Lilou Dress

16 Aug

I have recently got into what I would call ‘proper’ dressmaking, actually following a pattern and making considered decisions, rather than just making things up and keeping my fingers crossed. I think my problem was I was getting a bit over whelmed and found the idea of adjusting a pattern very daunting. However with the wealth of information on the internet from blog and helpful hints on Pinterest it’s far less intimidating.

Tilly and the Buttons - Love at First Stitch - Lilou Dress - Nettynot Blog

The pattern I choose was the Lilou Dress from Tilly and Buttons – Love at first Stitch book, I thought the style should suit me and having previously sewn a Coco top, the Megan dress and the Margot pyjamas, steadily building up my confidence I thought I’d be alright having a go at the most complex pattern (though not actually too difficult) from the book.

Not knowing how well the bodice would fit I very sensibly made a toile (something I’ve never really bothered with before – rookie error I know). I measured myself, in case I’d changed since my last project, my measurements came out as bust 34’’, waist 29.5’’ and Hips 39.5’’, not quite fitting a single size (as usual). So I initially made one adjustment on the bodice and made the side seams go from size 3 under the arms out to a size 4 on the waist. The skirt pattern I cut out at a size 4 (closest size for my hip measurement).

I completed the bodice, including adding a lining (I wanted the practice), in some floral fabric I inherited from my Gran in a similar weight to my dress fabric. The first bodice was a terrible fit – well it just didn’t fit. I was determined not to get put off even though I was a little frustrated as I’d checked the measurements and everything seemed to go well. It was a little loose on the waist, the back was baggy, there was way too much space across my bust, the straps stuck out and it was too long. I started thinking about how to address each issue. I’ve read about FBA (full bust adjustment) and SBA (small bust adjustment) when I first attempted the hawthorn dress (which I got too overwhelmed by and couldn’t face tackling at the time – it is currently hibernating). So I took a deep breath and starting googling SBA. I came across this great blog post Hungry Zombie Couture – My Cup Does Not Runneth Over I was relieved to find these wonderfully wise words, as I believe the lack of information and “just reverse a FBA” is what put me off tackling previous patterns. So taking on the advice of Shannon before getting too involved in my adjustment, I tried decreasing the depth of my bust dart; I traced off another bodice pattern this time all at size 3, making the waist smaller, then decreased the bust darts by 2cm but kept them the same length, I also shortened it by 2cm and tapered the straps towards the shoulders by 5mm. I also trimmed a little fabric off the bottom of the arm holes as they’d been a little sung. I tried it on at this point without the lining and found the fit on the waist and bust much better, there was still extra space in the back so I just added an extra 5cm in the length of the back darts and that did the job, I then made the lining and attached it so that I could make sure it all worked together and it did – phew!

Lilou toile - nettynot blog

I hadn’t done a toile of the skirt, I knew I’d easily be able to adjust it if necessary, however I did have to retrace the pattern as I’d changed the waist size to a 3, so I needed the top of the skirt to also be a size 3. I also lengthened the skirt by about 5cm so it hit my knee and I’d feel comfortable wearing it without tights in the summer.

Invisible zipper foot - Nettynot BlogI decided to treat myself to an invisible Zipper foot – it’s amazing! It made adding the zip so easy, I don’t know why I haven’t bought one sooner (well actually I do it was £19.95 – it made a nice Birthday present to myself).
Once I fitted the zip (before I finished attaching the lining) I tried the dress on and discovered that it was overall a bit big *huge Sigh*! I unpicked the zip and trimmed 1cm off each side of the back edge (including the edge of the lining) and reattached the zip – it did the job and fitted *relaxed sigh*! I hastily finished everything off, including leaving a raw seam in the back and a crude hem as it got to 10pm the evening before I needed to wear it to a friend’s wedding. No one noticed and I can now sort that out while not having a deadline looming over me.

Finished Lilou Dress - Nettynot BlogEek – looking at this makes me realise just how pasty I am, I’m almost blending into the white pebble dash here, I’d also like to point out that these were not the shoes I wore to the wedding, I wore posh navy shoes. The brown summer flats were all I had with me when I got my Mum to take the photo.
Front darts and pleats on Lilou dress - Nettynot BlogI was impressed with how neatly the darts and pleats met at the waist and having never lined a garment before I quite enjoyed discovering how easily it all went together. Overall it has definitely been a great learning curve, as frustrated as I got at points I kept my cool and persevered (including the point when I got the lining stuck in the zip at the final trying on stage – eek). Even though I now have a pattern I could re-use I’m sure about the idea of making this dress again, there’s still a few, minor, fit issues. Although having said that I have decided to make the toile (which isn’t too bad really) into a finished dress with a gathered skirt, I might as well, especially given how much time I’d have spent working on it.

I realise this is yet another lengthy blog post, however when searching for people who’d written about their Lilou dresses I wanted to know more, what exactly they adjusted and why, I decided it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to give a blow by blow account of my journey with this pattern and show that it’s doable for even a relatively novice dressmaker (& if I do ever make it again I’ll have a record of what I did). I’m eager to do more sewing now, I need to practice my button holes, maybe the Mimi blouse would be a good warm up and even give me the confidence to attempt the Hawthorn dress again.

Thanks for reading, I’d welcome any hints & tips to help with my dressmaking adventures!

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4 Responses to “Lilou Dress”

  1. ditsytulip August 17, 2015 at 8:53 pm #

    Hi there, you have done a great job, the dress is lovely! Great fabric choice too! That book is fab isn’t it, I’ve just completed the Tilly Arielle skirt, take a peek on my blog http://ditsy-tulip.com/tilly-and-the-buttons-arielle-skirt-take-2/ there are also some tutorials etc… For hints and tips for your dressmaking on my site, hope it helps 🌷🌷🌷

    Like

  2. Dede October 23, 2015 at 11:05 pm #

    Does the boOk include how to make a lining for the bodice and skirt of the dress?

    Like

    • nettynot October 24, 2015 at 7:30 am #

      Hi Dede, the book goes through lining the bodice, the skirt doesn’t nesseserily need it, but I’m sure it’d be possible to line that too, if you wanted. I hope that helps.

      Like

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