Friday, 25 September 2009

A pretty cocktail dress with petticoat

I have finished Mrs P's party dress!

From the pattern which I drew myself from Mrs P's exact measurements ..

To the toile - an old duvet cover - doesn't look very promising does it!!

I decided half way through that the because of the heavy fabric we used, the shape of the dress would benefit from a little bit of net underneath it to give a 50's retro feel.

I gathered a double width of stiff dress net, sewed it onto some stay tape, and then zigzagged it to the lining of the dress - on the inside so that it sits between the outer fabric and the lining, at the point where the dress flares - the lower hip in this case.

The trouble with dressmaking - when you are doing it for someone other than yourself, is that you find yourself being more 'honest' than you may be otherwise!! Diplomatic ways of saying things about fitting have to be thought of, like "if we ruche it here, we can give you a bit of cleavage" or "if we flare it at the hip, it won't make you feel like a house" or "the good thing about having a full skirt is that nobody knows what's underneath" ... I'll leave you to read between the lines on those!

I had just finished the last bit of hand sewing on the dress - where you stitch the lining to the back of the zip for a neat finish and was rather pleased with the way it all turned out when, upon zipping it up, the lining caught under the zip! ARGGHHH!!!!... it was a bad catch. Don't you just hate it when instead of having a perfect finish like .....

you get this ....


Cue the bondaweb ..

I discovered that it is enormously helpful - especially if a concealed zipper is planned, if the last seam to be sewn is marked at the seam allowance with a line of stitching like this:

It makes the final finish easier - ie: when sewing the lining over the zip - you just fold over where the stitching is, and sew into place.

I put some bra strap retainers into the dress straps

You can buy these ready made but they are expensive, uncomfortable and innefective. When they are sewn into the strap like this, and fastened with miniscule poppers, they are very comfortable and very effective.

Here is the finished article ..

The thing about a dress like this is that you can't help 'swishing' your hips like a little girl pretending to be a princess in her party dress! Such fun!


  1. Thats gorgeous!!! I might have to start thinking about my next one ;-) although I am still dotty about the first!!!


  2. Hi Julia
    The dress looks great and I bet it is so much more wonderful on a real body! I totally understand all your points about diplomacy, fitting, then the last minute snags when finishing off.... I am so pleased that I won't be making clothes for other people for a long while, having just recently stopped taking on customers. I found it didn't allow me to be as creative as I wanted, or to work with the fabrics I wanted to use! But I'm sure if I just keep it to the odd bit of dressmaking now and then it will be fine.
    Well done to you! Enjoy a restful weekend
    Denise x

  3. Miss Julia... the dress turned out very the fabric...I am sure Mrs P will feel like princess...

  4. Now that is gorgeous! I love a dress that flares out from the bottom (and hides my multitude of sins underneath).

  5. Oh, it's really, really beautiful! And it's so lovely to hear all your tips and tricks and how you've solved the snags you've run into along the way. Well done you!

  6. What a treat to have a dress made just for you! Your friend is very lucky.

  7. You are so clever - I couldn't begin to do that! Just packed up my seed swap, so feeling quite virtuous at least, even if I can't be clever with the needle!

    Pomona x

  8. You are just far too clever! The dress is stunning.

  9. You are so very talented - the dress looks great. xxx

  10. I hope she dances the night away whilst wearing your amazing work.

  11. I love that the toil is an old duvet cover;-)
    Nice dress