Making a peplum prom dress
One 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 making a peplum prom dress, mostly I listened to what -exactly- she wanted and then did the sewing. The most challenging aspect was the peplum layers on the dress. I follow the step by step process of creating and altering multiple peplum layers in the making of the dress.
She 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 pattern and modify from there. 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.
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.
The 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.
The 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.
Ahh, the trusty dress form, indispensable in dressmaking projects- when modifying or making up patterns. Remember, it’s always better to measure it all out before sewing… and avoid picking out seams later.
The 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.
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.
She 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.
You 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.
I 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.
You 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.
View 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. Making a peplum prom dress was a challenge but so worth it in the end- such elegant lines!
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.The 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 making a peplum prom dress and puzzling 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!