Thursday, 12 December 2013

Little (almost) black party dress

It's party time!! Which is all the excuse I need to make a new dress. This year, I wanted to make my own version of a little black dress (or in my case, a little navy dress as black doesn't really suit me). Something classic and elegant, with sleeves and a bow on the front. I've been swooning over these two dresses on Pinterest for weeks, so I decided to see if I could combine the two similar styles into one dress.

Fitted navy party dress

Red party dress with bow

For fabric, I chose a beautiful stretch cotton sateen, which was kindly gifted to me by The Fabric Godmother. The slight stretch makes it super flattering (important if you plan to stuff your face with pies as I do this Christmas) and it has that subtle touch of shininess essential for party wear.


As I only had a week or so to make the dress, I thought it safer to go with a pattern that already fitted me well - the Colette Patterns Peony. When I initially made this dress here, I made a lot of changes to the back bodice, getting the fit pretty much spot on on my second version. My measurements are still the same, so I thought it would be a simple case of sewing the amended pattern up for a perfect fit. Wrong! What I failed to take into account was the stretchiness of the fabric. It actually has a lot more stretch than I realised, and when I sewed the dress up it was just way too big. I had to take the bodice side seams in by an inch each side, which sorted out the front, but still left the back flapping about. In a bit of an unorthodox move, I joined the back neck darts and the back waist darts together to make two giant darts/tucks down each side of the bodice.

Neck darts and waist darts joined together 

It sounds horrific but as you can see from the photo above, it looks absolutely fine - they actually look like princess seams and help give the back bodice a nice fitted look.



Other changes I made were to completely re-draft the neckline to become a round neck as the original bateau neckline was just too uncomfortable for me. I used the neckline from the Sewaholic Alma pattern as a guideline and then drew new facings to match the revised shape.  I also chopped six inches off the long sleeves and made them tighter as they looked far too baggy and shapeless for such a fitted bodice.  So quite a few last minute changes, but worth it in the end as I love the fit now.

To incorporate the bow detail, I decided to make a removable Tilly-style bow belt rather than just add one to the front. Tilly's tutorial is simple to follow and I'm really pleased with the resulting belt. It does involve the sewing on of two sets of hooks and eyes though, and you all know how I feel about those little buggers. My solution? I simply sewed on a set of bra fastenings, so much less fiddly and as they already come with different size options, you can still adjust to fit!


That's it for now, I'm all set to party. So if you'll excuse me, I have a date with an ambassador and a towering pyramid of chocolates…! x


Fabric was given to me free of charge for review. All views my own.

47 comments:

  1. That dress is a triumph! Well done, you look gorgeous.

    http://asaucystitch.blogspot.co.uk

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  2. Looks lovely. Genius idea re the bra extenders!

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  3. i loved your new dress. get easy honey :)

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  4. Beautiful!
    What a great idea for the belt.

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    1. I forgot to add, I got a multicolour pack of these marvellous little things from Amazon very cheaply, including purple, pink, red etc. Very useful.

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    2. Now that's good to know - the one I bought only came in standard bra colours (black, white or nude). I like the idea of a red one, thank you! x

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  5. oh wow the bra extenders!! and a lovely dress too :-)

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  6. Gorgeous dress!! Love the bra extender idea too, can we see a picture of the back? Interested to see your dart adjustments! xx

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    1. Good idea! I've just added a (slightly grainy) photo of the back bodice. I basically just joined the neck and waist darts together to make full length contour darts. Hope this helps. x

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  7. You did a great job Jane! The darts in the back are exactly what was done back in the 50's...my mother wore dresses like this :D) You look lovely. m.b.

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  8. Gorgeous Jane! You look lovely. xx

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  9. This is a beautiful holiday dress! Navy is a wonderful color for you!

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  10. Love it ! I've had the red dress pinned for a while too, so their had to be a bow :)

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  11. Good idea with the bra extenders! The dress is fab, and navy certainly suits you :)

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  12. Beautiful, and so like your inspiration pics!

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  13. Ooh that is lovely. Simple and chic - nice work. Have fun twirling about at parties and having a rolicking good time!

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  14. Gorgeous and just what I imagined you'd make! I've got a similar shaped one on the go right now but yours is scrumptious and that belt is genius (may rip that off)!! Looking fab!

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  15. really lovely! and navy is so elegant. using the bra extender is genius too - must store that tip away! x

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  16. Jane your dress is just adorable and looks perfect on you. The style is something I would love to wear and it will see you through many different events. Gorgeous. Big hugs Jane
    Dorothy
    :-)xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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  17. I love this dress! So many creative personalized techniques went into it. I'm really impressed with your skill. It looks fantastic on you.

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  18. Oh Jane you crack me up....the most serene and girlie dress juxtaposed with pie stuffing and *gasp* mention of the ambassador!!
    The dress is adorable and I wish it and you plenty of exceedingly good parties xx

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    1. Thanks love! Now if the ambassador was offering his guests a towering pyramid of pies that would be the perfect reception.... xx

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  19. What a fine party dress this is: the colour, the fit, the lovely lady in it! May it lead to much merriment at all the parties you attend this holiday season.

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  20. Gorgeous! It really suits you. I love your inspiration pics. I have that red one pinned too!

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    1. PS genius idea for the bra extenders! One to remember.

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  21. This really looks fantastic on you... and so festive! Congrats and happy holidays! :)

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  22. Lovely Jane, very chic indeed! At first I thought it was the new Christine Haynes pattern, but I love how you combined the Peony and Tilly's tutorial to make this sweet little number!

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    1. Thanks Marie! I was actually going to make the Christine Haynes Emery pattern but thought I'd go for a tried and tested one instead.....would probably have been a lot quicker in the long run! I'll definitely be making the Emery in the new year though, it's gorgeous. x

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  23. Jane that is stunning. I love it and what a great idea using bra extenders

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  24. Beautiful! So chic. Now pass the Ferrero Rocher... xxx

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    1. Ambassador, you're spoiling us!! x

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  25. This is gorgeous! It's so stylish. I love the bow belt, and what a great idea to use the bra extenders as hooks.

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  26. This is so lovely, Jane! I think those two inspiration dresses are gorgeous and you've only gone and done something even better :)

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  27. Gorgeous dress!! Love the bra extender idea too, very useful post !!! :) :)
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  28. Wow, now that is a dress I would love to wear.
    What a fab idea with the bra hooks for a belt fastening. I hope no one minds if I borrow that idea ;0)
    Hugs x

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  29. Absolutely gorgeous! And I am totally going to nick your bra extender idea.

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  30. Absolutely adorable! What a great belt idea!

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  31. Great dress and very helpful notes on the stretch sateen. LOVE the removable bow belt as well! Hope you had fun :) Bethx

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  32. This is a lovely dress. You did a great job combining your inspiration photos.

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  33. Beautiful dress. Your dress is perfect.You are so talented.

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  34. It is lovely, Jane, very chic. You have inspired me to have a go. Won't be for this year, maybe next? Good call on the bra fasteners. I hate those pesky hooks and eyes too!

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  35. The dress is really gorgeous. And you really look great on it. You look like very much ready to party.
    BraEssentials.com

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  36. oh that little bow is adorable - you can really see the influence of the two images you pinned!
    Hannah smith
    www.madewithhugsandkisses.com

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