I met Crystal’s mother in the fabric store as she was asking a sales associate if she knew anyone who could sew a dress for her daughter. I was standing there as she asked the sales clerk and said, “I can!”, and that was the introduction to a wonderful and challenging journey.
Crystal shared with me what she was looking for in a prom dress, but could not find in stores or online for a reasonable cost.
This is what she showed me:
I LOVE the gowns she showed me and was immediately excited to design her a dress similar to these gowns!
Then came the hard part: finding a suitable fabric that didn’t cost a small fortune per yard to made the dress out of. We went fabric shopping a couple of times together and she came across this lovely purple tones floral printed polyester satin for $8.99 a yard (and on sale 30% off!) and it was perfect for the dress. We also found a complimentary plum-colored lining for the dress that was only $3.99 a yard (also 30% off!).
I found some commercial patterns to try to get the look she was going for including Burda 7011 as shown below. She wanted the skirt of the gown to be gathered and not flat, like the Burda pattern was like, so I drafted the skirt myself using two large rectangles 3 times wider than the waist measurement to gather into the waist. She also wanted the front of the dress hem to be higher than the back, so I carefully drew in an arc shape at the front of the dress hem and cut the shape out of the outer and lining fabric.
The gathering of the skirt and skirt lining proved to be one of the most challenging parts of making this dress! The fabric is heavy, slippery and frays like crazy, so I had to take my time to gather carefully and evenly all around the skirt and sew it to the bodice with precision.
Hemming the skirt was also a big challenge. At first, I wanted to make a deep, 2″ hem to give the skirt some weight and hang nicely, but as I pined and tried to sew this deep hem, it really was not working and caused major puckers and was not sitting flat against itself. So I ripped out all the stitching and just made a narrow hem at the bottom. My serger came in very handy for making this hem, and also to prevent fraying on the edges of the two fabrics.
We also decided to add a layer of tulle to the skirt to give it a little extra fullness.
After the second fitting of the dress, which we did before I inserted the boning and installed the zipper, and we decided to add bra cups into the bodice for extra support in the dress and eliminate the need for a bra. Here is the interior of the bodice of the dress including the sewn-in bra cups, satin hanger loops and grosgrain ribbon waist stay (a belt-like support sewn into the dress to help support the weight of the skirt and keep the dress up).
All in all, it was a great experience working with her and her mother to create the prom dress that she envisioned. I learned a lot along the way and hope to make more custom dresses for her and other clients in the near future.