In this season of Thanksgiving, I’ve been really paring down on my own gratitude practice. In the spirit of things I love and am grateful for, today I want to talk about some of my favorite things… When it comes to sewing, these things include By Hand London patterns, maxi lengths, and beautiful fabrics.
Cue the best dress of all time (or at least the best dress I made in 2017) – my eucalyptus print, By Hand London Kim, sweetheart neck-lined, maxi hack. I wish I was the type of person who gave all my dresses a cute name, but I’m not, so that long, drawn out descriptor will just have to do.
One of the most exciting parts about making things for myself is that I can make them fit exactly how I want to, and I have really seen this come into play with length. Now, I’m not the kind of girl who is afraid to show a little leg – you won’t see me shy away from a good mini skirt every now and then! Maxi skirts, though, have always held a special place in my heart. The glamour that comes with that extra length is unmatched, but can still be worked into the most casual of settings. However, I’m a tad taller than average at 5’8”, and I have proportionately large feet. This often means that when it comes to RTW maxis, I find the hem falling at or a little above ankle length, and then I’m left with some big old kangaroo feet sticking out below! Flats only accentuate how big my feet look, but heels accentuate that the dress just doesn’t quite fall long enough. So I very happily took this past summer’s many weddings (those of you who know me from instagram may remember the #4weddingsin4weeks saga!) as an opportunity to strut my stuff in some handmade maxis that fell at just the perfect length for me.
To create this look, I started with the Kim Dress pattern from By Hand London. I chose the sweetheart neckline option, and nixed the skirt pattern pieces altogether. I then measured myself from where the waist of this particular bodice falls (luckily, I had a previously made Kim dress I was able to put on and use as reference) all the way to the ground while wearing a pair of heels. I then added 3 inches to that length, to account for the ⅝” seam allowance at the waist, as well as a 1 ½” hem allowance. The additional ⅞” or so was kept to accommodate the skirt maintaining the length while growing wider on the way down. For the waist, I simply kept the fabric at it’s full width, to allow for some really great gathering potential. In essence, I had two big old rectangles. From here, I simply gathered the waist area and attached. Nothing special or difficult!
The end result was this lovely thing. I felt gorgeous at the wedding I attended, and was so proud to answer when someone asked if I’d made my dress. I finished the look off with the perfect pair of heels, made all the better by the fact that they were entirely hidden when I stood up, if I wanted them to be!
If I recreate a similar silhouette in the future, I have a couple of things I would change. I used a quilting cotton for this dress, which turned out surprisingly perfect, but is pretty heavy once all that skirt fabric is taken into consideration. As someone who is naturally cold ALL. THE. TIME, I appreciated that the heaviness of this dress kept me nice and warm despite being sleeveless. However, if I plan on dancing around all night at a wedding, I will likely add in a slit the next time around. Cool things down while showing a little skin? Perfect solution! It may also be worth pursuing the same silhouette in a cotton lawn or cotton voile for a similar look with a little less weight!
So, for anyone out there a little on either side of the average height range, give a “me made” dress a whack. It might just become your new favorite thing!
As for me, I’m about to experience what I foresee will be a NEW favorite thing… ITALY! This trip has been on my bucket list as long as I can remember, and this evening I take off to finally see it for myself. So, fair warning, the blog & my instagram may be a bit barren for the next few weeks – though I do hope to have some awesome blog content prepared when I return!! Until then, I hope everyone is making wonderful things – maybe even a perfectly fitted maxi dress!
- XX Elizabeth