Yes, it surely is that time of year again – ball time (I know, already??)! My annual uni ball is always a highlight of my social calendar every year, as not only an amazingly fun night with all my friends, but also the perfect excuse to really frock up and indulge my taste for sewing desperately decadent gowns. Without further ado, this year’s beauty!
This dress really started back at my birthday in May, when amongst all the sewing-related bounty I received (post still to come!), a real standout was the amazing three-metre length of beautiful silk dupioni given to me by my ever-thoughtful and incredibly generous sister. The colour is absolutely incredible, a stunning bluey-purple that shone hot-pink in the light, which immediately put me in mind of this:
Aurora and her colour-changing dress have always been one of my favourite Disney princesses, so when I got this incredible fabric, I knew I wanted as princessy a frock as possible. As much as I love Aurora’s gown, I didn’t want to recreate it exactly; rather, I wanted to borrow a bit of inspiration from the dress, and from the era the movie was made, my favourite, the 50s 😉 To best show off the fabric, I decided on a high-necked, full-skirted gown, but with a feature back, because, obviously. My mind immediately jumped to Butterick 6094 – I’d had it in my pattern stash since the start of the year and was totally in love with the back detail. However, when I mocked up the bodice to check the fit, after going to the trouble to grading the pattern down (I realised I bought the wrong size and Spotlight wouldn’t swap it, wah), I didn’t think it was going to work for me without serious alterations. Whilst technically, it fit, the midriff sat up too high and didn’t come in under my bust – in other words, it wasn’t flattering at all. Whilst I think an FBA would have largely fixed this problem, I couldn’t really be bothered with all the toiles it would take to perfect it. So in my books, when in doubt? Go with what you know works! I was still in love with the back of B6094 though…time to get franken-patterning!
In terms of TNT dress bodices I thought could work the style I had in mind, there was only really one way to go: By Hand London’s Anna. I’ve made this pattern three times now, as both a dress and blouses, and never been disappointed by its beautiful fit and silhouette on me. I still wanted the sleeveless, open-backed look of B6094 though – so I roughly traced the arm holes and and back extensions with the rest of the bodice pieces from the Anna pattern, then traced of facing pieces off my new hacked pattern. A quick toile out of plain pink cotton from my stash showed that the new pattern fit was SPOT ON, and more importantly, gave exaaaaactly the look I’d wanted. And bonus, I could use the toile bodice pieces as my lining. Having decided to pair this new bodice with the box pleated circle skirt for Gertie’s Ultimate Dress Book, it was time to get to work! Cutting carefully to make the most out of my three metres of fabric, in no time I had all my dress pieces, including two pockets, and a little bonus project (keep reading!) cut out. For the facing, I chose to use a bit of floral silk twill I’ve had stashed for a while (intended for a silk trench coat, when I finally get the time!), and I got my zip, buttons and a bit of metallic gold bias binding from Spotlight.
Construction proceeded verrrry smoothly. Thanks to the relative simplicity of the project, it all came together very quickly and easily. I used the gold bias binding to finish the raw edges of the skirt and pocket seams, and the rest were neatly enclosed by the bodice lining. The skirt hem was finished with my most successful rolled hem to date (courtesy of my Singer’s pretty brilliant rolled hem foot)! I have to say too, the dupioni was a dream to work with – despite its incredible lustre and sheen, it’s extremely crisp and non-drapey, and doesn’t slip around as you sew – easier to sew than some cottons I’ve worked with! If you’re scared of sewing with silk, give dupioni a go – it pressed beautifully, and was very forgiving of pins and unpicking!
Despite the fusion of three different patterns, all the elements combined fairly well – the skirt and bodice waistlines were slightly different lengths, but this didn’t affect the fit at all, so it didn’t matter 😛 I feel like it works pretty amazingly from a design point of view too; the pleats on the bodice are beautifully echoed by the box pleats on the skirt, and the slim fit of the bodice is balanced by the fullness of the skirt. I think too, despite the fact that the patterns I’ve used were retro-inspired, at best, the look of this dress is pretty authentically 50s! With hair and make up done too, I was feeling pretty Grace Kelly (definitely my style idol, by the by).
But of course, as everyone knows, coordinating accessories are the key to any successful outfit 😛 So here’s my bonus project, and first foray in to menswear – a tie! Not for me, obviously, but for my extremely handsome and stylish man so we could be disgustingly cute and matching. Although I’d been hoping to make a tie for him if I had enough fabric left over, which I did, it was extremely fortuitous when I saw that Scarlett of Corset Training had made a tie, using a $2.50 pattern from Proper Fit Clothing which had a free online video tutorial. Too easy! The pattern is for slim tie, which is great, as that’s the look I wanted to make. It came together very quickly and easily, using the dupioni for the main fabric, and the floral twill for the tipping at each end and the tie guard. I was actually really pleased with how it came out – I think more matching ties definitely lie ahead 😉
It really was the perfect dress for a perfect night – especially for tearing up the dance floor with my fabulous friends (or having a good twirl to Johnny B Goode with my boyfriend, who like myself is a massive Back to the Future fan!!).
Well, that’s my ball gown for another year – good thing I’ve already started planning the next one (or three…)
Until next time,
Miss Maddy xx