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Choosing the right fabric: Lily


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Lily is a form fitting dress with strong design lines. Before we named it Lily, I always referred to it as the Sophia dress, after Sophia Loren. The dress has a classic sexiness to it just like Sophia Loren had in those old 1950s movies as she wiggled from scene to scene in her closely fitted clothes. Choosing fabric for this dress is really fun because it works in so many beautiful colors and you can use contrasting fabrics for the flaps if you so desire!

Fabric drape

This dress is very structured. It fits close to the body and requires a fabric that doesn’t have a lot of drape. Why? Because fabric with a good amount of drape, such as cotton voile or silk crepe de chine will sag under the weight of so many seamlines. If you were to use such a fabric, you would at least need to underline each piece for stability. Instead, look for light to medium weight fabrics with a stiff drape, fabrics that sort of stand out and away when you hold them up.

Fabrics: Teal, Mustard, Wavy Lines, Stripes, Red, Seaglass

Types of fabric

When choosing your fabric, make sure your fabric isn’t too thick or heavy. This dress has lots of seams and a heavy weight material will create really bulky seams. Armed with the knowledge that you need something a bit stiff, there are many types of fabric that will work with this dress. For a formal look, try silk shantung or dupioni. For a more casual look, cotton poplin, cotton sateen or a medium weight linen will work really well. You might even try some cotton or silk twill fabric or a pretty eyelet. For the photo shoot, the dress was made in a cotton blend orange twill, cotton/lycra purple pique and a medium weight linen/polyester blend. The mix of poly with the linen helps to keep it from wrinkling too much, which is important with a fitted dress like this.


  • contrast the flaps in different shades of the same color
  • contrast the flaps with the same color but different fabric, such brocade, slubbed fabric or a semi-sheer chiffon (which will need to be interfaced or underlined)
  • add a lining when sewing with eyelet and use a contrasting color for the lining

Caitlin Clark   —  

Caitlin is the Colette Patterns design assistant. You can follow Caitlin at her blog, the story girl.

Comments 13


Ooh, I’d love to see this dress in a shantung. Now, why did you have to go and say that? I feel another project coming on!


Perfect timing! I scheduled a fabric shopping trip tomorrow. I am thinking of eyelet or linen.


A perfect timing it is, actually! I hope I’ll get this pattern soon and I think it could look great in this fabric ( with black flaps.
That being said, I’m not sure it would be stiff enough to be self-sufficient. Would you advise to underline such a fabric, paired with this pattern?

Sew Little Time

thanks for this post – as a beginner i’m finding it hard to get my head about fabric types, drape etc (i guess i just don’t have enough experience of the different types yet!). this is really helpful!


I am new to the clothing aspect of sewing and find these very helpful! If using an eyelet fabric, what’s a good fabric to use for the lining?


I’d go with a light cotton, like a batiste. I find that eyelets tend to have a lot of stiffness on their own due to all the embroidery, so something light that just takes care of the sheerness issue should work.


I absolutely love this dress! The shape is wonderful. But I’ve been thinking about a practical wardrobe lately too and I have very little right now that I can wear on a day to day basis. So I need to think of a way to justify this one. :) wouldn’t I look a little ridiculous trying to chase a toddler around the playground in this? There are quite a few school events, though…


Sundresses are eminently practical for summer! You could always alter the skirt to make it more full, it’d be cool and crisp and delicious in the heat. I can totally see myself hanging laundry or doing dishes, or vaccuuming in a dress with this bodice but a fuller skirt.


I already have that white linen with the graphic print in THREE colors, and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this dress! I think you made up my mind as to what new summer dress I need…


This is a silly question, but I can’t help but ask.. if the dress was Sophia all through the creative stage why rename it Lily? I can’t help but feel like Lily is a bit of an imposter now, though Lily is an equally lovely name, and the dress is stunning regardless.


Melissa, that’s awesome. I’m going to get inspired by the image of you doing dishes in that bombshell dress. :) heels too?


In my June Cleaver fantasy, yes to the heels! In reality, probably not.

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