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Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Birthday Lilou Dress

There are only a couple of days until the summer holidays begin for us here in Bedford - I am so looking forward to them! The last few weeks of term have been chocablock with activity - a lot of them revolving around watching my children doing stuff, and, a lot of sewing based things, including
workshops and classes, and, a knicker making birthday party for me.

Birthday knickers, using Liberty tana lawn Alice in Wonderland collection
I made myself a dress in time for my birthday. Not thinking I'd ever find time to make a Lilou, as somehow the amount of effort I perceived to be involved seemed too much for me to want to begin the make, I tried a different approach.

I decided I would break the sewing up into little chunks of time. Half an hour here, an hour there... even a couple of early morning sessions in the days when the bright sunshine woke me long before the rest of the family needed me. Actually, I found this slot really satisfying - a calm and quiet house, I'd woken up naturally, and it felt great to opt to use the time to do something for myself.

So. The dress, I used the Tilly and the Buttons Lilou pattern, from Love At First Stitch. I've been meaning to make one for over a year now, but, as already mentioned, never quite found the motivation.

The pattern is for a lined bodice, although I opted to fully line the skirt, too. I really like the extra fullness this gives the finished dress.

I cut a size 3, and took a risk not to make a toile first. This worked out alright in the end... but a lot of unpicking and adjusting happened along the way. I moved the bust darts up about a centimetre or so, and the waist darts in a little bit. I also took 1.5cm off the shoulders. All this improved the final fit a lot - it still isn't perfect, but I am happy enough with it. I think I really should have remeasured myself at the start of the process, rather than rely on the measurements I had taken a year ago when I first thought about making this dress!

On a measuring and ever changing body shape note, I have recently been fitted for new bras - the first time since having my fourth baby (who has just turned 2) - and let's just say that was a pretty sobering experience, huh? Still, focus on the positive and all that, and, remind self that I am not defined by my ability to look anything like I did ten years ago.

I roped in my middle two girls to be my photographers on this occasion. This was not without the predictable attempts to photo bomb and squabble about who should be taking the pictures.

The making was coming together so nicely. I had inserted the invisible zip with it looking pretty darn invisible, and was thinking about hemming, when I spotted the back of the bodice had a strange twisting on one side. You would wonder why on earth I had not spotted my glaringly obvious mistake sooner, but I had somehow managed to sew the right hand back bodice lining round the wrong way - that is, the side seam was where the zip was. Argh.

Three hours of careful unpicking and remaking later, and the dress was back on track. As I often say to my beginners who come to my sewing lessons, your mistakes are often your best lessons - I won't be making that one again!

I have worn this a few times now - and really love swishing about in it! For someone who has a waist two sizes bigger than her bust and hips, this makes me feel very feminine shape wise, all thanks to that lovely full pleated skirt.

I have got plans to make another two of these - one in a navy linen, and another in some lush Anna Maria Horner voile I got half price in Beales in town. Now that I have put in all the effort with fitting, and know how much I like wearing this style of dress, the prospect of making more is really appealing.

Before I can return to dressmaking, I have some sewing requests to come good on. Three more hats, like the one Charlotte is sporting.

Can't say I blame them - I was half thinking about making myself a rainbow sunhat, so can totally see the appeal it has for little people. So much colour and fun. Sunshine, I dare you not to come out with these hats about. Actually I take that back. Please shine. We have plans of things to do, involving picnics in the parks, bikes rides, plenty of ice cream eating and sandcastles. Oh, and squeal inducing swimming in the sea. Yes. Bring on the sunshine and the summer holidays.

Happy summer, lovely readers!


  1. Happy Birthday and happy dress, you look gorgeous in it. It is so flattering and pretty. My body shape has changed since having my three children, sometimes I don't recognise myself. An odd sensation, but you are right looks do not define us. Enjoy your hat making. Louise

  2. Stunning Janet! Love the pattern and fabric. Helen S x

  3. Love the dress AND your necklace! Happy Birthday!

  4. Such a pretty dress... and happy birthday and happy holidays!