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.