The ultimate statement party dress, the Latona Dress

by - 12:51

girls blue party dress

When I first laid eyes on this dress on instagram I was immediately struck by it. The sneak peek of the diagonal lines of buttons down the back was striking and I couldn't wait to see the whole thing.

girls blue butterfly dress
Steph's version that she entered into the #rijksstudio International Awards 2017 was absolutely stunning using bespoke printed fabric. You can see her pictures here. I had the perfect fabric in mind for my own version. Same pattern, but with a very different look using a different fabric.

blue butterfly party dress
I didn't ask the question, someone else did, but the answer made me happy, that the pattern would soon go into testing to be released. After asking my picky daughter if she liked the dress, I thought I'd try my luck and applied to test. She assured me that she loved it, and even loved Steph's version in her darker fabrics. This was a bit of a turn up for the books from my pink loving daughter. I even showed her my intended fabric, a deep, bright blue and she agreed to that too!

button back girls dress
Layla is not the best proportions for a pattern test. She is very skinny, and seems to be getting skinnier the taller she gets. She also does a lot of hours of gymnastics every week - as an aside, she loves it and is getting pretty good - but all the gymnastics is leaving her looking quite triangular. She has very strong shoulders and a tiny waist. How I wished I had her figure 😏. I know that a fair few pattern designers will only pick children who fall very closely into size categories, and as I hadn't tested for The Eli Monster before, I didn't know what her criteria would be for testers. But again, lo and behold, in the morning was an email waiting for me, inviting me to the testing group.

test bodice muslin toile
I was assigned an age 5 due to height, with age 4 for chest width. I jumped on the invitation, and had printed off the first version of the pattern before breakfast that day. This is the first test that I have been nervous about the pattern fitting. The Latona Dress has a very slim fitting bodice and I knew that Layla fell into a much smaller waist size, 18 months-2 years in fact, but she is 5. So, for the first time ever for a dress for her, I made up the bodice in some calico fabric to check the size.

test bodice back  bodice test side view

I'm glad I did, because not only did the pattern need tweaking slightly, but it totally highlighted a fitting issue with Layla that I didn't overly know about beforehand. The first version bodice had gaping shoulders and the back pieces were coming up a little narrow whilst there was an excess of fabric at her waist. I knew the waist would be big, but the gaping shoulders and slight tightness across her chest surprised me.

test bodice backtest bodice side

Version 2 had wider back pieces, which took away the strain across the top of her chest, but I still had the issue of gaping back shoulders and a big waist. So I took the waist in to a size 2 at the back only, maintaining an age 4 at the top. This turned out to be a touch too much of a narrowing, and I ended up taking this out a bit on the final version.

adjusted test bodice back test bodice side view
back view of prominent shoulder blades
Version 3 had lower front armscyes to alleviate a slight tightness that was noted by quite a few of the testers and myself. Steph kindly pointed me towards an online article in fixing bodice shoulders problems, one of which was gaping back shoulders. It turns out that Layla has slightly rounded shoulders, and consequently very prominent shoulder blades. I don't know if this is the way she stands, or because of the gymnastics, or both? Anyway, using the article, I managed to take in the pattern, and alter it accordingly to remove the shoulder gape. This final version 3 also had a relaxing of the waist for the smaller sizes to take into account that cute sticky out baby belly!

final toile bodice back muslin final version

So I finally took the plunge after making up 3 test versions in calico, and cut into my lovely fabric. I bought this 18 months ago with the intention of making something for myself. It has sat folded in it's postal envelope on my fabric shelves ever since. Making clothing for me is a daunting task as I know I have many fitting issues that need addressing every single time, which really puts me off. It is this stunning Timeless Treasures Tiffany fabric by Chong-a Hwang.

Blue butterfly spinning dress
I made the bodice up one evening, and pressed it to perfection. I left off sewing the buttonholes because I wanted to be sure that the buttons I'd chosen were indeed going to be ok. Oh, and I was still nervous, and needed to make sure the bodice would actually fit after all my alterations to the paper pattern.

Butterfly bodice back view
final dress bodice side view
I shouldn't doubt myself, as the bodice fitted perfectly the next morning when I pinned it on to Layla. The shoulder adjustment worked wonderfully well. It now moulds to her rounded shoulders instead of gaping out.

centre back panel with buttonholes
Buttonholes don't worry me, I don't mind sewing them, however, the buttonholes on this dress needed to be exactly precise otherwise the diagonal lines on the back piece wouldn't look so good. I had to read the manual on my new machine, it's my first experience of a computerised sewing machine, and was rather happy to discover that it will automatically, at the push of a button, create as many identical buttonholes as I want. This certainly made life a lot easier, so all I had to concentrate on was lining up the buttonholes exactly straight and level with each other. This step actually took a lot of concentration and slow, steady stitching.

full back view of latona party dress button back

So, once my busy weekday schedule allowed, I got round to finishing off the dress. The skirt is a simple gathered, very long rectangle. This gives the dress it's fullness. Steph photographed her original Latona dress over a petticoat to give the skirt it's fabulous volume. My attempt to make a petticoat to go under this dress didn't go so well, so I slightly adapted a previous tutu that I'd made for Layla, by adding an extra length of dark blue netting to give it a slightly longer length. This was the finishing touch for the dress to give it the desired volume.

party dress spinning over pink petticoat

Layla was over the moon when she saw the dress fully finished the following morning. She wanted to try it on immediately, and only then did I realise that the skirt was a bit too long. So I quickly ran back out to the sewing room and turned the hem up again with a quick blind stitch. Now it is perfect!

blue butterfly party dress front view butterfly party dress back view

She was delighted to find that not only has she got a pretty party dress, but the dress has pockets too. Yes, hidden inseam pockets. They are invisible in the photos, except for the one where she has found them and put her hands inside. But what little girl wouldn't be happy to be able to hide her treasured finds?!

girls dress with pocketsside seam pockets in girls dress
To make this dress, you may need to have pattern grading skills if your daughter covers more than one size according to the measurements. This is simply because the bodice is designed to be slim fitting. Steph has included a section in the instructions on adjusting the bodice to make this easy for you. You'll need to be proficient at buttonholes, there are 16 in this age 5 dress. You don't need an overlocker, but it does make for quick seam finishing, the same effect could be done with a zig-zag stitch on your sewing machine. The skirt is hemmed with a blind hem stitch. My machine has this stitch built in and is surprisingly simple to use with the correct machine foot. It gives the cleanest, neatest, most invisible hem ever. In fact, I may be converted to use the type of hem finish for all the dresses I make in the future.

girls dress twirlingbutton back dress girls butterflies
I adore the lines of this dress, and I think the fabric works wonderfully for Layla, even if it isn't pink. Steph has done a brilliant job in designing and pattern drafting this dress and I look forwards to making up the patterns I've previously bought from her, and any patterns in the future!

girls butterfly party dress You can get your own version of the pattern on offer until Friday for $7 Latona Dress Pattern.

What colour fabric would you chose for this dress? A deep blue like the one I made, or a custom print like the one Steph made, or even a bright pink with contrasting buttons? Let me know in the comments.

Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission (same price for you) which will help me in the future to buy more patterns to share them with you!

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  1. This dress is so beautiful! I love that fabric and you did such a nice job making sure it fit her properly. I think I would do this in all black except for the button panel, which I would do in white!

    1. Wow, a black and white version would be really striking! a nice idea, I like it

  2. Gorgeous dress look forward to more. Well done on the fitting. Have loved looking through your Etsy shop and Instagram.

  3. You did a fabtastic job! My daughter is weirdly skinny a 2t/3t chest and 5/6 length. Could you point me to the article that you ised to adjust the fit?

    1. Hello Teronia
      I graded between sizes to adjust for my skinny daughter. There are directions in the pattern on how to do this. The article I used for the shoulder adjustment was here:
      It's adjusting an adult pattern, but you can translate them easily enough to a child's pattern.
      Hope this helps?