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Irish - Dressmakers & Costumers
The Evolution of a solo dress (karma: 3)  en>fr fr>en
By mrs_millyComments: 109, member since Mon May 30, 2011
On Tue Nov 20, 2012 07:11 AM

Now that my DD dress is finished and she has had a chance to debut it at Oireachtas I thought it would be fun to post about the evolution and process of her dress. Maybe it will be helpful to someone else starting or contemplating starting their own dress. I am not a professional, I'm just a mom who felt confident enough in my sewing to attempt a solo dress.

This has been a very long process for us. I started about a year ago researching current styles and dress construction so I could begin to come up with ideas for my daughter's dress. The dress designing alone took months and months of trial and error. I have well over 100 different designs and variations that didn't make the cut. Eventually I came up with a dress that my daughter, her TC and I all liked. Ironically my daughter was the hardest one to please. I thought it would be her TC but he actually liked quite a few of my designs.

Once the design was decided on, I had the daunting task of turning my 2D design into a 3 dimension dress. I started by making a replica of my daughter's torso. I knew I would be working on the dress at times when my daughter was in bed or not around and I needed some way to fit and try things out on even when she wasn't around. I made the "dress form" of my daughter using saran wrap and duct tape but it would have been easier and just as good with a t-shirt like this website describes www.threadsmagazine.com . . .

Next was creating a pattern. I first made my pattern pieces out of tissue paper until I like the way they fit the dress form, then I bought some inexpensive Muslin to use to make a mock up of the dress. To make the pattern for the sequin star bursts I just enlarged the ones I made on the computer in my drawings and printed them out and pinned them on. It worked great. If you are planning to use sequins, plan on a HUGE mess of sparkles when you cut them out. I'm still find them all over the house, even after several vacuumings.

The skirt took a little trial and error. at first I cut it out as a straight strip but realized I wanted it fuller at the bottom and decided to cut it out as a circle skirt. This required a bit of math skills to figure out how big to make the circles but thanks to the internet that wasn't as hard as it could have been.
For the stiffener panel I used my daughters team dress panel as a guide and adjusted it to work the way I wanted. I also cut it out of poster board first and taped it together so I could test it out before cutting it out of the thick pellon.

Picking the fabric for the dress took me a while mostly because I wanted it to be perfect. I sent away for fabric samples to get my sequins and after visiting every fabric store in my area found a fuschia stretch taffeta and a white bridal satin. Under the skirt are 4 layers of gathered fuschia netting which is so fun when she kicks and is dancing.

I digitized all the embroidery for her dress myself. This was my first time doing this so it was definitely a learning process. I also have a machine that can only do 4"x4" design so for the star I had to learn how to piece it together. taoknitter.com was very helpful for that. I am so proud of how the star came out. I was almost sad putting all the crystals on it because how neat it looked.

The bottom trim on the skirt was done by creating a 1 inch bias tape and was really easy to put on and sooo much easier than trying to do a hem on the round skirt would have been.

The first time my daughter wore the dress It wasn't finished yet. I hadn't attached the star or finished any of the trim, but she needed a dress for an upcoming feis so I had to put something together. I ended up sticking a big bow on the front to cover the unfinished part of the sequins. It actually turned out pretty cute and she was happy dancing in it but I wasn't satisfied, obviously.

I realized I needed to drop the skirt a bit because it was sitting to high. I was NOT excited about this because sewing on the skirt with the paneling and stuff is such a pain. Especially since I created the waist with a curve. Fortunately I realized I didn't have to sew them right sides together but I could just sew the top on to the skirt because the belt would cover the seam. This wasn't as easy as I had hoped but it was still easier than the first way I did it.

The star was embroidered on the the white bridal satin wonder undered to the pellon I used for the skirt stiffener then cut out with a very slim border and stitched on with some invisible thread using a zigzag stitch. The black belt is sewn to some of the star bursts that hang down and then tack stitched in a few places. It snaps at the side so she can still undo it so the zipper can be fully unzipped.

I know I could go into so much more detail on this but I hope my pictures with give you a good enough idea of the process. This is not a project for the faint of heart and I know now more than ever why these dresses have such a high price tag. I am glad decided to try my hand at sewing her dress and sooo happy with how it turned out. She looked beautiful wearing it this last weekend. Will I attempt to make another one? Ask me again in about a year;)

I fogot to take pictures of the back of the dress but will post pictures once I do.

20 Replies to The Evolution of a solo dress

re: The Evolution of a solo dress en>fr fr>en
By monkeybiz329member has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 844, member since Sat Mar 04, 2006
On Tue Nov 20, 2012 12:45 PM
I can't BELIEVE that this was your first solo dress! Well done!

My mum makes all of my dresses, but she started when I was much younger and the dresses were must simpler, so she could improve her sewing skills as I improved my dancing. Even then, each dress is quite an undertaking, and I can relate to the hours of planning and agonizing that go into the design, before you even make the first cut into the fabric. The dress looks beautiful, and the proportions are spot-on, which is something very hard for a first-time dressmaker. I'm sure your daughter will glow in this dress. :)
re: The Evolution of a solo dress en>fr fr>en
By Jola Comments: 223, member since Wed May 27, 2009
On Tue Nov 20, 2012 02:56 PM
I am impressed with your digitizing! Was it difficult? What kind of the embroidery machine do you have?
re: The Evolution of a solo dress en>fr fr>en
By DressShopping Comments: 273, member since Thu Aug 12, 2010
On Tue Nov 20, 2012 03:24 PM
Beautiful job! you are a perfectionist!
re: The Evolution of a solo dress en>fr fr>en
By Lunamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 2590, member since Fri Dec 21, 2001
On Tue Nov 20, 2012 03:43 PM
That was really great to see the stages you took to make your daughter's dress. It looks fantastic!
re: The Evolution of a solo dress en>fr fr>en
By Maisey Comments: 491, member since Mon May 12, 2008
On Tue Nov 20, 2012 04:13 PM
Wow---I thought that I have "done it all" for my daughter as far as dancing goes. This is dedication !! Amazing dress thanks for sharing
re: The Evolution of a solo dress en>fr fr>en
By JenBlackerbymember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 900, member since Sun Feb 07, 2010
On Tue Nov 20, 2012 04:25 PM
are you serious this was your first time making a solo??? I am floored! I can't even tell you how many I had to trash to get something decent! Great job!! :) you should be very proud! :)
re: The Evolution of a solo dress en>fr fr>en
By trebletreble Comments: 135, member since Wed Apr 14, 2010
On Tue Nov 20, 2012 10:16 PM
This thread is absolutely brilliant, and clearly answers the questions that many of us have been asking on this site for months on end.

Thank you so much for posting!!
re: The Evolution of a solo dress en>fr fr>en
By Hop_123member has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 4234, member since Sat Feb 03, 2007
On Tue Nov 20, 2012 10:29 PM
What a fabulous job you did! It's a beautiful, up to date dress that you can be soooo proud of. It is incredible to think that that is your first dress. Very nice workmanship.

Do you have a county fair? I suggest you enter it, if you do. Then your daughter will not be the only one getting ribbons!
re: The Evolution of a solo dress en>fr fr>en
By mrs_milly Comments: 109, member since Mon May 30, 2011
On Thu Nov 22, 2012 12:42 AM
Thanks you so much for all the positive comments. I am so flattered! I will say I am super slow at dress making even for a labor intensive ID dress. Several other mom's at my daugher's school were able to finish 2 or more dresses in the time it took me to finish this one. I even had one mom jokingly say to me several times, "Will you just finish that dress already!" It was a LOOOOOONG process.

Jola - The digitizing did take a bit of learning and trial and error. I am still not perfectly happy with some of it but I'm sure that will improve the more I do it. I actually used a free program to digitize, if anyone is interested here is the link sophiesew.com. My embroidery machine is the Brother SE400 it is kind of a "beginner" model but it works for what I need at the moment.

JenBlakerby - I just have to tell you, your black, green and white dress that you posted pictures of a while back helped inspire me and give me confidence to jump into the sewing part of my daughters dress. You did such a beautiful job on it!

Hop_123 - Our State and county fairs were just a couple months ago. I had never thought of entering and ID dress. Such a fun idea, I might have to mull over the idea.

If anyone has any additional questions, don't hesitate to ask and I will do my best to help out.
re: The Evolution of a solo dress en>fr fr>en
By Hop_123member has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 4234, member since Sat Feb 03, 2007
On Thu Nov 22, 2012 01:53 AM
You definitely should enter it. I entered mine after I made it (I finished it it jan, wore it a few times and entered it in sept) and I actually got grand champion for all sewn garments and yours is much nicer than mine!
re: The Evolution of a solo dress en>fr fr>en
By JenBlackerbymember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 900, member since Sun Feb 07, 2010
On Thu Nov 22, 2012 04:21 AM
aww I'm so glad I could inspire someone to jump into dress making! :) Its one of those dive in first and wonder if its sane later kinda things :)
re: The Evolution of a solo dress en>fr fr>en
By trebletreble Comments: 135, member since Wed Apr 14, 2010
On Sat Jan 05, 2013 10:04 AM
What is the name of th skirt stiffener you used? My friend and I are making my new solo dress and I'm not sure where to look...
re: The Evolution of a solo dress en>fr fr>en
By mrs_milly Comments: 109, member since Mon May 30, 2011
On Sat Jan 05, 2013 07:00 PM
TrebleTreble- I used the thickest Pellon I could get at my local fabric store. I believe this is the stuff pellonideas.com . . . I went with the stuff that wasn't fusible and then just used wonder under to fuse the fabric to it. You can buy it with the fusing already on it though if you prefer. I was trying to cut costs so that is why I did it the way I did. I hope this helps you out. If you have anymore questions don't hesitate to ask. Good Luck!
re: The Evolution of a solo dress en>fr fr>en
By KathyWolfe Comments: 25, member since Sun Jan 06, 2013
On Sun Jan 06, 2013 04:48 PM
Thank you so much for this detailed post. I am quite inspired!

I'm also making my daughter a solo dress with this style skirt. I am very happy with the bodice, but I am having trouble with the skirt.

How large of a circle did you use? Was it a full circle? How deep were the pleats? Any advice or details you can share would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!
re: The Evolution of a solo dress en>fr fr>en
By mrs_milly Comments: 109, member since Mon May 30, 2011
On Sun Jan 06, 2013 11:12 PM
KathyWolfe-The skirt is made with a full circle. the outer circumference was about 144 inches but it was cut in half for seems on the sides and also in the back for the zipper. I lost the seam allowance (1 inch) in all of those places. The second circle was cut 10 inches in from the outer circle since that is the length I wanted the skirt to be plus seam allowance. I don't know if that makes sense so I will attach some pictures to help. The pleats are 3 inch wide box pleats measured at the waist. At the seams I kind of just had to adjust the pleats and seems to make it work out correctly to fit the stiffener. It would have worked out better had I added seam allowances to all of the pieces rather than just cutting it out as a big circle so that would be my suggestion to you. Hope this helps you out. Let me know if you have any more questions. Best of luck!
re: The Evolution of a solo dress en>fr fr>en
By mrs_milly Comments: 109, member since Mon May 30, 2011
On Sun Jan 06, 2013 11:19 PM
kathyWolfe- I was also going to say my daughter is 10 so her waist and hips is rather small (I think 24-25 inches in the hips) so you will want to adjust the size of the circles for your dress according to your daughter's measurements.
re: The Evolution of a solo dress en>fr fr>en
By Ma23peas Comments: 34, member since Sat Jun 23, 2012
On Sat Jan 19, 2013 05:27 PM
Oh my goodness! That is a labor of love and just convinces me I am not detailed enough to tackle it! Beautiful dress!
re: The Evolution of a solo dress en>fr fr>en
By Padboo Comments: 14, member since Sun Jan 20, 2013
On Mon Feb 04, 2013 10:16 PM
Wow, I love this site, picked up so many tips, will get to task on making my duck tape form as my daughter fed up I'd being the dummy! Have made her a dress, it ok but have learnt a lot . Will post pics when full member .
re: The Evolution of a solo dress en>fr fr>en
By Kasheima Comments: 9, member since Thu May 24, 2012
On Sun Feb 24, 2013 09:59 PM
This post was so helpfull! What kind of sewing machine did you use to make the embroidered star?
re: The Evolution of a solo dress en>fr fr>en
By mrs_milly Comments: 109, member since Mon May 30, 2011
On Mon Feb 25, 2013 06:54 PM
Kasheima- My embroidery machine is the Brother se400, it got the job done, but I would recommend something with a larger hoop copacity, at least 5"x7". :)

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