Dixie DIY Bonnel Dress by Helen's Closet

HelenHelen's Makes8 Comments

Polka Dot Bonnel

Ohhhhh man, this dress.  I was really stoked to make the Bonnel, after seeing so many cute ones pop up over the summer!  It is a relatively easy pattern with unique side-cut outs.  I am fairly happy with how mine turned out, but it was one of those projects where things go wrong at every turn!  I managed to make it through to the other side though, so I consider this dress conquered!

Dixie DIY Bonnel Dress by Helen's Closet

Not every project can be a resounding success, and it is important to embrace the shortcomings in every endeavour as learning experiences.  I really struggled with this dress and it could have been avoided if I hadn’t made a few fatal errors:

  1. Poor choice of fabric
  2. Not reading instructions carefully
  3. Rushing through the process

All that being said, I also had a few successes:

  1. First fully lined bodice and it turned out pretty great!
  2. Managed to do french seams on my inseam pockets using this tutorial.  Thanks, Deborah!

In the end, the finished dress looks pretty good (especially thanks to Sam’s photography skills), but sometimes a frustrating sewing experience can lead to a less than positive relationship with a garment.  I waited a week before the photoshoot and when I put it on after some time apart, I was actually pleasantly surprised that I liked the finish garment more than I thought I did!

Dixie DIY Bonnel Dress by Helen's Closet Dixie DIY Bonnel Dress by Helen's Closet     Dixie DIY Bonnel Dress by Helen's Closet

I really like this pattern, it is the Dixie DIY Bonnel Dress, and it was included in pattern bundle #1 for Sewing Indie Month.  I wanted to make this dress kinda fancy, so I chose to use a light, slightly shiny polka dot fabric from my stash, despite the instructions clearly stating that a more structured fabric would work much better.  I should have heeded that warning, since the cut outs on this dress really do require structure. You can clearly see how the waistband is sagging in these pics.  I will make this pattern again (one day) and use the right fabric weight for the job.

Dixie DIY Bonnel Dress by Helen's Closet Dixie DIY Bonnel Dress by Helen's Closet Dixie DIY Bonnel Dress by Helen's Closet

In my rush to complete this project, I flew right past an entire bust dart!  How, you ask? Well, it was a combination of not reading instructions thoroughly and not cutting out my fabric carefully.  I assumed the jagged side of my bodice and additional fabric that was there were due to my shoddy cutting, and simply chopped off the extra fabric for the dart (whoops!).  Upon completion of the bodice, it was clear I had missed something – side boob anyone?  The cut outs were way more revealing than intended, and I stood in  front of the mirror scratching my head…where did I go wrong?  I pinched and pulled until I realized that I needed to take some fabric in on the sides. I ended up adding a little mini bust dart on the cut-out because it was too late to take apart the bodice to place the dart in the correct spot.  It’s not very pretty, I know, but sometimes you just have to remind yourself that ‘no one will notice’  or more accurately, ‘only the people I share this with on the internet will notice’.

The jewel neckline on this dress is really flattering without being constricting and it features a full bodice lining which I love. I will definitely use this bodice in the future when I am building my own dresses – with both bust darts of course, lol.

Dixie DIY Bonnel Dress by Helen's Closet     Dixie DIY Bonnel Dress by Helen's ClosetDixie DIY Bonnel Dress by Helen's Closet

Bodice saga aside, the bottom half of this dress went very smoothly.  I was happy to learn that french seams are possible when combined with inseam pockets, and it was fairly easy to implement. I will say that the pockets on this dress are pretty tiny, I have to wiggle my hands into them!  For the next version I’m definitely going to make these bigger. 

Dixie DIY Bonnel Dress by Helen's ClosetDixie DIY Bonnel Dress by Helen's Closet

I was all bundled up before the photoshoot in full fall fashion, it really felt good to put on my favourite boots again! 

Dixie DIY Bonnel Dress by Helen's Closet


Final Stats:

Total project time:  Approximately 6 hours

Fabric: 2.5 Meters of Polyester

Pattern: Dixie DIY Bonnel Dress


About the author


Helen Wilkinson is the designer and founder of Helen's Closet Patterns. She also co-hosts the Love to Sew Podcast! Helen is obsessed with all things sewing and strives to share her passion and knowledge with the sewing community.

8 Comments on “Polka Dot Bonnel”

    1. Thanks Rhonda! I love pairing dresses with tights and sweaters for fall, and it give me an excuse to keep making summer dresses haha.

  1. Love the dress…sexy in a playful way. And I’m so glad other people don’t always read the instructions carefully and just plow right in…LOL.

    1. Thanks Kathi! I am pretty bad for forging ahead assuming I know how to do things, it’s good to have humbling experiences like this, haha.

  2. Very cute! I’m sorry you struggled a bit but in the end I think it turned out great. I love the gray – really pretty for fall. I hope your next version is easier. ;)

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