Blue Velvet Cocktail Dress

I loved the stretch velvet I used in my last ball gown so much that I went back to Spandex House and bought more in another color (maybe this one? A nice, deep blue). This time, I knew in advance that I had to do something with interesting drape at the neckline to take advantage of the velvet, so I grabbed Kwik Sew K4026 and just made View A!

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(There are no stripes in the skirt; I’m not sure why the lighting is making it look like there are!)

The only change I made was to flare the skirt a bit more, though I should’ve redrafted the skirt entirely. By just increasing the flare without redrafting the waist curve, I ended up with the fullness concentrated on the sides. Oh, well–at least I learned something! (I also learned that I should always, always listen to my instincts and add pockets; I was lazy and didn’t do it, and now I regret it.)

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Anyway, just a note about sizing: According to the size chart, I should’ve made a size M graded to an L at the waist and hip. But, as anyone knows who’s ever sewn a Big Four pattern knows, that would’ve meant like 3 inches of POSITIVE ease. In a fitted knit dress!! I just made up the straight size S (plus my wacky flare) and it fits perfectly.

The only other thing I’m not 100% happy with is how bulky the facing is at the shoulders. Surely there must be a way to do an all-in-one facing? Or just line the bodice? Something to try next time.

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Semi-Homemade Ball Gown

This project started out with an off-the-rack black dress that a friend was getting rid of. The dress was a little small for me, but it had a huge, floofy tulle skirt that was gathered at the waist, so of course I took it! I removed the bodice, closed up the zipper opening, and attached a wide elastic band for a waistband.

Unfortunately, then I discovered that the skirt was so heavy that any amount of bouncing (something that is a regular part of Scottish country dancing!) would cause it to…slide down. Like…to the floor. Oops! But I was committed to keeping the elastic waistband for comfort, so I solved this problem by attaching straps made of twill tape. Good enough!

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Then on to the bodice/overskirt, which was entirely made from scratch. This is a lush, gorgeous poly/spandex stretch velvet from Spandex House (a fabric I loved so much I bought it again in another color for another dress!). I bought it in person, so I’m not totally sure which color it is (Garment District stores don’t believe in labeling their fabrics), but maybe this one?

I started with the bodice pattern for the Deer&Doe Z├ęphyr dress (I needed a well-fitting bodice for a knit with princess seams in the front and back). I lowered the neckline, turned the back neckline into a vee, and extended the lower edges into a flared skirt that was shorter in front than in back. While sewing it up, I added elastic bridal button loops (I don’t know what it’s called exactly–an elastic strip with elastic loops every inch? I found it at Pacific Trimming) in the back princess seams to run some decorative gold ribbon lacing through.

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It’s hard to see in these photos, but the front of the overskirt is ruched on both princess seams. I did this by running embroidery floss up through the channel made by the surging in those seams from the hem to just below the waist, then rucked it up and just tied off the floss.

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After I’d finished the neckline and armscyes with facings, I thought it just looked too plain. So I added a collar. Done! And I can reuse the separate pieces with other garments if I want (let’s be real–I’m just going to make new tops to wear over this giant skirt).

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