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Thursday, May 10, 2012

The 'Modern Garden Party' Dress

This dress is a long time in the making.  Since seeing Season 1 of Downton Abbey, I (and like what seems to be every other blogger out there) have been itching to make the clothes from the show.  I was instantly hooked on Lady Mary's garden party/flower show dress.  I knew I had to make it.  So the obsession began.

It started with looking for the right pattern (do I go straight to the Sense and Sensibility period inspired garments?), with my eye on the lookout for the right fabric match, lace trims, etc.  I picked up various patterns, I found the perfect fabric, and was just waiting for the right time to start sewing.

I had decided upon the Sense and Sensibility pattern, but the more I thought about it, the more I hesitated to make an exact replica of the dress.  I wanted to make something I would wear and feel comfortable in. Ok, just start already Christine!  Then the Girl with the Star Spangled Heart posted her version.  Gorgeous! Totally drool worthy and such a spot on version! But I could already see myself saying that I wouldn't wear a long dress on a regular basis. Do I just follow the same concept but go shorter?? Ugh, I'm so indecisive!



Colette announced her new pattern line.

And it was love at first sight!

The striped version of Hazel just screamed out the answer to me.  This is it! The pattern I was meant to make! So I jumped on the pre-order and waited.

And waited.

And watched as people who did instant download started making their versions.  Where was my copy?! Well, apparently there was a huge influx of orders and their distributor ran out.  Patience is not my forte but eventually I got my copy and a lesson was learned.  If I really want it at release, I have to print it myself and tape it together.  After a bit of grumbling and unhappy customer syndrome, I dealt with it.  Luckily the pattern was perfect and a breeze to put together.  I just stuck with one pattern size without any modifications.  I worked on matching up my stripes appropriately towards my inspiration dress.  Horizontal in the front panel, vertical in the sides, and a chevron angle in the back (somewhere I saw a picture of the back of her dress with this feature but now I cannot for the life of me find it).

I added a strip of lace to the front panel and some vintage buttons that I picked up at Stitches.  Purely decorative.  The final touch?  I made a belt using Sunni's belt kit.  The darker shade of grey imitated the stripe of contrasting fabric in the original dress.

Back of the dress. I spared you my awful tan lines with some Photoshop editing.
The Facts
Fabric: Striped cotton print from Etsy $40, quarter of a yard of grey cotton from JoAnn's $2
Pattern: Colette's Hazel Approx. $22 with shipping
Year: Contemporary
Notions: Invisible zipper $2, small strip of lace $0.50, vintage buttons $6, belt kit from Sunni $7 when it was on sale
Time to complete: Probably 7 hours including hand stitching the belt
First worn: This week
Wear again? Yes! All the time!
Total cost: $79.50 Pricey but totally worth it. Once I use the pattern a couple more times I'll feel better about the cost.

I wore this dress all day of MMM 9 - to work (with a cardigan) and then to the meet-up to see Karen of Did You Make That.  I'll post pictures and a recap of that event separately, but I did get to play around in my dress in Union Square... the tourist center of downtown San Francisco.  A marching band was hanging out in the area for some reason so we got a little show while hanging out in the square.
Really? What are the odds?
The marching band parking in front of my photo spot.
And I got to run away when I realized there were a lot of people around during my little photo shoot.  Awkward!  And cold!

Oh and I apologize for a wrinkly dress. I really had been wearing it all day so it was inevitable.

I love how the dress turned out!  After all of the waffling around and decision-making in the beginning of the process, I'm so happy with the final product.  The dress is very comfortable and is definitely something that I would wear throughout the spring and summer.  It fits nicely into a few of my sewing plans too:

Dressing Downton

That's Sew Cinematic

and my Spring/Summer Palette!

If you haven't already, you have to see Sarah's version of the garden party dress! Another great take on the iconic striped dress.  I love seeing everyone's interpretation of these dresses!  So what about you - are you making one or participating in any of these challenges?


  1. How lovely , I knew it would look great my friend. Ps new blog look is cute too x

    1. Thank you Rachel! I'm so pleased with it! And the blog - I was getting bored with the old look. ;)

  2. ummm, i love it. you look adorable.

  3. LOVE your version of the Hazel! It is the perfect modern version of the garden party dress!!! Such fun photos!

    1. Aww thank you Debi! I chatted with Karen about you at the meet-up. Totally jealous over you UK ladies ;)

  4. Anonymous8:58 AM

    Ok, now I see the Downton Abbey connection (I've never watched it...). I can attest it's very cute in person and was glad to have worn mine in support ;-)

    1. hahaha thanks Silvia! You've got to get on that - I think they're all on Netflic now? And yours was gorgeous! I hope to post pics from the meetup shortly.

  5. Anonymous9:17 AM

    You look absolutely fabulous. Everything about the dress is great but I especially love the direction of the stripes. It just adds so much more to the design. I'm glad you waited for the pattern and were a happy customer :)

  6. I LOVE LOVE LOVE your version!! This looks so great on you, and I love that you used stripes and lace just like the flower show dress - brilliant!

    1. Thanks Meg! The day when we finally meet will be epic!

  7. I thought that was your inspiration when I saw your dress on Wednesday. It was a beautiful dress. Also, sorry for not Photoshopping your tan lines as well. I had a difficult time deciding whether I was comfortable posting photos of other people and editing them in those photos. I decided yes to the former and no to the latter.

    1. Don't even worry about it! I did let out a squeal when I first saw it because I totally forgot that everyone else there would have witnessed the monstrosity, but it was a good reminder that I need to fix that. All of my dresses seem to have low backs!

  8. This turned out EXTREMELY cute! I love when fabric is used in more than one direction.

  9. I don't know how this post slipped through my net (I blame the new blogger layouts) but I'm so glad to have found it. Your dress is really lovely Christine, you've done a great job with the stripes and I love the little buttons on the lace strip. May have to steal that idea! x

  10. Your Hazel is gorgeous: the fit, the colors, the button accents. Perfect.

  11. I love the Hazel dress you made. It looks great on you. Simple and not too casual. I think it would look great for the office. I love the strips going in different directions. Your pics are amazing too. I always look so crumpled after a long day at work but you look great!

  12. Oh my goodness, that is *adorable*! I would love to make a version with sleeves so I can wear it to work :-)

  13. I love your dress! I really need to make myself one of these this summer - I love the effect of the stripes on the bodice!

  14. OMG you are SO CUTE!! ^___^ I saw your review on PatternReview and had to come see more piccies! Love that you took your photos at dusk too, it really adds a beautiful ambience :D Love the dress - it's just adorable!

  15. Love love LOVE everything about this dress!! I think I need a Hazel, too, it's so flipping cute. And your fabric choice is perfect. I like the modernized version of the garden party dress, too, as I'd be so much more likely to wear it.


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