Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Sew and Tell with the Lula Maxi Dress

I'm so excited to be sharing with you our newest pattern review!  We love EVERYTHING that LilyGiggle has to offer, and with maxi dresses being so popular this summer, the Lula Maxi Dress is the perfect pattern to focus on this week!  Unlike most of LilyGiggle's other patterns, the Lula Maxi Dress is designed for using woven cottons.  If you've sewn with LilyGiggle patterns before, you know upcycling is a major theme in her work, and this pattern stays true to that!  You can search out thrift stores or your grandmother's sewing room to find buttons, lace, and other trims to repurpose and add to the vintage charm of this gorgeous dress! 

While looking over the pattern, I can tell you that Beth (the lovely designer) has spelled everything out.  She even tells you how to properly tape the pattern together- it's that detailed :)  The pattern runs from sizes 2- 6.  The actual pattern pieces are nested together with all sizes on the same page, but each size is a different color to make cutting a breeze.  There are plenty of clear, color photos to accompany each step in the tutorial.  You won't run into any surprises here, ladies! 

Let's hop right in and take a look at the awesome review sent in to us by Katy M.!

Hi all you fellow seam queens (and kings) out there!  My name is Katy, and I'm so excited to review this "groovy" retro-inspired dress by LilyGiggle.

First, a little about my sewing background.  Though I learned how to sew when I was 8, I would consider myself more of an intermediate seamstress.  I've been sewing for my 3 children for the past 6 years and have enjoyed every minute of it.  I'm a web designer by day, but I have a small sewing side business by night focusing mainly on baby items (hooded towels, diaper bags, pillowcase dresses, burp cloths, etc.).
I LOVE RUFFLES!  That is what first attracted me to the Lula Maxi Dress.  It's a very simple dress, which I appreciate (that and the ruffles).  Because it is simple, it is extremely easy to embellish, and the details can easily make you look like an expert.
You will have plenty of time to embellish this dress because it can be completed in just 3 hours.  LilyGiggle gives you clear instructions on how to lay out the pattern pages using color coded dots and lines to ensure you are matching the pieces correctly.  I would recommend printing these pages on a card-stock paper to get harder edges for matching, because some of the pattern pieces will be split and will need to be taped together.

The pattern's sewing instructions are very easy to follow as well.  The pictures and instructions are perfect for beginners, but the simplicity of the pattern allows more advanced sewers to implement their own techniques and tricks.

The most difficult skill required in the pattern is tackled first… attaching the bottom banding of the dress.  I usually sew banding onto the front and back pieces separately and then sew the "whole" front to the "whole" back.  But I decided to go ahead and sew the banding together first and then attach to the rest of the dress as was instructed. This can be tricky if all of your pieces are not cut to the exact same width.  Make sure to double check the width of the main dress piece with the banding pieces against each other to make sure they match in width before starting.

I chose to make a size 6 for my youngest daughter.  She wears a 5/6, and this dress fits her perfectly.  There is still a little room to grow because it is fitted with elastic.  And because it is a maxi dress, the length will be accommodating as she gets taller.  She will probably get 2 years, maybe more, of wear out it.  Also, the increments between sizes on this pattern are all equal so it would be easy for me to do some math and add dimensions to this pattern to make a size 8 for my older daughter.

Though the pattern is perfect as is, if I made it again I would love to add a thick ruffle to bottom instead of the banding to better mimic the 70's prom dress style.  I might also run ribbon through the waist band rather than elastic and tie it with a bow.  I can picture this dress as a beautiful beach picture dress if made with whites and creams.  Simple and "flowy"… it would be beautiful on a windy day.  It would also be lovely made out of lightweight whale corduroy for fall.

As for the dress I created, the only modification I made to the pattern of the dress was that I added 3 ruched flowers instead of creating the rolled flower as instructed in the pattern.  To create a ruched flower you will cut long rectangle (the length depends on how wide or big you want the flower), fold it in half and sew a loose seam along the long cut edges. Then you will pull the bottom thread like you are making a ruffle. Pull the thread until the fabric spirals.  Shape the flower by making a ruffled "swirl" and attach to the dress by hand. I  added some vintage buttons to the center to add some pizazz.  (My daughter likes to be fancy.)
For the trim around the collar, which is optional, I used a delicate crocheted lace.  Though I used a trim, this dress would be just as beautiful with out it.

I wanted to use a very retro-colored fabric to pay homage to the era responsible for this lovely design, so I chose Robert Kaufman's "London Calling Celebration" for the main fabric. This is a very soft lawn cotton so it's easy to iron and makes for a very light and comfortable summer dress.  The paisley I used is an off-brand, but Robert Kaufman has a very similar pattern called "London Calling Vintage".  I only chose two fabrics rather than 3 as instructed by the pattern.  I simply added the yardage required for the top ruffle to the yardage required for the main part of the dress to make sure I would have enough.

If I could provide a helpful hint to beginners attempting this pattern, it would be to iron, iron, iron. This is a step many people skip, but this dress is very square, so missing a measurement can cause it appear as if one side is longer than the other.  Ironing is very important for keeping your edges clean and equal length. It also makes pinning much easier… and there is A LOT of pinning on this dress.

I hope you all have as much fun with this pattern as I did!  Happy… I mean GROOVY sewing!

Is that not jaw-dropping?  The dress, the girl, the photography are ALL gorgeous!!  (And I'm not just saying that because the little cutie is my precious niece!)  I've always admired my sis-in-law's work, but she may have just outdone herself ;) 
Good news for all of you!  If you want to purchase your own copy of the Lula Maxi Dress pattern and whip up a groovy dress yourself, you can head over to the website and get it for 25% off for the next few days!  Please share your photos on our Facebook page- we love to see what you all create!
I thought long and hard about what to showcase in our Pair it Up section today, and decided that since Foot Loose & Fancy Free and Whimsy Couture are on sale on our website for 25% off, I'd choose a few of my favorite "retro" patterns from them so that ALL of the patterns featured on the blog today can be 25% off!  That doesn't happen often, so enjoy! 
First up is the Foot Loose & Fancy Free Sew Vintage Sunsuit and Hat.  Both the hat and sunsuit can be made to fit babies sizes 3m- 24m.  I adore a full, bubble romper on a baby- especially when ruffle bums are involved!  This pattern has 3 rows of flouncy ruffles adorning the tush, as well as two rows of flouncy ruffles decorating the chest.  Directions are given for adding optional snaps to the crotch for easy diaper changes.  Your little one will look so sweet with those squishy baby thighs showing! 
I can't think of anything more retro than this romper!  It just screams the '70's!  This is the Retro Romper from Whimsy Couture.  It comes in sizes NB- Girls 10.  And like all of Whimsy Couture's patterns, there are tons of options!  You can make these as shorts, capris, or pants, so perfect for any season!  Directions are given for adding snap tap to the crotch, for adding a ruffle to the bottom hem, and for making the ties elasticized so older girls can dress themselves!  So comfy and fun, you'll have to sew up several of these! 
Let's take a second to recap... the gorgeous Lula Maxi Dress and the entire collections from Whimsy Couture and Foot Loose & Fancy Free are all 25% off on the website for the next few days.  Head on over and browse the entire sale category.
Go sew something magical!!

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  1. Your niece looks very happy, and beautiful, in her dress. I also love the vintage sunsuit!

    1. Thank you!! She was in LOVE with the dress :)

  2. You are so talented! I used to sew as a kid with my mom and grandma and somehow...stopped. I asked for a sewing machine for Christmas shortly after getting married and got it--but it hasn't been put to use. My daughter is 5 now and it is definitely something I want to share with her! Definitely will be following so I can learn and get back in the saddle! Thanks for sharing at the Friday Follow Along! i hope you will swing by and link up again!

    1. Heather, you are so sweet! I am sooo serious- if you ever need any sewing advice or help, I'm your girl! And thanks for the reminder! I just linked up ;)

  3. The maxi dress is so beautiful. So is everything else, too!

    1. Thanks so much, Justine! Loved seeing the dress featured this past Saturday :) We love Sew Country Chic!


Thanks so much for taking the time to comment! I'll try to respond as quickly as I can! Have a fabulous day full of sewing!