My first encounter with the Celestial Maxi Dress by Pattern Fantastique is making a wearable muslin top to make sure that it’ll fit correctly around the bust where the yoke is situated. I made it in a 100% cotton fabric that is 100% joyful with a myriad of colours in the print. This fabric was gifted to me by Minerva as part of the Minerva Brand Ambassadors Program in exchange for a post on their website.
This fabric is so colourful that I can literally close my eyes and pick a colour from my thread stash and whatever colour thread I pick would be a good match. To highlight the unusual cap sleeves, I used another fabric, this time a Robert Kaufman Cotton Batik which was also gifted to me by Minerva. To complete the outfit, I decided to sew up the Pomona Pants by Anna Allen Clothing and I ended up with a matching set, or it could also be a faux jumpsuit. Or it could very well be a super stylish pair of pyjamas. Anyway, it’s a cool prospect to roll out of bed in these and immediately be dressed and ready for the outside world.
The sizing of the Celestial Maxi Dress was recently revised to include larger sizes, and they run from 6-26 right now. It comes with a few variations – a top, a micro-mini, mini, midi and maxi. There are also free hacks that can be downloaded which eliminate the signature cap sleeves into pinafore and puffed sleeves versions. With so many options to choose from, the pattern is a great bargain. The only thing that bothered me about the PDF version is that it prints out in a format to save paper. What I mean is that the yoke, facing and sleeve patterns are layered onto the skirt pattern. One of the perks of cutting and pasting PDF patterns is that I don’t have to trace out the pattern pieces onto tracing paper, but I definitely had to with this PDF pattern. In the end, I don’t really know if that much paper is saved because I had to retrace ALL the pattern pieces onto more paper. That’s the only annoying thing about this pattern. Perhaps the revised version prints out differently from the version that I bought. And if you buy the new version, then maybe you won’t be annoyed the way I was annoyed.
The top that I made was sewed up in a size 6, and I thought there would be enough ease for my pancake boobies, but I was wrong. It fits quite snug at the front and back yokes, so I sized up for my next make, the dress. Size 8 turned out to fit better for me. I took a closer look at the pictures on the Pattern Fantastique website, and saw that the yoke does fit quite closely at the bust area for all the models that are modelling the dress. So I highly suggest making a toile to check out the fit before proceeding to cut out your nice fabric. The dress looks deceivingly roomy – and it is below the chest – but there is little ease at the chest. There are also no closures required, and the dress is simply pulled over the head to put it on.
Overall the dress was quite an easy and quick sew. There are a couple of unfamiliar techniques e.g. preparing the cap sleeves, however the sewing wasn’t tricky. I especially like how the pockets are a continuation of the skirt pattern, so it reduces an extra step of sewing in pockets. And yes, the dress has pockets!!
I was really excited about sewing up the dress version because I was planning on making it with the Dahlia and Plumeria panels from Julia Cost’s Giant Flower Textile Collection. Julia kindly and generously sent me these panels for me to make whatever I wanted to with them, and I immediately knew these panels were going to turn into the Celestial Dress. I dreamt of a maxi version, but 2 yards were not sufficient yardage. I did a quick pivot and decided to make an above-the-knee version which turned out to be about 2 inches longer than the cutting line for the mini version in the pattern. It turned out to be better this way because it made for better placement of the flowers on both panels.
Initially I wanted the top half of the dress to be ombre dyed with a brush-on technique to mimic the painted flowers on the skirt, but it didn’t turn out the way I envisioned. I documented this failed journey, which will be posted as a YouTube video in a couple days. But all is not lost because the dress looks beautiful with the top half in white as well. And this way, the flowers get to stand out and take centerstage, which is their rightful place.
Julia is a painter and textile designer, and it’s genius that she converted her flower paintings into these fabric panels. I am so lucky to have received this opportunity to create something beautiful with them. It’s not so hard since the fabrics are already so beautiful. Big thanks to Julia! And go and check out (and purchase) her wonderful and inspiring work.