spring flowers + a handmade maxi dress: a diy tutorial

IMG_9440I keep waiting anxiously for the day maxi dresses fall out of style, but to my luck it looks like they’ve made it another year. Welcome back old friends. Of course, as irony would have it, I made this dress in one evening and then it remained 40 degrees outside for the following week. But now here we are and spring has finally appeared in Charleston. So on a warm, sunny day Friday morning, I took Liam and my maxi dress for a walk downtown to find some flowers. fullsizeoutput_5399The Dress:

The Fabric: blue spandex jersey knit (maker unknown) bought at Five Eighth Seams

The Pattern: I am a sucker for sticking with what I know will work! I have made some version of the Penelope Peplum from See Kate Sew so many times (and have blogged about it here, here, here, and here, to name a few!) so I decided to go with this again for my bodice top. I then did a simple gathered rectangle skirt for the bottom.

My Alterations: I made no changes to the bodice (with the exception of eliminating the peplum piece, of course) and sewed a straight size medium. For the skirt, I cut two mirror image rectangle pieces of fabric that were 14 x 42 inches. I used a basting stitch along the top (short end) of both pieces and pulled the thread to make gathers.  Then I attached the two skirt pieces to the two bodice top, sewed along the side seams from sleeve to ankle, and voile!

Final Dress Thoughts: The first version I made of this, in an old gray knit I had laying around, the fabric for my skirt pieces were 20 x42 inches and I felt like it created too many gathers and was too bunchy looking around my waist and hips.  Taking off some of the width of the fabric made it more slim fitting, similar to a pencil skirt, but still having the look of the gathers. You can always play around with this measurement or do pleats instead of gathers to get a different look.

fullsizeoutput_5357Liam was eating a box of raisins but I feel like this is a good preview for what Liam without his two front teeth will look like! IMG_9428fullsizeoutput_5397Where we found flowers in Charleston:

Since posting a preview of this dress on Instagram, I have had several messages from folks wondering where we found these flowers. I mean seriously, this wall of wisteria  looks like a dream. So I decided on share some of our top places that we have found for photo ops with flowers in Charleston:

  1. The wall of wisteria (see above): Corner of Meeting St and Ford Ct. The wisteria blooms around March here in Charleston (same time as the azaleas and dogwoods). Any other time of year you might walk right past this wall without even looking twice. Behind this wall is a beautiful private residential garden. So we are so lucky that they let their wisteria spill over onto the sidewalk for us common folk to enjoy.
  2. Camellias: These bloom earlier, closer to February. But a great place to take a photos under a beautiful canopy of Camellias is at Middleton Plantation. They also do camellia tours if you are feeling frisky and want to learn more.
  3. Azaleas: You can really drive around just about anywhere in Charleston from March-April and see azaleas in bloom. They seem to love the Charleston climate. We haven’t checked out Azalea Park in Summerville but rumor has it, there are some really great instagram-worthy spots there.
  4. Field of Wildflowers: The Island House on John’s Island has a crazy field of color wildflowers that I have seen in late May.  This is private wedding venue so I am not sure how you can snag some photos here unless maybe you ask nicely.  🙂
  5. Flower boxes: Someone once told me that the key to a good flower box is to have a spiller, a thriller and a filler. And it’s so true. As I walk around downtown, where there is no real difference between where the window box ends and the sidewalk begins, I have found flower boxes with tall flowers like ranunculus, shorter greenery or dusty miller to fill in the space, and then small little flowers that spill out of the side, like winter bells or ivy. OK…who knew I knew this much about horticulture but I just started typing and the words came out. But my favorite places downtown to see the best flower boxes are Tradd Street and Legare Street, but really anywhere south of Broad street. fullsizeoutput_53cc.jpegIMG_8131img_8054.jpgHere’s to hoping spring weather sticks around for awhile.  And for many more days filled with maxi dresses, flowers, and this little guy. xxoo Priscilla

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