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Dress/ Dressmaking/ Evening Dress

Gold & Silver Evening Dress

On a fabric shopping trip sometime back in the summer my husband spotted a gold/silver shimmery jersey fabric and suggested that it would make a lovely evening dress for a forthcoming festive dance, so who was I to discourage him! I purchased the remaining 3 metres left on the roll and took it home for deliberation. As Christmas approached I had a scan through my patterns, I found a suitable vogue design, but this dress needed a bit of lace adding to it. So armed with a sample piece of the gold jersey I set off to a local fabric store and found a lovely piece of border tulle lace fabric.

Vogue Pattern

Fabric & Lace















I felt that the shoulders of the design where possibly a little to narrow for me so I adjusted the front & back bodice pattern pieces at the shoulder line making them wider. 

  Bodice 1



The upper front lace inserts are cut along the border and attached to the lover front pieces.

The centre front line is gathered giving shaping for the bust.




 Back Bodice


I hand stitched a diamante trim at the centre back opening, back neck and around the armholes,




Bodice 2


…….and the centre front.

The bodice was stitched to an ‘A’ line skirt. Along with a ruched belt which defined the waistline.




With the remainder of the lace trim made this little bolero jacket to complete the ensemble.

Lace Bolero Jacket Back Bodice 2



Dress/ Dressmaking

Red Silk Dress

I recently made a gorgeous red silk dress for a friend of mine for her son’s wedding in the sout of France. The design was based on a Vogue jacket pattern by Belville Sassoon but I altered the pattern into a dress ………… like you do!!

Made from a silk dupion I created lots of ruffles around the ‘boat’ neckline and because this sat at the top of the sleeve/shoulders it needed a boned bodice to prevent the dress from falling off the shoulders. 

Made from a silk dupion I created lots of ruffles around a ‘boat’ neckline and because the dress sat at the top of the arms/shoulders it needed a boned bodice to prevent the dress from falling from the shoulders. The back of the boned bodice was shaped to a ‘V’ and attached to the dress with yet more ruffles stitched into the back neckline and shoulders. The bodice fastened with hooks & eyes beneath the zipped back of the princess line dress. The back vent at the hemline of the dress was echoed in the ¾ length sleeves and highlighted with simple bows and adornments. The dress was underlined with a silk organza and lined with a silk habotai.

This dress took much deliberation to work out both the design and the construction process but was worth it in the end as she looked absolutely fabulous!

P1090590 P1090589 P1090588 P1090582 P1090583 P1090584 P1090587

Dress/ Dressmaking

Double Piping

Had another fabric buying ‘fix’ just recently and purchased this blue and pink stretch cotton. I used a Vogue pattern V1353, made it a little longer in the skirt, (I don’t have the legs for short skirts anymore!) and added a little more to the bodice length to accommodate my longer back measurement. 

Whilst constructing the dress I thought about adding a little piping around the neck and armholes thinking this would enhance the finish of the dress and pull out the colours, but I couldn’t decide whether to use blue or pink for the piping? 

So, I used both!! 

Bluepinkdresspiping V1353

Dress/ Dressmaking

Tracy’s Wedding Dress

Well it was Tracy’s long awaited wedding to Shaun last Saturday and fortunately the good weather we have been having held out, it was a beautiful day. Tracy has been so excited about their wedding for a long time and had put in such a lot of hard work in preparation. So apart from the usual things one has to do to organise a wedding such as book the church, wedding reception, catering and paper work etc, she spent many hours exquisitely making free machine embroidered flowers and nose gays which decorated the ends of the pews in the church. She made them in her favourite colours of purple and gold which was the theme for the day. Tracy’s sister, who is also good with a needle and thread made the very lovely table decorations for the reception again in purple and gold hand sewing some 38,000 beads into place!  


The Dress…………….

After looking around at wedding dress styles and a few trying ons at bridal shops Tracy asked if I would make her dress for her. I was of course honoured to be asked and although it is a huge responsibility I became as excited about it as Tracy, her enthusiasm was infectious. Tracy chose a Vogue pattern by Belville Sassoon for an evening dress and we went fabric shopping. We purchased duchess satin and silk dupion in a sort of ‘latte’ colour which we felt complimented her colouring. So,back in February this year, which seems a long time ago now, I took Tracy’s measurements and started work.


Firstly I made up a toile for the dress in a muslin fabric, this is a mock up so that the style and fit etc can be evaluated and any amendments can be made to the dress design and pattern before cutting into the main fabric. On trying on the toile Tracy was ecstatic and cried as she looked upon her image in the mirror, she could now see her wedding gown coming to life!! 

After making the necessary alterations I set to and started on the real thing. Firstly I made up the inner corset with a tightly woven cotton coutil fabric and used spiral steel for the boning. Once the comfort and fit of the corset was perfected the hook and eye fastenings and petersham waist stays were added.

The main body of the dress was cut from the duchess satin whilst the the front bodice was cut from the silk dupion, each piece was was underlined with silk organza before construction. As the dress took shape there were many fittings to gauge the look and fit and we played around with ideas of how to embellish it. I made lots of roses in various sizes from the duchess satin, dupion and organza fabrics along with lots of rouleau, these were carefully stitched into place with lots of tiny pearl beads. The zip was inserted in the back seam and disguised with bridal looping and 32 covered buttons down its length. The shoulder straps were set just off the shoulder with more rouleau and beads. The hem of the dress was bound with silk organza and hand sewn into place. The lining and corset was then fitted into the dress, this then gave it support and stop it from falling. A few more roses were added to the back skirt to disguise a hook and eye which would enable the back of the dress to lifted up when dancing.

With the dress complete I then made up a little bolero jacket in the silk dupion, again underlined with silk organza. I ‘ruched’ up the 3/4 sleeves to the elbow and added bridal looping, rouleau and yet more covered buttons to echo the ones on the back of the dress. Little embroidered roses and rouleau added to the back of the jacket completed the the outfit. 

She looked absolutely radiant!


P1070645 rosesleevedetail Roses P1070647

Ring Cushion

After completion of the dress I made up this little ring cushion, appliquéd and embroidered with both of their names and of the church where they where married.






Dress/ Dressmaking

White Silk Dress

The Inspiration for the dress

I was inspired recently by a student of mine. She attended one of the dressmaking workshops with me and having enjoyed the experience she decided to write a blog about how she arrived with a pattern and length of fabric and left with a dress! So I thought I would give this blog idea a go!!! So here goes……………………………

Having recently finished making a wedding dress for Tracy whose wedding is in 29 days time (sorry can’t post a picture of the dress just yet!) I thought I had better get round to making something for myself when attending the nuptials. Well, you know what its like girls, I simply just have nothing to wear………………………. but I do have a pair of shoes I purchased some time ago that I have not worn, so it got me to thinking!!!!!

Why not make an outfit to go with the shoes?

It stated with the shoes!

The Ingredients

So I popped along to my local fabric store and purchased 3 lengths of silk dupion in white, black & grey and a vogue pattern V1162. I then set about cutting out the pattern pieces. but as the silk is quite lightweight I have decided to underline the dress with both silk organza and a cotton lawn, this will add body and weight to the garment as well as help to disguise the seam allowances from the right side.  The main body of the dress will be in white with the grey and black as accents, but I haven’t quite decided yet how this will take shape. I will see how the dress evolves and try out different ideas as it is constructed. I will also be lining the dress with a fine silk habotai. 

White Silk Dress Voguepattern

I Begin………

I have cut out the the main pattern pieces in the silk dupion along with the under linings in the silk organza and cotton lawn. I then basted the three layers together and tailor tacked where necessary.  

Tailortacked Frontdresspatterncutout

Continuing with dress – I have now pinned, tacked and stitched the tucks on the front piece into place. I then put together the back pieces and inserted a concealed zip down the centre back. I much prefer to use concealed zips whenever possible as I think they give a nicer finish. The dress was then tried on and minor adjustments made to the fit, this is where I enlisted the help of my Man! It is not always easy to do your own fitting so if you can get somebody to help with this the better, they can also see round the back – he was a great help!


Once I was happy with the fit I then unpicked the 2 side seams so that I could to do some embroidery on the front. I have this idea of using the shape the tucks produce to create a sort of ‘sun-ray’ effect with some satin stitching. First of all practised my idea on a  piece of scrap fabric until I was happy with the result before proceeding with the stitching on the dress front.

Embroidered front

It was a “good idea”

Once the embroidered ‘sun-ray’ was in place I thought it might be a good idea to add a few beads around the stitching.  I hand stitched a few black seed beads along the lines of stitching and added a few swarovski beads to give it a bit of ‘bling’. The beading took me an astonishing 11 hours to complete, sometimes I wonder why I have these ‘good’ ideas, I think I have bead blindness now!

Beaded 1

The Ruffles

Next to takle is the ruffles.  Cutting the strips on the bias, I combined both a grey ruffle and a black one layering them together, and with a lot of fiddling attached the ruffles across the back neckline, around the shoulder yokes, and around the back armscye ceasing at the side seam . 

Ruffled shoulders

After several more fittings I reduced the shoulder seam at the top of the arm and tapered an adjustment down the front and back of the armscye, I also nipped in the back and side seams to get a perfect fit. 

The next thing to tackle is the sleeves!

I have now spent several hours over the last couple of days making the bias ruffles for the sleeves, black ruffles on top of the grey fabric,  and hand stitching them into place before adding the sleeves to the dress. I stitched the ruffles to the sleeve pieces in a spiral starting from the centre outwards, occasionally putting in a few swirls and bends to create something resembling a rose pattern. The photo doesn’t really do it justice as they did come up quite nice!


With my dress on the body form, I offered up the sleeves to the dress and pinned them into place so that I could get an overall look of the end result before proceeding with machine stitching them into place…………………………

But to my great disappointment I didn’t like the look!  The black and grey sleeves along with the grey yoke and neck ruffles together made the dress look top heavy and the shoulders broad, it was a little reminiscent of the 80’s look with the big shoulder pads and not the sort of look I wanted to go to wedding in.  A little re-thinking is in order now I think!!!

The Re-think!

After spending sometime re-thinking what to do with the dress I finally came up with a plan, so I set to and un-stitched the front yoke and ruffles from the dress. I replaced the grey yokes with white ones and also re-made the sleeves in white, but this time I did not add the ruffles. I removed the piping I originally put just on the lower front neckline and replaced it with piping around the complete neckline. I reviewed what to do with the ruffles as I did like the previous look with them around the neckline, so with the dress on the body form I played around with different fabrics until I came up with what I thought would work. I made the new neckline ruffles this time in a grey silk organza graduating the depth from the lower side neck edge to the centre back. I then added piping to the lower sleeve hem, now I was starting to feel happier about the dress!!


I tried on the dress once again to make sure of the fit and decided on the hem length. I cut away 2″ from the hem and used some of the habotai to make a bias strip to bind the hem. The bias strip was machined to the hem and the hem and back vent hand stitched into place. Having underlined the dress this meant that I cold stitch the hem without any visible stitches showing through on the right side! A bonus.  

Bound Hem

The Lining

Now happy I decided to start constructing the lining, the bodice top I cut from the cotton lawn and the lower pieces I cut from the silk habatai, stitched the lining pieces together and attached it to the dress machine stitching around the neckline. I then hand stitched the rest of the lining into place along the zip opening and the sleeve hems. I checked the length yet again, I am always checking and re-checking, before turning up the hem on the lining and ‘voila’ the dress is almost complete!!

The Finished Dress

Whilst I was playing around with the corsage that I envisioned, Tracy unknown to me was doing the same thing, but as she is far better at free-motion machine embroidery than I she made came up with something much better. She combined the embroidery with black & grey silk organza to produce a ‘rose’ and added some swarovski in the centre, the effect is quite stunning!!


So, where to place it on the dress? My ideas thus far was to place it on the side of the dress where I have stitched the sun-ray embroidery and beading. I attached 2 press studs to the back of the corsage and its 2 counterparts on the dress and I must say that it looked rather good. So I tried the dress on yet again so that I could get an overall look of what it looked like on me, however when I looked in the mirror I thought the beautiful corsage looked a little lost on the side so played around yet again with its position and decided to move it to the neckline. I removed the studs from the side and re-stitched them into place in there new position. I then had to set to and fill in the gap on the side with more beads…………………………………so another 3 hours later and all the beads are now in place and the dress is finally finished.


After all the trials and changes of heart about this dress it just goes to show that sometimes what you envisioned does not always work out and you have to be prepared to make changes as you go along!! But I have to say that I am now rather pleased with the end result.