Mel's Matilda Dress from Simply Sewing using Lady McElroy cotton lawn

The Matilda Dress

As soon as I saw the Lily Safari cotton lawn on the Sew Me Sunshine website I knew it would make an amazing Matilda Dress. This was a free pattern with Simply Sewing magazine that I had tucked away in my stash and it was a perfect match! 
Sometimes using a free pattern is a bit of a risk, especially if you are unable to find any finished versions on Instagram to see how the garment might look! (Is this because no-one has made the garment successfully? Is it because the pattern is rubbish? Is it just because people are busy sewing other things?!) That being said, free patterns are always in abundance at stash-swap events and I think they might be a really good untapped resource. I have made another free pattern from the same magazine, which I love, so I thought I’d risk it and give Matilda a go.
The pattern is particularly suitable for cotton lawn and even though the vibrant flowers are bright white, blue and yellow, the deep teal background makes this a gorgeous fabric for autumn and winter too. With this in mind I made view B, which has long sleeves for extra warmth! 
The pattern instructions were clear, well illustrated with helpful photographs and very easy to follow. If you have experience of inserting an invisible zip, gathering a hem and easing in sleeves you would be able to make a Matilda dress with no problems. I made the dress over four days, taking my time and sewing for about three hours each evening. Cotton lawn is such a well-behaved fabric and presses so beautifully, my sewing time was very pleasurable and relaxing.
The size chart suggested I should make a 10 based on my measurements, but as the waist tie was adjustable and there was so much ease in the finished garment size at the waist and hips too, I opted for the size 8. This was a good decision as the dress fits nicely around the arms and shoulders and would definitely have been too big in a size 10. The only alteration I made was to take the hem up by 10cm instead of 3cm – I am only 5’ 4” and the shorter length definitely suits me better. I also think you need a little more leg on show as the neckline is so high and the sleeves are long! 
I’m delighted with the finished dress and it looks just like I envisaged. So far I have dressed it up with heels and felt very smart, but I have also dressed it down with tights, boots and a chunky scarf to be more comfortable and casual for general day-to-day wear. Lots of people have commented on how striking and unusual the fabric is and how fabulous the colours are. 
I think my favourite feature of the pattern is the way the fullness of the dress alongside the tie that nips you in at the waist gives a very flattering silhouette. The collar detail and pretty gathered sleeve cuffs are lovely too. 
I would like to make the dress again in a fabric with a little more drape – it would be lovely and cool to swish about in during the summer months, particularly if you made view A with sleeves that finish just above the elbow. Harriet has some wonderful viscose fabrics in stock that would be perfect – Moorside Array would make an amazing Matilda dress for spring with its bright blooms, or how about some pretty red and coral poppies for a summer version? Gorgeous! 
I was provided with this fabric free of charge by Sew Me Sunshine in exchange for this blog post and all thoughts and opinions are my own. You can see more of my sewing through my Instagram account @stitch_make_bake


  • The dress looks lovely. I’ve just made it myself. I found the neckline a bit too big and didn’t fit the collar properly so i had to gather it a bit but other than than I’m very pleased.

    Lorraine Jarman
  • I have the pattern. So motivated to sew the Matilda dress now. Yours looks beautiful. Very well constructed 😊

  • I think your dress is lovely. I have the pattern and found an identical style in a magazine. I was worried that it looked too bulky on the model but now tempted to make it! Ha ha there are so many things that tempt me! 💕😁

    Ruth Lanwarne
  • Beautiful dress Mel those colours go so well together. Lovely read xx

  • Lovely, Mel :)


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