Alterations–creating more room in the bodice of a Lilly Pulitzer dress

It occurred to me recently that as I create bright-colored summer dresses, I’m channeling Lilly Pulitzer in a way.

A couple of my dresses: 

So, I looked up Lilly designs, and sure enough, the cosmic connection is undeniable.  There are some differences; for instance, I almost always put a collar on my dresses, while ‘Lillys’ seem to all be sans-collar.  Lillys are also more shaped.  They have darts in front, back and bust.  I liberally omit darts.

Lilly Pulitzers:

Slim Aarons Pulitzer dresses 1964
More Lilly Pulitzer images here


A Lilly Pulitzer of my own!

Not long after I looked up images of Lillys, there was the real thing hanging on the rack in my fave vintage clothing store; on the half-price rack to boot!  I tried it on.  It was quite snug through the bodice.  When zipped up, it felt like a corset,… but fit otherwise.  There was no way it wasn’t coming home with me.  I’d figure out how to make it fit.

The dress

IMG_20190728_094127758aw RSR

IMG_20190728_094220895aw RSR

Lilly tag aw RSR

The dress is from the Lilly Pulitzer ‘Jubilee’ collection; a limited edition to celebrate her 50th year of the line.  I believe it is from 2009.  (This isn’t vintage, but the store attendant told me they had made an exception for this label and design.  I’m glad they did!)

Cool Lilly details:

Lining.  The outer fabric is a middle-weight woven soft cotton.  The entire dress is lined with white cotton batiste/lawn fabric.  It feels quite comfortable, and drapes nicely.

IMG_20190728_094253217aw RSR

ID tag: When I opened up the lining under the arm, this tiny ‘Lilly’ tag was sewn into the seam allowance.  I’m guessing it is to help ID a counterfeit.

IMG_20190727_094127852aw RSR tag

Pockets! (I always intend to add pockets to my dresses, but it doesn’t get done if I’m in a rush to finish the garment.  Then I always intend to go back and add pockets later, but sigh, that doesn’t happen very often. Note to self:  Add pockets.  Every time.)

IMG_20190728_094325753aw RSR

Keyhole back.   It is a nice feature that adds interest but doesn’t require special undergarments.

IMG_20190728_094228795aw RSR

Unique Prints:  All Lilly Pulitzer prints have ‘Lilly’ embedded somewhere in the print.

Lilly in print RSR

This Jubilee Collection print also has ’50th’ embedded in it.

50th in print RSR



And now, the alteration:

To expand the bodice, I had to find some spare fabric in the dress.  The side-seam allowances were normal; not wide enough for expansion.  The hem was narrow.  No excess fabric there.  My solution was to remove two of the ‘flowers’ on each side of the lower edge.

IMG_20190728_094438752aw RSR

Two flower strips straightened out, pressed flat and then sewn together side-by-side, made a 9″ x 2″ strip.  This was plenty wide enough to expand each side of the bodice.  Here is one of the strips:

Strip aw RSR

The strips were used to make a V-shaped inset to the side seams under each arm.

IMG_20190728_094424639aw RSR

Mission accomplished!

The dress now fits comfortably.  Once I’d gotten past the tedious process of unpicking the stitching on the four flowers, the actual altering process was surprisingly quick and smooth.  No frustrations at all.

IMG_20190728_094514693aw RSR

Myrtle the sewing pup-prentice, was dying to help the entire time.  She finally found her role, hiding the ugly stack of paint supplies in my selfie.

IMG_20190728_095145341aw RSR

10 thoughts on “Alterations–creating more room in the bodice of a Lilly Pulitzer dress

  1. I love the song…it’s one you don’t hear often at all, unlike so many others.
    I didn’t know dresses had pockets…learn something every day.

    Like

    1. Haha, pockets can (and should) be put in almost anything with a side seam…which is almost every item of clothing. It think they are omitted to save time and fabric, i.e., cost.

      The song transports me back to the 80s and my running mix tape. It was fun, with a great tempo and was a 5-minute track, all of which made it perfect for running. It got a fair amount of airplay here, too.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I just asked my wife if she had pockets in her dresses…she turned her head like a dog does when they hear a high noise lol… She said some of hers do and don’t… they would be handy.

        I remember this song also…brought back a lot of memories.

        Like

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