Thursday, November 21, 2013

A Pretty Party Dress for a Wedding

So whilst I was buying a zipper for the Cherry Gingham Dress I remembered that I had a wedding to go to on the following Friday.  I know, it sounds like I wasn't too worried about this wedding (the first thing we think of when we get the invitation is what we're going to wear, right ladies!), but in reality we were given two weeks notice that the wedding was on.  A bit unconventional, but that's Kevin and AJ!  Last I knew they were planning a wedding in November 2014!!

Anyway, I had some lovely party fabric that I purchased whilst on holiday in LA.  It is the palest blue, and is embroidered with flowers and leaves with beads and sequins, and both selvedges are scalloped and embroidered.  I'd always imagined making a vintage inspired party dress with it, so I figured what better time to make the dress than now.

To make the bodice I thought I would use this McCall pattern that I used a lot last year.  I had already made some adjustments so I knew that it fit well.  I set about cutting out the three layers: the embroidered chiffon, some blue satin, and some blue cotton.  I sewed the pieces together and put them on my headless helper to check the fit.

It looked pretty good to me so I got on with the skirt.

To make up the skirt I used 3 metres of fabric like I always do, but this time I had three layers - one of the pretty embroidered chiffon, and two of blue satin.  I probably could have used just one satin layer, but I liked the thought of two for extra pouf!  I hemmed the two satin layers and trimmed everything to approximately the same size on the floor of the lounge room.  Then I pinned the layers together and thought about my options....

 I decided to make a gathered skirt, so put in two lines of gathering stitch and started gathering.

It was not easy.  And when I had gathered up about a third of the skirt I realised it wasn't going to gather up enough to work.  Sigh!  So I undid it and decided to pleat instead.

I picked up this small metal ruler at a corporate lunch with the express purpose of using it to help me make pleats, and can I say what a brilliant idea!  It really sped up the process!!

Once I had all the pleats done I pinned the bodice to the skirt and adjusted the pleats until it all fitted perfectly, then I sewed them together and pinned it back on my headless helper.

Then came the bit I was most worried about - putting in the zip.  Normally zips don't scare me.  but this one did, mainly because of all the layers I was going to have to be sewing through.  I decided that the best thing to do would be to hand pick the zipper, which I have never done before.  And can I say it was EASY and I actually ENJOYED IT!  Yes, that's right, the person who doesn't much like hand sewing, actually enjoyed hand sewing in a zipper.

While I was at it I also sewed some bias around the inside waist seam.  Stella helped!

Then I tried the dress on, and discovered I had a bit of an issue.  When I drafted the bodice pattern, I hadn't marked my waistline very well, and subsequently, the dress was too short in the waist.  BUT I had always been planning on adding a waist sash anyway, so no problems!

I took out some of the satin that I had used to line the dress with and made a sash that was a couple of inches wide and hand stitched it to the waist seam so that it would sit below the waist.  Here is the back:

But then something occurred to me - the bow is at the back, how am I going to tie it so it looks this good?  There was a bit of talk about it on Facebook and it was decided that I could spin the dress around, tie the bow, and spin it back to where it should be... and thats what I did!

So it was finished the morning of the wedding - JUST in time!  It was much admired, and I was very comfortable wearing it.  And finally, here is a photo of me and my husband at the registry office where the couple decided to get married:

I must apologise and say that I didn't get any photos of the back - I was just having too much fun!

So that's the emergency party dress.  Hopefully I'll be more prepared next time, cause these last minute projects can really be quite stressful!



  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Girliefrank! I'm really happy with the way it looks too - it almost came out better than I hoped!

  2. Beautiful dress! I love it I am so envious! Wish I could sew!!!

    1. I would end up sewing my fingers together!! I have no clue! No machine....
      Probably better if I don't try!! But I actually would like to be able to have that kind of skills!!!

  3. Great job! You're good at emergency sewing! I'm impressed!

    I admire that you just go for it! I'm not really good at sewing under pressure at all, so I don't think I would have done it.

    1. By now I've had plenty of practice sewing in stressful situations Anthea, and sometimes the extra nervous energy and tension really works in my favour!

  4. Omg love it and you look lovely as usual. Nekeisha

  5. Look great! You did a fantastic job. I always have a terrible time with pleats. I need to remember to make measurements next time I go at it.

    1. Mariela, I just posted a quick tutorial on the technique I used with the ruler on my Facebook page - you should check it out!

  6. This is gorgeous! I really like the way the pleats turned out at the waistline - very flattering yet with all the volume of a gathered skirt. I can't believe that this was an "emergency" dress... it looks like you spent lots of time on it! (But then again, that's coming from someone who takes weeks for a simple shirt...)

    1. hahaha Shannon! I did spend a bit of time on it, but I find dresses like this come together fairly quickly... especially when you break it down into manageable chunks to achieve each day.

      Mind you, I do sew quickly...

  7. You were stunning, woman! Glad you had fun. :)

  8. Very nicely done!