Saturday, July 5, 2014

A fancy dinner dress required!

Recently my 14 year old daughter was in need of a "Dressy dress" to attend a formal dinner as graduation of a school program.  Given that she is a bit of a tom boy, (shorts, singlets and flannel shirts etc) it was pretty clear she didn't have anything already in her wardrobe for this.

Off to the shops I trotted.  I walked up and down the local big shopping centre and I went into every store that sold womens clothing.  Could I find a dress suitable? No.  There was only one dress that was even remotely suitable, but it was totally not the right colours.

What was there left to do?

Why to make her a dress of course! 

I originally scoured the internet and with my daughters help we picked a pattern.  Unfortunately, she is in that phase of not quite a child and not quite a woman, and is therefore too big for "girls" dresses and too small for "womens" dresses.  So the original pattern chosen just simply did not fit her.  It was perfect in the waist, and shoulders, but just gaped FAR too much around the front and back of the bodice.  I thought about simply unpicking it and rejigging it, however this pattern involved darts .. which until that moment my only experience with darts was of the bar game kind, and dangerous.  

After a few days of wracking my brain I finally came up with a workable plan.  I would make a dress by using a bit of this pattern, and a part of that pattern, and a whole lot of guessing on my behalf!

There were a lot of moments where I simply sat staring .. because in my head I was mentally going forwards with the plan to make sure that I could *actually* proceed the way I intended.  Let me just say that a few times, I had to stop and rethink my plans because after thinking it through logically step by step it became apparent that it wouldn't work.

This was mainly for the bodice, and the pockets.  I knew in advance that I wanted a dress with a back zip, not a side zip.  I also knew I wanted it to have decent pockets.  I'm constantly hearing how my daughter cannot hold something because she doesn't have a pocket to place her iPod into.

After about three days of procrastination, I finally decided to just go for it.  I knew in my head what I wanted it to look like.  I chose to pretend the skirt didn't exist at this point.  That was a battle to have only IF I successfully managed to make a workable bodice.

I have to say, this bodice went together quite easily considering I literally merged about three patterns /online tutorials together for it whilst totally improvising the back bodice.  I was very pleased to note that once I had it sewn together and turned in the right way, I only needed to make adjustments around the arm holes ONCE.  AND both the front and back lined up! Here's the finished bodice..   


At this point I knew it was time to tackle the skirt.  I was on full steam ahead for a while there .. all the fabric was measured and cut out, including the pockets, and I had pinned the pockets to the outer lace when it dawned on me .. 

The pockets are usually attached to the outer layer of fabric, not the lining.  In this particular case the 'outer' fabric was a layer of black lace .. if I had attached pockets to that, bright purple pockets at that, it would have definitely been a bit ick.  

This was one of those moments of sitting and staring at the fabric for a while .. eventually I came up with a workable plan where I would sew the pockets to the lace, but then when I sewed the under layer (the purple) I would leave a gap to feed the pockets into, before flipping it all inside out, and adhering the seam from the pockets+lace to the inner seam of the under layer.  

I have to say I was skeptical that it would work.  That was until I saw it actually attached.  These pockets working so beautifully has to be my favourite part of the whole dress! 

After that, the rest of the dress was a breeze.  I didn't want to have black thread on the purple, or purple thread on the black lace, so I actually hand sewed in the zip.  Here it was all finished.  



Now I know to look at it here it looks a little bit .. young? blocky? And you're right.  I had intentionally made it a little bigger than it needed to be because my daughter is growing like a weed.  I want this dress to last a year at least.  So off we trotted to the store and sourced a funky wide belt, and some black boots to accessorise and the overall outfit was awesome.   For a while there I was really apprehensive about her wearing it because I didn't want her to get picked on for wearing something 'homemade' out, especially to a nice dinner however she was super keen to wear it! 

Here she is.  I wish I could remember what she was laughing at but oh well. 



Outside of making the pockets work how I wanted to, the best thing about this dress, and this whole experience was that I made this dress without any real pattern, and she wore it outside! In PUBLIC!  I even had a couple of comments about how gorgeous a dress it was!  

Now my 10 year old daughter wants a new dress too .. luckily for her I've already sourced some fabric I just need to decide on a design! :)


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