If you can’t already tell — I LOVE this dress! I made a dress really similar to this one last fall (McCalls 7534), and I’m not sure if people were huge fans of it. It might have been because the fabric I chose was pretty bright, but that’s okay, because I STILL love that dress! I was excited to make the Deer and Doe Magnolia, and after my Highlands Wrap Dress from last year, I was dying to make another maxi dress.
Maxi dresses just make you feel like a freaking QUEEN, right? Especially this one. I was a little bit worried about the neckline, and I know a lot of other people are too because I had quite a few people message me and comments about the neckline. To be honest, it’s like medium low. I made view B which has the neck pieces overlap a few more inches in front for more coverage. You could easily adjust the pattern to cross over further, and the neckline just has binding, so you wouldn’t even have to adjust a facing piece! #win. I might add a snap or wear a black camisole under mine, but it’s not uncomfortably low and it doesn’t gape AT ALL.
I also had a question about the dress being maternity friendly and my answer is YES! It’s empire waist style is perfect for a baby bump, and you can easily make the waistband more narrow to give more room for your belly. Now I need to see a glorious pregnant woman in this dress (and it’s not going to be me for a while). However, I would not categorize it as nursing friendly because it’s a woven fabric pattern, and the binding makes it very difficult to open while wearing it.
This was my first time making a Deer and Doe pattern, and I am happy to say that it won’t be my last! Deer and Doe has very clean and simple design, and their illustrations are very helpful. There were a few things that stumped me while making this dress, so hopefully me telling you them will save you some brainpower while making yours!
First, it’s not explained anywhere that view A has lined front bodice pieces. Because I was making view A with view B’s neckline, I followed the cutting layout for view A, and it has you cut 4 of the front bodice pieces instead of just 2. I still cut the 4 pieces like it said to, but I had the lining pieces leftover because my fabric was opaque enough to not need it. I do wish it was stated in the pattern description or in the cut layout, though.
Second, you are supposed to stay stitch the front bodice pieces, but it doesn’t say what seam allowance to stay stitch with. If you skip ahead a few steps, you read that you are supposed to sew the binding on with a 3/8 SA (as opposed to the 5/8 SA for the rest of the dress), so I just stay stitched a little less than that so that the stitching wouldn’t show after I sewed my binding on.
Third, is that I didn’t realize the skirt was 6 pieces instead of 4. In the photos, it looks like there is a front and back panel, and 2 side panels, but really there are 3 in back and 3 in front. So just make sure you keep all of your pieces separated and that you pay attention to that when you are sewing the skirt panels together.
I did like that the pattern had 5/8 seam allowances, and I had contemplated doing french seams, but I was kind of in a hurry to get it done, and with it being a maxi, sewing the loooooong french seams might have made me loose my mind. Lol. So I chose to sew the seams and finish with my serger.
The only thing I kind of struggled with was the bottom of the invisible zipper. Does anyone else totally struggle to get the bottom of invisible zippers stitched down?? I really need to just google how to do it, but for now it looks okay. The fabric is busy enough that you can’t tell, but I can’t unzip it all the way or else my zipper gets lost between the layers.
I made a muslin and graded from a 42 out to a 44 in the bodice pieces, but since the bodice pieces only go right below my bust, it was pretty roomy, so I made a size 42 in the bodice and sleeves, and graded from a 42 to a 44 in the waistband. So if you need to grade out at the waist, do it in the waistband.
The only sewing tall alteration I made was to lower the bust by 1″ and add 1″ to the sleeves. On my muslin, I added 2″ (like I did for my Charleston), but that made the bust way too low. So 1″ was perfect for me! I added 2 inches to the skirt panels, but ended up cutting them off again at the end because the skirt is actually pretty long already.
This fabric is a rayon poplin from Blackbird Fabrics, and it worked really well for this dress. If you are wondering what rayon poplin is (like I was when I ordered it), it’s basically a high quality rayon challis. It’s much easier to work with since it’s a little more substantial than low quality rayon challis, but it has a similar feel and drape. I really love it and plan on ordering rayon poplin instead of rayon challis in the future. (I did learn that Cotton+Steel fabrics are printed on rayon poplin, which makes so much sense because my Cotton+Steel fabric for my Cleo Skirt was really easy to work with.)
I purposely eliminated the side slit (plenty of room in the skirt without it), and made it a little shorter than floor length so that I can wear it with sandals or sneakers (for this kind of look). I am so excited to have this gorgeous dress to wear, and not have it just sit in my closet waiting to be taken to the fancy parties I never get invited to. 😉
Which version of the dress would you make? Would you do the elastic long sleeves or the flutter sleeve? (It was hard for me to choose!)
Pattern was given to me by Deer and Doe in exchange for a pattern review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.