August 16, 2019

Holyoke Variation: A Lemony Striped Knee-Length Dress


Hey, it’s Ayelet again with our second Holyoke Maxi Dress and Skirt hack! Earlier this week, we showed you how to crop the Holyoke to make a fun and flirty peplum top. Today, I’m going to show you how to make a knee-length variation of the Holyoke with patch pockets.

(Just joining us? Be sure to check out the main Holyoke Maxi Dress and Skirt sewalong page for fabric inspiration, sizing recommendations, step-by-step photos, and more!)

Ready to do this thing? Let’s get going.

Once you’ve prepared your fabric and pattern pieces (and perhaps made a fit muslin), grab your center front skirt pattern piece. We’re going to shorten this piece similar to how we did for the peplum, but not by quite as much.

Hold the side skirt pattern piece up to your body, about an inch below your natural waistline (the smallest point of your waist). Note where you want the hem to be. This dress has a 2 1/2” hem (about 6.5 cm; fold hem over by 1″ and then fold over again by 1 1/2″) so make a mark 2 1/2” (6.5 cm) below where you want your dress to hit. For me, that was roughly where the notch for the slit opening is, so I decided to mark there.

Now measure from the existing bottom edge of the center front skirt piece up to your marking. (For me, this was 16 1/4” or roughly 41 cm up from the bottom.) We need to draw a line across the pattern piece, maintaining that same distance up from the existing edge.

This is our new cutting line!

Now we need to do the same with the three other skirt pieces, using that same measurement and making sure to follow the curve of the bottom edge of each piece.

And there we have it! Pattern pieces for a knee-length Holyoke.

If all you want change about the Holyoke is the length, you can go ahead and cut out your fabric and sew up your Holyoke according to the instructions. (Don’t forget to also shorten your skirt button placket interfacing pattern piece by the same amount.) If you also want to add patch pockets, here’s how we do that:

Determine the size you want your patch pockets to be. When you’ve decide on your size, add 1” (2.5 cm) to the width and 1 1/2” (3.8 cm) to the height for the seam allowance.

I wanted my pockets to be pretty sizable, so I chose 5 1/2” wide by 6 1/2” tall (14 cm x 16.5 cm) as my pocket size, so my pocket pattern piece was 6 1/2” x 8” (16.5 cm x 20.3 cm). Cut out two of those pieces, noting the grainline.

Prepare your pocket pieces by folding the top edge over to the wrong side by 1/4” (6 mm) and pressing, and then folding it over again by 3/4” (1.9 cm) and pressing. Pin this fold down and topstitch from the right side about 5/8″ (16 mm) from the edge. Then, fold the remaining three sides over to the wrong side by 1/2″ (12 mm) and press.

I recommend waiting until after you’ve sewn up the rest of the dress (skipping over the in-seam pockets, if you choose) before sewing on your patch pockets. It helps to have the dress on when you’re deciding where to place your pockets, and if you want your pockets to cross over one of the seams of the skirt like I did, you’ll need to have those pieces assembled first.

I pinned my pockets about 4” (10.2 cm) down from the waistband, and about 3” (7.6 cm) over from the edge of the button placket.

Topstitch down one side of the pocket, across the bottom, and up the other side. You can also topstitch little triangles in the top corners of the pocket for reinforcement.

And voila! Cute patch pockets that are big enough to hold a phone.

One final suggestion: if you’re using striped fabric like I did (and your fabric has the same amount of stretch on the cross grain as it does on the grain), why not play a little with the direction of the stripes? As you can see with my dress, I kept the stripes going vertical for the center front and back pieces and for the straps, and had the stripes going horizontal on the side front and back pieces, waistband pieces, and the pockets. It adds a fun effect that can be subtle (if you’re using thin stripes like here) or striking (if you’re use wider stripes).

I wouldn’t recommend cutting pieces on the bias because the pieces can get overstretched in the princess seams and other spots, but it’s your dress, so you do you!

I made this Holyoke Dress using a lovely rayon challis in a size 12 E/F.

We can’t wait to see your Holyoke Maxi Dress or Skirt hacks! Tag your photos on social media using #HolyokeDressHack or #HolyokeSkirtHack so we can ooh and aah at your gorgeous makes.

Let me know what you think!