Suz is our Edinburgh based blogger and her first project for us has turned out like a dream, just in time for party season! She's taken a popular lace fabric and created a classic little black party dress. We think it looks fantastic and we're happy to share this one with you and we hope it inspires you to think about making your own Christmas party dress. Don't forget, we also have a Christmas Party dress sew-a-long coming up very soon!
You may have read on Twitter that I recently became a part of the WhiteTree Fabrics Blog Team. I’m so thankful and grateful for their support and can’t wait to collaborate with them in this way! For my first project, I decided to try something new…I’ve finally finished my most challenging sewing project to date and I’m feeling mightily proud of myself! Despite the pressures of work and family/friend commitments, I’ve managed to find the time to make my very own piece of formal wear and just in perfect time for November, which is usually my busiest month in terms of social events. I’m not 100% happy with it (I never am!); however, I’m really happy with what I produced despite being unfamiliar with the pattern and all of the fabrics involved.
To help me get a good fit with this dress, I enrolled in my first every Craftsy class: ‘Sew the Perfect Fit’ with Lynda Maynard. It cost me around £20 because they had it on sale and I honestly think that it was worth every penny.
While I don’t think I’ve managed to achieve that elusive perfect fit, it’s certainly made me think more carefully about the fitting process and I think that the more I practise the techniques suggested by Lynda, the easier fitting will become. It really opened my eyes to the problems behind certain gapings and pullings in the fabric, which, of course, is both a good and a bad thing. As someone who is already pretty critical of her work, I now find my eyes drawn to any little puckering. However, I’m hoping that it will encourage me to address little niggly things in future rather than just say, “Meeeeeh, it’s just a dress. I’ll do it better next time.”
I won’t go in to more detail about the class because I’m really rubbish at reviews; however, I will say that it has also completely opened my eyes to the wonders of Craftsy and how brilliant it is as a teaching and learning resource. I’ve already signed up for a few other classes (spending a whopping £50 in the process – damn my impulsive nature!!!) and hope to try out those quite soon.
The class uses the pattern I wanted to try out anyway (Vogue V8766), which was pretty handy. I decided to make View E (blue one), because I love a sleeve.
As soon as I saw the lace, I knew that it was perfect. It’s Chantilly style and it costs £6.40 a metre, which I think is unbelievably reasonable for such lovely lace, given that my usual haunts charge a lot more or their reasonably priced ones look a bit shiny and (sorry!) a bit cheap. I was pleasantly surprised when this lace arrived.
I selected the pattern and lace combo for two reasons: Firstly, it looks like my favourite dress from a few years ago which is now sadly no longer with us. I think that dress cost me £120 from Monsoon and I used to wear it ALL THE TIME! Loved it. Plus, it had pockets!! RIP.
Also, there’s something about this combo which is reminiscent of my wedding dress, which I absolutely loved wearing and haven’t yet plucked up the courage to have re-fashioned.
I was really nervous about working with lace but it was actually really lovely to handle, cut and sew. I think my biggest fear was that it would be slippy and completely unmanageable when cutting it but I was pleasantly surprised. It didn’t slip at all (although I didn’t double the fabric up at any point and just made sure that it was as flat as possible). Also, I typically use a rotary cutter with my fabric, but for this project I stuck to my super sharp scissors, which allowed for accurate cutting with minimal movement from the fabric. What I would say though is that it’s pretty delicate. At one point I did pull the lace a bit hard and it ripped a tiny wee bit. I just stitched it up and now it looks perfectly fine.
I’m really happy with the style of the dress. It is a tiny bit snug but I quite like that. I think it makes my waist look quite small, which is always a good thing!
My main complaint with a lot of similar dresses I’ve tried on recently in the shops is that they’re a bit flimsy. I honestly can’t bear the thought of wearing my Spanx during the festive season so I wanted my lining to do a bit of the work in terms of holding me in and making me appear to be smoother and more svelte. The duchess satin that I used for the lining was perfect for that. It’s really heavy duty feels so beautiful against my skin. My only complaint though is that because it’s so thick and lustrous, it doesn’t hold a crease. This is perfect in terms of every day wear, but not so much in terms of stitch lines & deliberate creases. I think it also makes it appear bulkier in places whereas a more delicate satin or silk would have been flatter… but wouldn’t have held me in as much. Can’t win really.
I really enjoyed inserting the sleeves in to this dress because it had three darts, which I’ve never actually done before on a sleeve. I think it looks really effective! I’ll definitely try it again.
I left the beautiful scalloped edge of the lace at the bottom of the dress to make the hem more effective.
Overall I’m really pleased with the dress. It does have a few flaws – I might have to wear those Spanx after all – however, I feel like I really learned a lot while making this dress and I’m immensely proud of myself for it! So there we have it: my first project as a WhiteTree Fabrics blogger, my most challenging project to date and a dress that will hopefully see me through my crazy busy November and the festive season as a whole!
We absolutely love this beautiful dress and think that Suz did a wonderful job. Do you fancy having a go at making your own party season dress like this one? Here's your shopping list:
Get the lace here. Available in 13 gorgeous colours.
Vogue V8766 dress dewing pattern availabe here.
Black thread for your little black dress is available here.