The By Hand London Holly Dress
Posted on Monday the 24th June 2019 by Milly Noel
Okay, the pictures in this post may just be some of my favorites! Which is amusing considering they involved dragging my little brother out of his room to be my photographer. Thankfully he’s interested in the geekier side of photography so it wasn’t *too* much of a hassle for him. And I’d also like to thank the crazy Tennessee weather for raining just long enough that I had an excuse to wear my yellow rain boots for said photos, but not so long that I had bad lighting and got soaking wet!
A few weeks ago I stitched up a By Hand London Holly romper. I had to make significant adjustments to it but in the end it fit beautifully. I was planning to use this month’s Cotton Poplin Fabric to make a second, entirely perfected version with a matching overskirt reminiscent of vintage playsuits. But when I realized I only had enough fabric to make either a skirt or shorts, a dress version of Holly absolutely won out.
The idea of massive patch pockets with bows on them popped into my head the minute I started planning this project. They were incredibly easy to execute considering they are literally 3 different sized rectangles sewed together. The measurements I’m about to give you are the pre-hemmed sizes for each piece: main pocket piece = 10 inches by 13 inches, main bow piece = 6 inches by 10 inches, and little bow piece = 2 inches by 2.5 inches. I did narrow hems on the two long sides of the big bow piece leaving the shorter sides raw since they were finished off when I folded in the edges of the actual pocket. The small bow piece was folded in half right sides together, longer side stitched, turned right side out, ironed so the seam was down the middle, folded in half right sides together once more, stitched short side this time, and then turned right side out.
I originally planned to make a full gathered skirt to attach to the Holly bodice, but once I sewed it together at the waist and tried it on, I wasn’t thrilled with how it looked. This bodice is right at the line where it could hit perfectly at the waist or look a smidge too short. The amount of fabric gathered into the skirt made it ride up too high giving it a weird, short-waisted appearance. Back to the drawing board!
Thankfully I had used two large rectangles the width of the fabric so I had plenty to work with. I unhemmed it and removed all the gathers. I decided to pull out my top favorite, tried and true, basically best skirt/dress ever pattern: Megan Nielsen Matilda dress! I had more than enough fabric to cut out the skirt front and back from that pattern. 5 minutes of sewing later and I had a nearly completed dress once more! Seriously though, I know I’ve written about this pattern a million times, but I am STILL not tired of it. May or may not be planning a couple more versions…. Excuse me while I go hide in a corner with my obsession.
Once the skirt dilemma was worked out, there was hardly anything left to the dressmaking. I followed the instructions as required for the Holly bodice and just left off the shorts. I used 8 snaps down the front of the bodice instead of buttons. Side zipper, topstitched the pockets onto the skirt, hemmed everything, and picked off as many of the stray threads as I could find. (There are still a bazillion lurking about!) Honestly, the hardest part of this whole process was when my serger decided to be a jerk and keep unthreading... Seriously! What is up with that? Get it together machine!
I am pretty certain that I prefer this dress version of Holly over the romper. Real talk here: it is a massive pain to use the bathroom in the romper! It requires un-snapping and un-zipping and it’s just a hassle. Fortunately the romper is utterly adorable so it totally makes up for the annoyance by making me feel like a total babe. But I so appreciate the ease of dresses.
The bodice portion of the Holly jumpsuit/romper is definitely my favorite part of the design. So while I’ll probably make at least one more romper, (just. too. cute.) I can definitely see myself making a couple more Holly dresses. You know me, I can never resist a good shirt dress, and I love that this has that button front without the collar. I haven’t made many of those before so it is nice to change things up a bit!