Winter into spring linen dress

mara dress linen - title imageMargot needed a new dress.  As a home sewist with a little girl, this is not something that’s said very often; dresses are the most tempting item to sew and consequently Margot usually has plenty to choose from.  But, due to my lack of sewing (discussed in my last post) and the fact that my kids now wear school uniforms, the dresses are suddenly in short supply!

linen Mara dress // Behind the Hedgerow

Planning the dress

I knew exactly the kind of dress I wanted – something that could be worn now (with layers as it’s still quite cold here), but was equally suitable for hot summer days.

I knew exactly the overall feel I wanted – dusty pink, muted Liberty fabric…a nod to springtime without turning Margot into a pastel easter egg!

All I had to do now was figure out how to sew what was in my head!

linen Mara dress // Behind the Hedgerow

One of my goals for 2015 is to be more deliberate and thoughtful about the clothes I make in order to achieve my own vision for a garment – rather than just following a pattern, unthinking.  To help me with this I’ve started to be more disciplined about using two tools:

  • An online mood board.  By putting all my inspiration into one collage-like view I was able to get a clearer idea of what I wanted for the dress.
  • [Question: This mood board was thrown together quickly in Photoshop – does anyone know of a good mood board app?  Pinterest is the obvious one but I want something that allows you present it all collage-style.]

  • A fashionary sketchbook.  This is a great place to write down all the planning stages of a garment.  The book has very faint outlines of people on the pages so you can sketch the clothes – or feel free to just write over them if necessary.  The first few pages are an excellent reference tool for everything from pattern and garment shapes, to body measurements and sizes, to typography, to online colour generators!

And, although not quite as detailed (or outlandish!!) as the drawings above, I used my book to map out what I wanted for this project.

linen Mara dress notes // Behind the Hedgerow

Making the dress


Now, with all this inspiration floating around it was time to actually make the dress.  Not wanting to buy any new books or patterns, I limited myself to what I had on hand.

linen Mara dress // Behind the HedgerowThe top part of the dress is a sleeveless version of the Mara blouse by Compagnie M.  I wanted the yoke to be more of a square shape (similar to the Tova top) but, due to time limitations, I decided to leave it as it was.

linen Mara dress // Behind the Hedgerow

The skirt shape and length, as well as the pockets are from the Oliver+s Jump Rope Dress (view B).

The main fabric is a gorgeous shade of dusty pink that my husband bought for me from Purl Soho when he was in NYC in 2012!  If you ever want to know if your husband/partner truly loves you then send him/her to NYC (while on a business trip if you want to add even more pressure!) with a list of fabric shops and tell him to “just pick out some things I’d like”!  He chose really well!!

linen Mara dress // Behind the Hedgerow

The pockets and piping are Liberty print – from my stash.

mara dress linen - pocket detail 2

Once all these details were decided upon, the actual sewing was quite straightforward.  As I’ve made both patterns before I was comfortable with all the processes and it came together pretty quickly!  The only time-consuming part was making the bias binding as well as the piping.


So, we’re almost into April and Margot has one new dress.  It’s a start but I need to get a move on before the really warm weather comes!

What is your planning/sewing process for a new project?  What are your go-to patterns for customising?  And finally, what dress should I make next?  I feel I’m on a bit of a roll now!

Hope you’re all sewing up something lovely on this sunny spring day!

Thanks for reading,

Laura x

linen Mara dress // Behind the Hedgerow

18 thoughts on “Winter into spring linen dress

  1. Margery

    What a sweet dress, the piping was worth the effort! It’s adorable.
    I’m right there with you. Wren needs dresses, pronto. I’ve just taken the O&S raglan tee, lengthened and flared it – makes a simple play dress or nightgown. Today I am tracing off the O&S fairytale dress and I just might, for the first time ever, actually start and finish an Easter dress. I’m trying to sew from my stash of Oliver and S patterns that I bought on sale last fall, as well as some older issues of Ottobre.

    1. laurabehindthehedgerow Post author

      I’ve never made the o+s raglan tee but that sounds like a great little dress! The fairy tale dress is a real winner! I’ve made it twice and I’m still squeezing Margot into it. Would love to hear some of your favourite Ottobre patterns.

  2. Emily C.

    I love the piping on this dress! It adds a lot.

    I don’t really have a system for planning beyond creating lists and making big stacks of fabric. 🙂 One thing I’d like to do is better record changes that I make on a pattern. Too often I try to re-create something and then I can’t remember what alterations I made.

    My daughter loves knit dresses – my favorites are the hopscotch dress from O+S and the Hangout Hoodie dress from Peek-a-boo Pattern Shop. Cute & comfy!

    1. laurabehindthehedgerow Post author

      I know – I usually make changes, convinced I’ll remember what I’ve done and then when I go back to make it again I’ve totally forgotten all the details! That’s one good thing about blogging – it forces me to reflect on a project. I’ve haven’t tried either of those patterns you mentioned – I always turn to the Skater Dress for a knit dress.

  3. seamsoddlouise

    This is lovely. Perfect for now and summer. I tend to use Pinterest to gather ideas but I like your mood board better. The notebook is great going to add that to my wish list.

  4. katemcivor

    I love the dress and your thought process! I also love Margot’s two barrettes. My daughters loved doing their hair like that when they were little!

  5. Fiona

    What a lovely dress! I loved seeing your creative process, and those two patterns combine to make such a beautiful dress. I especially love the pockets!

  6. naehconnection

    Such a beautiful dress! And I love to see how you’re planning your makes. I really like that idea. Let us know if you find an app for the moodboard!

  7. Tracy

    I’ve decided to make my daughters spring school uniform dresses using the Compagnie M Louisa dress pattern as I too am desperate to make her a dress, but she spends most of her time in school uniform. I have only just discovered your blog and I’m enjoying it immensely, thank you!

    1. laurabehindthehedgerow Post author

      Ooh, that’s a good idea. The Louise dress would make a great uniform dress – so would the lotta dress for that matter! To be honest, I’m a little frightened of making dresses as uniforms because I know I wouldn’t be able to resist adding lots of little personal touches and I can just imagine being told off by the school for not being in-line with their policy!

  8. Jenya

    The dress turned out lovely. Such cute detail. Mara is one of my fave patterns. I think I have used it 4 times already. Your husband did a great job picking fabric you would like! I feel I am in the same boat with you – autumn is definitely here and I have only made 1 thing so far, and my girl’s wardrobe is bare for a change!

  9. Sarah Helene

    DEFINITELY A DARLING SLEEVELESS DRESS in pale dusty pink linen highlighted by a Liberty multicolor flowered pocket on both sides in front! Addition of the same floral piping around the oval bodice with a trio of brighter pink buttons is perfect. Also a muted coral long-sleeved T adds needed touch to complete the outfit on a cool day. Laura, again your sense of color & design SHINE! Fab photo shoot of Margot — happy girl!


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