Caroline's Holyoke Maxi Dress

Caroline's Holyoke Maxi Dress


After hearing lots of good things about the Cashmerette patterns I really wanted to give one of them a try and kept coming back to this beautiful maxi dress - the Holyoke. The Holyoke Dress and Skirt pattern has recently become available in Cashmerette’s extended size range (0-16), and now runs from 0-32 and comes in 3 different cup sizes. The size options run up to 62 inch bust, 52 inch waist, 62 inch hip. I thought it would be the perfect project for a floaty summer maxi dress. When Jenny restocked the beautiful Abstract Leopard viscose in this bright blue I decided that this would be a great match. Jenny chose cute white buttons to go with the dress and I was so excited when my parcel arrived!

I hadn’t looked too much into the pattern construction in advance (I definitely just fell in love with the front cover picture of the end result!) and was pleased to discover some of the features of the design. The bust uses princess seams rather than darts and the button placket is actually sewn shut, meaning that I didn’t need to sew or do up loads of buttonholes! Result for speedy sewing! The other clever aspect I really like is the elastic back waist channel. I can throw the dress on over my head and this elastic cinches it in at the back which makes it look more fitted at the front without needing a zip.

I cut a size 16 E/F based on the helpful instructions in the book and decided not to do a toile but to dive in and see if the selection of cup sizes saved me from needing to do a full bust adjustment. The only alteration I made before starting was to shorten the skirt pieces by 4 inches which I did by using the “lengthen or shorten here” lines on the pattern pieces. Shortening at this stage helps to prevent wasted fabric and also preserve the shape of the skirt. The pattern for the dress has 15 pieces, plus two additional interfacing pieces. It took me quite a while to trace and cut out all of the pattern pieces but the subsequent sewing was pretty quick. I didn’t follow the cutting layout due to the size of my cutting table, and opted to fold the fabric down the middle, place the back pieces on the fold and place the others so I was cutting left and right sides at the same time. This worked out well and I had enough fabric for cutting this way, based on the recommended amount. 


The pattern is classed as Advanced Beginner and the instructions are very clear and well written, with thorough explanations and pictures at every step to help you as you go. I was really pleased with the princess seams which fit together perfectly with very little easing in required, meaning I got them right first time which is always satisfying! The fabric handles really nicely, it doesn’t fray noticeably and it is stable to sew.

The construction is quite interesting, instead of making the top of the dress and then the bottom you make the entire front and then the entire back, sewing them together to complete the dress at the end. I followed the general gist of them, but I prefer to batch sew so instead of doing them in the exact order written I rearranged a few of the steps so I could sew several at a time before taking the iron and board out for pressing. 

The button placket looks great, and it finishes the dress nicely without being fiddly to close. I used my sewing gauge to space the buttons evenly. This is one of my favourite tools and makes even spacing so easy! I added a wee label from the Kylie and the Machine 2021 advent calendar that Jenny stocked last year to complete the garment.

I really love the finished dress, it looks great and very put together despite being able to just pull it on! It’s also very comfortable to wear and walk about in.  Bra straps are nicely covered which is always a bonus. The skirt is also more flowy and loose than the line drawings look, which I’m delighted with. I wore this dress while exploring Budapest on a girls weekend and it was lovely to wear in the heat. The cup size is pretty spot on, and I’m really impressed with the fit across the bust. For the rest of the garment, I think I sized up a little too much as it isn’t as fitted as some of the finished versions I’ve seen online so I’m going to try a smaller size and see how that goes next time.

I’m very excited about the hack-ability of this pattern… I think it would be straightforward to remove the need for a button placket and cut the front piece on the fold at centre front for an even more simple sew. The bodice could easily be attached to different skirt shapes for a nice sundress, or even something fancier depending on the fabric. I really enjoyed this sew and absolutely love the end result! 

Jenny Says:

"Like Caroline, I hadn't realised that the Holyoke featured a faux button placket and an elasticated back, so I was genuinely taken aback to read about the construction of this dress, which is just genius! The fit is beautiful and Caroline looks so glamorous, well done on another beautiful make."

Inspired to make your own version? Here's what you'll need:

Fabric :Abstract Leopard Viscose - Azure

Also now available in Navy Blue

Pattern : Cashmerette Holyoke



Caroline was provided with the materials for her project free of charge and received a gift voucher in recognition of the time spent on her project.
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Love the dress. Looks fantastic. Will have to add this dress to my 2023 sewing list

Lynn Blindell

Love this, Caroline. I actually had avoided it because I was worried about gaping with the buttons but knowing now that they are false I will definitely be giving this a go next summer! X

Sarah Baillie

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