A Ladies Caroline Dress for Vintage May

ladies caroline dress patternHey guys! Today I’m thrilled (really, I am) to be joining in with Vintage May! Jess from Craftiness is Not Optional and Kristin from Skirt as Top have hosted this for four years now, and each year I’ve loved following along. When Jess asked me to participate, I immediately said yes, and already knew exactly what I wanted to make. You know when you have an idea in your head but just need an excuse to take the time to make it?

ladies caroline dress

ladies caroline dress

The timing for Vintage May worked out perfectly for this dress, so I’m really grateful to be participating. My inspiration came directly from the new Cinderella movie. Ella and her mom wore the most gorgeous floral dresses, and I couldn’t stop thinking about them afterwards!

Vintage May Inspiration732

Vintage May Inspiration 3732

Aren’t they beautiful? The costuming in that movie was so magical, and I felt like I was studying it the entire movie. This article tells a bit about the making of Cinderella’s wedding and ball gowns, and you would not believe what went in to making them!

Vintage May Inspiration 1

I wanted feminine, floral, lace, a fitted bodice, and a full skirt (and I really wanted that curly/frizzy hair that Ella’s mom had, but I knew I would just look like I didn’t do my hair and ditched that idea). While my inspiration came from the 1860s-ish (thank you Jenn for looking that up for me!), I wanted a dress that would be wearable in this century ;).

ladies caroline dress

My friend Hayley from Mouse House Creations was kind enough to send over her Ladies Caroline Dress Pattern to me, and it was perfect for what I envisioned.

ladies caroline dress

I was *this* close to buying the exact Liberty of London fabric that Ella’s dress is made from, but I could only find it from one seller, and the shipping would have taken too long from the UK to arrive in time. I still feel like I should probably order some and at least make Lola a matching dress… right?

ladies caroline dress

Lucky for me, I found this beautiful blue floral from Jo-Ann, and it gave the dress just the look I hoped for.

ladies caroline dress

I made a muslin out of the lining fabric, which was a blue quilting cotton from Jo-Ann that happened to match the floral fabric perfectly. I love making muslins out of lining, because if the fit works out well, you already have the lining made and can move on to the fun stuff!

ladies caroline dress

I haven’t made a dress for myself with princess seams since this Anthro knock off dress I made a few (almost 5, yikes!) years ago, and I forgot how much I love them. They always provide such a nice and flattering fit.

ladies caroline dress

When I was making my muslin, the front fit beautifully, but I ended up needing to take the back in about 2″ along most of the zipper (which wasn’t a huge surprise – I have a proportionately very small rib cage). I also needed to take in the back of each sleeve/armsyce a bit, as I had excess fabric there. I think I may make a muslin in one size smaller for my next Ladies Caroline, with a full-bust adjustment (the pattern has detailed instructions for a FBA) and perhaps I won’t need the previous adjustments.

ladies caroline dress

The pattern was wonderful to work with, with lots of photos and clear instructions to guide you through each step. This really is as pattern that I can see myself making over and over again over the years. I don’t think it will ever go out of style!

ladies caroline dress

I altered the neckline to square, and added lace to both the neckline and sleeves. And now I want to add lace to everything!

ladies caroline dress

Because the skirt is quite full, I almost didn’t add the lining. But I couldn’t bring myself to leave it out, so I pleated the lining skirt rather than gathering it to help reduce bulk, which helped a lot. I also pressed the lining skirt really well to help reduce the “poof”.

ladies caroline dress

I learned a new trick to installing an invisible zipper while making this dress. I love my Janome machine, but I’ve never loved my Janome zipper foot for installing invisible zippers. I’ve even tried an invisible zipper foot, but didn’t love that either. Well, this time I decided to try my walking foot, and it worked fantastically! I was able to get super close to the zipper teeth, but the foot kept everything in place so I didn’t stitch onto the teeth. I’ll be using it every time from now on when sewing an invisible zipper. Isn’t it so exciting when you learn a new trick?

ladies caroline dress

Hayley from Mouse House Creations makes such beautiful designs, and I can’t wait to make another Ladies Caroline dress.

ladies caroline dress

I really enjoyed sewing this dress, and enjoy wearing it even more! My posting buddy today is Carolyn from Fake it Till You Make It, so be sure to head over there and check out the vintage goodness that she is sharing today as well!

ladies caroline dress

Pattern: Ladies Caroline Dres and Peplum from Mouse House Creations
Fabric and lace: Jo-Ann


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  1. This really is beautiful on you- you DO look like you stepped out of that movie! Also, your hair is gorg. J

  2. What a beautiful dress Abby! I love the lace and the square neck. It really does give an ever so 1800’s feel but isn’t costumes at all. And the fabric is so pretty. I can’t believe you found it at Joann. It seems like they are getting better fabric now, doesn’t it?

    1. Thanks Justine! I was worried about it not looking costumey, so I appreciate your comment :). I do think that Jo-Ann has improved their fabric selection, which is so great!

  3. The dress is beautiful! I will have to try using a walking foot next time I sew and invisible zipper. I have a Janome too and my zipper foot never seems to get close enough. The lace is so pretty with this dress too.

    1. I’m so glad to hear I’m not the only one that’s had that problem! I love my Janome, and I think this is my only complaint about it. But yes, I had much better success with the walking foot, so you should give it a try!

  4. You look beautiful! What a great dress! I was completely in awe of the costumes in Cinderella and loved those dresses too. You’ve made it more modern and gorgeous.

    1. Weren’t they so amazing? I want to see the movie again just for the costumes :). Thanks so much Elisa!

  5. That is a beautiful dress! I keep saying that I’m going to try and make myself new dresses too and then it never happens, or it doesn’t quite turn out the way that I want and then I never wear it. Maybe someday I will be good enough that I will actually wear what I make :p

    1. I am the same way, Jenn! I was so happy to have an excuse, and more importantly, a deadline, lol, to get this made!

  6. oh it’s so pretty! you look ready for a backyard wedding. really nice job on that bodice fitting; it looks perfect! thanks for joining us for vintage may! :)

  7. So pretty Abby! I love that you made a dress based on Cinderella. It’s perfect! And I agree with Erin…your hair is amazing!

  8. That is really pretty! I like the change from a round neckline to a square one… square necklines always seem a bit more vintage to me. =) The fabric you used is perfect for this!

  9. The dress is enchanting Abby. Definitely wearable in this century ;) Great idea to make a muslin out of lining fabric!

  10. abby!!! This is beautiful. And omg your hair is stunning! Thanks so much for using my patten. I love what you did!

  11. You look gorgeous! Beautiful job on the dress! It is amazing. It has an anthro vibe to me. Love it! And I’ll second (third, fourth) everyone else and say your hair is seriously awesome! <3

  12. Oh my goodness YES! Absolutely gorgeous. I think this is a great look for you.
    I love Haley’s patterns too. That floral fabric?? Beautiful.
    Nicely done, Abby!

  13. Pingback: vintage may 2015 roundup | skirt as top
  14. Beautifully sewn! I was inspired to buy the pattern so I can make the dress. Could you please elaborate on altering the collar to square and adding the lace? I just bought fabric for a different dress but think I have enough for this pattern instead.

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