I mentioned when I posted about my Clémence skirt that I was particularly taken with this lovely dress, so it's no surprise that it was the next project that chose to sew. Having made the Lilou, I now feel like I'm even more qualified to recommend treating yourself to Tilly's lovely book as I've now used one of the patterns that's included with the book (the Clémence skirt has instructions for drafting your own pattern so I didn't use the pattern sheets for that). Yes, you have to trace the patterns because the pieces overlap, but these are the clearest pattern sheets that I've ever had to trace from so that's really not a problem. Everything came together beautifully and, as with Clémence, the instructions were completely clear and easy to follow.
The Lilou is the last project in the book, making it theoretically the most complicated, and it might be a bit challenging if you'd never sewn anything before, but even then it could still be achievable if you work through all the steps, and if you've got a bit of experience then it'd be no trouble. I'm a firm believer that if you've got good instructions, which you definitely have here, and you follow them at your own speed then most things can be done.
Size-wise, I cut a 6 on the bust and hips, grading down to a 5 at the waist. I like this fact - it makes me feel like I have a small waist rather than abnormally large hips which is what lots of patterns often make me feel. Not that it bothers me, I know I'm pretty much the definition of pear shaped and I'm fine with that.
I wanted the dress to be comfortable for wearing every day, so added quite a bit of length because I like my summer dresses to hit at about knee length. I added an 1.5 inches to the bodice (fairly standard for me) and another 2.5 inches to the skirt, and this gave me just the length that I wanted.
If I wanted the dress to be super-fitted, I could probably afford to take a tiny bit of extra width out of the bodice, but I'm completely happy with how it is - it's nicely fitted whilst still having a bit of room to move, and I don't like clothes to be too closely fitting when it's hot.
Also, I got over my temporary hatred of invisible zips - yay! They do give dresses a nice finish after all. I've definitely found that stabilising the seam allowances with strips of interfacing helps with inserting invisible zips, and didn't have any trouble at all when I was sewing this one. It's not completely totally and utterly invisible, but I'm happy with it so it's all good.
Can we talk about the fabric now? I LOVE this material! Not only is it really pretty and full of most of my favourite colours, it feels gorgeous. It's a John Kaldor cotton sateen that I got from Fabric Rehab. It was lovely to sew with, and drapes really nicely whilst still having enough body to hold the pleats in the skirt (you can see the pleats quite well in the top photo - they're flattering and give the skirt a great shape) and allowing for a bit of twirl factor. Twirl factor is very important to me for dresses!
I decided to go with Tilly's suggestion of using a contrast fabric for the bodice lining - mainly because I've had this turquoise blue fabric in my stash for a while and wasn't sure what to use it for because it's quite sheer, and it was a perfect match for the bright blue flowers in the dress so surely it was meant to be. I got it as part of a bundle on ebay a while ago, so I have no idea what it is, I suspect it may be a polycotton of some variety, but its a good weight for the lining and feels nice so it seemed like a good choice. Tilly recommends that you trim off a tiny amount of the neckline of the lining to encourage it to lie nicely on the inside of the dress without poking out and I think that worked really well.
So, yes, in case it isn't already obvious, I'm pretty pleased with this dress - so pleased that version 2 has already been cut out (and my Mum's bought fabric for me to make one for her, thankfully we're pretty much the same size!). Plus, as an added bonus I think it's pretty perfect for joining in with the Summer Sun Dress Sew-Along - and who doesn't love a sew-along?!