EDIT: I’ve just been shortlisted for the Dressed to the Nines category! Please vote for me!
This was a very unexpected dress!
Kyle invited me to the Med Ball run by the university – a week out from the actual event.
One week to sew a ball-suitable dress?
I also really didn’t have the funds to spend much on fabric either.
Secondary challenge accepted!
The Anna dress from By Hand London was the only pattern I owned that really had fancy dress potential. It comes with a maxi option and can be dressy or casual – it really depends on the fabric.
Anna had the added advantage of being something I’d sewn before, so I didn’t need to mess around with tracing and sizing and all that time consuming jazz.
I ended up buying 3m of a pretty dusty blue lace with gold strands woven through. It looked really lovely over the top of a second hand cream sheet set I already had in my stash.
This was a really quick and dirty make. I didn’t have much time, so while it looks great on the outside, the insides certainly aren’t very pretty!
If I’d had more time and money, I’d love to have done full french seams, full lining in addition to the underlining, hand-stitched the hem – the whole shabang.
As it was, time was tight.
The bodice is underlined in lace and those seams are frenched.
The skirt isn’t underlined – there are two separate skirts – one lace, one cream. I wanted the nice drapey effect down the bottom of the skirt, so no underlining for me. The lace skirt has french seams, since they’re visible. Those seams took forever, by the way. Ugh. Hence the fact that I was completely over it by the time I got to the cotton skirt, so they’re just overlocked.
The insides of this dress are pretty ugly. When not hidden behind the lace, the cream cotton is actually pretty dodgy. The colour is really inconsistent. It’s fine for lining or underlining, but I’m definitely glad you can’t see too much of it.
If I’d had more time, I would have liked to fully line the dress – if you’re going to do something, do it properly etc… Lining would also have hidden the blue seams you can see .
Sometimes sacrifices need to be made and the pretty insides lost this time.
I understitched the neckline facing down, to theoretically stop it poking out. Usually this works really well, but I guess the lace + cotton was too heavy, because it achieved precisely nothing. So I hand stitched the facing down, which worked much better. Usually when I do that I catch-stitch because everything always tells me that’s the best way of doing it, but I guess I just stink at catch-stitching, because mine never holds anything down properly and always catches on my fingers, nose, glasses when I put it on. This time I just made up my own way of hand stitching it, which worked perfectly.
So – the size! I’ve made the Anna a couple of times before and it has always fit perfectly. I made this the same size… and the bodice was 6cm too small. WHAT? I think I must have messed up my french seams and taken too much fabric. And maybe the lace+cotton was thicker than my regular cotton.
Anyway, after a minor freak, I unpicked the tucks and back darts and divided the extra 6cm among them, sewing them back smaller. It actually worked pretty well.
For the first time in all my times making this pattern, I lowered the waistline by 1 1/2″, which I think was pretty spot on. Unfortunately last time I made the maxi dress I lopped 3″ off the bottom of the skirt pattern pieces. With heels, I really needed those 3″ back. I shouldn’t try to be smart. It’s okay though – it’s a little shorter than I’d hoped and it has the tiniest hem ever.
Despite the headaches, time limit and short comings of this whole project if you look too closely, I absolutely adore this dress.
I love how the lace and cotton work together, I like the very modest shape. I might have to make a better/posher version of this dress again. I’m thinking black lace on black would be excellent.
If you’re feeling wonderful, you can vote for me!
Fabric: 3m lace from Fantazia Fabrics $43
Lining: second hand sheet from stash
Invisible zip: stash
Thread: Rasant from Fantazia Fabrics $6.50