How to turn the Hilary Top into a dress.

I’ve been AWOL from my blog for over a month but I am back and bursting with ideas and sewing projects to share with you one project at a time. May and June were big travel and work months for me with a work trip to Hong Kong and China followed by a three week vacation in the south of France, Spain and a touch of Portugal. It was amazing and I’m so grateful to have those travel experiences in my life.

The Hilary Top as a dress.

My first sewing project to get back into the swing of things was a hack of the Hilary Top by Tessuti Fabric into a dress. I first made the Hilary Top about six weeks ago before my trip overseas. When I tried it on for the first time my partner said it looks like it should be a dress. From there the idea was born to turn it into a dress to wear to a dear friend’s engagement party.

The Hilary Top as a dress.

It was the perfect jet lag busting project to keep me sane during my first week back in Australia. I purchased a dreamy Liberty of London Bloomsbury crinkle silk chiffon from The Fabric Store Online during their recent 30% off sale and their 100% Rayon Crepe for the lining. The Rayon Crepe was a mid weight fabric and in hindsight and light weight lining would have been a better option.

The Hilary Top as a dress.

Converting the Hilary Top into a dress was a very easy pattern adjustment. I simply extend the frill by 88cm to create the maxi skirt for the dress. I also increased the sleeve length by 8cm and the undersleeve and 4cm at the top sleeve to create a little extra drama with the sleeves. It was that simple.

The Hilary Top as a dress.

Given my fabric choice was a crinkle chiffon I did have to line the main body of the dress. It was a no brainer to keep the sleeves unlined. I cut the front and back bodice lining using the pattern pieces and drafted a skirt lining pattern. I did this by measuring the bodice hem (on the fold) and creating a skirt pattern (on the fold) by drawing a slightly curved waist seam that shaped out to a hip curve with a hem opening that provides enough room for movement.

The Hilary Top as a dress.

The dress was finished using french seams except for the bodice which didn’t require finishes as it was completely lined. Chiffon’s are a little tougher to sew due to fabric movement but I took my time with this project and it all came together beautifully.

The Hilary Top as a dress.

A brief run down on my construction order for those who are interested was as follows:

  1. Construct the sleeves as per the pattern instructions but with french seams.
  2. Sew the front & back bodice pieces together.
  3. Sew front & back lining pieces together leaving a 7cm hole in the middle of 1 side seam that is used to finish off attaching the skirt to the bodice.
  4. Sew the front & back body to the front & back lining at the neck. Understitch the neck seam.
  5. Sew the sleeves to the main body of the bodice.
  6. Bag out the sleeves with the lining.
  7. Sew the front & back skirt side seams together using french seams. Pin and stitch box pleats as per pattern instructions.
  8. Sew front & back lining side seams together using french seams.
  9. Join the skirt lining to the skirt.
  10. Sew the skirt (lining and body) to bodice.
  11. Bag out the waist seam with the bodice lining. Sew as much as you can and then finish this seam by pulling it through the hole left in one of the bodice lining side seams.
  12. Iron the waist seam flat and stitch a 1/2″ casing on the bodice side at the waist seam. Leave a hole to thread the elastic through. Use the hole in the lining to thread your elastic through the casing.
  13. Hand stitch the hole in the lining shut once you have the elastic securely fastened in the casing.
  14. Level the hem and finish with a roll hem on the skirt and skirt lining.

I was really happy with how the dress turned out.

The Hilary Top as a dress.

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