Happy December everyone! I hope you’re all getting prepared for the Christmas season and are well on your way with handmade gifts, food and outfits. For my Minerva Blogger Network Project this month I knew I had to make something festive, and decided upon a Christmas party dress!

I had originally planned to make a Tilly and the Buttons Francoise dress this month, but I changed my mind at the last minute and made the Lilou dress from her book, Love at First Stitch, instead. I chose the Lilou dress pattern because I love the pleated skirt and thought that my festive fabric choice would hold the dress’ shape well.

The Christmas Fabric I chose for my party dress is a linen-look, cotton canvas in a red and white Scandi-Style print. Because it’s a canvas, the fabric is medium-heavy weight, which makes it the perfect match for the Lilou dress pattern. But don’t think that ‘canvas’ means scratchy upholstery, as it certainly doesn’t! The fabric isn’t uncomfortable or too stiff to wear – it actually has quite a soft feel and makes the pleats of the dress look wonderful. I also love, love, love the Scandi red and white print of this fabric. It matches my Christmas tree colour scheme perfectly and feels very festive, but not to in-your-face Christmas!

The bodice of the dress is also lined with a soft cream cotton that I had in my fabric stash. The instructions for lining the dress are included in Tilly’s book but it’s really quite easy: you essentially make two bodices and then attach them together with a bit of magical sewing – definitely something a confident beginner could have a go at!

As I mentioned, the skirt of the Lilou dress has several pleats around the waistline. These pleats make the skirt big and full when you spin round and allow the fabric to skim over your hips. 

I really enjoy sewing pleats like these – there’s something quite satisfying about folding the fabric, stitching it and marveling at the lovely neat pleats you’ve just created! And this canvas fabric holds the shape of the pleats so well too. I love how they’re such a big feature of this dress. Even if you’re stood several feet away you can still see them.

The Lilou dress also features bodice darts on the front and back, a long Invisible Zip down the back, plus a Hook and Eye Closure at the top. I probably could’ve done with making the back darts bigger, or removing some of the excess fabric, as the finished dress doesn’t sit quite flat along my upper back. But that’s the only amendment I’d make if I were to sew this dress again! Overall it fits very well on me.

I actually bought a pearl necklace for this and simply cut it to length, then carefully stitched it on all the way around the join between the bodice and the skirt. I think it looks great, don’t you?

And finally, because this dress is for Christmas parties, I decided to add something extra special and hand-stitched a string of pearls around the waistline! 

I hope you like my finished Christmas party dress and hope that I’ve inspired you to have a go at making one of your own. There’s nothing quite like turning up to dinner or drinks knowing your outfit is unlike anyone else’s. Have a happy Christmas!