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The Fiona Dress

[EasyGallery id=’fiona’]

This is Fiona, a polka-dotted ruffly number I made last summer (yep, that’s right, I have yet to post it until now. Ooops). I never admitted the reason why I made her. It’s actually quite an embarrassing story. Last summer my cousin was getting married in Ft. Lauderdale (my hometown), which only meant one thing, I needed to make a dress for the occasion. Short on time, I decided to make a simple and easy maxi dress. Inspired by Jil Sander’s then current collection, I wanted the dress to be an easy silhouette that was a cinch to sew and to make the focal point of the dress the fabric. This I did, buying the most beautiful vintage polka-dotted cotton from my fabric fabric store in Philadelphia, Jack’s Fabrics (it’s on 4th Street just south of South Street). Everything went according to plan – I drafted the pattern, fit the muslin, and sewed the dress up in no time. When I tried on the final dress and looked at myself in the mirror, I looked hideous! Absolutely and one hundred percent hideous! It was a moo-moo to the 100th degree and then multiplied by one thousand. I tried to resurrect it (only Jesus can be resurrected). I added appliqués, I hemmed it, and I sewed a ruffle at the bottom (my usual go-to fix) but nothing could make this dress pretty. So one Sunday afternoon, I had enough with this dress. I laid it on the floor, held my scissors in my hand, took a deep breath, and cut the damn thing in two and went out and bought a Free People dress. Done and done.

So this is how Fiona came about. After the whole cut-my-dress-into-two ordeal, I undertook a project that was easy and that I knew I could accomplish perfectly. There would be no cutting it into two!

Fiona is based off of, actually copied off of, a Free People dress I saw online. It’s a simple silhouette and I was able to use my block to create the pattern (see image above for a how-to). The Free People dress was constructed using knit but I opted for a woven for no reason other than availability. I added a bias cut ruffle at the bottom hem that was made of chiffon, had raw edges. At the top of the front and back bodice, I inserted a picot trim between the dress and the facing. The straps were simply a ribbon that was also inserted between the dress and the facing. All seams were sewn with a straight stitch and overlocked. Simple, eh? As you can see, this dress did not end up in two pieces!

Fiona has treated me well since I made her. She fits into my wardrobe quite nicely and is the perfect dress-up-dress-down piece. She also transitions from season to season very well. During the winter, I layer her over a turtleneck and paired her with boots. Now that it has warmed up, I’m wearing her with no shirt underneath and pairing her with heels (as I did in the photo) or sandals, depending on where I’m going.

All photographs were shot by Good Exposure Photography and all styling was done by Brandy Swope. Thanks again ladies! I couldn’t have done it without you two.

From left to right: Frye Miranda BootJ Crew Tissue Cotton Turtleneck TopFrye Miranda BootNine West FeelNGood PumpDV by Dolce Vita Archer Sandal


  1. Reply


    Your blog is really cute!

    • Reply


      Thank you! I’m glad you enjoy it. Please please please continue to follow me

  2. Reply


    Gorgeous gorgeous shots! You are a fantastic model!

  3. Reply


    Beautiful dress! I love this kind of easy-wearing loose dress.

  4. Reply


    Yay for a happy ending 🙂 Fiona is darling! I like the dark ruffle at the bottom, it kind of anchors the dress somehow, like without it you might just float away! hehe 🙂

  5. Reply

    Miss Crayola Creepy

    I love the length!

  6. Reply

    Sewing princess

    Maddie, I love those pictures! you’re just like a fairy…thanks for the dress tutorial; it’s really gorgeous on you

  7. Reply

    Jessa Belle

    Amazing… simply amazing!

    Love & Lollies… Jessa

    Caked Vintage Blog

  8. Reply


    This is gorgeous, and the photos are stunning! I absolutely love it!

  9. Reply


    Oh, I LOVE it! it’s just magical and you look stunning in the pictures – it’s stylish whimsy perfection!

  10. Reply


    okay, these pictures are absolutely beautiful!!!!
    that dress is just perfect for dressing up and dressing down! and the lights make it that much more magical!
    xo TJ

  11. Reply


    I adore it! I could imagine dancing around in that dress and letting it flow around me.

    • Reply


      Oh I was dancing to Rihanna and Lil Wayne during the shoot!

  12. Reply


    It really is beautiful… I came away wanting more photos! Moaaaar! Haha 😀 I love the ruffle at the bottom 🙂

    • Reply


      I know! I could have spent days shooting more photos!

  13. Reply


    Hi Maddie! These pictures are beautiful! Your friends did a great job photographing and styling! And the dress looks great on you<3

  14. Reply


    Wow. I have no idea what it means to cut a dress in half, unless you mean it very literally, but I’m glad this dress was the result.

  15. Reply

    Carmen @ Forgotten Fancies

    I love that dress on you! And the photographs are just stunning! I hate sewing disasters too, but I’m glad something great came out of it in the end.

  16. Reply


    Nice dress!

  17. Reply


    Wow.. these photographs are beautiful, and this dress looks great on you!

    • Reply


      Thanks Matt. I’m so glad to see your comments!

  18. Reply

    Antonietta Ilacqua

    Thank you for the good writeup. It if truth be told was a leisure account it. Glance complicated to far added agreeable from you! By the way, how can we keep in touch?

  19. Reply


    That dress is really lovely on you! Great blog <3


  20. Reply

    Karen Blackburn

    ooo!  this is absolutely beauteous.  i was just gifted 3 yards of something silky and would like to create this.  i’m going to start with your block how-to and go from there.  so excited…this dress is such a treat.  lovely blog. thank you!

  21. Reply


    wow this sits beauitfully. I like yours a whole lot more than the original you took ‘inspiration’ from :p

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