Ooobop! party dress

party dress back view

I have been designing this dress in my head for quite some time. I design a lot of things in my head –in the shower, on the bus, when I’m meant to be doing something else and when I’m nodding off to sleep – it’s a busy old head!

Anyhows, an invitation to the gorgeous Rhonda’s 30th bitthday party was a great prompt to put some of these ideas into action. I met Rhonda’s mum, Tina many moons ago when we moved next door to her and she soon became more than a neighbour. More confidante, great friend and the most wonderful childminder to my son. So this party was really a family affair and I needed a dress.

party dress full skirt

I’ve got real issues with buying clothes from high street shops nowadays. I haven’t bought anything new (save underwear and shoes, of course!) in over a year and get much more satisfaction in making something myself or striking lucky in charity shops. I did think about making it a conscious decision when I started this blog but I know how flaky I can be and I didn’t think I could stick to that rule. Turns out I didn’t have to make it a rule. It happened quite naturally. I much prefer dreaming of what I want and making it or ‘rescuing’ from charity shops rather than settling for what’s out there. And now I really feel like I’ve moved on.

party dress twirl

This is my first dreamt of, self-designed and handmade dress. And I am chuffed to bits. The bodice pattern is slightly modified from Burda Style’s Wedding Special, issue March 2011. It has a v-back, a high neckline and is perfectly fitted with waist and bust darts. Below is the bridesmaid dress as featured in the magazine.

burda bridesmaid dress

The skirt section is self-drafted. It is a circle skirt with the inner circumference double the waist. The fabric is either silk or cotton, a silky cotton… or maybe a cotton silk! I did a burn test and it burnt to dust so its definitely void of any synthetic fibres! I had enough of it to self-line the bodice and it feels lovely against my skin and was cool enough under the flashing lights on the dance floor!

party dress front

I made the sash from a 3 metre, double layer length of chiffon, tapered at the ends and top-stitched.

party dress sash detail

The rose print allowed for some interesting placement on the back. Quite happy about that!

party dress back

The dress is worn over an organza petticoat, again, self-drafted, which although not complicated, was more of a test of my patience than the dress. I will blog the petticoat separately given that I haven’t taken any photos of it yet.

Unsurprisingly I didn’t get chance to hem the skirt by hand. And in a way, I’m quite glad I didn’t spend the time – can’t imagine how long it would take – I went for a machined baby hem instead.  First I ran a line of stitching, a seam width, along the hemline. I used this as a pressing guide and it pressed up beautifully. I then tucked in the raw edge to the fold and machined again, using my quarter inch foot which made it really easy to keep a small and consistent hem. I was careful not to stretch the fabric as I went round so it didn’t pucker. I pressed it again… this fabric really is a pleasure to iron!

The most amazing thing about this dress is that it cost £3.50! £3 on the fabric – an incredibly lucky find in a charity shop – and 50p on the invisible zip. The sash cost much the same!

The fabric was a little slippery and needed lots of pins to hold in place. This is my first dress in a silky fabric and I anticipated it being troublesome. That said, I really worked fast on this dress. Mostly because I had a party to go to and I suppose because there was no expense at stake… apart from my time! It irons beautifully and hangs so effortlessly so I can forgive the grief it gave!

It took one evening to draft the skirt pattern, cut the fabric and assemble/line the bodice; a couple of hours to sew the skirt on to the bodice (I am really not a fan of gathering!!) and putting in the zip. I hand finished the inside lining, hemmed the skirt and made the sash the morning of the party.

I’m very pleased with how it turned out. I love the fabric and Im happy that a special stash piece got used for an appropriate project. It was just waiting for the right moment!

Thank you to Mr Ooobop! for the ‘action photos’ and lots of lovely birthday wishes to Rhonda x

51 Replies to “Ooobop! party dress”

  1. That is absolutely stunning! Wow, well done! I particularly love the back – the way the flowers almost grow up to your shoulders. It looks like the perfect party dress! How long has it taken you to become good at actually designing stuff? I don’t have much of a visual imagination really and I think I would struggle to work out how to translate anything into a working pattern – and would feel like I might waste a lot of time only to come out with something I wasn’t happy with.

    1. Thank you Sarah. I’m so glad you noticed the flowers up the back. My favourite bit about the dress too! My mum taught me sewing basics when I was a child but I didn’t really get the bug til just over a year ago. Just by making lots and lots from patterns and reading other peoples blogs will help you to improve your skills and get quicker and more adventurous. I feel like I can’t stop now!

    1. Thank you so much. He he… I do love a nice shoe. I didn’t wear these to the party. They were my comfy en-route ones. The heels I wore to the party were definitely a killer!

  2. Oh so incredible! You are my inspiration. I hope to some day be in the place where you are now. Visualizing, self drafting patterns, using just the right fabric, and fitting perfectly! Well done, my friend!

  3. Just so you know….Inspiration Is A Great Thing!!…and you continue to Inspire. Sewing machine now out on its table, serger in place, bits/bobs sorted (except I can’t find the buttons for this jacket I need to finish)…so it’s a GO……thank you!! Great dress, by the way!!

  4. This is a gorgeous dress – well done for self designing it! You’re like me dreaming about things to make – I usually do it when I can’t sleep. I also love your fabric – can’t believe it was from a charity shop.

  5. This dress is absolutely stunning and fits you like a dream! Beautiful, beautiful job! I hear you with the shopping thing. Save for my time in Vietnam (I bought three pieces of clothing), I haven’t shopped for any clothes since picking up sewing last year. It was entirely unconscious – just something that happened.

  6. What an amazing dress! I’m thoroughly inspired and can’t believe you found the fabric in a charity shop! (I’m from the States, so I’m guessing that’s the same as a Goodwill or Salvation Army store)

  7. Absolutely stunning! I love your self-drafted dress (and can’t wait to read about the self-drafted petticoat too). And only 3.50?? I love it when everything comes together for a fabulous creation! Have fun at the birthday party!!!

  8. It’s utterly lovely and suits your style perfectly too, good skills!!! I love big roses fabrics too, what a fantastic score to get it for 3 pounds!!!

  9. What an absolutely gorgeous dress! You’ve done a perfect job and you look stunning in it. I cannot believe you got that wonderful fabric for such a steal, excellent work all around ;o)

  10. Ow wow! Your dress is gorgeous. And how fortunate of you to find such a pretty fabric at such a bargain! I would totally brag about the price of that make. I love me a good bargain 🙂

  11. I so totally do the same thing… designing constantly in my head!

    First self drafted pattern, WHOO HOOO!!! Beautiful pro job!! I love it! You look amazing; it is very much fit for partying and dancing up a storm! 😀

  12. I so love this very special party dress, everything about it is perfect, and how brill that you self drafted for charity shop fabric 🙂

  13. I love this Burda pattern. I made a red crepe version with three quarter sleeves for my daughter. Love your floral print. You’ll stand out in the crowd.

    1. Thanks Gail. Just hopped over to see your daughter’s red dress and its gorgeous. I love it with sleeves. And I’ve added it to ‘the list’! 😉

  14. That’s fab-u-lars! What makes it even better is that you lurve it, it’s written all over your face in the photos. I have a little shoe envy too 🙂

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