Tuesday, June 26, 2012

You SHALL go to the ball, Cinderella!

This weekend just gone I attended a fundraising ball - the theme of which was 1960s Vegas Glam.  Right up my alley!  Of course, I decided to make my own dress, and of course I decided to make my life as hard as possible by making it without a pattern from a design I dreamed up!

Thankfully I have a dress makers dummy.  I honestly don't know how I would have done this without my headless friend.

My first step was to take some calico and make a pattern.  My design was for a tight fitting dress with shoe-string straps.  The skirt of the dress would be tight to the knees and then flare out in a fish tail.  There would be a triangluar shaped godet in the back seam of the skirt that started 20cm (8 inches) above my knees to help with movement and to make the skirt bigger.  Basically think sexy, slinky Marilyn Monroe.

Here is the lovely Marilyn singing Happy Birthday
(I didn't use any photos as inspiration for this dress - but this one has the godet just like mine does! )

I purchased some stretchy woven fabric from a local discount store for $3 A METRE!!!!!  I almost fell down when they told me the price!  I was so excited that I bought WAY to much of it!  It has a silver metallic thread running through it to give it a lovely shimmer.

So with the pattern made and the fabric purchased, I went about cutting out the pieces and thinking about construction.  I realised that there were a few bits that would need reinforcing to limit the stretch of the fabric.

Where the zipper was going, I decided to put a strip of cotton down either side.  Not only would this make my life easier putting in the lapped zipper, it wouldn't get all stretchy.

The bodice/bra section would also need reinforcement because I didn't want that bit to stretch with tight straps.  And lets be honest - no one wants to look like they have saggy boobs!  I also purchased some sew-in bra cups to help with the sag factor.

This is the inside of the bodice section - the black bits are the cotton fabric reinforcement

The straps would also need reinforcement for obvious reasons.  I thought about this one for a while and eventually came up with wrapping bias tape in my stretchy fabric.

My final piece of reinforcement was a 1.5 inch wide strip of thick cotton bias ribbon stuff (I'm sorry, I have no idea what the technical name is!) which I attached from one side of the zipper, around under the bust and back around to the other side of the zipper.  The idea of this was it would keep that area tight, and would give me somewhere firm to attach the bottom of the bra cups to.

A lot of thinking went into this dress!

So at the end of the first day I had most of the dress together, and it looked like this:

I was so proud of myself at this point, you have no idea!
Yes it is far to long...

The next day I worked out what to do with the straps.  I wanted them to be slanted in some way so they didn't fall off my shoulders (one of the most annoying things ever), but I also wanted them to be a decorative feature.  I came up with this:

Slanted main straps, with decorative-but-functional 
'branch' straps that hold up with side of the bodice

There was a lot of very boring hand sewing at this point... and I must thank my Mum for helping me find where to hem it, cause doing that yourself is next to impossible.

So at the end of the day this is what I wore to the ball

 Thank goodness for my vintage mink fur stole - it was a FREEZING night 
and this was all I had to keep me warm...
that and the champagne...

  I was really happy with the fit and the look of the dress
And the feel of it on too - I felt sexy!

You know you're feeling good in an outfit when you actually ask someone to take a photo of your bum!!

I'm very proud of myself and my dress, and luckily I have another ball to attend this weekend, so I get to do it all again!

Thanks for reading



  1. Wow! What a great job. It looks good on the dress form and even better on you.

  2. OH WOW that is so STUNNING! Mega-super envious of your skillz! The colour of that gown is fabulous too - so cool that you got the fabric for $3 per metre!

    1. I know - that fabric was a total score! I'm looking forward to going back there and having a dig to see what else they have :)

  3. Wow that gown is stunning! You def have the Marilyn figure in it and I really love the strap solution, great thinking!

    1. Thanks :) I did spend quite a bit of time pondering bits of this dress. I think you tend to do that more when you aren't working from a pattern that comes with instructions! It was a good test of my ingenuity.

  4. absolutely stunning! you look just spectacular!
    dress is awwwwwesome!