Monday, 14 July 2014

Lemon dress - with a nod to Kate Spade

As soon as spring was sprung this year, I started prowling Pinterest looking for sewing inspiration. The one look that really got to me was the Kate Spade Capri collection. You can read my post about it here, but the dress I fell so hard for was this lemon print sundress. Isn't it darling?!

Kate Spade lemon dress

All I needed to recreate it was some lemon print fabric - easier said than done. A reader alerted me to this beautiful fabric on Spoonflower which I promptly set me heart on. I asked my girlfriends for contributions towards it for my birthday (the cheapest option is $17.50 a metre) and was all set to buy it. Then on my actual birthday itself, Winnie sent me a link on Twitter to some lemon print cotton lawn that had just been added to the Abakhan site. At a far more reasonable £4.99 a metre, a switch of loyalties was a no brainer and I ordered some faster than the speed of light. It sold out on Abakhan within the hour -  the power of sewing bloggers on Twitter eh?! They also stock the same fabric in a red or a blue colour way, which you can see here - although I'm not sure what the fruits are supposed to be…. giant blueberries?…. melons?!  The 'lemons' are quite a bit bigger in real life than I was expecting, but I've decided I like that - it gives the fabric more of a retro feel.

Handmade Jane lemon dress

The Kate Spade dress appears to have a separate waistband and full skirt, so I knew exactly which pattern I'd be using to recreate it - the Mortmain dress by Gather. The neck on the Mortmain is a bit lower than the inspiration dress, but that suited me fine as I prefer a lower neckline anyway. The girls at Gather very kindly sent me the pattern to try out a few months ago, so I'm glad I waited to find the right fabric before doing it justice! The skill level of the Mortmain is classed as Ambitious Beginners which I think is about right - it's a simple dress to put together with some interesting features (such as box pleats and an exposed zip) to stretch your skills. The packaging is beautiful and the pattern comes with a comprehensive instruction booklet and a roomy pattern envelope to keep everything in, which gets a big tick in my book.

I think they're lemons!

Fabric recommendations are for medium weight cottons, which is probably to give the pleats some structure. The cotton lawn I used is pretty lightweight so I underlined it with white silk cotton to give it some heft, but also to make it less opaque and to boost the colours a little (read more on this here).  Even underlined, the fabric is still very fine, so I used a smaller needle in my machine and extra fine Entomology Pins, which I highly recommend. No interfacing is used in the pattern, but after reading Mary from Idle Fancy's review, I added some to the waistband, which was a very smart move - thanks Mary!  I used the pattern facing for the neckline, but disregarded facings for the armholes and used plain white bias binding instead, which gives a lovely neat finish.  I also disregarded the exposed zip and used an invisible one - nothing wrong with the instructions, I just don't particularly like exposed zips.


I didn't need to make too many changes to the pattern to get it to fit the way I wanted it to. The shape of the sleeveless bodice is already really flattering, which is helped by the thoughtful placement of the armholes. The pattern piece comes with two cutting lines: one for the sleeveless version and one for sleeves. This is a tiny little detail but makes such a difference to the shape of the finished bodice. Because the bodice is quite fitted, I thought I'd have to do a FBA (full bust adjustment), but to my delight, it fitted straight out of the packet. As Roobeedoo notes in her review, the bodice is 'surprisingly busty', so bear this in mind if you're thinking of making the dress. It worked for me as my bust is slightly larger than average in proportion to the rest of me, but this won't be the case with everyone. For reference, I made a size 12. One other thing to note about the bodice is that the bust dart placement is quite high. This won't apply to everyone, but I thought it was worth noting as I never usually have to move bust darts, but did have to for this dress. 

The skirt features all round box pleats, which I pondered over for a while, trying to decide whether to include them or not. I always think I don't like pleats that much, but the two handmade garments with pleats that I own (my Kelly Skirt and Simplicity Sundress) are amongst my most worn items! In the end, I constructed the pleats exactly as instructed on the pattern, but pinned from the right side of the fabric rather than the wrong side. This resulted in a softer look which I prefer. If you need a bit of guidance, there's a great tutorial all about box pleats on the Gather website here.


The only thing I think the pattern lacks (apart from instructions to interface the waistband) is an internal waistband piece or facing. The waistband seams are pressed neatly inwards at the top and bottom edges, so they don't show through on the right side, but I do think a waistband facing would have given the inner waistband a neater, finished look.

Inside waistband close-up - could have been neater

I ran out of steam at the end of making this dress but I really would like to find the time to add this detail as I think it makes a big difference. I'll definitely include it on my next version.  Overall I really enjoyed working with this pattern and I love how similar the final dress is to the Kate Spade version.

Lemon dress joy

Now let's address the rather large elephant in the room - the colour…. Flicking back through the Handmade Wardrobe section on my blog, everything I've made this year has been a variant of red, white or blue. Every single piece blends into the next, which is totally on purpose and works well for me, but where does this dress fit in?? It's YELLOW!!! Well, there's some green and white in there, but it's mostly yellow!! I love yellow (as evidenced here), but it's not an easy colour to wear, especially with my colouring. You know what though? It doesn't matter - I saw a dress with lemons on it and fell in love with it. I wanted one for myself so I made one. That's all there is to it! This dress makes me so happy and I'm just thankful that I have the skills to turn my occasional bonkers plans into reality! Have a good week. x

I love, love, love this dress!  He's more impressed than he looks too!

The Mortmain pattern was given to me free of charge for review. All views my own.

81 comments:

  1. Ah Jane this is just beautiful!
    I'm a massive Kate Spade fan too, such cute dresses (just a littel out of my price range!) You've really done this one justice, Lovely Lemons!

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    1. Thanks Zoe! Despite being a big Kate Spade fan, I only own one thing - a bag - which I saved up for. Definitely out of my price range too, much cheaper to make my own version! x

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  2. I too loved that Kate Spade collection when it came out, and your version of the dress with the lemon print fabric is lovely!

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  3. This is gorgeous! What's not to love about sunshine yellow, and I think it looks great on you.

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  4. Oh my gosh - it's so beautiful!! I much prefer yours to the original too. I hadn't really noticed this pattern before, but will definitely be taking a look now.

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  5. Perfect dress pattern for your lemon dress! I really like the dress and yellow is a fav color of mine. Great job!

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  6. So cute! I LOVE a yellow, white and green print dress!

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  7. Lovely dress. I like the narrower waistband/midriff section on your version

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  8. Looks FAB - well done you! Am so impressed I am sat in terminal 5 and just ordered the fabric online so if will be waiting for me when I get back from hols

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    1. Now THAT'S what I like to hear! x

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  9. That is so pretty! The fabric is amazing! I love the large scale lemons (definitely lemons) and the watercolour effect. I could never pull off those colours but you definitely do. It's much nicer than the original inspiration!

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  10. It's gorgeous! I've been so excited to see what the original version inspired you to make. The colour looks great!

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  11. Absolutely beautiful! I love the pleats. And the colour is fantastic, especially in this amazing weather!

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  12. Lovely! Everyone needs a lemon dress.

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  13. Such a lovely, happy dress! You look wonderful!

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  14. Beautiful dress and gorgeous pattern love it

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  15. I love love love this dress too! It's a perfect match for your warm & generous spirit (I'm also secretly pleased I didn't de-stash my oranges & lemons print poplin recently) xo

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    1. What a lovely comment, thanks Lizzy! x

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  16. What a beautiful dress, you look lovely in it, and the box pleats are incredibly flattering. That's what I love about dresses, especially summer ones, they are an outfit in and of themselves, so they need not math anything else!

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    1. That's my favourite thing about dresses too! Thank you. x

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  17. Oh I love!! And I disagree - the colour really does suit you!!!

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  18. This is such a beautiful, summery dress!

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  19. This is a beautiful dress!! I mainly dress in red, white and blue too but have been having a massive yellow thing lately!

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  20. I just got this print when it came back in stock - I love how your dress turned out - it is definitely inspiring! I am thinking of going for a Cambie

    Louise

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  21. This is lovely, I prefer yours to the Kate Spade one if I am honest. I love big prints, the bigger the better, so this is right up my street. I think the pleats are great too, I prefer pleats to gathers. I haven't tried them for me but I have made a pleated skirt dress for my daughter which looks really good.

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  22. As a big fan of the colour yellow, I absolutely love this dress. I must take a look at the pattern - it looks gorgeous.

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  23. Absolutely love Jane! You totally rock yellow and I just love pleated skirts!!!

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  24. This is such a beaut! You really look lovely in yellow and I agree, that fact that it makes you happy means it doesn't matter anyway... Love the reverse box pleats too.

    When life gives you lemons, um, make a dress?! ;)

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  25. The dress looks great! I never think yellow will look good on us blondes, but it WORKS! Did you have to change anything when cutting out to use an invisible zip instead of an exposed?

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    1. Thank you! I'm always a bit wary with the whole blonde-yellow combo too! No, I didn't change anything with the cutting to allow for the invisible zip - the seam allowance is exactly the same. Easy peasy! x

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  26. I love your dress and the KS inspiration dress too and was lucky enough to buy some before it sold out. I'm in the process of making a boat neck version for my birthday celebrations.

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    1. Yay!I I'm sure it will turn out beautiful! x

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  27. Great iea to make something you are desperate for. Your lemon dress is beautiful.

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  28. Gorgeous You! The fabric is luscious, and you look stunning in your lemony colour palette. I agree about the innards. Knowing me, I'd fully line the dress.

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  29. When life hands us lemons, we should make..... Dresses! This is charming and suits you wonderfully. You'll put a smile on many people's faces when you wear it I'm sure. Rachel ☺

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    1. Damn it, why didn't I think of that for the title of this post! And thank you! x

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  30. This is a gorgeous dress Jane and looks lovely on you. Isn't it wonderful that we can see something we love but that's out of our price range, and recreate it at a much more reasonable cost ourselves - and make sure it fits perfectly too!

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  31. Ooo I real like it and the print is very you. I'm on a tedious quest for the perfect pineapple print at the moment, I'll know it when I see it!

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  32. JANE. This is AMAZING. Hmm, yes, the color isn't yours, so you should probably just send me the dress! ;) But seriously, this looks amazing, and who cares if it doesn't match your color scheme- it's a dress, so it's not like it will be a wardrobe orphan (my mistake is making separates that don't have partners... anything is fair when you're making a dress!). I seriously love this and it looks so great on you!

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    1. Aw thanks so much Sonja! If I really go off the colour (very unlikely) I'll send it across the pond to you! x

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  33. Such a beautiful dress! Love your fabric choice and you totally pull it off. I love this dress and have been debating with myself if I should buy this pattern or not. I can sew but have never made a dress before, and don't know if it will be a bit too hard? Thanks for the tips I will definitely keep a note of them if I do brave it and give it a try :) x

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  34. You look so classy in this dress. I have a bolt of lemon fabric and you have inspired me to make something out of it! xo

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  35. Beautiful summery dress
    I prefer your version too. Lemons are aa large as this in Sorentto, Italy. Puts me in the holiday mood. Great find on your bargain material. J : )

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  36. I must say, I love your fabric much more than the original. I also love the "wear what I want" attitude. Who cares about "rules"?

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  37. Love the lemons and the dress Jane! Also fab to see a ready Mortmain dress and with notes as I've been eyeing up the pattern for a while now.

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  38. I think the colour looks great on you! beautiful job!

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  39. I'm trying to adapt your mentality about not always justifying a sewing project by what makes most sense, instead every now and then going with the feeling I might have with a certain print, pattern or color. And your lemon dress looks gorgeous!

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  40. I like your version more than the Kate Spade one, it's so cheerful. Looks fantastic on you.

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  41. Heavens to Betsy, Jane, what a glorious dress!! I love everything about it! The fabric is divinely soft, no? I made a Washi dress from mine :)

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    1. Oooh, can't wait to see it! Pictures please! x

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  42. This is gorgeous! And reminds me I really must make a sleeveless Mortmain - I made the sleeved version earlier in the year and really like it so I'm sure a sleeveless version would get a lot of wear this summer!

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  43. What a lovely dress. The color is excellent for you. I love the pleats especially. People are going to want to purchase this dress off your back!!!!!!! Its fab!

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  44. I love your dress - it's beautiful, perfect for summer and it has both a retro and contemporary vibe - very stylish. Happy Birthday!

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  45. That is so lovely! An absolute superb bit of lemon delicious! I want to make one now!

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  46. Gorgeous! It looks beautiful on you. I love those shoes too.

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  47. wowww Jane, thats my all time favourite dress you made. I really love it

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  48. "which is helped by the thoughtful placement of the armholes." Um... I may have had too many vinos, but where else WOULD you place the armholes??? Other than where armholes usually are??? ;)

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    1. Maybe that should have been 'thoughtful cutting lines'. Yes, the armholes are placed in the usual position (!) but there's a bit of extra coverage allowed for which I liked.

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  49. Damn you, Jane - the fabric is sold out again!! I am soooo envious of your absolutely BEAUTIFUL dress!! xxx

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    1. Doh! Soz Tilly! Next time I see it I'll snap up some for you. X

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  50. What a successful make. This dress is reeaaaallly beautiful, Jane. You must feel like 1,000,000 pounds wearing it!

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  51. When life gives you lemon-fabric you need to make a dress!
    Lovely work Jane :-)

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  52. It looks great - it fits you perfectly and the style of the dress really suits you! I'm just starting making my clothes, currently struggling with fitting a Sorbetto top, so I am very impressed by your skill!
    Maria x

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  53. As others have said, I think your dress is even nicer than the original! So vibrant and summery, it is absolutely stunning and beautifully made!

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  54. Beautiful Jane! You can definitely pull of yellow. It looks like this dress is the perfect summer dress - so cheerful!

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  55. Awww! Isn't it funny how you can think you can't wear a certain colour only to find that you can? You look so fresh and summery and cute in this, Jane. It's perfect, and much prettier and more you than the inspiration one!

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  56. There are dresses & then there are DRESSES! And boy, oh boy, THIS is a dress! (I sound like Crocodile Dundee...."THIS is a knife!") Well done Jane, you look stunning & have really inspired me to buy this pattern. Thank you!

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  57. Lovely dress and you are totally in fashion. There is a article in the Guardian on line today about fruit fashion
    http://www.theguardian.com/fashion/video/2014/jul/16/fruit-fashion-tips-video
    Hope the link works, it's jess cartner morley 'how to wear fruit fashion'

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    1. Thanks for this, can't believe I'm 'on trend' for once! x

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  58. Just to break with the plethora of lovelies and beautifuls here, I love that you've finished it without lining it. (A) You did a very neat job of it (totally above par some of the tragic mass-produced stuff that arrives here in Oz) and (B) You've reminded me that it's totally ok to not fully line everything! Whoooshka...done! Just wear it.
    PS: It really suits you!

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  59. I LOVE it!! I remember when you were swooning over the Kate Spade collection earlier this year (and I know I was too, lol). This is hte perfect homage. The color and print looks great on you, it's a perfect combination with that pattern!

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  60. Excellent dress, Jane, and good tips on the making - thank you! I think you wear yellow well, I can only get away with mustard, anything more acid coloured looks bloomin' awful on me but I totally love your fabric choice and I especially like the slightly 'oversized' lemons it makes the dress a more interesting. Bethxx

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  61. You look fabulous! That dress is so beautiful and fun!

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  62. Lovely, Jane! I admired this happy dress from Kate too, but didn't want to spend the money as I KNEW I could make one just as nice. And here you've done it! Thanks for all the tips! You look gorgeous in it!

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  63. I'm sure I've commented on this post before, but I just landed here again and it's still such a beautiful and amazing dress that I wanted to say that again :)

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  64. Gahh! This is gorgeous! I've always written yellow off as a bad colour for me, but you've inspired me to go and get my hands on some lemon print fabric :D

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