When life gives you lemons, make a lemon tart….or a pretty dress!
Another little blog post from the beautiful island of Capri! In the past few months I have been a busy bee working on a set of garments to take with me on our trip to Europe this year. Anyone who knows me, will know that I am quite stubborn when I set my mind to something. However, in hindsight I should have organised my time a little better and gotten started on my project some time last year… Instead, I ended up starting the “big sew” only weeks before we were to leave and found myself sewing almost every evening after work just to get things finished off!
I was not going to let the opportunity of visiting Capri go by without having made a special something for it. When thinking of what to make as my Capri garment, I knew it would be a dress. I was contemplating something to reflect the images of the island, such as turquoise for the ocean or something very summery and colourful. In the end it was a no-brainer because if you have been to Capri or have looked up pictures of Capri on the internet you will see lots of lemons everywhere! As in real lemons of such huge proportions that you really have to wonder if they are real or not and lemons on all kinds of crockery, magnets, tea towels, tiles and so on.
In addition to that, I am still very much into Dolce and Gabbana’s citrus print dresses from some of their last collections, as you can see in a few examples below:
For now, I just can’t get enough of them and love almost anything with a citrus print on it! So my mind was made up. All I had to do was find the right fabric…
In the end, I found a gorgeous imitation Dolce and Gabbana lemon print jaquard at 4444.al but you can also find it from various sellers on aliexpress.com. It’s a cotton/polyester mix. Unfortunately not a silk/cotton mix like the original by Dolce and Gabbana…(Does anyone know where to buy remnant Dolce and Gabbana fabrics? Please let me know if you do!) Anyway, it it is quite stiff but has a great texture to it and looks almost quilted.
I am getting into the habit of taking the time to pre-wash my fabrics before sewing but I didn’t find that this jaquard changed it’s size or shape in any way. It was really easy to sew with, apart from fraying at the ends quite a lot.
For the design, I decided on a strapless dress with a pleated skirt, similar to a Zara dress I have in a stretch denim that I love to wear. I was going to copy the Zara dress for the bodice but then decided it would cost me less time to just buy a pattern for a strapless dress and not have to play around with the cut. So I bought Kwik Sew pattern K3516. The pattern has 7 pieces for a full length dress but I just used the part down to the waist.
After I had hand sewn the pieces together and tried the bodice on for fit, I was ready to throw it in a corner because it just wouldn’t sit well at all, even after repeatedly making adjustments in the bust area. But I persisted….. After I sewed the boning onto all the seams and ironed them all flat, the fit was not perfect but much better and I was motivated to get it finished.
After all the fixing up and custom fitting of the bodice to my body shape, I am very happy with how it turned out. I lined the bodice with a white cotton voile and interfaced the top edge from the inside to give it more shape and stiffness, which paid off, even though at the time of sewing, I thought it would be too thick. But after ironing it all flat, it was ok. The skirt length and shape has a nice vintage look and also a good swing to it due to the stiffness of the fabric.
I made up the skirt part as I went along. I spread the pleats out evenly in the front and back and only used the width of the fabric at 150cm, which was more than enough for the pleating. I was going to put in pockets but decided to leave them out and only have one seam at the back. I was quite pressed for time making other dresses for our trip, so any time I could save on literally ANYTHING I did! I was able to get away with not putting in a hook and eye closure above the invisible zip because I managed to sew the zip right to the very top. I try to avoid the hook and eye closures because if they are in the back of a dress, I find it very hard to close myself anyway.
Apart from fumbling around with the bodice, this dress was made very quickly and is also a handy travel garment because you can pack it in a suitcase and it doesn’t necessarily need ironing! Good thing for me because I didn’t have an iron at most of the places we stayed at!
I still have enough of the fabric to make a pencil skirt or a top and hopefully enough scraps to make a collage style dress (`a la Victoria Beckham) with some lemons on it here and there.
Normally, I would have styled this dress with heels but Capri is NOT the place for heels! There are so many uneven, stony pathways and because you have to do almost everything by bus or on foot (or taxi if you want to spend the money), heels have no chance here without twisting an ankle! Hence the wedge/plateau heel, as I didn’t manage to find a pair of Capri sandals that I liked until we got to Amalfi, a week later 😦
The most obvious place to wear my Capri dress in Capri was at Da Paolino. This place was beyond words! Da Paolino is a restaurant under mature lemon trees that are full of huge, ripe lemons in a most beautiful outdoor setting. Funnily enough, the lady at the table next to ours had a dress on (similar to the middle Dolce and Gabbana one above) with exactly the same print on it as mine! I looked at her and she looked at me – all very inconspicuously of course. Just taking note without staring every now and then during the course of the evening. I was quite sure hers was an original Dolce and Gabbana, just like mine – haha! There were also many other interesting garments represented at the restaurant. It was a feast for the eyes in every way! Especially when ripe lemons would fall from the trees onto tables and heads and even smack bang into the middle of guests’ plates!! Entertainment included!
And to finish off, here are some sights and colours of beautiful Capri!
STYLING: shoes: midas, yellow bag: little boutique in San Gimignano, Italy, sunglasses: Carlina Square by Chloe, necklace: Magnolia silver jewellery, silver ring: Apart Fashion, gold ring: Apart Fashion, watch: Gucci.
Locations: Augustino Gardens, Ristorante Da Paolino, terrace of our apartment in Anacapri, Capri.