my Magnolia dress

I will go ahead and assume  that most of you who read my blog also follow me on Instagram, so you’re aware of me being alive and well and still sewing. And you can go ahead and assume that the reason why I haven’t blogged anything in the last 7 months is cause I’m, well, lazy. And we would all be right in our assumptions! So with that said, let’s skip my colloquial excuses and go straight to the fun stuff – which is my shiny new dress!

The reason I’m coming back to my poor neglected blog is nothing short of glorious – the brand new release from Deer and Doe patterns! Once again, lovely ladies of D&D asked me to review one of the patterns from their upcoming fall-winter collection and I was more than happy to say yes. I mean – it’s Deer and Doe, how could you not?

The pattern I was offered is Magnolia dress, a mock-wrap dress with two variations: a floor-length evening gown with a plunging neckline, long sleeves and a slit, and a knee-length dress with higher neckline and butterfly sleeves. While I like both versions as is, my lifestyle isn’t glamorous enough to justify sewing an evening gown and I wasn’t keen on making summery dress at the beginning of autumn either. So I proposed a mashup where I would use more modest neckline of view B and long sleeves of view A, with midi length skirt that would fall somewhere between the two. And to my excitement Deer and Doe girls green-lighted this idea!

Now before we dive into sewing talk a little word of warning – this post may be a long one. Both picture and word-wise. What can I say, editing myself down is not my strongest skill..  Oh, and don’t forget – you can click on the pictures to enlarge them and see more detail!

I received my pattern as PDF and printing and assembling it was very easy. I particularly liked that pattern pieces were organized in three separate files, so that depending on which version you chose to make you can easily print only the pieces that you need. That being said, since I was mixing elements of both versions I ended up printing all the files 😀

For my dress I used floral burgundy crepe that I bought at Simply Fabrics stall at The GBSB Live event, one year ago. I had no particular pattern in mind when I bought this fabric, but I did imagined it as midi length 70s inspired dress – and that’s exactly what it became! I had 2,5m of the fabric (160cm wide) and the dress took around 2,2m, which is less than pattern calls for. In my experience, pattern companies have tendency to give very generous fabric requirements and I never end up needing that much! This fabric was lovely to work with – it sews like butter,  drapes like a dream and it doesn’t wrinkle. While not stretchy, this crepe does have a little give to it which worked well for this design, as it helps bodice softly mould to the body and it looks very flattering. In my opinion, choosing soft fabric with good drape is crucial for the success of this design.

According to my body measurements I chose to trace size 40 for bust and waist, graded up to size 42 for hips. In theory, I didn’t have to grade the skirt – due to its flared shape straight size 40 would give me more than enough room for my generous childbearing hips, but I wanted my skirt to be voluminous so I did.

I made sure to muslin the bodice before cutting into the real fabric – so far all Deer and Doe patterns I tried were bottoms and I had no idea how their bodice block fits me. And it’s good that I did, because size 40 was huuuge on me! I sized down to 38 and I also had to make small bust adjustment to get the bodice to fit me. What I did is I shaved 1cm off bust curve to make it more flat, and I also took 2cm from bodice length on both front pieces, across the bust apex. I will say that I have fairly small chest and I’m also very short waisted, so other people may not experience same fit issues I did. In any case, if you choose to make Magnolia I would  strongly suggest to make the muslin first, especially if you haven’t used Deer and Doe pattern before and you’re not familiar with their block.

Once I made above mentioned adjustments the fit was spot on! I kept size 42 for the skirt and I also added 20cm to make it midi length, and I’m very happy with it. I made no changes to the sleeves, although in retrospect I probably should’ve lengthen them if I wanted full long sleeves. They hit me just above my wrist, but due to elasticated cuff they tend to ride up so they end up more in a ¾ length. But I quite like them in this length so I don’t mind. Again, I do have super long arms and making sleeves longer is another standard adjustment for me.

What I’m really impressed with is the fit of that faux wrap – it lays perfectly flat with no gaping at all! No matter if I stand still or twist and turn, neckline securely clings to my body without moving around or revealing anything. The issue of gaping and opening up is something I experienced with every wrap design I ever made, both real and faux. This is the first wrap bodice where I didn’t have to secure crossover with a safety pin in order to keep it in place, which I found to be very impressive!

As far as construction goes, it’s very straightforward and well explained. Deer and Doe instructions are one of my favourites, as they’re very concise and clear!

The one thing I found to be unusual is that they don’t instruct you to use interfacing anywhere, not even for the zipper area? I did use fusible tape for mine, as I’m not comfortable installing invisible zipper in a fabric like crepe without stabilizing it first. I also interfaced my waistband as I wanted to strengthen it a bit –  with the skirt being long and heavy and my fabric soft and not super stable, that seemed like a good idea. So that’s something to keep in mind – if your fabric is light you may consider using fusible interfacing in some areas, although instructions won’t tell you to do so. Just my two cents 🙂

Neckline is finished with bias tape, which is one of my favourite finishes – so neat and clean! I also used bias tape for the hem as, in my usual fashion, I got a bit carried away while leveling the skirt and chopped off all the extra length that was meant for turning the hem twice. Whoops. Bias tape is secured in place by hand – I really don’t like the look of visible stitching and I try to avoid it whenever I can.

Magnolia comes with long ties that you knot in the back, but for my dress I decided to omit this detail. While I do like it and I think it really compliments summer or evening look, for a more wintery dress that is meant to be worn under coats and cardigans this detail is unnecessary – you can’t see it and it only creates bulk. So I just wear regular belt with mine!

I really love the slit and I kept this detail, although I did lowered it a bit. But I may go back and close it, for practical reasons only. This fabric clings to my tights a lot and I have to wear half slip with it, but with the slit being high I can only wear really short one which is not doing much in preventing the skirt from sticking to my legs. So I think I’m gonna close the slit and maybe add lining to the skirt, just to make it fully functional autumnal dress. I am gonna miss it though 😦

I’m absolutely in LOVE with my finished dress! I was going for 70s inspired Biba-esque look and I’m quite happy with the result. I think it’s perfect for this season and I love how it looks layered under long cardigan and scarf – very boho hobo chic! When we were taking these pictures my friend made a comment that I’m giving her a bit of a Florence Welch vibe, and I’m gonna take that as a compliment and just run with it. This is gonna be my go-to outfit this autumn 🙂

We took these pictures at Topčider, beautiful park that is just short drive away from the city centre. In early 19th century this part of town was reserved for vineyards and summerhouses of Belgrade affluentials, and it’s also where one the first city parks was formed. It’s modeled after English parks, with meandering pathways, rivulets and lakes and abundance of greenery – its  landscape is unlike most Belgrade parks, created much later and in the era of socialist realism. Topčider is beautiful and serene place, especially this time of year, and I thought it would serve as perfect background for my autumnal dress. And it really did! I’m so happy with how pictures turned out (hvala Milena, hvala Ceco! ❤️) and I think they perfectly capture how I feel about this dress.

I hope you like them too!

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19 thoughts on “my Magnolia dress

  1. Welcome back and wow wow WOW. This looks amazing on you! Is that the Florence of Florence and the Machine? Because if so I totally see it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much! And yes – I’m embarrassingly huge fan of Florence and the Machine, both her music and style! I wasn’t consciously trying to channel her, but if I did that’s like the ultimate compliment 😊

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  2. Thanks for the comprehensive review! I must admit that I was not particularly drawn to this pattern when it came out, but your version made me change my mind 🙂
    You nailed this boho look with your fabric choice and the adjustments you made!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, I’m glad to hear that I helped change your mind about this pattern 🙂 I think it gives a lot of opportunities for creating different looks, just by mixing and matching elements of the dress!

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  3. I love this pattern, and I looooove your version! Thanks for all the fitting tips, especially about the length of the sleeves: I wouldn’t have thought of lengthening them, now I know I should if I want my monkey arms to be covered! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! It’s kinda amazing how familiar you get with your body when you start sewing your own clothes, and all the weird facts you learn about your shape! I came to realize that for a person on a taller side (I’m 177cm tall) I have freakishly short torso, and all length comes from my limbs. So very contradictory I always need to shorten the bodice and lengthen the sleeves on all my patterns!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for this review and the beautiful pictures ! I love your dress (mine is on progress). Like your friend I should say you remember me Florence Welsh too 😉 and that’s a kind compliment !

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, I would like to ask if you sewed the muslin with sleeves or not and which fabric you used. Thanks for this long thorough article!

      Liked by 1 person

      • You’re welcome, glad if you find it helpful! I made muslin of bodice only, without sleeves, and I used some old sheets for it. I will say that due to softness of my final fabric my finished dress fits better than my adjusted muslin! I shared a picture of my muslin on Instagram, you can see it there if you’re interested 🙂

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    • Thank you, I’m very happy to hear that! And thank you for that Florence compliment too 😊 This is such a flattering pattern, I’m looking forward seeing your finished dress!

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