The Formal Dress

img_2391Lots of late nights for this one…not a comment about degree of difficulty as much as busy time of year and short lead time. And there were a few challenges.

Ok. The pattern. My daughter had an idea in her head and enough confidence in me to believe I could create exactly what she wanted. Now this is very flattering but talk about pressure! You see,  I couldn’t find a pattern for a bralette top and I really am an absolute novice at drafting and grading. But I gave it a shot. This is what we started with for the top.

img_2414Using version A as the template, I added  4 inches to the band under the bust. I also interfaced the band and added boning to reinforce the  bodice. We omitted the halter neck and replaced it with  shoe string shoulder straps.  My daughter didn’t want buttons so we replaced these with press studs……big mistake because the press studs didn’t cut the mustard….they just didn’t hold so I had to do an eleventh hour safety pinning job as she was walking out the door.

img_2411 img_2415For the skirt I used version P which I lengthened by 8 inches but otherwise it was a perfect fit and smooth sailing.

The other big challenge was the fabric. The selection was based purely on colour. She just had to have that fabric because she loved the colour. Yes the colour is beautiful but this particular satin didn’t have the body to support the A line skirt. I wanted to work with something much heavier. But as we all know, when you have a vision, nothing else will do.  It had to be this particular flimsy satin despite my misgivings. So I improvised and lined the shirt with a medium weight cotton that worked quite well. The skirt hung beautifully.img_2382

img_2405She had a lovely night was thrilled with the dress and I will be pleased to move onto the next project tomorrow……..after a long sleep in.


Fabric tour- London and Shanghai

IMG_1386.JPGWell we’ve started. And our days are so busy I don’t really have time to blog. Or more precisely, I’m too tired to blog. 25000 plus steps on the Fitbit everyday and by the end of it, I’m fit for nothing other than sleep.  Above is the silk I bought in Shanghai. With Liberty of London next on the list, I picked up a couple of very pretty classics.



IMG_1452.JPGToday was Sew Over It, Clapham. This was up there with our ‘must visit’s and aside from the fact that we didn’t get to meet Lisa, it didn’t disappoint.

IMG_1446.JPGFrom the perspective of gaining inspiration, the Dover Street Markets were a find.


I will have to think long and hard before I put pen to paper on this one but suffice to say, the couture pieces were something else….well worth a look.

IMG_1425.JPGAnd speaking of inspiration, the Suzie Turner Couture fashion parade at the Savoy, over delivered.

IMG_1440.JPGIMG_1439.JPGIMG_1436IMG_1437IMG_1430.JPGBut tonight, I will spare you the words…….I am too tired and tomorrow is going to be a big day fabric shopping! Goodnight.

The midnight blue silk formal gown



This is the silk formal gown that I made for my daughter.

IMG_1202 (1).jpgIt was a little bit of an eleventh hour job….only because I had to wait until she was home, so I could fit her. I knew what she wanted and I knew the colour so I was all ready.

I bought the silk from Studio Fabrics here in Sydney  and I have included the link because this shop is a ‘must visit’. I  hadn’t actually realised it was there but I’m so glad I found it because it is just beautiful. The fabrics were to die for and displayed so………..well, luxuriously. It was an  indulgent way to spend the lunch hour….spend being the operative word!

But the most impressive thing about this shop was the service. Now, I went in looking for ‘navy’ that was almost black. That was my mandate. It had to be dark dark navy or if I couldn’t get that, charcoal. But when I showed the girls in the shop a picture of the dress, and told them my daughter’s age, they insisted that I go for a lighter shade of navy….this is what they’re doing in Europe they said.  Well, I’m a ‘heart’ person. I never go with my head. I always know exactly what I want. So I had my doubts. I wanted dark navy. But the girls were emphatic. No, they said. Dark navy is so yesterday for a young person. It’s been done to death by mothers of the bride. Hmm. What to do. I always trust myself. But this wasn’t actually for me. So I did something very unusual. I trusted them.

And they were right!


IMG_9835.jpgThe most challenging part of this dress was cutting it out.It was impossible to stabilise the silk sufficiently to cut around the cardboard pattern. A rotary cutter would have done the trick but alas…….no cutting board big enough. In the end I outlined the pattern in chalk and then cut it out….a much better idea.

IMG_1194.jpgBut even drawing in chalk on the silk was challenging….it slipped all over the place and I did wonder how well I was actually following the grain.



But overall we were pleased with it. I’ve made the dress before but for this version, i replaced the spaghetti straps with a very fine satin covered cording. I used 8 meters in all so it could be wrapped around the waist and under the bust, to stabilise and embellish the dress. I made loops on the sides and waist through which the cording passed.IMG_9799.jpg


The ball was thoroughly enjoyable, I am told and the dress worked a treat!

This is a festival top……..

or so I am told. And after googling ‘festival’ gear, I get it.


But I don’t think cream satin is truly ‘festival’ per se. I am thinking a print with a festival feel would be more on target. Still, cream satin is lovely. This is a very quick make that’s ideal for a daughter’s ‘I’ve got nothing to wear tomorrow night ‘ melt down. The pattern is simply the top half of the formal dress pattern.

To convert to a top I simply added a band that ties at the back.

I also crossed the front slightly to make it less revealing and easier to wear. The satin was lovely to work with….a slight stretch. But in the cold light of day I realised that it has snagged in several places from my over zealous hand sewing while watching the semi final of the Great British Sewing Bee. I have also put the iron straight through the fabric in a section that will never be seen.

Is ‘festival’ a look known to you all in the Northern Hemisphere?


The Graduation and formal


The graduation and formal finally arrived. And my daughter was thrilled with the dress so it made the effort so worth it. I was painfully slow with this dress – it wasn’t difficult- I was just slow and I think that was because I was scared she wouldn’t like it. And also,  working with silk is tricky. Again, not difficult, just tricky because every pin mark leaves a permanent hole in the fabric! So there isn’t really any margin of error. The fit has to be perfect.

I was reluctant to make this dress because in her inimitable fashion, she couldn’t choose a pattern….she had a picture!!!! Now I’m good. But I need rules, instructions, directions, etc etc etc. I’m not very good at ad- libbing. But she was determined. She wanted this dress and so paid out of her own money to have  a pattern drafted.


And it was without a doubt the best pattern I have ever worked with. It was fabulous! What a pleasure it was to cut out around a cardboard pattern piece. And the markings were brilliant. Of course I had made a toile first to make sure the fit was right, but ultimately, the dress went without a hitch. The silk sewed like a dream.

imageimagephoto - Copy (5)photo - Copy (3)

I should add……ALL French seams…….even on the lining!!!!!!!!!! (even impressed myself)

AND……a lovely date who’s photo I did not include, given that I hadn’t asked him first.

Last day of school

Last day of school