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?

 

 

Wardrobe Architect Week 2: Defining a Core Style

 

Here I am back for the second week of Colette’s Wardrobe Architect. This week it’s about trying to work out what our core style is, building on what we found out about ourselves in week 1.

There is another worksheet, with some questions, which again I’ll cover here.

When you are wearing your favorite clothing, how do you feel (e.g. confident, sexy,
poised, powerful, etc)?
Comfortable, the right temperature, unique (but not standing out too much), and correctly dressed for the occasion – I hate feeling way under- or over-dressed.
When you’re wearing something that is not quite right, how do you feel? What are the
feelings you want to avoid about the clothes you wear?
uncomfortable, not like me, feel like people are judging me for wearing the wrong thing (though, of course, they’re almost certainly not!).
Who do you consider to be your style icons? What is it about them that appeals to you?
Michelle Williams, Ginnifer Goodwin and Lupita Nyong’o. Interestingly they all have short hair! I like how Michelle Williams and Ginnifer Goodwin both have a slightly vintage vibe, but also look cool and fashion forward – and I think they can both pull off multiple kinds of look. And Lupita Nyong’o always looks chic and cool and her clothes fit perfectly. I also like all the bold colours she wears and the interesting silhouettes she pulls off.
What are some words that describe styles that you like in theory, but are not quite you?
I often feel like I want to look like a rock star, but I just don’t think I could pull of a leather jacket! I also love the masculine/ androgynous look of someone like Tilda Swinton, but I feel being only 5’3″ that I couldn’t really pull that off! I also go through phases of really liking 40s style clothes and the lindy hop style, but I think it’s the wrong era for me.
After answering these questions, you come up with some words from your answers from last week, then narrow it down to 3-5 words. Mine are:
Cool
Comfortable
Confident
Vintage
With these words in my mind, I made a new pinterest board to pin photos of outfits I like (which is the last stage of this week’s exercise).  You can find all the image sources on pinterest. It seems that the pictures I pinned fit into a few different categories.
1. Casual outfits with trousers (most pleated) and slouchy shapes on the top.
core-style-1 core-style-2 core-style-3 core-style-16 core-style-20

2. Modern and vintage outfits with interesting style lines

core-style-4
core-style-21 core-style-13 core-style-18
3. Shift dresses, tops and coats with 60s vibes, particularly with collars and stripes.
core-style-7 core-style-8 core-style-9 core-style-12
core-style-19
4. More modern-looking boxy tops, with interesting prints on the fabric.
core-style-15 core-style-17 Then I have a few photos that don’t really go together or into the categories above. They’re a mixture of vintage and modern styles, but they are all quite loose silhouettes.
core-style-5 core-style-6 core-style-10 core-style-11 core-style-14
I’ve found this really useful in working out what my core styles are – I knew there would be more than one, but by pinning lots of pictures, you can then spot the trends which then helps you realise what you’re drawn to. I think I need to make myself some pleated trousers – and get more brogues in more colours! I am also falling back in love with cute collars, so that’s good to know!

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Style Crush: Ginnifer Goodwin

So I recently discovered Once Upon a Time on Netflix and I’m a little obsessed! It’s a series about fairytale and story book characters being banished to our world by the evil Queen (who else!) with no memory of their previous selves/lives. It sounds terrible, and the CGI certainly is a bit ropey in places, but I find myself loving it anyway.

One of the stars is Ginnifer Goodwin, who I’ve liked ever since she was in Ed – a little-known series about a lawyer who practiced in a bowling alley, starring (among others) pre-Modern Family Julie Bowen and pre-Mad Men John Slattery. I also thought Ginnifer was good in I Walk The Line and most other things I’ve seen her in – even in chick flicks of questionable quality. (Don’t get me wrong, I love a good rom com but some of them are better than others!) She has long been a hair inspiration for my pixie cuts because:

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I might take the middle photo next time I go to get my hair trimmed as I feel like I want something a bit edgier – though, obviously, she has a professional stylist so I probably wouldn’t be able to make it look nice! If anyone has any tips on styling short hair, I would gladly listen!

Anyway, since getting obsessed with Once Upon A Time, I’ve realised I really like Ginnifer’s style, so I thought I’d share some of my favourite looks with you to see if you like her too 🙂 They’re in a slightly random order I’m afraid.

I’m not sure about the bag here (or the sleek hair tbh) but I like the top and jacket, with the puffy shoulders. I love a bit of yellow, and it works particularly well with grey I think.

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I like this green gown – and her hair and make-up. This was at the Met Gala in 2011 but I can’t seem to find out who the designer was. I like the cut outs and the ruching/pleat details. Also cool shoes.

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I like her daytime style as much as her red carper style – this makes me want to sew all the shirtdresses. And get some saltwater sandals!

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Also she can pull off a leather dress as well as a shirtdress! I love her hair and bag here too. I basically always love her hair, so you can take that as a given 🙂 Should I make myself a leather/ pleather dress do you think? Not sure I could pull it off……

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I think this simple look could work well for my new smart work wardrobe. I like the (I think) beaded collar, it make what could be a basic shirt a bit more interesting.

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I love a good jumpsuit – I definitely need to make some, though I’m not sure my work would think it was appropriate, so it will probably have to take a backseat until I’ve made a few more work-appropriate items. I love how she’s paired it with this jacket – I would imagine the proportions of the jacket have to be carefully matched to the proportions of the jumpsuit.

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I really like this dress – and I liked it even more when I realised it was part of an ethical collection created by H&M. She wore it to the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in 2012 and it only cost $299! Awesome, huh? I like how this movement has carried on, with actresses like Emma Watson highlighting the sustainability of fashion.

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I think this is one of my absolute favourites of her looks – the make-up and hair are particularly cool. This is another look from the Met Gala, when the theme was punk. The gown is by Tory Burch and I love it – it’s not really my colours, but I love the combination of the gold sequins and the (I think) leather strips, and the gradation to back at the bottom.

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It’s interesting how she can go from so edgy, above, to quite sweet and cute, below. But I like the look below almost as much – I like the shade of pink and I like the look of a jumper with a skirt the cinches it in at the waist. I also like the length of the skirt, though I’m not sure I can pull that length off.

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I had to include this photo because it’s so 60s and if you’ve read by blog before, you’ll know how much I like the 60s. She even has bottom eyelashes drawn on with eyeliner, so she was definitely embracing the 60s here – from the colour to the collar to the make-up, I like it.

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The last photo I want to share is partly because I like this all-white outfit – especially the 2 different patterns of lace – but because I love her house. This is her house. The photos are apparently of her great-aunt who was a Vaudville star. Kind of cool. I’m obsessing over all things house at the moment as (I can’t remember if I mentioned this in my last post), The Boyfriend and I have a flat lined up and yesterday we got the final confirmation that we get the keys on Monday! Yay! We spent some of today ordering a bed and a sofa – all super exciting!


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So do you like Ginnifer Goodwin’s style? Does she inspire you to go for a pixie crop (if you don’t have one already?)?

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