Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Prom Dress Finished at Last!

After several weeks of sewing and fittings, the prom dress I have been working on for my friend Jenn is finally finished! And just in time too, her prom is this Saturday. 

My Vintage Visions vintagevisions27.blogspot
Detail of bodice front
The dress pattern was Simplicity 3784, view C with a few modifications - Straight neckline to a sweetheart neckline, a lower, scoped back, and the addition of lace on the bodice. Here is Jenn’s sketch of the modifications (in red) and placement of the lace (in purple). Jenn purchased the dress fabric and lining material. The silver lace came from my stash.

Making the modifications to the pattern pieces was pretty simple to do. After cutting and fitting a muslin mockup, I took the piece for bodice center front, which was cut on the fold, and drew a curved line along the top edge from the side front seam to the center front. Then with the bodice center front folded in half, I cut along that line. A pretty sweetheart neckline in one simple cut! 

My Vintage Visions vintagevisions27.blogspot
Bodice front with all the lace stitched in place
The modifications to the back of the dress proved a bit more challenging. The back of the dress was fairly low to start with but Jenn wanted the center back scooped a little more. We found that removing a large portion of the back caused the bodice to “gap” in the back. The pattern called for boning in all of  the bodice seams but I wasn’t sure it would be enough to keep the dress in place. Fearing a possible wardrobe malfunction, the solution was to add some kind of tie across the center back to help pull the bodice together.
My Vintage Visions vintagevisions27.blogspot

I cut a piece of lace but quickly realized it would not be strong enough on its own. Feeling pressed for time and wanting to find a quick fix, I attached some clear elastic to the lace. This might have worked ok, but I’ll never know for sure because I accidentally melted the elastic with the iron and ruined the piece of lace. Argh! So solution # 2, which is what I should have done the first time, was to cut a new piece of lace and attach some interfacing to it. I added a length of shear ribbon behind the interfacing to give the whole piece more strength. 

Lace for center back of dress

Lace for center back of dress with the elastic ties before I melted them with the iron
The directions for assembling the dress were straight forward. The pieces for the dress and dress lining were assembled separately with the boning sewn into the bodice lining. The lining and fashion fabric were then placed right sides together, sewn along the top of the bodice and turned right side out. I added the lace to the fashion fabric before joining the dress to its lining. The bottom edge of the lace was tacked in place during one of the fitting sessions. Oh, and there is a zipper added to the back at some point along the way. Did you know you can hold your clothing together with something besides buttons and pins?!? That's nonsense! :) The vast majority of my sewing projects have been pre-1930s so I really can’t remember the last time I to put a zipper in something.

Overall the pattern was easy to work with and the directions were clear. I had to pin and baste the heck out of the fabric though because it was so slippery! Linen and wool are so much nicer to work with. Good thing I had my new dress maker's pins. Looking back on the project I can see a few things I would have done differently but I'm pretty happy with the final results. The dress looks great on Jenn and I can't wait to see her and her friends all dolled up at the Grand March on Saturday.

 As with any sewing project it's important to have proper feline supervision. This is Simba who's specialty is "holding your fabric down" and stealing the pin cushion.


  1. What? No photo of the lovely lady in the finished gown? I guess we'll have to go see her at the Grand March! You did a great job on this dress!

  2. I think Abby has some pictures of Jenn wearing the dress while I was working on it. I plan on taking some pictures at the Grand March!


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