This January, I am joining in with the #SewnWithNewLook challenge at Minerva and I have made myself a super unseasonal maxi dress! Minerva sent me 2.7 metres of this tropical Atelier Jupe viscose challis and a copy of New Look 6696, and I set to work making a dress for my upcoming holiday to California 🌺 Head over to Minerva to read up my blog post or scroll down for more details and photos.

Lately I have been really gravitating towards big, bold botanical prints and this one is gorgeous — it is perfect for spring/summer and makes me daydream about Hawaii! I love the contrast between the splashy pink hibiscus flowers and golden leaves against the muted blue foliage and the cream frangipani flowers. The print is against an ivory background, which luckily isn’t sheer as this dress is unlined. I found this viscose challis to be exceptionally smooth and floaty, so I made sure to use my walking foot when sewing to avoid it slipping around too much! I used a tailor’s clapper when hemming and found that it helped this fabric to stay a lot flatter, so that is something I will definitely remember to continue to use when sewing with viscose. I ended up not using the fabric to make the tie loop at the back of the dress as it was prone to fraying and was quite fiddly, so opted to use a piece of yellow ribbon instead.

Minerva also very kindly sent me copy of New Look 6696 to review, which is a pretty similar design to the McCalls 7971 dress I made over the summer. This bodice has a jewel neckline finished with bias tape, short cap sleeves, and a panelled a-line skirt in two different lengths with an optional thigh-high split. The back bodice has two options; one which has back darts and closes with an invisible zip from the neckline, while the other view has a cutout above the waist and is finished with a button and tie. I opted for View A, as the open back, longer length and the thigh-high split is quite striking when paired with this print, but I imagine I will get a lot of use out this pattern with the versatility of View B!

The instructions were easy to follow — not as in-depth as indie patterns, but still simple for a beginner with a few projects completed and no longer needs as much guidance. I always find quite a lot of ease in New Look patterns, so I sized down and cut a size 12; I did an FBA and a narrow shoulder adjustment (fairly standard adjustments for me), but I probably can take this dress in a little more along the skirt panels, as this dress doesn’t feel as fitted at the waistline as it needs to be. I also need to pinch out a little more ease at the back, as the cut-out section isn’t lying as flush against my skin as I would want it to. All things to bear in mind next time I make this dress!

I am so excited to take this tropical maxi dress with me to California! This style of dress always reminds me of the gorgeous Reformation dresses, so I am thrilled I have now got a pattern in my stash that helps me replicate these designs — I am thinking this could be gorgeous in a royal blue crêpe de chine.

New Look 6696
Size 6 – 18
Full Bust: 30½″-40″
Waist: 23″-32″
Hips: 32½″-42″

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