In every seamstresses life there are a few garments considered “milestone projects”. My list looks something like this: anything from knit fabric ✓ / pants ✓ / a blazer ✓ / a festive dress ✓ / lingerie / a winter coat / a wedding dress.
While I still sew a lot of basic things for my wardrobe, I actually love those more challenging time-consuming projects. So when a friend invited me to her wedding last year I felt excited for two reasons: 1. Yay for her! and 2. Oh my god! I can sew my own dress!
The pattern and the fabric
Gertie’s – now retired – bombshell dress craftsy class has been sitting unwatched in my course list forever and I knew this was the perfect opportunity to finally take it. During my trip to London last year I found this amazing green silk fabric at Goldhawk Road and also bought some spiral steel boning.
The fabric is not the most amazing quality and actually has a few flaws in the weaving, but at student-budget-friendly £ 7.50 per meter I won’t complain. Plus, the colour was perfect and I knew I wanted natural fibre (which proved to be a great choice – it was a super hot day and while everyone was sweating under several layers of polyester, I was perfectly fine).
The dress is underlined in cotton muslin and lined in a simple mint cotton from Stof&Stil. The shop assistant stated that, instead of underlining, you could also use fusible interfacing, but the one he sold me was too stiff and I was a bit worried about it coming loose. So I stayed with the underlining. But if you’re making this dress in a bit of a hurry, that’s definitely a possible shortcut. I also suppose that an invisible zip, could work really well and save you a lot of trouble topstitching delicate silk fabric. Ask me how I know.
Taking the term sewing fanatic to a whole you level, this dress was made six days before the wedding, starting only a few hours after I had moved into my new apartment. I had two days off during this time and the pattern was already printed and cut out, but it still was insane.
I sacrificed as much time as possible to this project and as a result my room looked pretty crazy by the end of the week. The floor was covered in scraps of thread and fabric. All my stuff was either unpacked or jammed into the shelves rather unorganised. Plus, I hadn’t spent any time shopping for apartment necessities, so I lived an entire week without things like a shower curtain and knobs on my closet doors. Ahem …
Buuut: I did it! I made a fancy dress! Spiral steel boning and all! So, at least in my book, all the fun I had sewing it and the things I learned along the way were totally worth the time and effort.
A few tips:
If you, like me, purchased your bombshell dress craftsy class many moons ago and intend to make a dress, here’s a few tips:
1. Buy padding
Gertie doesn’t cover at this point in the supplies part of the class but either 3 mm needle felt or cotton quilt batting is required for the bust cups.
2. Buy enough boning
I bought mine in 20 cm length since the instructions are a bit unclear on this point. Turns out it’s not long enough especially for my long torso which was annoying since no shop in my town sells this stuff. so I had to improvise a little at this point. You also need 11 pieces of boning. I only had 10 and left one out.
So that’s it. I am absolutely thrilled that I made my own cocktail dress. This is my proudest make so far.
Have you ever sewn any festive dresses? Oh, and what’s on your sewing bucket list?