Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Emergency Dress!

Today was the most important day of the school year, because it's the one day of the year we get to wear fancy clothes to school!!!

Our schoolwide celebration of Founder's Day is the one time we get to ditch our boring uniforms for dresses and suits! (Some of you might remember it from last year when I made a pair of sparkly separates.) Clearly, such an event warrants a new outfit!

This year, I intended to wear my new winter-white coat. Except that I had absolutely nothing to wear underneath it. (As in, true confession, I am actually wearing biker shorts underneath it in the pictures I took for my blog.) 

So it was time to whet my needle, thread up, and rise to the challenge of putting together a dress in time for the event!

(Let it be known, that this is the first time in three years of Founder's Days that I have not been up late frantically sewing the night before. Mission accomplished.)

This dress was entirely a stash-raiding project--the pattern and all the fabric came out of the cupboard!  

The design is a Simplicity Pattern by Leanne Marshall (who is actually a Project Runway winner, who knew?) 

Simplicity 1876, a Leanne Marshall dress
Let's just take a moment to admire that glorious skirt. It's beautiful, intriguing, and very unique. One of the reasons I chose this pattern is that there's no danger of me having anything else like it!

Aside from the floral perfection of the bottom, the small, simple bodice was ideal for using up a scrap of beautiful lace has been sitting in my mom's stash since before I knew what a presser foot was.

A close-up of the lace I used
 I didn't want to deal with making French seams, so I underlined the lace with the same fabric I used for the skirt.

The fabric I used for the skirt was a stiff silk satin. We had about 5 yards of it sitting in our cupboard from when a fabric store near my house went out of business a couple years ago and we were able to pick it up on clearance for $6/yard!

Both of the peplums are faced in the same fabric as used for the outside, plus they're supposed to be interfaced! My fabric was already stiff, so I skipped the interfacing, but the peplums were still pretty thick. The gathering at the hips was difficult to do and involved extensive pinning and manhandling of the fabric. Then, my top ruffle (the gathered one) was sticking WAY out over the sides of my hips, much more than is shown on the pattern envelope, to the point that I felt a little ridiculous. It looked vaguely like a French undergarment from the 18th century.

I managed to mitigate this impression by concentrating the gathering to the front and back edges of the gathered region as opposed to right over the side seam and by suggestively pressing/pulling/folding the peplum until it lied a little flatter. But the top ruffle still has quite a life of it's own! If I were to make the dress again, I think I would face the ruffles in something thinner, like my lining fabric.

The only change I made to the pattern was lengthening the bodice by an inch (I have a long torso) and lengthening the zipper an additional 2 inches (so I didn't have to wiggle as much to get into the dress). That worked out nicely because it made the zipper the same length as the top peplum. The zipper is hand-stitched in and has a snap at the top.

Here's the inside of the dress. The skirt is not lined so as to minimize the bulk at the waist seam. It's not winning the prize for prettiest-on-the-inside garment I've ever made, but overall it's pretty good. I hong-kong finished the side seams and the lower part of the center-back seam. The rest of the center back seam (under the zipper) is serged. (Plus I added little hanger ribbons!)

This is the first project I've made that requires boning! (I've been having a lot of firsts lately--I'm still at that stage in my sewing career where nearly every project involves a first!) Thankfully, I found this great YouTube video from Professor Pincushion on the different types of boning and how to insert them.

I used featherlight boning for this bodice. The pattern didn't actually call for using the casing provided with the boning. Instead, you press the seam allowance to one side, then sew it to the lining 3/8'' away from the seam, making your own self-casing! Pretty nifty!

And the boning is doing its job, no straps required. Thankfully, my emergency dress hasn't given me any dress emergencies!


  1. Cute dress, I've always looked at that pattern but never purchased it, I don't think the style would suit me. Yay, you used boning! People make it sound way harder than it actually is right?

    1. I know! I was sort of afraid to use boning because I thought it would be a big engineering project, but it was really simple and straightforward! I'm glad I gave it a go and dispelled my boning superstitions :D

  2. This dress is beautiful, I love the lace you used ! Kudos for using the boning as I'm still afraid of using it !

    1. I've been thinking about ways to use the lace ever since I found it in my stash, and I'm so glad I found a style that didn't require too much of it! I was pleasantly surprised by how easy the boning was to use! I've been wary of using it, but it was no harder than trimming the plastic to the right length and slipping it into the casing :)

  3. It's a great match of fabrics; I love the lace and would snap it up if I saw similar with the gold accent. It's another one of your highly original outfits. Nobody else wore anything remotely like it, I'll bet!

    Looks like it's my turn to try boning!

    1. I really like the gold on the lace, it livens it up a little bit! I'm definitely a fan of boning now :)

  4. So pretty! What a good idea to celebrate Founder's Day in that way - and what great incentive for you to make a beautiful dress. Well done!

    1. I'll always welcome an excuse to make a new dress, haha! Thank you for your comment!

  5. You look like a fabulous model, I like your skirt!!

    Pink Queen Fashion

    1. Thank you! The skirt is what really drew me to this pattern.