I made this dress to wear on a formal dinner party. It is inspired by the dress Ann Rowley, winner of the BBC show the Great British Sewing Bee, made in the final challenge of the show. Actually, it is as good as a copy as I used the same pattern as her and a similar combination of blue underlining and black lace. Here is a link to Ann’s version. When I saw the dress on the show I just loved it and wanted to give it a try. Blue is my absolute favorite color. I want to give all credit of the design ideas of this dress to Ann.
I started my making a muslin and making some smaller adjustments, though not many were needed. I used size 14 in version E for which I shortened the sleeves to just above the elbow. I also took in the side seams a couple of cm here and there. I also made some adjustment for my sway back.
For fabric I used a gorgeous royal blue polyester pearl satin for the underlining and a black lace in a rayon and nylon blend. For lining I used a black rayon lining fabric. These fabrics make the dress easy to wear as they have a good drape and doesn’t wrinkle easily. As stated in the instructions I sewed the underlining fabric and lace fabric as one.
The lace had a nice edge which I used as the finish on both the skirt and the sleeves. I let the lace hang lower than the underlining a couple of cm and didn’t underline the sleeves. Here are the results on the skirt and the sleeves:
In the instructions the bodice of the dress is not lined. However I added a lining also for the top part which changed the finish on the neckline some. For the zipper in the back I used the instructions given by Susan Khalje in the Couture Dress class at Craftsy.com of how to install a zipper by hand. I love the hand sewing bits and found it both satisfying and fun to do. I’m pleased with the results. However, while wearing the dress I was a bit concerned about the zipper falling apart, even though I don’t think it was ever any risk. Hand sewing is quite sturdy but psychologically it feels less reliable than something made my machine. Wander why?
I found that the most challenging part of the dress was sewing all the darts. All in all the dress contains 26 darts (four in the skirt, six in the bodice + the same in the lining + six in the sleeves).
As a final touch I added bra strap holders at the shoulders – you know those thread chain straps with a small snap closure – also using the techniques presented by Susan Khalje. I love those bra strap holders as they are very practical and discrete. Because who want’s there bra straps to glide into sight in the neckline or at the shoulders when you move? I think adding those tread chains at the shoulder make a dress, blouse or top go to the next level of quality. It’s giving it that extra touch
I like the dress very much as I feel elegant in it and hope to wear it soon again. Unfortunately, I don’t have many images of me wearing the dress at the formal dinner. Just this one taken with my iPhone with bad lighting of me sitting and having a bad posture.
Me at the dinner party
That is all for this project. Happy sewing everyone!