As I mentioned in my last blog posts about the Pony Tank and the Harwood Dress, the lovely Dominique from Kreamino visited me the weekend before last. The only plan we had, besides enjoying the landscape close to Tromsø, was to take pictures of two very special dresses together. We’re both close with Bettina from the blog Stahlarbeit, and when Bettina was in London last May, she offered to buy each of us three metres of Liberty of London lawn while at the store Shaukat. Well, guess if we managed to resist? Nope. Of course not. We’re not that crazy after all!
We searched through the online catalogue of Liberty fabrics and ended up with the two lawns these dresses are made of. Mine is called Small Painter’s Meadow and is from the spring/summer collection 2016. We’re both madly in love with the fabrics, they were even prettier in real life and we just can’t believe how lucky we are to have a friend who buys us fabric while on holidays with her family.
At the same time a new German pattern created waves of excitement in the German sewing community: The brand Lotte & Ludwig released Irene’s dress – a vintage inspired shirtdress with button loops, a wide skirt and wide belt to tie the dress. It looks amazing and reminds every one of the dresses our grandmothers might have worn.
Well, Dominique and I decided quickly to use our Liberty fabrics to make each our Irene and to take pictures of the dresses while Dominique visited. Reviewing the tester pictures of the dress (you can see several here), we realized that something wasn’t right with the back of the dress. The back fold that is tacked at the neckline and the waist was gaping, there seemed to be a little too much fabric at the back shoulders and sometimes the dress seemed tight at the shoulders.
Working with Liberty fabric we knew that a muslin was mandatory, and seeing the difficulties with the fit we knew that more than one muslin might be necessary. We even contemplated to sew the dress using another pattern, but that felt somehow like “steeling” the design. At first I tried only tacking the pleat at the neckline and to leave it open at the waist, while slimming the side seams a little to make the dress the “right” size at the waist. Unfortunately the dress was way too tight for me around the shoulders.
After asking Gabriela from Chalk & Notch for help (the sewing community is so amazing!), I followed her advice to let out the pleat at the neckline, too. I needed all the extra room at the shoulders! I shortened the back by 1 cm, too, right at the middle of the back shoulder. After making 5 muslins I had achieved a fit that was good enough. Not perfect, you can still see drag lines, but good enough to make it possible to cut into the Liberty fabric.
The only change, besides the major adjustments at the back and a tiny adjustment at the princess seams, was sewing the dress with a lining instead of a facing. I found some blue-green lawn in my stash (from Imagine Gnats), and the colour was perfect together with the colours of the Liberty fabric. Liberty lawn is quite thin and I think adding a layer at the bodice was a good call.
Dominique had similar issues and decided in the end to use the Darling Ranges bodice by Megan Nielsen. After trying to add the Irene sleeves she finally went sleevless, but you can read more about that on her blog.
The dress itself was quickly sewn. It took me a little longer because I French seamed everything, except for the waist seam, which is serged because of the button placket – sewing the lining to the outer fabric by hand after attaching the skirt couldn’t work. The only part that was a little more complicated was gathering the keyhole sleeves, adding the binding and folding it to the button loop. Well, not really complicated, but out of the box. The skirt is just a huge rectangle with pockets, and the rest of the dress is straight forward, too. The instructions tell you to sew the belt to the side seams or to add button loops at the side and to sew the belt as one piece. I went for the second possibility, but didn’t add belt loops, I don’t think I need them, since the belt is so wide.
Dominique and I drove to a little island called Hillesøy, about an hour drive from the city of Tromsø. It’s the last inhabited island to the west, behind the island, there is only sea and later, much later on Greenland. It’s the perfect spot to watch the sun go down, just to up again before it even touches the horizon. Dominique and I brought warm sweaters, lots of food (and a not so happy dog – waiting is so boring!) and sat on the stones for hours, watching the sun. When the clock was past midnight we changed into our Irenes and had a lot of fun taking pictures along the shore. I even stepped on a sea urchin (documented below!) while dancing around – that’s the only part about this shooting I truly can’t recommend.
Wearing this dress feels absolutely wonderful, and although I’m not too happy with the grading of the pattern, I adore the style. I don’t regret for a second using nearly all of my Liberty for this dress, and I know that I’ll wear this often and for a long time. And since I love this dress so much, I’ve decided to post all the pics I love, although it’s enough for at least three blog posts. But special dresses need special blog posts, right??
– This blog post is linked to the German blogger Party RUMS. –