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Laura’s Magnolia Dress

British people are synonymous with talking about the weather all the time. It’s too hot, it’s too cold… we’re never happy, but I think everyone can agree that the weather has been pretty weird this summer.

It has made choosing what to sew a bit tricky, but the fabric this month is perfect for the changing seasons. The pink floral design is so beautifully summery, whilst the deep navy background makes it a great transition piece to wear as we descend to Autumn/Winter. Plus, it is viscose, so it is nice and light when it is warm and great for layering up when it’s cooler.

This viscose that Hayley has chosen has the most serene drape, super soft and just so dreamy. As soon as I saw it, I knew that it was destined for dramatic sleeves. After some perusal of The Foldline pattern database, the Magnolia Dress from Deer & Doe matched my vision: floaty A-line skirt, bishop sleeves and a fitted wrap-style bodice.

Unfortunately, I was a little ambitious, and after playing pattern Tetris for what seemed like hours (even roping the husband in for help!), I had to admit defeat that I couldn’t fit the long sleeves on. But I had my heart set on them, and I knew that it would always niggle at me, so I contacted Hayley to see if she had any spare of the fabric. Thank my lucky stars that she did, and I could have the sleeves that I wanted! If you ever find yourself in a similar situation, it’s always worth reaching out to ask Hayley or checking out the outlet shop on her website for remnants.

The instructions for Deer & Doe patterns are clear and concise which I like; you don’t get lost in rambly and sometimes confusing explanations. Construction is also nice and clean that is perfectly eminent of French style. So, in keeping with this, I sewed as much as I could with French seams. With a fabric like this, it’s always better to French seam where possible to prevent future fraying, plus it looks so lovely on the inside!

Now, I did encounter some serious fitting issues. The Magnolia Dress has similar ease to the Chardon Skirt that I made last month so I went for the same size. BAD IDEA! The bodice was SOOO baggy! The gaping around the neckline was terrible, too much fabric at the sides, and it just sat really wrong. This was the first time in my journey as dressmaker where I really had to think about the major adjustments I would need to do.

Firstly, I attempted to remove some of the excess fabric at the side seams; however, in doing this, the princess seams over the bust came too far over ergo creating a gape around the armpit. After some hopeful “hoiking”, darts and folds, I came to the dreaded realisation that I would need to completely unpick the waistband.

Deer & Doe Magnolia Dress in fabric from SewHayleyJane

So, I brewed up the herbal tea from the box in my favourite mug (which was so delicious by the way!) and turned on the latest Love to Sew podcast. Then armed with my trusty seam-ripper, onwards I went. It took a while to unpick the French seams, but eventually I got there.

Making sure to try it on this time, I ended up moving the wraps about 2 inches further over each other. This did create some excess at the ends of the waistband, so I just cut it down, grading into the skirt. Doing this adjustment also reduced the bulk at the sides, so now it fits nice and snug.

I even managed to do the invisible zip with no dramas! I am taking that as a personal milestone.

Et voilà! It may have tested my patience to the limit but after having to make these fitting adjustments, I feel like I have come out a better sewer and I am even more proud of what I have made.