I seem to love a challenge. This is the second time in a short while when I have to sew a party dress in a few hours. Today was the graduation party of one of my relatives and I decided to sew a dress for it. Of course, I got the idea about 5 PM and went shopping for the fabric immediately.
I found this gorgeous silk chiffon and bought it and matching poly-something fabric for the lining. My inspiration came from a dress I saw at a store that I saw on the way to the fabric shop. It seemed to have a half-circle skirt, a loose bodice that was gathered to the waistline, and double flutter sleeves.
I had a half-circle skirt pattern available and I just lengthened it to the floor length. For the bodice, I decided to use the Wearing history Edwardian blouse pattern. Yeah, I know I wasn’t making anything historical this time but Edwardian shirtwaists have a nice amount of looseness and I knew that the pattern fit me. The only thing different from a modern pattern was the shoulder seam that laid further back than nowadays. I left this little detail just for my amusement. For the sleeve, I sort of combined the sleeve from the shirtwaist pattern and one from my dress sloper. I then spread it out and turned the sleeve into a flutter sleeve.
The chiffon was opaque enough so that I could still sew the lining with the seam allowances towards the chiffon. However, for the zipper, I decided to play it safe and I sewed the zipper on through both of the fabrics. I sewed the bodice to the skirt with a big seam allowance the edge of which I serged to form a casing for an elastic. Then, I used this elastic to gather the waist (although I had to do some extra gathering to the bodice before attaching it to the skirt as well). I basted the sleeves on and left the dress hanging on a dressform for the night. The next morning, my husband helped me to even out the hem and I then finished the hems with rolled hem done with my serger.
The finished party dress
I think this turned out great. I still need to serge the sleeve seams but that’s something that doesn’t show. Even though the silk is not against my skin it still makes this dress much more comfy and warm than a polyester chiffon dress. For the pictures, I added a belt but this dress also works without one.
The only thing that is a bit annoying is the amount of static in the lining fabric. I sent my husband to get some fabric softener and just brushing the lining gently with hands tipped in fabric softener really helped. If it’s not enough, I may need to sink the hem to some water with fabric softener added to it.
And, here’s the compulsory twirl picture. I may need to find myself a ball covid permitting as this dress would be perfect for dancing!
All in all, I can’t really recommend anyone working this way. This project had all the ingredients for disaster: too little time, expensive fabric, no pattern, difficult fabric, no mock-ups and … me dyeing my hair while hemming the skirt. Still, for some miracle, the dress came out just fine and in time for me to attend the party! The blue colour is also perfect for Finnish Independence Day that is on Monday and I think I will find many occasions to wear this dress!
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