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.


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.

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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