Pattern by: Deer and Doe
I remember the exact day I bought the most expensive dress I have ever owned. I had taken a much-needed mental health day from work and spent the day treating myself in Newmarket. It was Wednesday, 13 February 2019. After tea and cake at the Teed Street Larder, I mooched around the shops and wandered into Flo & Frankie. At the time I had never bought anything there before, as it was way out of my price range, but often popped in to wistfully stroke the silks and chiffons. I spotted the baby blue ruffle dress (from the brand Shilla) and recklessly tried it on, knowing it was way out of my budget.
Well, reader, you know what happened. I fell in love with it and bought it.
Since then it has been my go-to day dress for the summer months. Easy to throw on, to dress up or down, perfect too for twirling and yoga posing.
It is now, in optimistic language, ‘well loved’. There are a few grease stains that won’t come out. The lining has shrunk and the fabric is fairly bobbly from going in with the regular wash when it would have preferred a lot more TLC.
So back in April 2020, when I first took up dressmaking, it was the first shop-bought dress I ever tried to recreate:
Then, in November 2020, while browsing material at Drapers Fabrics (also in Newmarket), I spotted the exact same fabric as my original Shilla dress! I didn’t know right then what pattern I would use to make it, so I bought two metres, hoping that would be enough.
It has waited patiently in my stash in the eight months since then, until a post on Instagram recently caught my eye. I’ve been following #mysosotisdress for a while, just not quite convinced it was right for me. I’m not a fan of baggy fitting garments, and wasn’t sure that this would work.
But I’m now looking at patterns with new eyes, seeking out garments that will work for breastfeeding, and possibly even the last couple of months of pregnancy. As a button-up dress with a looser fit over the tummy, the Myosotis was suddenly looking like a great option.
With my aversion to bagginess and seeing a few Instagram sewists say they wished they had sized down, I bravely (or stupidly) went down two sizes from Deer and Doe’s recommendation.
Keeping in mind I am 4.5 months pregnant and have a big bust for my frame (8/30G), it is a little on the tight side around my ribcage, where the waistline falls, but still totally wearable. It’s just a bit tricky to get on and off, as there’s not much wriggle room to get the smallest part of the dress over my chest. On my next go (there will definitely be a next one!) I will go up a size – i.e. one size down from the recommendation based on my measurements.
On the whole, I found Deer and Doe’s instructions very straightforward to follow, with helpful accompanying pictures. The only place I felt they could have been clearer was around attaching the collar to the bodice. I winged it, based on previous experience, and hoped for the best – and fortunately it turned out fine.
As I mentioned, I had two metres of fabric in my stash, while the instructions told me I needed three. While I waited for the extra metre, I began cutting out. With a bit of creative cutting (one pocket side has horizontal lines, the other vertical) and using the selvedge in the seam allowance, I miraculously managed to squeeze it out of the two metres I had.
Now what to make with my spare metre…?!
Following advice from another sewist on Instagram, I decided to use snap-on fasteners rather than buttons for this ‘nursing dress’. My snaps needed hand sewing in, which took a bit of extra time compared to machine-sewn buttonholes and buttons.
The third snap sits low, almost in the seam line between the bodice and skirt, so I wasn’t able to do the top stitching as per the instructions. I could have omitted this one, as it’s not actually necessary from a functional perspective.
I originally intended to add decorative buttons, but ultimately decided the dress didn’t need them.
As mentioned above, the waistline sits quite high – in my case, right under the bust. For breastfeeding I think I could do with a bit more ease to open up the dress, so I would lengthen the bodice by an inch or two. If I did this, the lowest snap would also then work.
The length is really cute for summer, though will be totally indecent once there is a bigger bump lifting the front hem. So if I was making this to wear during pregnancy I would also add another couple of inches to the skirt.
With a few beautiful details, this dress was a little more time consuming than some of the super quick makes I’ve done recently (like the Maternity Bettine, with grown-on sleeves).
The ruffles take a fair bit of patience (so much gathering), and create epicly long hems to press and sew. Oh, and I forgot to mention – it has POCKETS!
I really enjoyed the process of making this, and think all these details make the dress what it is.
I made it in two days, with one day spent on cutting and making the bodice, and the second spent adding the sleeves and skirt. It was one of those unputdownable makes, and I kept sewing into the night.
Left: the original Shilla dress | Right: my Myosotis dress
There’s something about following a French pattern that makes me feel like a couturier, and I took more care over pressing and s-l-o-w top stitching than I do usually.
I almost can’t believe I’m saying this, but I love the dress more than the (“most expensive dress I’ve ever bought”) original. It’s cute, chic, comfortable and has a swoosh-y fairy godmother feeling to it. Even in the photo I feel like it’s about to take off in flight!
I will 100% be making this one again. I happened to spot that they have the same fabric in a rich navy at Drapers, so I might have to pop by…