Sunday, December 11, 2011

Rush Order Christmas Party Dress

I've mentioned here and there (twitter, comments on other blogs, facebook, etc) that I was doing a sewing marathon yesterday, trying to finish off my Christmas party dress (never in the world thought I'd make myself a 'party dress', but that's how life goes sometimes) in time for my work Christmas dinner, and then a friend's party afterward.

Well, I get 'er done.

For a specific definition of 'done'.

I decided a few months ago that I needed Simplicity 2305 - a Cynthia Rowley garment - out of green satin. This is probably the very first time I just wanted to make a pretty party dress. I think I need to make more, because dresses are awesome!

Anyways, I had most of the pieces cut out of a crepe-back satin by Friday night, and even attached the front and back bodice pieces. Saturday, I procrastinated...a lot, but after a short walk and a cup of coffee, I rolled up my sleeves and started sewing at about 11:30. And barely stopped until I finished the darn thing.

Of course, I finished at 6 pm, exactly when my work dinner was starting. BUT there's nothing wrong with being fashionably late, especially when you're wearing a knock-out dress!

I got tonnes of compliments on it, and loved people's reactions when I told them I'd made it. The best part, though, was when they asked how long it took me to make it, and I said ''. :)

Of course, I didn't point out all the problems with it. For one thing, the whole dress is too big. I cut a size 16 for the arms, 18 through the bodice and waist, and a 20 for the hips, as per my measurements. I should've stuck with a 16 for the entire bodice and an 18 for the hips. You can see in the two pics below how much nicer the dress would've looked if it was snugger around the waist.

And look! I did my first successful FBA! While the dress was big on me along the sides, the bodice was really comfortable, but not too baggy. I think if I hadn't done the 1 inch FBA, it would've been too snug and ill-fitted in the bust. Okay, I'm sold. It's wasn't even that hard after all, probably thanks to my copy of Fit for Real People.

I found the sleeves a bit too long. It'd look much nicer if the cuff ended just above my elbow, instead of hanging over it when I stand. Think next time I'll shorten the cut-on sleeves a bit.

Also, I did my very first invisible 5:40 pm. I didn't even have time to do a practice run. It's not very invisible, but since it's on my side and covered by my belt and arm, I don't think it's that bad. Plus look at how well lined up that waist-band is! I'm that proud.

The zipper is really rough on the inside, but I just didn't have time to finish it. I'll have to though, because the satin frays like crazy when you simply look at it and even worse when you don't.

Most of the seams were finished in a mock serger fashion, using a tight zig zag stitch. I think this is my favourite finishing technique, since it's simple and strong.

I did take the time to hand stitch the hem, since I didn't want a visible stitch line along it. For a 10 minute job, it looked decent. This satin refuses to be pressed sharply, so it's a little poofy (as are all the seams).

I'd like to think I'll take the dress apart and at least take in the waistband and the skirt, but I probably won't. That's why belts were invented, yo! I wouldn't mind making another version of this dress, though. It's super comfortable to wear, looks awesome, and I don't think it's too distinctive of a pattern to have two versions of. I think it'd even look good as a day dress, if you use different fabric.

Here she is, inside out. I LOVE the crepe-back satin, and sort of wish I'd used the crepe side somewhere on the outside of the dress. Oh well, next time.

So despite all these problems and the rush, it was a successful dress (although next time I'm adding pockets). Now I just need to figure out how to wash satin, because I got a couple drinks spilled on me, and you can see the marks on the dress. :(

Oh also, look what I made while waiting for the cab to arrive! Cut out a circle of fabric big enough to contain your wallet and whatever else you need, tightly zig-zag around the edge and trim, zig-zag a length of ribbon on the outside, and voila, instant purse!

For more specific details on the dress (sizes, fabric type, alterations, etc), please check out my review over at PR.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a great holiday, from me and my three little plant pets! (From left to right, Lowell the Aloe Vera, Tiny Tim the...tiny tropic, and Agetha the Aglaonema)


  1. You look great! I love the color too. I have been sitting on this pattern for awhile and once again you have inspired me to rip you off. :-)

  2. So long as I'm enabling others, my life has meaning! :D

  3. the dress looks awesome!

    hmm....... I desperately need a new dress for a function in march. how much would it cost to bribe you to make ME a dress?

  4. What a gorgeous, gorgeous color for you, and well done on the marathon! I loooove to sew that way. :) Very well done, you should be so proud!

  5. So cute! And I'm impressed you got it done so fast, although I will say, I tend to get the most sewing done when I'm on a time crunch!

    Also, I always end up sewing with crepe backed satin and the fraying is such a nightmare! I don't really know why I keep torturing myself except that I'm a sucker for shiny fabric...

  6. Yep, I agree with everything said above. Lovely colour, very pretty dress and impressive first invisible zipper. May my first invisible zipper (and handmade party dress) be as good.

    Have a brilliant party

  7. Yep, I agree with everything said above. Lovely colour, very pretty dress and impressive first invisible zipper. May my first invisible zipper (and handmade party dress) be as good.

    Have a brilliant party

  8. Thanks everyone!

    I never realized this was a good colour on me, so thanks for pointing that out. I always thought that green washed me out, but maybe not.

    @Jinx: Hmm, I don't know. Depends on my work schedule (which is insane right now. 65 hour weeks and out of town work are destroying my creativity). It might be fun to make a dress for someone else, although I can't promise anything. Talk to me about this after the holiday, yeah?

    @Forest: It's a nightmare, isn't it. But still, it's not flimsy nor really changes shape when working with it, so I can't curse it too much. Next time I'm going to pink the edges instead of snipping them.

  9. You are way brave! (And that sounds like such a quick make... I think I was traumatized by how long the applique'd robe took me!) Congrats on the FBA success, too.

    I think this would look great for everyday in a nice, sturdy doubleknit or something... :)

  10. I love this dress! The color suits your skin tone and hair very nicely! Don't worry about the zipper, that's how ,most of mine look anyway. :]

  11. Hi I'm making the dress too in Satin and blue and I'm a beginner sewer and can't really understand the instructions that well and was wondering if you could help me with step 8, please I would greatly appreciate it, I've been stuck on it since the beginning of last year. You email me of or get back to me on my blog
    please help!

  12. hi! thank you so much for your help, very good instructions, although i'm unsure if we are making the same dress! But I absolutely love how you have made your dress and also in very short time! I love it and highly appreciate your help thank you in! :)But I'm unsure of which dress you made? was it A or B?

  13. Hi again, it's Sofia from (the confused girl about the simplicity dress), well I've decided to work on it and I was wondering if you could help. I up to step 18 of dress A and have until step 23 to finish, would you be willing to help me?
    Please reply to me at my simplicity post


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