27 March 2020

Hacking sewing patterns: Lou Box Dress 1 from Sew DIY

This post refers to a sewing pattern, which I received for free as part of testing another pattern. 

This fabric has been in my stash for about 2 years. I remember I took it out several times, thinking about what I would like to make out of it. A sweater? A skirt? Naaah, this fabric was meant to become a dress!
And I had in mind the exact type of dress I wanted - but despite searching through the whole wide web for hours I never found THE pattern. You know, the one. The perfect one.

So I took a sewing pattern I knew and trusted the designer and hacked it. VoilĂ ! Here it is:

sew diy lou box dress 1 sewing pattern hacks modified hacking minn's things alternative model look

The pattern I used for this dress is the Lou Box Dress 1 from Sew DIY. Yes, another pattern from Beth. As you may remember, I helped testing her Lou Box Dress 2 sewing pattern and for that I received the Dress 1 for free. I really loved the loose dresses on other sewists, but I have a problem with such loose garments on myself: I tend to feel kinda big in them, and not in a good way. I usually prefer tight clothes (with some exceptions), best case with a small waist. In my opinion this just looks best on me.

So while I adored the Lou Box Dress 1 on others, I never made it myself. I thought about it though. But I guess I'm just too afraid I would add another item to my wardrobe, which I would not wear much.

sew diy lou box dress 1 sewing pattern hacks modified hacking minn's things side view

Turns out, this pattern was just perfect for that fabric!
Here's what I changed: I have a kind of similar dress in my wardrobe. It was a gift from my mum years ago, as she did not wear it and thought it may fit me. And what can I say, I love it! That dress has just the ideal fit I wanted for the new one. So I used one of the oldest tricks of home sewing: I folded the dress in half, put it on top of the original pattern and traced the body outlines. Since the fabric is more stretchy I removed some additional cm at the waist, even more at the back (hello swayback!) while adding those few cm to the back hip, and I made it a bit shorter - keeping the original curved hem from the sewing pattern.
Then I realized the remaining fabric was not enough for the original sleeves, so I decided to make two parts. Sadly my brain was somehow twisted during the sleeve construction and I made a big mistake. I intended to make the upper part balloon-like and have it gathered where the two sleeve sections join. This pinspiration is kind of similar to what I wanted to make:

But as I said, I had a complete brain malfunction and ended up cutting the same width as the lower part. I noticed my mistake after I cut the first sleeve, but still, I had not enough fabric left to cut them again. Leaving it like that seemed like an obvious mistake to me, so I tried thinking of some type of embellishment instead. In the end I decided to paint the lower part of the sleeves violet and add some embroidery. The paint I used is Viva Flex Tex, colour purple. It says it becomes elastic when dry and I was so skeptical about that, but it actually works! And no fading after washing at all! Pretty sure I have to buy more of that stuff.

Since I had a little bit of embroidery thread left and wanted to use up all of it I made more X's on the body. I think this makes a nice detail and I can still wear the dress with a big waist belt or even a corset (which I still have to make).

sew diy lou box dress 1 sewing pattern hacks modified hacking minn's things embroidery fabric paint violet purple elastic viva flex text review
Sleeve and embroidery detail

Overall I had quite a lot of trouble with this dress, given that it was supposed to be such a simple project. After cutting all the pieces I started sewing the shoulder seams - I was very motivated at that point - only to notice the fabric stretched totally out of shape and therefore the seam turned out quite ugly and overstretched. I cheated a little to hide it. Just at that time Paula from SewGoth blogged about her Blackwood Cardigan, where she used twill tape to stabilize the shoulder seams. Of course I copied that trick and indeed it helped a lot! Judging from my photos I don't think the overstretching is that visible - what do you think?

And at least I learned from my mistake: I added Prym's Wondertape (a double-sided adhesive tape, which will wash off) to all sleeve seams, keeping them together for the sewing process and keeping the fabric from stretching out. In case you ever have such a fabric, which tends to overstretch, I can only recommend Wondertape (or something similar). For the bodice seams I did not need it, because the vertical stretch was quite stable on its own and did not need any help.

sew diy lou box dress 1 sewing pattern hacks modified hacking minn's things back view

I did not want to fiddle around with the straight tape around the neckline, so I just basted it first with the longest straight stitch my machine can do and serged if afterwards. I only baste if absolutely necessary (hello lazy), but in this case it was and it worked perfectly. The neckline would have been a breeze to make, had I not put it on the wrong side first. Of course I only noticed after I had already serged it, so I had to remove the serger stitches and the basting, very carefully to not stretch out the fabric (again!). I had to put the project aside for a week or I would have tossed it straight into the bin at this point.

But after that week I did the neck band again, this time on the right side and finished the rest of the dress - the sleeve and bottom hems. I made two rows of stretch (lightning) stitch on all the hems.

sew diy lou box dress 1 sewing pattern hacks modified hacking minn's things alternative fashion

Overall I love the dress, despite all the headaches it gave me. I don't know about you, but having a project turn out great always makes me happy! I've worn it so much already, but - for me - the best part of blogging always is to look at the garment being worn from a distance. It's such a different perspective than looking at myself in a mirror. Now I'm even more happy with the dress and I think it fits me so well. I was a bit unsure at first if the length is maybe slightly too short to wear it just with tights, but I like the look and I feel quite comfortable.

Since you've made it this far and I spent so much time on searching for a pattern, I just gotta ask: does anyone know of such a pattern with a scoop neck, (semi-)slim fit and wide sleeves? I'd love to see your recommendations!

sew diy lou box dress 1 sewing pattern hacks modified hacking minn's things pinterest



  1. You look awesome! Lovely dress :-) xo

  2. The dress looks great! I love the purple details. And I am so happy that the twill tape tip helped.

    1. Thanks for the lovely comment and also for the tip!