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ITS Giverny Dress, My Modern Vintage Work of Art!

Sometimes, even a grown woman wants to feel like a princess.
I'm really stepping outside my comfort zone with Giverny Dress from Itch-To-Stitch Designs. The multi-gored, full skirt and many feminine details such as pleats and pin tucks combine to give this dress a retro Dior New Look feel. Despite the fact that I'm not usually drawn to the Modern Vintage style, I found myself falling in love with this dress more and more with each step of it's construction.

Pattern Details

Giverny is a small village in France where Claude Monet created some of his most famous paintings. Like the town for which it is named, Giverny Dress is very pretty and full of subtle details to draw your eye. 
Giverny Dress needs a woven fabric without stretch. Mine is made with cotton shirting, but there are so many options. Your choice will effect the drape of the skirt, so consider how you want your final dress to look as part of your decision. My cotton creates a stiffer, more retro feel, where something like rayon challis will have a much more fluid folding around your knees. Check out all the tester photos HERE to see Giverny Dress in several different types of fabric.

Design Features

- Front bodice drafting for A, B, C, D and DD cup sizes
-7 panel gored skirt with large and functional pockets
-Curved high waistband with optional sash
-Short or 3/4 pleated sleeves
-Decorative front bodice pin tucks
-Banded jewel neckline with front slit and button closure
-Invisible back zipper closure
-Fully lined

About That Advanced Difficulty Level

Giverny Dress is rated Advanced, but you shouldn't let that scare you. The instructions for this dress require a lining and walk you through an unusual order of construction. There is quite a bit of hand stitching, or as an alternative, you can stitch in the ditch. As you can see in my photo, I chose the hand stitching. The result is simply stunning: A dress that is as beautiful inside as it is outside. 
Including cutting, interfacing, construction and hand stitching time, this dress took me about 25 hours to complete. I know, I know, but it was worth every minute. I'm proud to have not taken any short cuts and I would do it all over again. The work created a dress that is truly high end and couture.

Muslin Work

One would expect a dress of this detail to be difficult to fit, especially the close fitted bodice. Surprisingly, this is not so! I made exactly 1 muslin. Aside from the 1/2 inch forward shoulder adjustment I do on all my woven tops and shortening the skirt for my 5ft of shortness, I only had to make 3 minor tweaks to achieve my perfect fit!
I started with just the bodice and waist band pieces. Based on my measurements, I cut an 8D for the bodice and graded to a 10 for the waist and hip. There are instructions in the pattern on how and where to do that and it is super simple.
Not a terrible place to start! (But WOW is my posture horrendous!) There is clearly some bunching at the waist. The dart is a touch too low as is the armhole. And because of the way the top of the center back is sticking up and out, I suspect there is too much length there.
I pinched out 5/8 inch at the pattern's Lengthen/Shorten line which made such a difference! The darts were in the right place, and after adding the skirt, my waistband fell smoothly. I also added a sleeve just to verify that the armhole gaping was simply ease, it was. In addition to shortening the bodice, I planned to raise the arm hole by 1/2 inch and shorten the CB by 1 inch.
 The last thing I needed to decide before moving on to my real dress was my skirt length. Proportion is everything! The first option, with 1.5 inches removed felt a little dowdy for me. The third option with 4.5 inches removed looked nice, but when considering the pleated sleeves just struck me as too young. The middle option with 3 inches of skirt length removed was perfect! Youthful, but not Little Girl.

Dress Construction

As I mentioned earlier, Giverny Dress has an unusual construction order which results in a fully lined dress with no raw edges (The side seams between the length difference of your lining and dress don't count!). I tend to be the type of sewer who jumps around crafting sleeves or pockets out of order and adding them to the garment when I feel like it. Not this time. I followed each step in order and, for the most part, it was really easy and stress free. 
You start off right away making pin tucks and lining your front bodice. I purposely chose a cotton shirting for this pattern test, because I wanted something that would behave, be easy to mark and press well. This lovely coral and navy (the bolt said it's black, but they are crazy) floral checked all those boxes. Plus, I'm really enjoying navy and coral these days.
I'm really thinking that half the time I recorded for making this dress was actually me staring at each turn of seam feeling delighted with the outcome!

 Tips For Success

I have 3 tips that will help you be successful with your own Giverny Dress.
1. Take the time to trace off a set of lining pattern pieces. Not only does keeping the paper pinned to the fabric help deter fraying, but some of the pieces are similar and super easy to mix up. You'll also get a more accurate hem length on your skirt, and it's much easier to trim lining fabric when there is tissue attached!
2. Baste when the instructions tell you to baste. I know that sometimes basting seems like a waste of time. Truthfully, I often skip it. Don't do that on the Giverny Dress. You will regret it when your shifty lining fabric starts sliding out of place.
3. Trim your hairy armpits. Seriously. I stitched in my first sleeve with all those threads hanging out and was so frustrated! I did the second sleeve the following morning, exactly the same way but with trimmed thread, and had zero problems. Go figure. 

Royal Treatment

The last detail I added to my Giverny Dress is not part of the instructions, but was absolutely required for me to wear the dress outside my house. I've said it before and it hasn't changed: I am terrified of the wind and the potential wardrobe malfunction it creates. I do not have the posterior of Princess Kate, and am not inclined to share my knickers with the general public. 

Instead I followed the example of Queen Elizabeth, who NEVER has her skirt in her face, and I sewed weights at the hem of my skirt. I followed the tutorial outlined HERE and placed one penny at each of the seven seams.
 Not exactly pretty, but if they do their job, no one will see them anyway! 
I've worn my dress out twice now and though I had a small panic moment the second night as a gust caught me on the way to my car, I shouldn't have worried. My dress stayed exactly where it should: Around my knees!

Final Pictures

I love my Giverny Dress! It's comfortable, pretty and makes me feel great.

 Get Your copy of Giverny Dress TODAY! 
It's on sale for 20% in the shop until May 2, 2018

Are you Princess enough to make a Giverny?


  1. You sure are princess enough to wear your Giverny. Such a great post. I love the photos of the inside too. Great tips!

  2. Driving to our first house appointment and got a chance to read about your gorgeous dress- you are such a gifted writer and manage to give so much information in such a fun way!! Love your beautiful dress!


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