-one will look there (hopefully). Next time I can do it perfectly!


Aside from this silly fitting issue – which was totally my fault – the dress was really easy to sew together. The instructions are short and sweet, but to be honest that’s fine as there’s not much to trip you up when you put this dress together, as long as you ADD SEAM ALLOWANCES! (just making sure you’ve got that ;) ) It’s a really cute shape – I was worried about such a high and halterneck neckline with my larger bust, but actually I think it looks ok. I think I will make it again when I get some more interesting fabric, at the very  least so I have a perfect version!


I love my new party dress, and am wearing it to my friends birthday party in a couple of weeks, I can’t wait! Thanks for the fabric Marie :)


  1. I love it! Beautyfull color and shape for you:) Maybee I should give this ago? After I made both my Garden Party Dress AND Mathilde blouse to small (well, you can read all about it in my blog…) I definately have learned!!

  2. Oooh it’s lovely! And a free pattern too…lots to love here! What a shame you had some trouble in the making, but I bet you’ll get it spot on next time ;o)

  3. That’s lovely! and great that you used one of your swap fabrics. I kinda know what I want to make with my fabric from Marie, but I keep seeing too many nice things and therefore keep changing my mind. Glad to see you weren’t so indecisive!

  4. Beautiful dress! I made the same one last year and dealt with similar issues. I’m actually considering making another one for this summer. This pattern makes a beautiful summer dress that never goes out of style.

    • How interesting, the gaping or the seam allowances? If you’ve got the fit perfect you should make another, it’s such a lovely shape for a dress :)

  5. Your dress is beautiful, and the fabric is lovely. I’ve never understood why some patterns don’t have a seam allowance, it’s just seems a bit mad to me!

  6. What a gorgeous dress! And you can’t even tell you had fitting issues from the pictures!
    I ma going to go and check out the pattern straight away :D

    By the way, you mentioned you got the fabric at the last London meet up – I have just signed up to attend my first ever meet up in Birmingham in June, are you going? xxx

    • I’m so glad :) do check it out.

      I’m so pleased you’re going to the meet up. I’m not sure if I can make the Birmingham one as its the day before I go on holiday, but I haven’t decided yet, it would be nice to go! I hope you have a great time!

  7. I love love love it! I made this dress in a silk fabric which is very pretty, but a little dressy so I haven’t gotten much wear out of it. I’ve always planned on remaking it in a more casual fabric but haven’t had a chance yet…seeing your beautiful dress just bumped this up on the “To-Make” list! I love the fabric and it fits you SO well. I’m drooling over this dress – perfection!

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  9. This is beautiful and the colour and shape really suit you! The skirt reminds me slightly of the Elisalex!

    And good recovery on the seam allowance issue. I hate when patterns don’t include this. How hard can it be to just add it on, if you’ve gone to the trouble to design it, size it, put it on a PDF etc etc?

    Hope interviews etc are going well. Sewing is probably a good stress-reliever for you!

    • I totally agree! I’ve just bought a great tool to help with seam allowances tho – I’ll post on it soon!

      The interviews are going very well thank you, I’ll fill you in soon :) you’re right, sewing is definitely helping me stay sane at the moment!

  10. This is so you! A perfect combination of fabric and pattern, and a freebie too. I’m definitely going to check out this pattern. And great photos! Did you take them yourself?

    • Do check it out :) I’m glad you like the photos, no I didn’t take them myself, I dragged my husband outside to help. I was determined to get some more interesting shots, although I felt a little silly!

  11. Such a lovely dress, Katy!! Thanks so much for the FREE pattern tip, and the seam allowance warning. It does look like the perfect party frock.

  12. Ooh it’s beautiful and I love the fabric. I wish I could have gone to the meet up I’ve read so many nice posts about it and I’m sure there’ll be lots more nice makes as a result of it too

  13. Hi Katy,

    What a beautiful, clean and helpful blog you have. Happy I found it.
    Hoping to get better at sewing someday so I wll give it a go on this pretty dress.
    It looks great on you!!!

    All the best

  14. Adorable! Another free dress pattern, you woman are the bomb! I just made the garden dress on the weekend after your red version, now I will have to use this one too ;)

  15. This dress is gorgeous! Well done on getting passed the issues :) It turned out great. You’d never know!

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  17. I love this, just downloading the pattern now!

  18. What a gorgeous dress Katy! I am catching up on your posts now as I’ve been very busy (and still am…). I think that despite the seam allowance problem, it was definitely a success!! I will check the pattern and keep it for when I am more confident with my sewing! Pati x

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  21. Beautiful! Like the choice of the exposed zipper.

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