The “Lilly” Dress

The Facts
Fabric: Amy Butler Modern Midwest II Fresh Poppies (Sky), $8.98/yd x 2.5 yds. from Fabric.com
Pattern: McCall’s 5882 (Dress F, without contrast)
Year: 1960s style
Notions: Invisible zipper, Hook & eye (all from stash), Lace trim (eBay, $6.99)
Time to complete: 4 hours
First worn: Plan to wear for Savannah Philharmonic’s Afternoon Adagio in February!
Wear again: Yes!  Once I fix the crooked lace and maybe fit it better.
Total price: $30  (a real Lilly would cost $200!)

I live in the South, and the ladies around here love their Lilly Pulitzer frocks. My girlfriends go gaga when there’s a sale on these bright, preppy gems. That said, their retail prices are out of my league! So I thought, why not try and recreate a similar dress for a fraction of the price?

In the end, I decided to splurge and buy some fabric that reminded me of Lilly Pulitzer’s Palm Beach style. In the end, I fell in love with Amy Butler’s Modern Midwest II Fresh Poppies, which comes in a variety of colors. While I felt the Ivory print was closer to the look I selected (see photos of both fabric colors), I chose to go with Sky; I wanted something with more green to it, in case I wear it for St. Patrick’s Day.

Making this dress for the challenge really motivated me. My attempts at last week’s Buttoned Up challenge ended in another UFO; I just wasn’t feeling my chosen project, so I tabled it. And once I let go, it felt great. When I began this dress, I was rolling full speed ahead! I did collar/arm facings for the first time, learned to understitch, and even discovered I had a zipper foot so I could truly NAIL that back zipper. Woohoo! I had everything but the lace and hem done, but then I had to wait due to shipping of my eBay lace.

Sadly, it didn’t arrive until JUSTAMINUTEAGO, so I dropped my combat boots (literally) and set about to finishing the dress! The lace was hard to place “straight” with the shape of the dress (would have been easier to add during construction), and my hem is a bit messy, but I finished in time to post here. Well, not in time to take photos during daylight hours, put makeup on, or do my hair… I hope to take some time to fix the crooked lace a little bit, but if I keep moving/don’t stand up straight you really can’t tell, right? :)

Despite the mistakes, I can honestly say this was a dress of triumphs, with new skills learned, a fabric/design that motivated me, and an in-general improvement in construction. I think that my goal for this year with the Sew Weekly is already happening… improve my sewing through practice, practice, practice. And it’s still January!

Author

Aubrey

Aubrey started sewing in December 2010, and shortly after purchased her first sewing machine! Still a beginner, she is ready to learn more with every challenge. Aubrey is an Iraq veteran and fashion-loving blogger who loves to cook; she's also a chatterbox who can't wait to dive headfirst into the Sew Weekly community.

17 Comments

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  1. It’s worked out great. Well done!

  2. Love it! Great fabric, great lace detail! It doesn’t look at all crooked in the photos. :-). I have to admit, I’m a Lilly fan myself but they’re nothing we home seamstresses can’t make. If you’re interested, there’s even quite a selection of Lilly fabric on Etsy and ebay (though twice what you paid for your lovely Amy Butler).

  3. I love your dress – it looks great. I am SO jealous that you can get Amy Butler fabric so cheap, we pay over $20/metre for it here in Australia – I need to get online and order some! It’s great when you make something and learn new skills, well done!

    • Hi Deb – I have the same problem here in Switzerland – I pay CHF20/metre. So what I normally do is order online from http://www.quilthome.com as they deliver internationally. Also they always have a coupon special on where you can save on certain fabrics (the offers change weekly I think) and if you subscribe to their newsletter you’ll get coupon offers on new fabric etc. as well. And the delivery is very quick, usually about 10 days. Cheerio, Karin

  4. Great job on the dress! The fabric you chose was perfect!

  5. I’m not a huge fan of Lilly’s dresses; honestly I can’t see why they need to be so expensive. That said, I really like your version! I can’t tell that the lace is crooked at all!

  6. i’m with cation–not a huge LP fan, but i love that you went out and found a way to make your own version. congrats on sticking it out and getting that lace in place :-)

  7. This dress is fabulous! I adore the lace down the front – it’s just like your inspiration photo! The fabric has fantastic colors in it – perfect for spring and the required St Patty’s celebrations!

  8. The lace would have turned out better if (1) I hadn’t rushed and (2) I had found a wider lace and didn’t have to try to line up two skinnier pieces! But now that I look at the dress, you ladies are right… the crookedness isn’t too bad; I just need to adjust the fit a bit! :)

    I think it’s a pretty good attempt at my first Make the Look and my 4th ever dress! :)

  9. Good for you Audrey on learning new skills, your dress looks just like the picture, great job.

  10. Too cute! And what a bargain!

  11. Never heard of Lily Pulitzer, but I think Amy Butler is a genius! Her house is amazing too – I stalk her website quite a lot for ideas. Sweet dress in a lovely print. I am sitting on a big UFO of a quilt and have chosen exactly the same print as you have used, plus other Midwest Modern prints to make it in. Way to save money :)

  12. Wow I love your dress! Very wearable and the lace is pretty :)

  13. Very LP! You’ve done a knock out knock off :)

  14. Great MTL; It’s spot on. But $200 for a shift dress with lace down the front? THIS is why we sew, am I right?!

    BTW, I can’t believe you’re a veteran because you look so young; kudos to you for doing a job I can only imagine and coming home in one (lovely) piece!

  15. Sweet dress – I like the fabric you have used better than the original. I think the lace looks ideal.

  16. Your dress is great and I know it will be a hit! I love Lily and Amy Butler – put them together and you’ve got a great look!