Added May 17, 2013
This dress was made for the daughter of a friend, for her School Leavers Ball / Prom (held at age 16 in the UK) – the school made the decision to have a proper US style prom rather than just the usual British school disco with fizzy pop and soggy crisps, so the young lady in question wanted something appropriate. First we looked at lots of images and created an inspiration board on Pinterest
Shari picked the ideas and designs she liked best and I drew rough sketch including all the elements she wanted to incorporate.
I found some fabrics at my local fabric shop and sent pictures of them via email for her to pick from; I then set to work on figuring out a pattern to use. I followed the instructions in Burdastyle’s Sewing Vintage Modern to draft a pattern for a boned bodice top and then altered it for the desired shape, as this was a formal event for teenagers (under 18’s) I wanted quite a modest-ish neckline / bust area, even though the dress was strapless! I also wanted to incorporate Shari’s own unique sense of style, she was keen on a high/low skirt but a little longer than the pictures we had been looking at on Pinterest.
I drafted the skirt using a circle skirt as the basis and altering the shape of the pieces for a high/low effect. As the skirt is made of layers I made the biggest pattern piece first and simply redrew and cut the paper piece for each layer according to the measurements I’d taken.
As Shari lives quite far away from where I live in the North of England, the whole process of designing and fitting the dress was done via post and Facebook! This was tricky but worked reasonably well in the end. I made a muslin of the dress bodice with her measurements, posted it and worked from photos to make a second and third muslin to perfect the fit. I got a pretty good fit but could maybe have shortened the bodice slightly. The skirt is only really fitted over the hips so I didn’t bother with a muslin of the skirt.
The final dress is made up in a shiny purple faux silk (poly-mix) fabric with a sheen to it that you can’t really see in the pictures. I covered the bodice with a dotted chiffon/net fabric and used this for a top layer on the skirt. The body of the skirt is the same faux-silk with layers of tulle in black and metallic pink/purple. The dress is lined on with a purple satin lining material (also used for a ‘slip’ style lining in the skirt to stop the tulle scratching!). The bodice is underlined and boned with spiral steel boning for support. The front has decorative lacing in complementary colours chosen by Shari and a hand made fabric flower made from the dress fabric. It fastens at the back with a 20" purple YKK zipper and a hook and eye.
Shari was very happy with the dress and we achieved a nearly-perfect fit which shows of her figure very well without being too adult for her personal style. The photo shows her ready to got to prom with her hair freshly dyed and expressing her individuality through her accessories! The straps visible in the picture are bra straps as I think she felt a little self conscious going without!
If I was to do this again I would definitely get an in-person fitting and shorten the bodice a little. I would also add a waist stay. I personally would also shorten the skirt in the front, but Shari loves the dress and that’s the main thing!
Faux-silk poly mix in purple with blue/pink sheen
Pink metallic tulle
Dotted chiffon net
cotton poplin for under lining
Satin lining Fabric
Spiral steel boning cut to length by me
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