I love having a new dress for Christmas. There’s something that feels special about saving a frock up to bust out in celebration of holiday and family and good times. This year is the first time I’ve made such a dress and it was a real last minute, spur of the moment thing inspired by the fabric. It was the usual story for me – in Spotlight hunting down something for another project entirely when I am suddenly smitten with some cloth. In this case, a cream cotton lace with fluoro pink edging on the flowers. Perfect for a twist on the Christmassy classic red and silver, no?
I’ve been jumping on anything with fluoro highlights lately, partially inspired by this blazer Sophie made, but keep putting the fabric back down on the basis of impracticality of how it would actually integrate with my wardrobe. But this time my frivolous self shouted down my sensible self.
The bodice is my now TNT version of Anna, with all the adjustments made for the purple wedding-guest version. I did re-draft the neckline (again) because that purple one is just the teensiest bit low, such that one must choose one’s undergarments very carefully when wearing it. This was done in the laziest way possible – drawing around my French curve directly onto the fabric – so that I’ll have zero possibility of recreating this particular neckline.
Most of the design decisions here were made very much on the fly. This was sewn in the limited few hours I had the week of Christmas after accounting for work and the presents I decided to sew up (two Finlaysons and a super-stretchy Kielo that hopefully works as maternity wear) so I was keen to make it as easy as possible. Except for the part where I decided to add in a waistband with piping (the making and sewing of which were brand new techniques to me)… I just wanted something to break up the expanse of lace and figured some solid lines would do that well enough. Plus there’s a guide to sewing piping in one of the bag-making books I own and the techniques are surely just the same?
Naturally I didn’t muslin this new addition, or take any length off the bodice, or anything sensible really. The waistband was initially about double this width but when I’d got the dress to the point of zipper insertion and actually tried it on that looked terrible. Rather than unpick the skirt and re-cut the length (remember, serious time constraints) I decided to try gathering the waistband to half its width. Not sure what the proper technique for this is, but I sewed gathering lines vertically at roughly 10cm intervals around the waistband, gathered, measured, and sewed the gathers in place. It was not at all exact, hence the wiggly piping lines, but I generally like the effect. Next time, I shall look up how to do it properly. You know, if there is a next time.
My goodness, this was one of the worst zipper insertions I’ve done in quite a long while. Mostly because although I’ve come around to the merits of basting invisible zippers in place so that seams match up, I didn’t bother with that here. No time to re-insert it though, and I spent most of the day sitting down so no one was looking at my back anyway. The skirt is just a rectangle 1.5 times the waist measurement, gathered and hemmed.
The dress is lined with cream ponte remnants of the ball-gown lining. It’s so soft against the skin! There wasn’t a huge amount, so I cut the bodice sleeveless (you can see in the photo above how the dress sleeves are transparent) and cut the bottom part as a rather narrow pencil skirt instead of gathering it like on the outer. This creates a peculiar sensation when wearing it, where you can feel the skirt tight around the legs but the outside is still moving freely.
This dress, she’s not perfect but she is a lot of fun and a testament to how much more confident I’ve become over the past year with playing with patterns and going boldly in my own directions. And that’s a great festive feeling.