We’re close to Easter, a time considered real spring in many corners of the world. Where I live, Easter is the best time for skiing – lots and lots of snow, but the sun is already back and starts to warm a little. And before too long the snow is going to melt and everything is going to turn green in record time! That makes me think of a dress in my closet that I absolutely love and haven’t shared with you yet.
So here it is – my hacked version of the Lil Luxe Dress, made of another beautiful fabric from Swafing, designed by the German designer Lila-Lotta. First of all – isn’t it pretty?? And do you understand how hard it was not to show these pics before now, although I have had them on my computer since July? =D
But let’s take this in the correct order. I bought the Lil Luxe Dress by Lil Luxe Collection a long time ago, with the intention of making a dress with a huge circle skirt. But somehow that never happened, and I used the fabric I had intended for the dress for this Penny Dress by Sew Over it London. I mean, I had bought that pattern and the fabric SO long ago that I didn’t even realize that a directional print and a huge circle skirt wouldn’t go together too well!
The signature feature of the Lil Luxe is the deep, round back neckline. The neckline in the front is rather high and the bodice is sleeveless. The bodice is shaped by two interesting darts: a long waist dart that goes all the way up to the bust and a dart that goes all the way down from the shoulder and meets the waist dart right at the bust. The back of the bodice is shaped by a regular, but pretty long waist dart, too. The bodice is lined and the dress closes with an invisible zipper in the back.
So when I held this pretty cotton poplin in my hands that Sandra, the mastermind behind Lila-Lotta, had designed for Swafing’s spring/summer 2018 collection, I decided that it was about time to finally make a Lil Luxe Dress. Without a circle skirt – both because I didn’t have that much fabric, and because, again – directional prints and circle skirts are difficult … You can look at the latest Swafing Lookbook to see the other prints of this collection – there are several orchid prints that I think are pretty cool!
Luckily the Lil Luxe Dress comes with a gathered skirt, too – but I wanted a look that was a little more chique and decided to go for big box pleats. I also own the Blake Dress by Mingo and Grace and simply used those measurements and the pleating guide for the skirt of the Blake Dress. And the hidden pockets – obviously. I don’t need to explain the need for pockets, right? I simply double checked that the pleated measurements of the Blake skirt would fit to the measurements of the Lil Luxe Dress bodice. Matching those two wasn’t too hard, since you can always play around a little with how deep you fold the pleats and how close to the zipper in the back you want to have the pleats.
Let’s talk a little more about my fabrics before moving on to the modifications I made to the Lil Luxe Dress bodice. The main fabric is, as mentioned, a new cotton poplin produced by Swafing. Unlike many other cotton poplins (and even unlike other types of poplin by Swafing I used earlier), this poplin has a silky touch to it. Like most poplin fabrics it is tightly woven and stable – in other words an easy fabric to work with. And, best of all: It doesn’t wrinkle too much! I rarely wear those of my me-made, woven cotton or rayon that get way too wrinkly while washing, storing or wearing them. So whenever I get my hands on a woven fabric which is made of natural fibres and doesn’t get too wrinkly, I get super excited. And the silky feel feel of the fabric makes it even better! For the lining I used some pink cotton voile by Free Spirit that I had in my stash. It’s pretty thin and has a very soft touch – and the pink matched the pink of the main fabric perfectly.
I don’t always make a muslin, but I will stress again and again: A tightly fitting garment designed for wovens really needs a muslin before you cut into your real fabric! We are all so different and every garment that is shaped to fit your body through darts, princess seams and similar techniques used for shaping is going to need some form of adjustment to fit your body. My personal tip for garments with a lining that is sewn using the same pattern pieces as the outer fabric: Sew your final muslin using your lining fabric! That way you can re-use your final muslin as a lining for your garment and save time (and fabric) while still checking the final fit.
When looking at the size chart of the Lil Luxe Dress I decided to make a size 2, graded to a size 4 at the waist. The Lil Luxe Dress is designed for women who are a lot shorter than I am, so I also knew that I had to add quite a bit to the length of the fabric. Unfortunately it has been so long since I made the Lil Luxe Dress that I can’t remember the exact changes I made! But I know that I had some issues with extra fabric bunching up at the shoulders/the front strap and the armhole. I am by no means an expert fixing those kinds of issues, so I simply played around with the darts and the shape of the shoulder until the fit was way better than before. I think I remember changing the angle of the shoulder seam and taking out some fabric towards the outer edge of the shoulder seam. You can still see a little bit of extra fabric on some of the pics, but the fit is way better than it was with the original pattern. And I think the big print on the fabric hides those little folds pretty well.
I absolutely love this dress and I can’t wait to be able to wear it again! I feel so elegant with the low back (that hides my bra straps perfectly!), the boxy pleats, the length of the skirt (this might be my favourite skirt length!) and the touch of the fabric. And I was pretty happy with the styling for that shooting, too! The sun glasses were a little out of my comfort zone, but my husband told me a couple of weeks earlier that he thought they were really cool. So I bought them (at a gas station, since I had forgotten my other sunglasses!) and came to love them. Why wouldn’t I like a little bit of vintage feel in my everyday life?
The back of the dress is a little low for work and the arms are a little bare, but I really liked wearing the dress to work last summer – I simply styled it with a cropped sweater or a short cardigan, showing off only the front of the dress or styling it as a pretty summer skirt.
– As a sample sewer for Lila-Lotte/Swafing, I received this fabric for free. However, all opinions are, as always, my own. –