The Sahara Dress


As a much needed distraction from selling my house, I’ve been testing more patterns and it is just what the doctor ordered!

Most recently, I helped Melissa of Bella Sunshine Designs test one of her two (!!!) patterns that just released. The Sahara Dress & Top is a fitted lined bodice/circle skirt combo with a surprise low back line. (ooooh-la-la, right?).


For such a clean silhouette, the pattern is loaded with options:

  • Two different front neckline options (I selected the high and its totally work appropriate)
  • Four sleeve lengths – sleeveless, short sleeves, 3/4 sleeves, and long sleeves
  • Three hem lengths – top length (hits at the hips), tunic length (which covers the bum) and dress length (hits just above the knees).

Melissa drafted this pattern for a 5”5” – 5”7” frame so I adjusted for height in the bodice and length of the skirt. And that was all it took. The Sahara fit like a glove straight outta the gate. AMAZING.

This rarely happens for me. As a self-taught seamstress, I spend an embarrassing number of hours in Facebook groups, blogs, and YouTube trying to diagnose and solve my fit issues. While that is enjoyable in itself, sometimes you just crave a straightforward sew and a wearable muslin.

Some of my full busted friends are shaking their heads right now because they do a FBA on everything. Not the Sahara! If your overbust is more than 3” smaller than your bust, you can use the INCLUDED bust adjustment pattern pieces for a better fit. Mind blown.

The construction doesn’t cut corners either. Before testing the Sahara, I have never sewn a knit bodice that was lined. It came together like a dream and the understitching prevents your lining from showing. Melissa even tells us in BOLD not to skip that step which is great because I have mistakenly “found” some “terrific” shortcuts before only to be devastated by the final result. Clear concise instructions and a few links to great tutorials help with some of the trickier areas like applying the clear elastic and grading seam allowances.

This Sahara was in double brushed polyester from Allielane in Abbyville and I made another in testing out of rayon spandex. Your Sahara will look its best in a 4-way stretch knit fabric with at least a 50% stretch but no more than 75% stretch. I personally prefer the look of fuller skirts in fabrics with more drape (DBP, ITY, rayon spandex) but a few testers used cotton lycra and looked stunning as well.

I’ll definitely be making more Sahara Dresses. We’ve already had a few days in the 80’s here so my next one will definitely be sleeveless as well. I got a thicker mystery fabric (textured with great stretch and recovery) from my local shop and I’d love to make it into an unlined Sahara with neck and arm bands.

The Sahara and her release day partner, The Alice (a woven beauty with a collar and pleated skirt) can be found here for $6.50 until Wednesday, April 19th, 2017 at midnight EST.

***Thanks to Lauren Martin Photography for your friendship and these amazing shots…and their catalyst, sangria.***

Please note: I received the final pattern in return for my time and contributions during testing, but my opinions are fully my own. This review contains affiliate links for which I receive a small commission of any sales. This helps support my growing fabric collection and is much appreciated.

BackTwirl SM

9 thoughts on “The Sahara Dress

  1. You and the dress both look amazing, and I love your blog! I am just getting back into sewing and am going to attempt to make my first article of clothing in nearly 30 years this weekend! I have no idea what I’m doing and will be google searching a lot to try to decipher the pattern! But I’m digging this pattern and planning to order! Thanks for sharing your experience with it!


    1. Thank you for your kind words!!!! I’m so glad you’re going to dive back in. I love the online PDF community because its inspirational and so supportive of sewists of all experience levels. If you get stuck, they’re waiting to help point you in the right direction. The designer’s support group will be the most familiar with this specific pattern and might be the best place to seek advice. I love that there are friends around the world who have sewn what I’m sewing so even if its 2AM where I’m at, there might be someone awake on the other side of the world who can help. GL, can wait to see what you make 🙂

      ETA: Here is a link to the Bella Sunshine support group on FB – –


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