Bonn Shirt Turned Maxi Dress

Back in September, I had the opportunity to test the Bonn Shirt pattern by Itch to Stitch Designs. Read about it here. I fell in love with the fit of the top, but wanted to do something a bit more dramatic. After making Simplicity 8084 and seeing this dress, the idea for a Bonn maxi dress was born.

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Wooden buttons purchased from Arrow Mountain.

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While I love a good curve hugging dress, they often aren’t practical for me to wear outside of special occasions.  I wanted this dress to be a bit fitted around the bust and fall straight down from the hips. With that silhouette in mind, modifying the Bonn Shirt to a maxi was really quite simple.The Bonn pattern actually includes a knee-length dress option, but modifying the shirt pattern pieces worked better for my specific fit goals.  At the hips, I widened the front pattern pieces by 1″ and the back pieces by 1.5″ to give a comfortable amount of ease. I made notches in the pattern to match the front and back pieces at the hips. Once the notches were made, I added about 40″ to the length ( I measured my desired length at the center back and at the underarm seams to determine this). I added the length straight down from the hip line on front and back, continuing the front button placket all the way to the hem. I added the same amount of length to the placket interfacing piece. I love the way my Simplicity 8084 maxi buttons to the knee and used a total of 12 buttons to copy that look.

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Modifying the Bonn Shirt pattern turned out to be the least challenging aspect of making this dress. I’ve been working with lots of deadlines and only allowed myself to work on this for an hour or two after meeting my productivity goals for other projects. This led to a lot of late night sewing mistakes.

First, The back dress piece on a loose pin and created a  0.5″ hole right in the middle. Solution number 1: I sliced a 1″ strip out of the back and pieced in a new strip. The wild print is great at hiding my Frankenstein style strip and it’s really not noticeable unless you’re within 10 inches of my back.

Second, I cut the left sleeve completely crooked. Honestly, I don’t even know how it got so crooked. it was off by inches. Solution number 2: This one was easy. I had just enough leftover fabric so I re-cut the sleeve. While this was a simple solution it still added about a half hour to my limited sewing time.

Third,  I hemmed the dress in the middle of the night and didn’t have anyone to help me mark the hem. I usually don’t have too much trouble with this, but the maxi length combined with the drape of the fabric made it complicated. It ended up taking about three times as long after I cut the hem at a slight angle. Solution number 3: Keep trying.

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Fabric is Helios rayon by Anna Maria Horner

This dress turned out to be such a rewarding project and I’m delighted that I decided to stick with it through the frustrations.It’s the perfect cross between an evening dress and comfortable nightgown, which is exactly what I’d envisioned. I’ve been anxious while considering so many facets of the future and this dress was therapeutic for me. Taking something and making it my own while working through the imperfections was just what I needed. It was a good reminder that mistakes and difficulties can still combine to make something wonderful. Was that too much? Thanks for sticking with me. Here are a few more photos and a sneak peek at my goofy family.

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