I choose this lovely pattern from my favorite company, StyleArc. I've had my eye on this dress for a very long time but wondered where on earth I would wear it and could I create it in a way that I would be proud of?
Here is the pattern description from StyleArc's site:
A wonderful party dress complete with a slip. Use scalloped lace to create beautiful and interesting neckline. The lace edge can also be used on the hem and sleeves. This pattern can be made many ways - all lace, lace yokes & sleeves with plain body, or completely plain. The choice is yours!
Those design lines are so pretty! I love the separate slip cut on the bias since bias cut garments just glide over your skin and feel wonderful!
I also really like the elbow length sleeves with the zipper back and opening at the shoulder blades to the neckline where it closes with a hook and eye.
Since I've not made a dress such as this, I choose to make not one but two muslins and I am very happy I did so! While I typically don't hardly alter a StyleArc pattern, since this was made in lace a more delicate to handle, I knew I would get a better feel of how the garment went together through the practice-fit. I just used a lightweight gabardine to test this for my first and second muslin.
The first time through, I made the pattern as is with my usual 1/2" swayback adjustment and also a sort of new alteration for me and that is a slight (3/8") sloping shoulder adjustment. And, constructed the dress as the pattern was written. Honestly, if you think about the look of the dress and read carefully, this dress will make sense.
After the initial fitting, I decided I wanted to have more room in the torso so I took out the optional darts and felt so much better about how the dress felt and how it looked on me! I knew I could always add the darts at a later time if needed. I also raised the back seam that runs along the shoulder blades by an inch at the center back, as I didn't want my bra to show and yes, I will wear a bra. I am 52 years old and wear a C-cup, I am assuming if you were me, you would too. :) I also had to take in the armscye from the shoulder seam to the underarm on the back of the dress. Maybe I have a narrow back as well?
The second muslin fit so much better and I held my breath as I cut into the lace. Let's talk about the lace for a minute. It was so lovely to work with and I like the design that has geometric patterns in it rather than a usual floral work. I love florals, but sometimes I think I need to mix things up a bit.
I was very leery as to how to finish off the seams so they wouldn't pull apart as some of the lace has some open places. And, since this dress is so lovely, I am considering wearing it to my son's wedding in January.
I plan on dancing and can you imagine if the seams popped while I was doing the hustle on the dance floor? I researched quite a bit and came up with using silk organza cut into 1/2" strips and stitching those strips along the seams. See how nicely the seams finished off after serging?
Another concern I had was due to the construction process. The instructions tell you that when you are attaching the front and back bodice, you stitch to a dot, raise your presser foot, clip to the notch, pivot the fabric and carry on. I didn't want to risk cutting too far, so I staystitched the neckline and sewed a small piece of the organza to the pivot point to reinforce it and make me feel better about constructing this dress in lace. I must admit, it worked beautifully.
I normally wouldn't post a picture of my chest like this, but it does show the neckline really well. As you can imaging, dear husband took this photo when I wasn't looking.
The last headache I had with this dress was the zipper. As I was working with the lace, I knew a regular invisible zipper from JoAnn's or Hancock's probably wouldn't cut it due to the weight of the zip and the lightness of the dress. I predicted a big puddle at the bottom of the zip and sadly my estimation was correct. I had no idea what to do and reached out to the sewing community. An angel in disguise led me to a site that sells lightweight invisible zippers. Shipping was fast and I had the new zipper inserted in a matter of minutes and whew, no more puddles! In case you are wondering about the weight difference in a regular and lightweight zipper here it is:
Lightweight zipper--four grams
Regular zipper--six grams. Those two grams make a difference! Trust me!
While it sounds like this dress was a ton of work, it really wasn't. The lace was lovely to work with and it behaved just beautifully. It presses well and I am so happy with the end result.
I almost forgot that I also made the slip as well! This is included in the pattern and I ordered this black charmeuse that was heavenly to work with. Luckily the pattern has a c-cup bodice for the slip and I made it as is. You don't need any special tools but I do have a recommendation for a bias-cut garment. Let the slip hang for at least 24 hours before hemming. It you have wonder clips, attach those every three or four inches to help the garment hand properly. If you don't have wonder clips, you could also use safety pins every few inches just a few threads up from the hemline.
I can't wait to wear my new lace dress! I know, it is pretty fancy, but I think it will be perfect for my son's wedding!
Thanks for reading!