Garden Party Dress: rescued and hacked

A little while ago I had a minor meltdown whilst trying to get a free dress pattern, the Garden Party Dress by Honig Design, to fit me without making my bossom reminiscent of Madonna’s Jean Paul Gaultier cone bra.


I went through a million toiles and in the end gave up. I think there were several problems with the pattern for me and it just didn’t work in the fabric I had chosen (Medium weight 100% Cotton which may have been intended as curtain or upholstery material from Big Nana’s stash). However, I had already cut the skirt pieces for the dress and I loved the fabric so much I wanted to somehow turn this into a wearable garment.
Behold the pleated button-down skirt.


I used the front skirt panel for the back panel and used this tutorial to add a button placket onto the front skirt piece as I fancied a button-down skirt a la Tilly and the Buttons. I then drafted a curved waistband to add on to the skirt pieces and used the pocket pieces from the Emery dress to add pockets to the dress, because who doesn’t want a pocket. I used a constrasting yellow fabric for the pocket bag as I thought it brought out the yellow leaf pattern design and really popped.


I used my overlocker on all the seam allowances. I think my choice of thread for the overlocking on the pocket pieces was a bit dubious as I chose yellow and orange. When I was snuggling up on the sofa with my husband and the pocket bag peeked out from under the skirt he thought I had a duster under my skirt.

This fabric has so much body in it the pleats give it a great, full shape and it could practically stand up on its own. It’s a fun little skirt and I had great fun teaming it up with a purple t-shirt and my yellow scarf neck cardi. Tobi thought this colour combo was a bit over the top but I love colour and I think it works. What do you think?


I loved this skirt so much I immediately decided to make another and remembered that I had about 1.5metres of cream and navy polkadot viscose/rayon in my stash leftover from my portrait blouse and I thought it would make a great drapey version of this skirt. Now, this fabric was super shifty and I could not get the polka dots lined up and keep them that way when attempting to cut on the fold so I decided to cut on the flat and traced a mirror of the back pattern piece to tape onto the existing piece, thus making the shape of the unfolded piece required. I used my rotary cutter and mat but this was still a bitch to cut and, if you look at the line of polka dots going down the front placket, you can see that this went way off straight.


I think I would have committed hari kari if I tried to get it straight any longer so I figured that it would do. I made absolutely no attempt to pattern match because this fabric was driving me crazy.
Construction was exactly the same as the skirt above but the finished result looks quite different due to the different body and drape in the fabrics.

This fabric is a little sheer and so I decided to make a half-slip to go underneath it. I used this tutorial fromGertie’s blog for better sewing and I had some lovely soft jersey, in a light green, in my stash that I bought in a charity shop. There was about 2 metres at the bargain price of £2.50. I also had some stretch lace in the stash which came from Big Nana. I had a bit of trouble in the construction of this- I overlocked the side seams and attached the elastic (from stash) with no massive problems, although Gertie’s tutorial says a good steam after attaching the elastic should shrink it back but, I think because this elastic is a bit old, it didn’t want to fully contract back. The problems really came when attaching the lace. No matter what tension I put my machine on I was still getting massive loops of thread on the wrong side and I didn’t notice until I sewn one side of the lace down already. I rethreaded the machine and it resolved the problem, thankfully. This slip is so comfy to wear due to the stretch fabric and I can go out in confidence that I wont lose my dignity (if I ever had any) if standing with the sun behind me or if there’s an errant gust of wind.


I’m really happy with these projects. It was my best attempt at drafting a waistband and it fits really well. The only thing I’d do differently next time is to do my buttonholes from top to bottom rather than left to right as it pulls open a little at the waist.
Have any of you ever managed to rescue a project that was heading for disaster?


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