Party dresses for grown-ups

This is about little girl dresses for grown ups. I’m an enthusiast of Marcy Tilton’s cirque dress – so much so that I’ve made enough to warrant a blog post solely on the different incarnations I’ve made. I will do that soon. But my latest excursion into dress-up world is Marcy Tilton’s French apron dress. I bought the pattern because I saw it modelled at a craft show. I’d looked at the pattern & thought, hmmm those shoulder straps – quite complicated & not sure about those deep pockets. Then I saw it in person and thought, lovely mix of fabrics & what a great thing to do with left-over stretch fabrics. In other words I was sold.

French apron dressFortuitously Helen & I had an all-day sewing workshop planned, so I bought some stretch knit, cut out the pattern pieces – so many! – & took them along to the workshop. What I didn’t have were all of the instructions. Pattern companies should realise that some less-than-organised sewers cannot possibly get the pattern pieces and the instructions back into those too-small envelopes. I’ve taken to putting the little envelopes into bigger envelopes but this pattern had eluded my new system & the instructions had fallen out, somewhere. I’d looked in all the usual places to no avail. Oh well, I thought, if anyone can make sense of this pattern without instructions, it’s our mistress of calm, Anne from Sew Classy. She raised an eyebrow when she saw the one sheet I had – fortunately that was for the frightening pockets – but she assured me that we could nut it out together.

We could & we did. I’m wearing the dress as I type this. Do I love it? Well, I’d have to admit that I don’t love it yet. Quite. I think the shape isn’t particularly flattering. When I put the original dress on, the back, which is shorter than the sides, looked weird so I added a piece of the mesh fabric that was my second contrast fabric to equalise the lengths. I didn’t use three contrast fabrics because a) I’d failed to buy one & when I looked through my stash there was nothing suitable and b) I just felt it would all be a little overwhelming. This additional strip might mean that the back doesn’t hang the way the original should, but it does look less – well, frankly, less as though something is missing.


Although I don’t think it’s a particularly flattering garment, I do think it’s very wearable. The vivid colours mean that it is an immediate autumn & winter pick-me-up. The deep pockets mean that you can attend a wine-tasting & shove your sunglasses safely away. The dress is made to go with leggings – making it an ideal in-between season wear, but also extending it into winter wear – and I like the mesh lace I’ve used which means that the leggings are also on display.


I think my daughter’s quite right – Marcy Tilton’s dress patterns are little girl dresses for grown-ups. I could put a small doll in one of these pockets, or a shell collection. The bottom is swingy & in today’s strong winds, I felt I might just be blown up into the clouds. There’s something festive about wearing a dress that speaks to your inner child. Will I make another? Now that I’ve actually found the missing instructions sheets, I might.

Where were they? Oh, you had to ask, didn’t you? They were in my office. I had searched that room. I’d claimed to have been through it from top to bottom. The instructions were sitting in plain sight on the auto-tray which holds my (overdue) library books where I can’t miss returning them to the library. They were right beside those books. Quite probably I’m not emotionally ready for tailored suits and knife-pleated skirts….


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