Tag Archives: clothing

A dress for prom

promflowersOne of the things I’ve always told me kids is that when it comes to costuming and dresses, I’m more than happy to make whatever they can dream up. So, this senior prom, my daughter and I collaborated on her dress, mostly I listened to what -exactly- she wanted and then did the sewing.

vogue pattern 8849She wanted a peplum built into the dress, based on a dress she’d fallen for on Pinterest. It’s easier for me to start with a patten and modify from there so we found this Vogue 8849 pattern to be the closest version of what she wanted. We both fell in love with the burgundy satin but ended up sewing it inside out because we liked the flat (matte) look to the fabric better than the shiny side.

prom dress fabric and pattern

A big adjustment we had to make was on the sleeves. She wanted a try small cap sleeve, not found in the pattern, so using the available sleeve pattern piece, we shortened it up with pencil right on the pattern piece and went from there.
dress bodiceThe sleeve turned out just the size she was picturing. Note: when modifying a pattern don’t forget about seam allowances. (I had to make the sleeves multiple times to get it right.) Also, we easily changed the neckline with a chalk line when cutting. We didn’t want the V in the front to dip down enough to show the corset she was wearing (the corset seemed a bit higher in the front) and she definitely wanted the snug, smooth look of a corseted foundation.
small peplumThe upper peplum, I changed the pattern to make it two entire peplum pieces sewn together, turned right side out and pressed. For both peplums. The fabric felt so lightweight I thought the weight of two layers of satin might help the way the whole thing hung.
photo 2Ahh, the trusty dress form, indispensable at moments and in dressmaking projects like this one. Especially when modifying or making up patterns. Remember, it’s always better to measure it all out before sewing… and avoid picking out seams later.

extending a peplumThe lower peplum was a bit tricky. The pattern called for a knee length peplum and I needed one that went to the floor. Here you can see my chalk lines as I puzzled it out. The main idea was to follow the curve of the pattern and make the inside of the curve extend the number of inches from the knee to the floor. Better a bit too long than too short when drawing and then cutting.

dress with peplum

Because I was extending the dress to the floor, there needed to be some extra fabric at the bottom of the skirt or a slit, so she could walk more than a few inches at a time.  As you can see in the picture, I left the sides open, my plan was to add a triangle shaped extension on each side. I wanted to keep the skirt straight in the front and flowy, hopefully extending the peplum in a train sort of way toward the back.

dress with peplum, backThe peplum turned out just right  in length and flowiness, the first time around (yay!) Then, I just followed the pattern instructions on sewing the peplums into the skirt and then to the bodice.

embellishmentsShe wanted gold embroidered embellishments for the dress. Luckily, we found ourselves in downtown LA’s fashion district for spring break and had a great selection to choose from, at great prices too. Here, we’re pinning and trying to figure out placement.
making the dressYou can see where she got the idea for gold embroidered details (below), we followed what we saw from the Pinterest picture but had to make up the front.
inspirationI think you’ll probably agree, the dress looks much better on the girl than on the dress form- it fits like a glove!  I think she tried it on for me (with corset) no fewer than 10 times. If you’ve got the body readily available- try on a dress as much as possible in the sewing process for the best fit.

prom dress front peplumYou can see the triangles to add width at the bottom in this picture. Perhaps not the best looking part of the dress but very secondary (visually) and she didn’t complain about not being able to walk so we’ll call it good.
prom dress back peplumView from the back and without her very high heels. The length was just perfectly about an inch off the floor with shoes on, and not in a grassy field.
promflowers

The very talented Julia Smith Floral did the flowers -*swoon*-. The bouquet was to indulge ourselves for photo ops, and not necessarily to take to the dance. The bouquet was lilacs, ranululus, magnolias, roses and in the most gorgeous array of colors to stand out and highlight the dress. It smelled very nice too.ranunculus corsagecrown braid with apple blossomsThe braid crown was woven with apple blossoms and small ranululus, to cover the end of the braid, and look awesome. A crown braid looks good but always better with flowers.

A success, I say! So fun to work with my daughter on this project and puzzle through all the challenges and thrills of dressmaking, hairdo, makeup and flowers of the whole essential high school event that is prom. A special thanks to Jordan (her prom date) for cheerfully indulging our photo snapping and letting us take about 456 pictures of the two of you!

a collection of vintage sewing patterns

sewing patterns 1942- todaySewing patterns are one thing I feel no shame in collecting or hoarding, depending on your point of view. It’s kind of like collecting books, creating a pattern library in an admirable, archivist kind of way. -sigh- I could look through them all day. Oh the history of fashion and unlike a picture on Pinterest, all the tools to make the clothes again are right there, in your hands. Here are a few beauties from my collection of vintage sewing patterns:

1960's American Weekly dress patternIt’s no wonder this was a popular pattern back in the day, with a promise of the tiny waist size pictured, who could resist this pattern?
1960's dress and hat patternA style that’s a bit more forgiving in the waist-size department. I’ve been annoyed to find no dates of publication on any of the vintage Vogue patterns- your guess is a good as mine. But thanks to Mad Men, and the dated and very similar McCall’s pattern below, I’m putting this one at 1963.

1961 vintage dress and hat patternLove everything about this one- and the heat transfer page, with the fruits and flowers all ready to do their thing with a little bit of heat.
heat transfer pattern pageThe heat transfer page is kind of like a treasure map you have to decode in the mirror or with an iron.

1965 mens bathing suit patternMen’s bathing suit and jacket pattern from 1965. Love the possibilities- pocket or no, stripes or plaid, sunglasses on or off (mostly off).

bathing suit pattern 1963Swimming suit pattern, from 1963, with all the extras- shirt, scarf and top AND trimmed in rick rack. So glad the high waisted swimming suit bottoms are making an appearance again.
bathing suit 1963 pattern back

Next, I’ll show off some great Halloween costume patterns- or what can now be considered a ‘costume’… perhaps a little something from the 70’s and 80’s.  For a few more vintage sewing patterns look here.

A vintage dress for Homecoming

20120924-112100.jpgMy daughter picked out this pattern from my collection for her homecoming dress, just fine as I’ve been interested in giving it a try. Blue taffeta for the fabric, pretty easy to work with and washable too.

20120924-112125.jpgThe tough part- getting those scallops to work and lay flat with no puckers when all is turned right side out.

20120924-112150.jpgWay too big on the first fitting, hmm…

The amount of changes needed necessitated remaking the entire bodice, but using the original skirt.  The main adjustment was to the middle of both bodice pieces, I removed about 3/4 of an inch from (both the front and back) the original size 20 pattern for the size 8 gal I was making the dress for. The remake actually worked out well- especially because it allowed me to improve my scallop neckline. Practice makes perfect.

A much better fit the second time around. Darling!

Thank you Pinterest for so many hair ideas, and the final choice.
Blooms, Julia Smith florals, we couldn’t help ourselves but set up a photo shoot. With a willing posse of teens dresses to the nine’s and gorgeous fresh flowers- why wouldn’t you?

Watch the video here.