The Dresses

Each dress brought its own challenges to the table.

Elly’s dress was the dress of a thousand curves.

To ensure accuracy, I hand basted each curve before zipping it through the machine. Only the straight side seams of the skirt were not hand basted first. Although it took extra time up front, it was worth it because it kept the slippery taffeta fabric from shifting and potentially ruining the gentle curve of each seam. Once sewn, the curves had to be clipped, notched, pressed open, pressed up and then topstitched. It was a lot of work, especially when you realize that this dress is completely reversible so everything had to be done twice. The one shortcut I did take on this dress was to not finish the seams. I am normally a stickler for finishing seams, but I saw no point in doing it on this dress. Nobody is going to see them. The tulle in between the skirts even hides the hem.

My dress was the dress of a few thousand hand stitches.

The purple taffeta fabric was hand basted to the cotton underlining. The bodice lining was hand stitched to the outer shell. The waist stay was hand stitched to the bodice. The hem was hand stitched down. At one point, I had blood on my fingertips from all the needle punctures.

Hands down these were the most complicated dresses I have made to date. Together they took over 4 months to make.

Elly’s dress was completely underlined. It made the taffeta easy to work with and it made it strong enough to withstand the hand sequin work and the oodles of embroidered topstitching. On the other hand, only the bodice of my dress was underlined; the circle skirt was left free.

My dress was a compilation of 2 patterns. The bodice was from Gertie’s Bombshell dress class on Craftys. The circle skirt was from The Party Dress book. Amazingly, the patterns matched perfectly.

Elly’s pattern came from Sewing Clothes that Kids Love book. It’s the Manhattan pattern.

Slight fitting adjustments were made to both patterns. Otherwise, I followed the directions as directed.

To make beautiful dresses, you need beautiful fabric.  I didn’t skimp. The purple fabric was a bridal irridescent taffeta from Denver Fabrics. The overlay on my dress was a sequined tulle purchased on our trip to Mexico last year. The appliques on Elly’s dress were fussy cut out of the tulle and then hand stitched down. As mentioned above, I also used cotton underlining. The dresses were completely lined. Cotton was used in the bodice for its breathability whereas polyester lining fabric was used for the skirt for its silkiness.

The effort was worth it. I loved the results! I loved all the compliments on how pretty Elly looked in her “princess” dress. Is that wrong?


But now that the dresses are done, I plan to take a well deserved break. I just want to sit, drink a glass of port and play a board game with Dan in the evening rather than rush to squeeze in another hour of sewing.

4 thoughts on “The Dresses

  1. Both of the dresses look absolutely amazing on you and Elly! What a tremendous amount of work you put in to them, but in my opinion, totally worth it because they are so lovely! You should keep them for as long as you can and bring them out, as a reminder from time to time!

  2. Thank you so much, Lise! Yes, I doubt if I will ever be able to toss these dresses. Already I am trying to come up with other occasions in which they can be worn again. I plan to make Dan take me out to a fancy dinner if nothing else.

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