Oh, how I love a ball! Dressed up to the nines, dancing … there are few ways I’d rather spend an evening. Sadly life these days is a little short on balls, so hurray for Crafty Sew and So and next week’s Dressmaker’s Ball!
I decided to return to the Simple Sew Bardot dress for my gown, after my pleasing first version of this pattern, and simply adjust the skirt to full-length. An off-the-shoulder neckline is often seen on evening dresses from the 1950s and I loved the idea of a dress that would evoke that era of high glamour. Duchesse satin seemed the perfect fabric choice, and I was beyond thrilled when I opened my parcel from Sew Essential to discover that the enclosed satin was the perfect shade of summer red: the vermilion of a poppy.
I made no adjustments to the top apart from completely self-lining it. The skirt on the other hand is rather further from the original: the box pleats were deepened and the side flare increased, with the length extended to the floor.
It was only after I’d completed the main construction (sans hem) and was showing off on Easter Sunday in front of my family that I came upon the idea of a high-low hem with a contrasting lining. A flash of black within the red –just like a poppy! (As a child, I loved the Flower Fairies, and the Poppy Fairy was one of my favourites …) This meant ordering more fabric and then (because I will avoid unpicking like hard labour) measuring the red skirt to create a black replica. This was then stitched onto the waistband over the original line of stitching. The bodice lining is hand-stitched down to conceal the seam – the satin frays monstrously so the skirts are French-seamed and there are no exposed raw edges.
Using my dress form I hung the dress and pinned both skirts together all over to make sure neither would be pulling at the other once they’d been hemmed together. I then pinned the line I wanted for the high-low hem (a sort of curved moustache outline, regarded from the front!) and cut away the excess. The hem was all stitched by hand, rolling the two skirts in towards each other. The skirt is of course now very weighty, so I’m hoping to find time to add a waist stay before the 12th of May.
I think the wonderful thing about this dress is how essentially simple it really is. It just goes to show what a difference fabric choice and a bit of hacking (even if I’d simply lengthened the skirt with no other alteration it would still be dramatic) can make to a pattern’s outcome. I am so pleased with this resulting look! I feel it nods back to the ’50s but at the same time the hemline gives it contemporary drama. I’ll just have to resist the urge to keep hoisting my skirt to flash that black inside … x