An Adventure into Formal Wear

Regular readers will know that I started sewing 5 months ago and am largely self taught. So, when my Niece called me and asked me to make her a dress for her 21st birthday, I explained my lack of skill and that I’d never made anything formal. Of course she thought I’d be fine! So, I took a deep breath and said yes. A few things to note here – my niece is interstate and not available for fitting, I had 14 days to make it and get it there and I did I mention I’d never made anything this complicated before?

Here are her inspiration pics:

I spent a full day trying to work out how to ensure a good fit and deciding on a pattern to use and how the hell I was going to construct the thing! Having a good pattern was the first step, I decided on Simplicity 4070. I had explained how to take proper body measurements to my niece and she had emailed her measurements over. I decided to go with a size 10.

 

I hopped straight on to eBay and bought a heat fix rhinestone/diamanté kit and begged the seller to express post it TODAY! Then I headed to Spotlight and Tricia’s Discount Fabrics to gather supplies – a whopping $290 of them, would you believe?

I cut the bodice and bodice lining to the pattern and stitched it up, including the boning. The only change I made was that I stitched the sides up when I joined the bodice and bodice lining, instead of leaving it open for a zipper. I did this as I was going to add eyelets to the back and lace the bodice shut, as I thought it might allow for some errors in fit. If I could have fitted it on my niece, I would have gone with a zipper.

There was no lengthen/shorten line on the skirt pattern  pieces and my Niece wanted a shorter skirt, so I drafted a circle skirt pattern. First I cut out the skirt in shantung, then a baby pink organza and a darker pink organza. I used the overlocker to make rolled hems on the skirt layers. I only had cones of pale pink thread, so I used a spool of hot pink sewing machine thread in the lower looper. I assembled everything on my dress form Cece and decided that I was unhappy with the top layer.

The top layer fabric was only 112cm wide and so the skirt had side seams, so it was back to Tricas for something wider. It was a hard choice but I found a soft, glittered tulle, once it was cut and hemmed I overlocked the three skirt layers together at the waist. Next, I stitched the skirt to the bodice and inserted a zip into the skirt.

The next steps were very scary! With Mummy Ask as my lovely assistant, we inserted the eyelets. So far, so good.

My niece wanted the bodice covered in bling, so we pinned on a crystal applique and started applying the heat set rhinestones (that had arrived in time –phew! Thank you kind eBay seller) only to find they were melting and scorching the fabric! We put on as many as we felt we could and called it a day. Mummy Ask volunteered to hand sew on the applique with invisible thread, bless her.

So with the dress done all that was left was to take a deep breath, carefully pack it and post it. Here is the finished dress, just before we packed it up:

The dress arrived a few days before the event, and I got word that it fitted well. Hurrah! As my Nieces birthday party was happening interstate, I waited nervously for pics from the night to appear on Facebook (as promised, so I could post a pic of her in the dress here) and when they were posted today I realised she had decided not to wear the dress I made her! A point she neglected to tell me. So, sorry to disappoint you all but there is no pic of her in the dress :-(

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3 thoughts on “An Adventure into Formal Wear

  1. Aww no, Sorry she decided to wear something different when you had gone to all that expense and time. It is a lovely dress. I reckon you have done a very good job on it.

  2. Awesome job Sarah!!! I don’t think I would have the guts to attempt it. It looks stunning and hopefully your niece will wear it on a night out so we’ll still get to see her in it… otherwise it would surely fit on one if my legs and I’d be proud to show it off ;)

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