I’m super excited to share this dress with all of you! It’s one that I’ve been dreaming of making ever since I set eyes on it’s inspiration and put a plan together to sew it! I call this my “birthday” dress as I bought the fabric with bday money back in May 2014. Yes…. it has taken me THAT long to make this dress!
When I first saw Kate wearing the Zimmermann Roamer Day Dress while on tour in Australia in April 2014, I knew that I wanted to make a “copy Kate” and sew my own version of this dress. The Zimmermann dress is a floral broderie anglaise (aka cotton eyelet), but I used a paisley cotton eyelet I found at Joann’s.
Taking a closer look at the Zimmerman dress, it looks like insertion lace is sewn into the eyelet fabric. This was the first time that I considered using an heirloom technique like insertion lace for a modern dress. It’s now a technique that I’ve sewn into three recent garments, but this is the original dress that inspired it. Everyday heirloom sewing!
The bulk of the lace for this dress is a geometric patterned lace that I purchased at Britex Fabrics in San Francisco last year. I also used this for my Sutton blouse. I looked at a lot of laces at the Britex lace counter and finally chose this one as I liked the contrast to the paisley.
To contrast even more, I used a vintage insertion lace that I had in my stash on the sleeves and waistband. I’m not sure where that lace came from, but I believe it was a gift from my MIL a few years ago.
No, it doesn’t match, but I like the juxtaposition of the two laces together with the backdrop of the paisley eyelet.
I am very proud of my work on this dress, so yes, this post is going to be picture heavy with details. I spent about a week working on this dress, which is quite a while for me, when it comes to such a simple garment. I usually spend about 1-3 days making a dress with similar design details.
For this dress, I used Vogue 8766 View F as the base for my bodice. Granted, I modified it quite a bit. When the Colette Dahlia came out, I thought about using that pattern for this dress, but I wasn’t fully enamored with the fit of that dress, so I opted to alter a pattern instead. I did plan to take a pattern drafting class in a nearby town that was supposed to start this month, but I was apparently the only one who signed up for it, and they needed four students. There isn’t another one scheduled, so I guess I’ll have to wait to see if there’s more interest. If I had a chance to take that class, I may have drafted this dress myself, but instead I used my trusty Vogue 8766 as a starting point and went from there.
I made an unblogged version of this pattern a couple of years ago in silk dupioni with a lace overlay, so I was familiar with how this dress fit before I cut into my fabric. I started out by grading the pattern up a couple of sizes to fit me, and then separated the bodice pieces to make a midriff. I also did a slight swayback adjustment on the back bodice piece. I omitted the pattern’s darts and instead gathered the bottom of the front bodice similar to the Zimmermann dress. I then pinned and sewed some side darts to fit my bust shape and alleviate the gaping. The back bodice has the darts from the original pattern.
The sleeves are widened using the cut and spread method and shortened from the pattern’s 3/4 version. I also cut the midriff piece shorter to make a fitted waistband and cut it straight. I didn’t lengthen the midriff piece, but instead sewed a 3/8″ seam allowance between the bodice pieces and the midriff pieces. There’s a 5/8″ seam between the midriff and skirt pieces.
The skirt is just a simple gathered rectangle, a little smaller than the 44/45″ width of the yardage as the eyelet doesn’t go to the selvedge.
The bodice is lined with white cotton voile, whilst I left the sleeves unlined. The skirt is lined with cotton muslin. I had both pieces in my stash which were leftovers from other projects. I used an invisible zip on the back.
I hand sewed the bodice lining at the sleeves for a clean finish and tried to make sure that everything was flush so neither the lining nor the understitching along the neckline would show.
Although I do like the high neckline on the Zimmermann inspiration dress, it doesn’t work for me, so I chose the lower scoop neck of V8766. It’s more comfortable for me to wear and more my style.
I really enjoyed inserting the lace into this dress. It takes a while to plan and sew, but it’s such a beautiful and interesting detail. I followed some of the design on my inspiration dress, while taking into account how much insertion lace I had. I used two techniques for sewing the lace — one is pinning it to the fabric, sewing it and cutting the fabric. The other is sewing the lace to the fabric (on the hem) and then sewing another piece of fabric to that. If you’d like me to share how I did this in a tutorial, I’ll be glad to. I’m planning on making a blouse with insertion lace at some point.
I’ll be honest with you — I almost f***ed up this dress and almost dyed it black. The geometric insertion lace was white whereas my paisley fabric was light ivory. Together, there was just barely a difference in color and it appeared so slight under my Ott light, that I assumed it would meld together. Well…. I started sewing the insertion lace on the bodice and saw how much the white was a contrast to the ivory and it just didn’t look right. My original plan was to tea stain the lace to match the fabric and I suppose I was too lazy to do that in the first place as I was probably a bit too antsy to get started on this project. I kept on inserting lace and moving on and figured I could spot stain it later. Well…. I did try that with my finished dress and that DID NOT WORK. I then tried to tea stain the whole dress. Well that looked even more spotty. So I ended up mixing bleach and water in the bathtub and laying my dress in that for a few hours and VOILA, IT ALL MATCHED! The vintage lace on the sleeves and waistband was also originally a dark ivory and that is white now, too. I also thought this was a dress meant to be dry cleaned, but it really is not the delicate. It withstood the dying and bleaching and washing with no issues. The fabric and the laces are tough fabrics, my friend. I washed this dress in cold water on the delicate cycle and hung it on the line in the shade to dry.
This dress just makes me really happy. 🙂 It’s been a long time in the making and I just love it so much. I wore it to an event last night and it’s been laundered again today to worn to the City tomorrow. Such a simple looking dress at first glance, but it’s more intricate than it looks. And no, I don’t think I look like Kate wearing it. Aside from being a tall brunette with British ancestry, I don’t have anything physically in common with the lithe Duchess. I just love her style and many of her dresses inspire me. She also has excellent taste in shoes. I even have on a lower heeled style similar to the Stuart Weitzman Minx espadrilles she wore with her Zimmermann dress in Australia.
P.S. Check me out. I’ve been learning to how to up my eye game. In movie star cinemascope of course. 😉
- Dress: modified Vogue 8766 with gathered skirt in cotton eyelet, made by me
- Shoes: Stuart Weitzman Barbados
- Earrings: Bauble Bar