I just did my most work-intensive, time-crunching but careful sew ever! Patternreview got in touch with me and asked if I’d like to make up one of the new Deer and Doe patterns they will be stocking – either the Magnolia dress or the Opium coat (both out today!). Wow – it was very hard to pick between the two and a coat is definitely more practical, but I still needed a dress for Seattle Frocktails as well, so in the end decided – heck, why not go the whole hog and make the dramatic neckline maxi-version of the Magnolia?
Of course, there is always a short deadline for this kind of project, so I set to and printed out the pdf as soon as I got it. I thought it was going to be about 200 pages long, given the length of the dress, but actually it was very reasonable. No larger than most and partly due to the fact there aren’t too many pieces. The maxi version of Magnolia has a slit and it’s worth noting that the skirt piece with the slit and without are the same pattern piece, understandably saving on paper. I just cut the fabric pieces with the slit, then sliced the slit part off the paper pattern piece and cut the fabric again. I’ll just tape the paper part back on next time. Easy!
As Deer and Doe say, Magnolia is a mock-dress that comes in two versions: “the first Version has a plunging neckline, maxi skirt with a slit and long sleeves, Version B has a regular neckline, short skirt and butterfly sleeves.” Now, I hadn’t seen this particular image above left when I decided to make the dress – and it’s probably a good thing! I now know that Deer and Doe designed this particular view so it could be worn without a bra – and I haven’t had that experience since my early teens…
Thank GOODNESS I decided to make the effort to make up a muslin for this project. I had some rayon left over from my Aster blouse and made up the bodice swiftly to see where the land lay. I made a 44 because I wanted a good fit around the shoulders and armholes and some…security. I intended to do a full bust adjustment and because the bodice is made using armhole princess seams, I actually managed to get a good fit by letting out those seams by a quarter inch each – in total a one inch FBA.
I also magically remembered to add that one inch to the front waistband piece and the front seams – ensuring everything matched up through the front. And I really didn’t want to make a mistake on this one – because this dress unsurprisingly requires a lot of fabric. I used this wonderful Cotton and Steel rayon challis by Sarah Watts and I needed 5.5yds of it. I had about 2 inches left when I finished cutting, so it really does need quite a bit. I did consider going for something very autumnal and rich, given the incoming season, but I’ve had my eye on this print (and its black and white cousin) for ages and ages. Plus, I like bright colours and also like a pink and red combo. All in all – I love it!
The instructions were as in all Deer and Doe patterns I’ve made so far: very clear and crisp. There is everything you need, but no excess information. I think a beginner might need to be prepared to look a few things up, but there are no crazy techniques. The important thing is to be exact in your stitching – particularly on the bodice, so you get a good neat finish. When I finished the dress I noticed that where the waistband meets the wrap front wasn’t sitting nicely and when I looked at it, it was down to my stitching wavering a bit. It was a quick fix, but definitely highlighted the importance of taking your time on this one!
The skirt has six pieces and they are all long and slim, which results in a lovely, gorgeous, swooshy skirt, which still feels quite fitted. I LOVE the shape of it, and, of course, the slit adds a little extra vavavoom. There is an invisible zip in the side to give a bit more fit in a long dress (it requires a 14″ zip, but I was fine with an 8″ zip, just fyi) and there are waist ties at the back (or the front if you desire) to add a little detail. In this fabric, I think it almost gives it a slight vintage homesteader look somehow from the side, which I don’t mind at all. I didn’t adjust the length at all and I’m around 5’6″ for your reference.
The sleeves I found a little tricky to ease in at the shoulder, so I’ll be interested to see how other people find them. I haven’t done any for a while, so it might just be me, but I’m not sure if I did something wrong there. Anyway, I got them in in the end and I love the shape that’s added with a little elasticated cuff. Somewhere between billow and straight – nothing too “statement”. Great proportions on this dress.
Overall, I really like this dress! You can interchange any of the pieces, so people who don’t want anything so revealing but still the length and slit, can mix and match to get their perfect combination. My version is a nod-to-the-70s, pink n red, Frocktail dress and I can’t wait to wear it there!