Monday, 1 June 2015

Fabulous Fabric: Party dresses

It all started with vintage shoes my mum was about to sell. She had bought them in the early 60's but had hardly worn them. The moment I saw them I fell in love, bought them and a new creative project was born as I didn't have anything suitable to wear with them.

I decided to make an evening dress and initially chose a McCall's pattern. After 6 trials in old curtain fabric I realised I wouldn't feel comfortable in it so I chose a different design and went for the pattern from Butterick 3080. Aberdeen unfortunately doesn't have a wide range of shops that supply dressmaking fabrics and after a bit of research online I found
The Dress Fabric Company based in Edinburgh. The owner was able to advise and source a wonderful drapey fabric (100 % polyester) that would perfectly suit the colours of my new shoes, all by email and phone!

As there was no gala ball to go to (we decided to pass on the one organised by Jaap's employer) I had plenty of time to finish it...and this is the result:

Front view wrap evening dress ©Fenfolio2015

Back view wrap evening dress ©Fenfolio2015

Close-up front view wrap evening dress ©Fenfolio2015

Close-up side view wrap evening dress ©Fenfolio2015

Close-up back view wrap evening dress ©Fenfolio2015

To make it really stand out of the crowd I made a clutch from the dress frabric I had leftover. I bought the PDF pattern online via Etsy.

I used the same buttons as the ones on my dress, only one size larger, supplied by my
local craft shop. It was quite tricky to get the pintucks perfect, even after pressing, as it's 100 % polyester. I used a tricot stitch as this fabric tend to pucker easily.

Front side evening clutch ©Fenfolio2015
Back side evening clutch ©Fenfolio2015

Close-up wristlet evening clutch ©Fenfolio2015

Close-up evening clutch ©Fenfolio2015

I applied two magnetic closures for the flap. For the interior of the clutch lining fabric
(100 % viscose) was used which I had bought for the dress based on the McCall's pattern.

Magnetic closure flap evening clutch ©Fenfolio2015

Interior evening clutch with pocket ©Fenfolio2015

Evening dress with clutch ©Fenfolio2015

After I completed my gala outfit I realised there wouldn't be many opportunities to wear it. I  was also left with a lot of lining fabric which I didn't want to go to waste so I decided to sew a cocktail dress with a lace overlay. I used the pattern from New Look 6261. It was hard to find the right scalloped lace fabric in the UK so I bought it from a supplier in the USA via Etsy.

To check whether the measurements were correct I quickly made the dress in old curtain fabric (looks like satin). After I made some adjustments onto the pattern pieces I started the project. Well, little did I know how difficult it is to sew lining and lace fabric! The mesh of the lace fabric was very stretchy so even cutting out the pattern pieces was really tricky. Also pressing with a low heat iron seemed to stretch it so I had to be very careful.

The pattern allowed for quite a bit of ease but I like it more tailored so during this project I had to make a few adjustments, meaning cautiously ripping my seams. Luckily I was sensible to baste everything first so it was easier to make changes if it wasn't right.

In the end, by being patient I was able to create a wonderful dress I'm really proud of. I have already worn it to a ladies night out. They adored it and were gobsmacked to hear I made it. They even asked whether I would take any orders! I don't have any intention to become a professional seamstress as I would have to give up all my other interests, but their feedback really made my day.

Front view cocktail lace dress©Fenfolio2015

Back view cocktail lace dress©Fenfolio2015

Close-up sleeve cocktail lace dress©Fenfolio2015

Close-up waist cocktail lace dress©Fenfolio2015

Close-up scalloped edges cocktail lace dress©Fenfolio2015


  1. What a lovely project Fen. The shoes are gorgeous and your dresses really do them justice! Your mother must be thrilled about (and proud of) the results. I saw your blog just as I was thinking about doing some dressmaking so you have really inspired me. (Nothing as ambitious as your projects, just a simple A-line cotton knee length skirt for the summer - if we get a summer.)

  2. Thank you so much for your positive feedback, Catherine! Yes, my mum is really proud and can't wait to see it in person. I look forward seeing your summer dress once it's ready!