What I wore to the Dressmaker’s Ball 2019

ooobop wearing V8814 dress

‘Get me to the Ball!
‘There is a Disco at the Palace!
‘The rest have gone and I am jealous!’

Just like Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhyme about Cinderella when she was stropping out about a lack of invite, this is exactly how I was feeling when I learned too late about the first dressmakers ball in 2017.

Needless to say I subscribed to all the hashtags and signed up to get news of the next one and snapped up that ticket as soon as it was live.

The event is organised by team Crafty Sew and So and this year’s was at The City Rooms in Leicester.

The minute I had that ticket secured, my head flooded with all the possibilities for a free range, self drafted no holds barred gown of dreams, all for me. Elizabethan ruffs, balloon organza sleeves. Crinoline skirt. Bustle perhaps? I had a year after all.

designs for ooobop ballgownTruth be told and no surprises here, I decided on the dress with just over 10 days to go. You know how it goes ~ work, family, work and more work. And I’m a little bit sad to say that my all time avant-garde number ended up straight out of a packet.

Vogue pattern V8814

A lovely pattern for sure but the proof was in the making: No toile time. No anything time. Time? Definitely a thing of the past. Enjoy it while you can kiddos. It passes you by on the blink of an eye with every added birthday.

Now let’s discuss this slinky Vogue number V8814. I chose floor length, version C. I was going to a ball after all and visions of slow-mo sweeping skirt-motions danced in my head. I opted for the one with plunging neckline and crossover straps at the back. The bodice is snug to the hips and then all the volley is in the circular skirt.

I am so grateful to those pattern companies who display the finished sizes on the pattern pieces. Lord only knows why quite so much ease has to be added. I’d have swum in the suggested size according to actual stats!

And I am so delighted to have chanced upon a pattern that for all it’s sophistication was a total breeze to put together! The only area that needed fixing was the neckline which gaped a little so I hand-sewed some 5mm wide elastic along the inside of the neckline, stretching slightly to pull it in more to the chest. And the only tricky bit was convincing Pants I didn’t need his help!

Pants the cat helping me sew

I’d bought a singular ticket to the ball just because I worry about making plans with people and then have to cancel due to work commitments. Plus I knew that I would meet people there. The sewing community is such a welcoming and fun place, of that I was certain.

But that didn’t stop me from being self-conscious in front of the photographer. I’m so spoilt by Mr O’s awesome willingness to oblige my blog shots that I forget what it’s like to stand and pose in front of someone you don’t know! Thank you TKL Photography for bearing with me and thank you Tamsin, for posing with me and making me feel a little less awkward!

ooobop with Tamsin from Pimp my Curtains

We decided upon fishbowls of gin to relax us even more!

Tamsin and ooobop drinking gin

It was such an amazing evening. A ballroom brimming with stunning guests all adorned in bespoke, handmade attire, dancing to some really cool covers by a brilliant live jazz band. I spent most of the evening gawping at stunning outfits and discussing them, clinking and raising a glass at every opportunity to the brilliant hosts and the awesome sewing community.

And look who else I found: Marie from A Stitching Odyssey and Amy, blogger at Almond Rock and editor of Love Sewing Magazine.

judges at the dressmakers ball 2019

Not at all trying to fraternise with the judges before the catwalk competition – honest, guv!

So why have I taken so long to blog about this dress?

In short.

The fabric.

I’m ashamed by my panic purchase of glittery fabric.

‘I want a dress! I want a coach!
‘And earrings and a diamond brooch!
‘And silver slippers, two of those!
‘And lovely nylon panty hose!

Perfectly weighty and with great drape for the skirt, I chanced upon it in the Goldhawk Road. It appears to be a red lace bonded over a synthetic satin with glitter glued in the gaps of the lace.  I joked about the fire-hazzard potential should I stand too close to a candle, given the probability of not a single natural fibre involved. But it was met with a straight face. The seller was already was unhappy that my need for five yards meant discarding the first couple of metres on the roll as the lace was clearly bonded in sections. Lucky I noticed the join because he sure as hell wasn’t going to point it out!

But I did not question the glitter. 

Recently, my day job has involved lots of work relating to the harmful effects of plastic on the environment, and though I haven’t come across any reference to glitter in the books as yet, this quote by Alice Horton, a research associate at the UK’s Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, jumped out at me and touched a nerve:

“While there is currently no evidence specifically on glitter being bad for the environment, it is likely that studies on glitter would show similar results to those on other microplastics”.

And now I feel bad. For not thinking it through. For the trail of glitter I literally left behind. I don’t exaggerate when I say that I left a red glittery bum shape on my seat when I stood up after dinner. And I’m sorry for anyone who sat in my place afterwards and took a little piece of me home with them.

To this day I’m finding that damned stuff on my shoes, in the carpet, on the cat… It’s never going to go away. And then it’ll end up in the sea and all the poor fishes will be lunching on it.

And I know I can’t un-do it. But I can not-do it again. No more more glitter for me. I need to think before I buy. I just can’t cope with the guilt! Or do you think I’m over-reacting?

8 Replies to “What I wore to the Dressmaker’s Ball 2019”

  1. Your dress is so beautiful. I’ve looked at that pattern and because it’s a print not a photo of the dress, I doubted it would look like that in real life. You have done it justice… the skirt is so beautifully flared and the colour is so amazing on you. What a fun ball! I do understand your guilt and the allure of the sparkle. I don’t think you are over reacting but it’s hard to comprehend the consequences I guess until you use it and see the mess it makes.

    1. Thank you so much for your lovely comment. You are not alone in doubting the finished look. I wondered that, too. And given a bit more time I would probably nip it in a bit more but it really did work straight out of the packet. The skirt is defintitely my favourite part. And yes, sadly no more glitter fun for me.

  2. Lovely make, and it looks like you had fun too.
    As for the glitter, you know Oprah use to say when you know better you do better. So next time you’ll know. Plus, you blogged about it and helped others know better too.

  3. stunning make – and such a useful pattern (are the diagonals full bias? I did a handdrafted halter with similar seams some years ago to try out block colours and the bias lines gave a grate fit). Ditto on Gayles remark, I know I now avoid working with some fabrics (and good spot while the seller was cutting, I got caught with a end roll flaws before and

  4. HAWT!!!! What a stonker of a frock!!! You look amazing!!!
    I did smile at the Goldhawk Road experience, honestly never such a bunch of dour individuals have I come across! I think they like you to beg to sell them something!
    Glitter, it’s a thing all right. I’ve learned too and while I do wear tiny amounts on my face for stage, I stick to rhinestones and sequins for the shiny. You may want to vacuum out your machines too.
    We are all learning <3

  5. I love your dress. Very much my own style if I was going to go to a ball.

    I think you should investigate the biodegradable glitter that you can get now. As far as I know, at the moment, its only cosmetic and food grades, but give it time it will be on clothing as well.

    It does no known harm to the planet and being food grade does no harm to us or the fish. Its legal to add to cosmetics for sale which the old type of polyester glitter/ polyester jewels is not. At least even if you just have it in your bath bombs or cosmetics and on cakes you can still have some glitter in your life. What worries me though is glitter eye shadows because they have only banned the old style of polyester glitter in rinse off products ( like shower gel, bath bombs, shampoo) so its still being sold in how many cosmetics products?

    I have quite a few glitter fabrics in my own stash so I really do get where you are coming from. Its very sad isn’t it but we do really need to take it on board, as you have done, because its a real issue for the planet and future generations. And lets face it if its collecting inside the fish its collecting inside us too!

  6. The dress was stunning in real life and I was very glad to be of help with the photos and fishbowls of gin! What a great description! I get you on the glitter and ditto Gayle’s comments and I don’t think you are over reacting. I banned glitter from our craft cupboard when the girls were little (grumpy mum!) but at the time it was mostly because I got sick if finding it around the house, not for environmental issues.

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