The brisk mornings and cooler evenings of Fall have put me in a leggings-wearing and season premiere-binging frame of mind. The pumpkin spice colored tunic I created for my most recent pattern test fits my mood perfectly. The Sahara by Bella Sunshine Designs (BSD) is cozy, pairs perfectly with leggings and is warm enough to wear when it gets chilly.
But the Sahara isn’t just for Fall. Four sleeve options (sleeveless, short sleeves, 3/4 sleeves, and long sleeves) and three skirt options (top length, tunic length, and knee-length dress) provide enough variety for year round sewing and wearing. Add to that two front neckline options and a flattering scoop back and you get a pattern that is likely to become a go-to in your library.
Bella Sunshine Designs has been expanding the sizing of many of their tried and true patterns. Like the Reagan Raglan I shared a couple of weeks ago, the Sahara is now available in all sizes from infant size 6M to women’s size 30. The women’s sizes also include adjusted front bodice pattern pieces, taking the effort out of fitting a fuller bust. The Sahara is flattering on every figure. You can see a slew of photos of women of all sizes on the product page (link here).
Fit & Negative Ease
The Sahara fits very close to the body. The pattern has negative ease meaning that the finished garment measurements are smaller that the body measurements of the wearer. For example, my overbust measurement is 31.5”, which is exactly size 2. But the finished garment overbust measures just 28.75”—over 2” smaller than my body measurement. The negative ease works because the pattern calls for knit fabrics with 25-75% stretch so it can expand to fit over my frame. So it is essential that your fabric is adequately stretchy.
All of the clothing I’m wearing in these photos is double brushed polyester spandex (also known as DBP). DBP has exploded as a favorite fabric choice for making leggings, tops and dresses. It’s buttery soft, really durable and easy to care for (machine washing and drying works great), breathable and inexpensive.
Unfortunately, polyester is also a petroleum-based plastic fiber that is hard on the environment. It’s derived from non-renewable components, it is not biodegradable (it can take decades to break down in a landfill) and it requires heavy chemical dyes (cannot use natural or low impact dyes).
Fortunately, textile manufacturers have recently discovered a way to produce polyester fibers from recycled plastic bottles. Recycled polyester fabric gives us the benefits of polyester (breathability and durability), and offsets the use of non-renewable resources by repurposing garbage. The Girlfriend Collective leggings I’m wearing in these photos is made from recycled polyester as are many of the polyester garments produced by large athletic brands like Athleta and Prana.
At present, recycled polyester is not widely available for the home sewist, but I have found a few sources. I expect that availability will only increase in the coming years. Nature’s Fabrics, Simplifi Fabrics, lowpricefabrics.com, Thread International and Delyla all offer recycled polyester fabric by the yard (links take you to an example). I haven’t purchased recycled poly fabric from any of these sources (yet!), but I’ll let you know when I do.
My Sahara: Fabric
The DBP fabric I used for my Sahara is from my local thrift store. The fibers in the fabric itself are virgin material, but I did save the fabric from going to waste. In my eyes, that counts as recycled! I rarely see DBP at the thrift store, so it’s not a resource I can rely on for this type of fabric.
The lining of my Sahara is a lightweight rayon spandex jersey. I would’ve used the DBP for both the exterior and the lining, but the Sahara requires a lot of fabric. The circle skirt is the main culprit. The tunic length skirt alone consumes over a yard of fabric! You’ll definitely want to double-check the yardage requirements for the options you’ve selected before you buy your fabric.
My Sahara: Options
My Sahara is tunic length with long sleeves and the higher front neckline. The tunic length offers plenty of coverage for wearing with leggings or fitted skirts. The scooped front and back neckline make the tunic both feminine and fashionable. My favorite feature has to be the full circle skirt. The twirl effect is hard to beat.
If you’re interested in getting a copy of the Sahara Dress & Top pattern for yourself, you can get it on sale for $6.50 (regularly $10) until October 18th, no code necessary. I am certain you will love the versatility and beauty of this pattern.