My Dressmakers’ Ball Dress

I’ve made a YouTube channel! My first video is talking through some of the details of the dress I made for The Dressmakers’ Ball. I won’t always also do a blog post about things I’m going to make videos about, but in this case I took loads of photos so I wanted to share some of them here!

I made a copy of a dress worn by Ginnifer Goodwin to the Met Gala a few years ago. I’d always loved the dress and thought this was the perfect excuse to make it!

You can see the red stitching I used to attached the beautiful sequinned fabric I bought from RayStitch (after realising there was no way I was going to have time to sew all the sequins on by hand) to the silk organza I bought from Stoff and  Stil.

The black stitching you can see is the stitching lines I did to mark the edges of where to sew on the sequins – when I was going to do it by hand. If anyone has any ideas what I can do with the sequins, by the way, please let me know! I guess some embroidery or something!

The gold stitching is the new stitching for construction – in this case darts. I cut open the darts on the front bodice and pressed them open to reduce bulk.

I had the leather (or more accurately faux leather) already in my stash as I bought it a while ago from Girl Charlee to make a leather jacket.

To sew the leather into the seams, I tried a couple of methods but what I ended up going with was cutting the strips 1 1/4″ (the finished width) plus 2 x 5/8″ seam allowances, which is 2.5″. I then stitched one side of the leather to one side of the seam, 5/8″ away from the edge, along the 5/8″ seam allowance of the leather – along the chalk line below.

I then did the same on the other side – but the 2 pattern pieces are not yet sewn together, they are only attached with the strip of leather.

Then I sewed the actual seam of the 2 pattern pieces, which brought the 2 edges of the leather together, but not overlapping, reducing the potential bulk at the seam. The photo, below, is how it looked before it had been pressed. Once pressed the leather sat pretty flush with the sequins, which is what I wanted!

It was starting to come together here – it just needed the leather on the shoulders and the sleeves adding. Oh, and a zip!

I reinforced the shoulders to make sure they didn’t stretch out.

And then added the sleeves and the leather around the neckline and shoulders.

My carpet looks like I murdered a sequinned Muppet! And I’m still finding sequins now, a month later!

I added a waist stay to the dress – my first time doing this. It holds the weight of the skirt, which is pretty heavy, and takes some of the strain off the zip as it’s such a fitted dress. I learned how to do it from one of my books, Couture Sewing Techniques. I would highly recommend this book – especially if you’re making something more involved.

The ball was such good fun! They had the Leicester University big band playing the music, and they were great. They played a mixture of traditional big band stuff and some newer things. I find it the best kind of music to dance to!

I managed to take basically no photos all night – which I think is the sign that you’re having a good time! I did take this loo selfie, though! I had on ALL THE EYESHADOW – I had to watch a YouTube video for how to apply it!

And lovely Helen from Stitch My Style took this photo of me – during the 5 minutes I remembered I should take at least one proper photo of my dress at the actual ball!

Did I mention I love my dress?!

It is fully lined in this rayon challis from Minerva crafts. I hemmed the lining and sequins together at the hem and on the sleeves as the sequins were quite scratchy and the rayon was a lot more drapey and I feared tripping over the lining inside my dress, so I hemmed them together.

One of my favourite things about my outfit was one of the things I didn’t make – I wore trainers! I can’t be arsed with heels any more. I have never found them comfortable and I thought (excuse my French) ‘fuck it’ I want to be comfortable and be able to dance without having to take my shoes off, or feeling like my feel were going to fall off after 10 minutes!

It has an almost invisible side zip and some poppers on the underarm seam of the corresponding sleeve to allow me to get in and out of it.

I drafted the pattern myself, using a Burda Academy course I mentioned I had signed up for here. I think I possibly over-fitted the dress a little as it ended up with basically no ease around the waist, but I do think it’s one of the best fitting things I’ve made (which I guess it should be as it’s made from my measurements). Especially across the back – I’m very narrow across the back so I usually have lots of extra fabric and pooling because I’m too lazy to do any adjustments!

I sewed some of the sequinned fabric I had left onto this little clutch bag to make a matching purse to take to the ball. It just about fits my phone, some cash and my hotel room card!

 

As well as the matching trainers and purse, I wore my gold party socks – I almost thought it was too matchy-matchy but then I realised I don’t care!

I really hope they run the ball again next year, or in 2 years as it was such good fun. And who doesn’t love an excuse to go all out with an outfit!? Do you think you’ll go next time?

Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams

Waaay back in February I went to the amazing Christian Dior exhibition at the V & A – my Aunt, one of her friends and I booked tickets as soon as they went on sale, and I’m so glad we did as it’s now sold out! I can see why – I think it’s the best exhibition I’ve been too. It’s certainly the largest! I wish I could go again as there was so much to see, but that doesn’t seem likely.

The first room you go into centres around the famous Bar Suit from the 1947 New Look, and the subsequent Dior designers’ re-imaginings of it. I love the most recent one, below.

I loved the next room, with the black background and lights highlighting each outfit. There was also no glass here, so it was very photograph-able!

I love this black dress, with the fur collar and matching hat.

This is Princess Margaret’s 21st birthday dress. The embroidery was beautiful close up!

The exhibition was arranged thematically rather than chronologically, which I thought worked really well – you could see how each designer used the same influences to create new designs. The next couple of pictures were all inspired by 18th century fashion.

There was also a small collection of what looked like wedding dresses. All beautiful.

I love the embroidery on this one!

The next room was full of designs inspired by other countries.

I absolutely love this one! Maybe my next Dressmaker’s Ball dress!?

These ones was inspired by Mexican fashion.

And Japan.

I think the next room – the garden – might have been my favourite. I mean look at the blossom on the ceiling!

I loved this mini version of one of the flowery dresses!

I love, love this jacket with the flowered skirt. And the blue belt is perfection.

I mostly found that in each mini collection I liked John Galliano’s the least, but this is stunning. It’s from 2010/2011 so I may have to extend my Hundred Years Wardrobe project so I have an excuse to make a version of this.

Love the swatches next to the sketches of the designs.

I aspire to be this lady – so chic and giving zero fucks!

There was also a room in the exhibition highlighting each of the different Dior designers – I loved this gown with the bow at the back, if memory serves, which was inspired by the costumes from My Fair Lady, which you can definitely see.

The toile room was the best! This is one of the main reasons I want to go again to the exhibition. We went on the second Saturday of the exhibition and there were so many people I didn’t have as much time to look around as I would have liked. It was amazing, though, to see the design lines without the ‘distraction’ of the fabric choices.

I love the back of this dress. And the shoes!

Want!!

The final room was the room full of gowns. It was breathtaking! The lights changed colours gradually, which made the dresses look so different in different lights.

I feel like I may have to make this gold suit!!

I basically squealed out loud when I saw this dress. I love Lupita Nyong’o’s style and I have this dress pinned on my pinterest – I didn’t realise it was by Dior!

And this one was worn by Rihanna!

This last gown and quote was a very fitting end to such an amazing exhibition!

I bought myself the book of the exhibition in the gorgeous V & A shop, where I could easily spend hundreds of pounds without even thinking! I’m glad I’ll have the book to look through to keep feeling inspired long into the future.

Are you lucky enough to have got tickets to the exhibition? Are you going to the Mary Quant one that’s opening now?

Adventures in Pattern Drafting

The last couple of weeks I’ve been a bit quiet on here because I’ve been working on my own personal blocks/slopers. I bought this Burda Academy course probably years ago and finally decided to have a go at it this year. And it doesn’t take as long as you would think to draft a sloper – the measuring takes a while, though!

This was my sexy measuring outfit – a tight top and leggings with tape marking my waist and hip line, so you can measure to and from the same points.

And this is the side view. Because of my terrible posture and some bloating, I look a bit pregnant here but I can assure you I’m not.

The course comes with some great handouts and videos talking you through everything. I ended up doing my bodice front and back twice because we’d messed up some of the measurements and once I’d watched the video once, I found the handout was enough to do the slopers again, which is cool.

Here is a peek at my skirt sloper/block.


Last night I cut out and sewed together my collection of slopers into a dress (minus the sleeve) and it looked pretty good. It needs some tweaks, but before too long I should have my blocks sorted, so I can use them to compare to commercial patterns to know what adjustments to make, and to draft things for myself. The first thing I’m going to draft is the pattern for my Dressmakers’ Ball dress, which I’m basing on this one Ginnifer Goodwin wore to the Met Gala a few years ago.

Posts on here might be a bit few and far between for the next few weeks while I’m working on my dress. I’ll hopefully share some updates here and on Instagram, though. I just hope I get it finished – the ball is only 6 weeks away!

Make It: Pin Pennant

After I was lucky enough to win a voucher for The Pink Coat club in the raffle at the Sewcialite Soiree, I realised I had quite a few pins in my collection. But I often forget to wear one as I had been keeping them in a little box next to my make-up bag. Since I know how to sew (duh!) I thought I could easily make something that would look nice, display all my lovely pins and remind me to wear them!

I started off with some of my beloved mustard denim (originally from Sew Me Sunshine and featured in such projects as my Cleo Pinafore and my mute bags) and drew a line 20cm long, plus 1cm each side for seam allowance. I then measured the centre of this line and measured 20cm away from this line and joined this point to the 2 sides of the line to make a triangle. I totally made up these measurements and I think if you have more pins than me you will almost certainly want to increase these measurements.

I cut out 2 triangles with the above measurements and stitched them right sides together along the 2 long lines, leaving the top edge unstitched to be able to turn it the right way around. I trimmed the seam allowances, especially at the points, turned it the right way around and top stitched the sewn seams, though I would wait to top-stitch until you’re sewing the top edge shut.

I then made 2 straps, measuring 12cm x 5.5cm. I stitched each one folded in half length ways, then turned them the right way around – this took ages as they ended up so thin!

I then arranged the straps with the seams down the middle of the ‘back’ and top-stitched them. Lastly I placed the straps into the opening at the top, turning in the seam allowance of the top edge of the triangle, and top-stitched the straps in place, stitching the open edge closed at the same time. I would also carry on with the top-stitching around the other 2 sides at this point.

This was such an easy project – it took about an hour from beginning to end. I found an old knitting needle in a local charity shop and tied some wool on to hang up the pennant and VOILA! I’ve got a lovely way of displaying my gorgeous pins!

Do you collect sewing pins? I’ve got more pins than I realised – I thought I would have space to expand into but the pennant is already full!
 

Style Crush: Claire Foy

During our Christmas holiday we watched the whole of the BBC’s adaptation of Little Dorrit from 10 years ago, starring Claire Foy in her first major role. I would definitely recommend you to watch it if you’re in the UK and haven’t seen it. Watching the series made me remember how much I like Claire Foy – she’s brilliant in The Crown, of course, so I thought I’d do a style crush post on her. I like her even more since she’s had her hair cut off, of course. 🙂

I love this more casual look – I’m a sucker for stripes and I have a free magazine pattern for very similar trousers so I could probably copy this look pretty easily.


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I love the collar on this dress – and I noticed she often stands with her hands in loose fists, which is what I do in photos too!

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I’m a sucker for yellow, as I’m sure you know. And I like the tiny triangle of stomach on view.

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I really, really like this dress and I’m not sure why – it’s not a colour palette I would probably wear. I love the silhouette of the dress, though, and the little petals hanging off.

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There’s a similar silhouette on the dress below as above, but the one below has an added train – bonus!

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I really like this look – I think it’s a top and skirt rather than a dress. I love the shade of blue and the interesting twist detail on the neckline. I love the red shoes and lipstick, too!

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Now I’ve started looking through the looks I’ve picked out of Foy’s, I realise they do all have a similar silhouette. I really like the pink with the red, and who doesn’t want a cape on a gown?! I’m kind of tempted to copy this look for my Dressmaker’s Ball dress.

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I really love this dress, too – it’s covered up because it goes all the way up to her neck, but it’s also quite revealing because the under-dress is much less demure.

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I love how often she wears trousers and suits on the red carpet – when I started looking, there were a lot of trouser looks.

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I love, love, love this pink suit – it was one of my inspirations for my Socialite Soiree suit – I still kind of want to make a pink suit.

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I also still want to make a tuxedo, and I love this double breasted, quite loose fitting one she wore to last year’s Golden Globes.

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This is one of my absolute favourites of her outfits – I love the shirt, with the grandad collar and I love the fit and shape of the trousers. I definitely want some trousers like this in my wardrobe.

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And finally, here is a suit and shirt I really wish I had in my wardrobe – and had an occasion to which to wear them! Maybe I’ll make another suit for the Dressmaker’s Ball!?

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Do you love Claire Foy as much as I do? Which is your favourite of her looks?

I do also love Olivia Coleman, though, so I’m still looking forward to the next series, even though Foy won’t be in it.