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 Zéphyr 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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Zéphyr Skater Dress

As much as I love the Lady Skater pattern, I’m finding myself preferring princess seams on bodices so the Zéphyr Dress from Deer&Doe was a good pattern to try out. The bodice does indeed fit nicely thanks to the four princess seams. I didn’t even need to shorten it! I followed the pattern exactly except to grade between sizes like I usually do, and I’m pretty happy with how it looks. But this also means no pockets. (What can I say? I was lazy the day I made it. . . .)
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I did have a couple of issues with the pattern. One is that the arm bands are really, really short (hence all the wrinkling around the armscyes–I had to stretch the bands a lot to get them on). I googled a bit to see if this was a problem other people had (maybe an error?) and the only mention I found was that one person said they seemed short but she drafts her own bands anyway. If I make this again without sleeves, I’ll definitely do the same.
Speaking of that . . . I don’t know why I thought I would be happy with a sleeveless dress. I guess I’m spoiled by all the patterns with various options, because it’s kind of disappointing to have no sleeve options at all (and no pockets–come on, guys!). The paper pattern and instructions are quite lovely, but if I make another one I’m definitely going to try to add sleeves. (Maybe redrafting the armscyes based on the Lady Skater pattern and using those sleeves might work?)
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The fabric is the other mystery fabric in that order I mentioned in my last post. I asked the retailer which one they thought it was, and they said this was probably the Soft Wicking Jersey. Remember, this is the one that’s a bit less smooth and had a rubbery smell (which has finally mostly faded after the third wash!). I definitely prefer the other fabric (Interloc Wicking), though both do dry quickly, are similar weights, and do not require hemming. Thanks for the help, The Rain Shed!