Floral Silk Girly Dress

Whenever I have been invited to an occasion, the first thing I think of is “what am I going to wear?”. The next thing I think of is “what can I sew for myself to wear” as I love to make clothing and I love wearing things that are unique and nobody else has in their closet. From there, I pull up my pattern stash archive, pay a visit to my fabric stash (or the fabric store if I really don’t have the appropriate fabric to work with) and get started planning and sewing my outfit.

For this occasion, I was invited to a wedding of a lovely bridal alterations client who had become a friend over our many dress fittings and consultations of her beautiful wedding gown. The major part of her dress that I altered was her complicated and intricate bustle of her train that I she dreamed up and I created for her. Originally, as I fiddled and fussed to get her train bustled just right at one of her fittings, I said to her “I’ll just hide in the bushes at your wedding venue, you give me the signal when you are ready, and I’ll sneak out and help you bustle, then disappear back into the bushes and let you be on your way to the reception”. She would have none of that and insisted that I attend the wedding as her guest, and enjoy the entire ceremony plus be ready to bustle…DEAL!

So, being the alteration seamstress of honor at this wedding, I just had to have something special and handmade to wear! Not having all the time in the world to be sewing for myself with the very busy post-Covid wedding season upon us and other alterations and custom sewing client projects literally piling up in my sewing studio, I decided to make a dress that I have made before (a huge time and energy saver!) and use fabric that I had in my stash from Mill End Store in Portland, OR.

I pulled out this lovely pattern from Butterick that I had already cut out and made fit alterations to the pattern for a dress that I made a couple of years ago:

Butterick 6554 pattern

I made view C, the halter neck, ruffled and flounce dress that wraps and ties to the side.

This time around, I decided to fully line the dress (instead of using the bodice facing from the pattern), meaning I cut out the entire dress, the bodice and the skirt pieces, less the flounces, in both the outer, floral silk georgette fabric and the silk lining that I also had in my fabric stash. Cutting silk, especially sheer, floaty slippery silk, is NOT easy if you’ve ever tried. It slips all over the place and misbehaves in as many ways as it can, just to drive you nuts and practically give up before you even started. But, since it was SO pretty and soft, I did my best to battle it and tackle it into submission, knowing in the end it was going to be incredible and worth it all.

The silk draped so innocently on my dress form
Anchored down and ready to cut!

So the sewing begins!

Making a tiny hem to the ruffled edge

It all went pretty well and the fact that I had made it before, I knew what to expect from the pattern instructions.

The most difficult and time consuming part was making the narrow hem on the long outside edge of the flounce that would be attached at the bottom of the skirt. Check out this pattern piece that is over 110 inches long. Yikes!

After tackling that beast, the dress was nearly done and I could start to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Having a major deadline to hit, and other clients banging down my door and begging me to help them with their last-minute bridal requests, I finished up my dress and just got ‘er done.

One last thing I added to the dress was lightweight foam bra cups sewn into the bodice lining as that sheer stuff certainly wasn’t going to hide my bits. Thank goodness I had some on hand in my supply stash and I was able to swiftly hand sew them into my dress, no problem! Confidence boosters for boobs-horray!

Bra cups sewn in saved any wardrobe malfunctions!

I just have to share the insides of the dress with the lovely silk lining!

Here I cheated and used my serger to attach the waist of the bodice to the skirt and hide the raw edges.
The skirt lining that ends just above the flounce

So off we went to the wedding, leaving enough time to stop at one of our favorite spots in the wine country of the Willamette Valley in Oregon, The Allison Inn and Spa, to snap some photos and have a glass of champagne and a light cheese plate before the wedding. Perfect!

Let’s go up there, that’s where the champagne is served!
The lovely snack we shared over a glass of wine and champagne!
Watch that breeze!

As much as I enjoy the entire process of making a new dress, it feels so good to be done with this one, wear it to a fun wedding (and not have to hide in the bushes!) and hang it up on my wardrobe for another occasion.

Until next time, cheers!

A Goddess Bride in the Making

I was overjoyed to have been contacted by an acquaintance to create a custom wedding gown for her elegant and opulent wedding happening in October of 2019. Dione is a lovely boss-lady who has a bold sense of fashion and an arresting beauty, so of course, I was super excited to have the opportunity to create something unique for her wedding dress!

We started with ideas, concepts and visions of what she wanted for her gown.

She was going for BIG, BOLD and DRAMATIC!

She shared these images with me for her visions of the gown:

The High/Low hem and embellishments of this dress really caught her eye.
She loved the embellishment details of this dress, and the volume of the ballgown

So I got to work right away coming up with concepts that I would be able to create and achieve with the skills that I had.

I made some fashion sketches and shared them with her:

And the fittings began!

I started with this McCalls 7720 sewing pattern for the shape of the bodice, and possibly the skirt too if I could get the fullness:

McCalls 7720 pattern

I ended up just using the bodice of the pattern and draping the skirt.

At first, she wanted to have a tulle underskirt to wear for the wedding ceremony, then take off the underskirt to reveal the underside of the hem and her fabulously shapely legs. Here is a raw version of the dress mocked up in muslin with a tulle skirt underneath for fullness:

I perfected the fit of the bodice easily on her slim torso, so that was easy. It was getting the skirt length, fit and drape just right that was the major challenge:

Here she is, in the dress, cut in the satin, pinned up to make the hemline as we wanted
Placing the motifs with the tulle underneath
And with a couple of the fancy gold trim motif’s pinned to the front.
And more trim…

At the next fitting, I had pinned the gold trim all around the skirt and we tried this on for fun (meanwhile, we were moving into a new house, was planning our own wedding, and I was making my own dress, so please excuse the chaos of my sewing room):

Nice, but we weren’t happy with the back length at all so I kinda had to start over.

OK so fast forward, I was starting to admire my work as I worked late into the night up in my new sewing loft. I had a bodice, a skirt, and it was starting to look like a real wedding gown.

Playing with the pleat formation

Once we had the shape decided, I started the tedious task of sewing on all of the gold trim on, one motif at a time, with this annoying, yet beautiful, gold metallic thread. I was married by now, so I could put the making of MY dress out of my head and focus on Di’s dress:

Then, it was on to sewing the lining to the outside of the dress, all by hand:

Can’t lie, this was tedious…

Finally, the dress was done and ready for the final fitting! (Again, please excuse the pile of junk shoved in the corner, I was BUSY!)

Get ready for chills up your spine….

Photo: Dina Chmut Photography
I can’t…SO HOT!!! Photo: Dina Chmut Photography

Sums it all up: BAD-ASS BEAUTY! Photo: Dina Chmut Photography
With her handsome groom Howard, LOVE! Photo: Dina Chmut Photography
Those legs go on for miles! Photo: Dina Chmut Photography
YESSS!!!! Photo: Dina Chmut Photography

We had a BLAST at the wedding! It was a a huge, black tie event, so of course I had to throw together another dress to wear to it as the official dressmaker to the bride!

I just threw this together in a few days to wear to the wedding, no biggie..
Ready to go!
We were honored to attend the grand affair!

What an honor it was to create such a special gown for Dione! She was a lot of fun to work with and so great to get to know better. I loved EVERY minute of the process (ok, maybe not the hand sewing part) and am delighted to have had the opportunity.

CONGRATS!!! You’re a Goddess living amongst us!

Love! Photo: Dina Chmut Photography

Flounces in Floral

I usually don’t identify myself as being overly girly or feminine, but I’m finding myself drawn to flounces, ruffles, florals and other “girly” details in fashion lately. So, I figured, why not succumb to my femininity and make myself something floral, flouncy and flirty! (Yes, I am a total dork if you were wondering.)

Last summer, I came across this floral stretch denim fabric at Joann’s and really liked it, so I purchased a couple of yards of it, with the intention of making a little dress out of it:

Floral Stretch Denim

We were planning a trip to Las Vegas in August 2017 and I thought this would be a great opportunity to sew a little strappy fitted dress for the trip, but then the trip was cancelled so this particular dress project was also cancelled, at least for the time being.

Fast forward to early Spring 2018. McCall’s Pattern Company released some really great patterns and for a couple of dollars, I picked up this one, and a few others, during one of Joann Fabrics pattern sales:

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I’m not all that crazy about the ginormous sleeves on view B and C on this pattern, but I really like the little jacket shape and flounces of view A:

M7730viewA

I thought I could make up a cute little spring jacket like this one I spotted on Pinterest:

Flounce Sleeve Jacket

This pattern, although trendy, could easily be made up in solid colors, prints, or with more of a classic look by just leaving off the flounces that are constructed separately and sewn to the outside along a marked stitching line.

One thing that I thought could improve the quality of the jacket in terms of construction and wear was a facing. Without a facing on the inside of this jacket, the lining would come all the way to the edges of the jacket and possibly show or peek out from the inside of the jacket. Upon doing some research of other sewists that have made this jacket, some of them had added a facing and were much happier with the result. So, I decided to take the time to do the same to mine.

I pulled up my online Craftsy sewing class Mastering Construction: Linings and Facings with instructor Sara Alm for a refresher on how to make facings and got to work adjusting my pattern.

Commercial break: I absolutely LOVE Craftsy and have learned so much from these great online classes! The classes offered are an invaluable tools for learning for creative-minded people.

I traced a 3″ facing from the jacket front and back pattern pieces, then also traced the lining (minus the facing area) from the same pattern pieces to create facings and a new lining pattern (adding seam allowances to each):

 

I then decided to add a little fun pop of color to this jacket that is ultimately just shades of grey and chalk white. I used packaged piping in bright fuchsia pink to sew between the lining and the facing. I see this type of detail in some ready-to-wear garments and knew it would be a relatively easy detail to add to the interior (I also learned how to do this by watching another one of my favorite Craftsy classes, Sew Like a Designer: Fashion Details):

 

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Oh, and I also decided that I would like to have a pocket in this jacket, so I just traced off a rectangle (using a notebook that was handy and my clear grid ruler) and cut out two of these from the lining material, sewed them together leaving an opening to turn, turned it inside out, gave it a good press, then top stitched it to one of the front sides of the lining. I thought of doing a nice welt pocket here, but wasn’t in the mood to take the time to do that. Maybe next time!

It was exciting to see my jacket was really starting to come together! I love how the entire jacket is lined, including the underside of the sleeve and peplum flounces. Here is one sleeve getting pressed on my handy sleeve board after the flounce was gathered slightly and sewed to the outside of the sleeve:

 

The final touch of slip stitching by hand the sleeve lining to the sleeve at the hem:

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All in all, this jacket was a fairly easy sewing project and only took a few evenings after work and Saturday morning to complete. I am so happy with it and glad that I chose to make this up, especially in a floral print.

I got a kick out of showing off the lining, piping and little pocket that I added to the construction of this little gem:

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And, of course, my Love, Stephanie label too:

Label in Floral Flounce Jacket

I enjoyed wearing this out to a local fashion event, along with a silk camisole and black wide leg trousers, also items that I have sewn. I even received a couple of compliments on my jacket! Good times!

 

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Happy Spring!

Strapless Floral Girly Dress

I just love a strapless dress! For some reason, the style just looks so elegant and flattering (if the fit is absolutely perfect: not too tight, never too loose) on a special occasion dress, or even a summer day dress. Something about showing off the neck, décolletage, shoulders, arms and upper back I find so alluring while daring and sensual on a woman.

        I started making this dress over a year ago in hopes to wear to a garden wedding. The fabric, “Shimmering Pink Floral Polyester Twill” which I believe is from Oscar de la Renta,  I acquired from Mood Designer Fabrics back in 2015 and have been holding onto for the perfect dress. It’s time has come!

shimmering-pink-floral-polyester-twill-306019-14

As I was nearly done with it, I decided that it was a little too “young” looking on me and not quite as a sophisticated a look I was going for the occasion I was attending. So, with two days to spare, I set it aside for the wedding and whipped up a quick floral silk maxi dress (which turned out to be perfect) instead.

Meanwhile, about a year later, I managed to finish the floral dress (less a finished hem) and I just love the result and am just getting around to blogging about it:

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I began this dress with the fabric, a pattern and a vision:

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As you might notice from my sketch, I envisioned this dress with a horizontal sheer inset panel in the skirt made of organza. I also was planning to add black piping within the seams of the bodice to add texture and dimension, but neither of these design features made it into the dress.

I love these designer dresses with the pretty floral prints, fit & flare silhouette, flirty strapless bodice, and best of all, pockets!

 

Here is an image of a lovely skirt by Donna Karan from which I was thinking of borrowing the sheer inset design detail:

Donna Karan Sheer Inset Skirt

I used this dress pattern 7082 View A from McCalls to create this dress:

M7082

McCalls 7082

I started this dress the “proper” way with a fitting muslin so I wouldn’t risk totally messing this dress up by just cutting out the pattern, and assuming all would fit right out of the package, like I have done too many times before. I did want to make the best use out of my pretty fabric after all the work and time that is put into projects such as this, so making a muslin version first just made sense.

The fit was pretty good in muslin. I needed to take in the back. Actually, now that I look at it more carefully and have had more sewing and fitting education and experience in the past year, I should have taken some length out horizontally in the back as I can see bunching and wrinkling here where it should lay smoothly across my back:

I then started cutting out and constructing the dress in the printed fabric as well as the wonderful bright pink lining after transferring the changes back to the pattern:

The rest of the construction went pretty smoothly. Making the bodice:

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The boned bodice lining:

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and the skirt, adding fun and handy pockets to the pattern (because I can!):

The inside of this dress makes me happy with the bright pink satin lining and the cute black and white polka dot ribbon I added to the side seams of the bodice to serve as hanging loops:

Here she is, the entire outer dress sewn together, ready for the lining to be set in:

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The inside of this little gem looks almost as good as the outside!

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I just love my little dress and hope for an occasion to wear it, or sell it off to one lucky lady who would enjoy this one of a kind sweet little dress! Any takers out there?

On to the next sewing adventure…Bye for now!

Luxe Silk Overlay Top

M7411e

 

I just finished sewing up this lovely top in silk georgette. It turned out gorgeous and so luxe to the touch. I can’t wait to wear it, but first, it is meant for a sample to showcase in an adorable little shop in Lake Oswego, Oregon, Nick and Figs, where I aspire to teach and instruct sewing this top in the near future.

The material is a silk georgette I bought at Mill End Store in Beaverton in a gorgeous shade of green:

teal silk georgette

the color of this fabric is more of a blue/green than this photo shows

This fabric was NOT easy to sew! It frays, it’s super slippery and figetey to work with. This fabric is lucky that I love it, otherwise, this would never be in my sewing room!

I used this new McCalls pattern 7411 to make this top:

M7411

I traced off onto separate pattern paper and cut out view C in size Small with no changes or adjustments to the pattern. The only thing I goofed up on was the side seam of the overlay. I is supposed to be split and longer in the back than the front as this line art shows:

M7411viewClineartI didn’t realize this and just cut the overlay straight across from the front to the back, so the seams match and are not split as shown. I’m fine with that, it’s just not as the pattern intended.

On one of my Pinterest boards, I had pinned some lovely tops in a similar look to keep in mind while making this top:

Hello Spring

Looks great with white jeans

Red overlay top

 

After settling in with the pattern cut and all my markings and notches were complete, things went fairly smoothly with sewing this top. Taking my time pinning each raw edge together and carefully sewing, I completed this top in a few days:

M7411detail

pinning the front neckline

M7411sewing1

making a baby (hem)

M7411closeup1

tiny hook and eye hand sewed to the back neck edge

 

The most difficult parts of sewing this double layer top was getting the part where the two layers of the back opening at the bottom of it to come together perfectly and have a smooth finish to it. I carefully went over this area twice so not to have a gaping hole here, then gave her a good press to make it smooth and ripple free. Sorry, no photo…

Also, figuring out the last part, sewing the two layers of the shoulder seams together was a little confusing and tricky, but after some careful thought and basting seams here, I figured it out by just imagining what it should look like when finished and sort of thinking backwards (if that makes any sense). Sorry again, no photo…it wasn’t a pretty sight anyway…

 

After all that, it turned out a lovely simple yet luxe top that I hope to sew again, next time along with eager students in my intermediate sewing class at a wonderful little local creative arts school.

 

 

Happy Spring!

Cold Shoulder Project

DSC_0072

OMG, why is it freezing in here? Oh, right, I’m wearing a COLD SHOULDER top! Duh!

Seriously, now, I love this trend. A loose-fitting top (or a tight one) with a little skin showing at the upper arm and shoulder. What a great way to show off one of the skinny and toned (read: bony) parts of my body and a perfect spot to dab on a light perfume or scented body lotion and invite a sweet kiss there from my Boo!

I set out to sew this top using a lovely silk chiffon by Suno I purchased a few years ago from Josephine’s Dry Goods in Portland, OR. It is a wonderfully soft, airy and flowy feel to it and has a colorful navy blue, mossy green and chartreuse brush stroke-like pattern to it (I love fabrics and clothing that mimic art in case you were wondering) that happens to go great with denim:

printed silk charmeuse

I felt that this silk was a tad too sheer to prance around in and not feel too exposed while wearing this top (that open shoulder was already so daring and risqué!), so I decided to add another layer of chiffon to the front and back of the top, a lining of a sort, leaving the sleeves just one layer. I used a nice tan silk chiffon I have had in my fabric stash since who-knows-when:

tan silk chiffon

This tan layer was the perfect color and weight under the printed fabric as it looks similar to my skin tone and kept the integrity of the fashion fabric light and airy while providing the coverage desired.

cutting the tan silk chiffon front and back

 

I was going for a look like the following cold shoulder tops I have seen in stores and on Pinterest:

There are several commercial sewing patterns available now to sew and achieve this look, and I chose this one, B6457 from Butterick to try:

Butterick 6457I chose view A with the V neck and the elastic sleeve hem to make.

The sleeve pattern piece was the most interesting to me. Of course, this is the most interesting part of the design of this top. Here it is shown flat as I was cutting it out of my fabric:

sleeve pattern piece

It was a relatively easy top to make, accept for the difficult fabric I chose to use (chiffon is quite delicate, shifty and frays when you simply look at it), and that V-neck band turned out to cause me a good deal frustration and time figuring out the exact placement of the sleeve and the point of the V. UGH!

I took my time for this area, using tailors tacks in fuchsia pink thread, basting by hand before sewing on the machine and trying my hardest to carefully match the points as needed:

After all the careful sewing work, I really, really love this top! It is great for the spring weather as it is light and colorful, and the sleeves give just the right amount of coverage (accept for my poor, bony, freezing cold shoulders, HA!).

I am not sure I will sew the same pattern again, but I do plan to make other variations on the “cold shoulder” trend in the near future because it is fun and flirty.

 

DSC_0083DSC_0071

 

Cheers to you and Happy Spring!

Printed Silk Palazzo Pants

I’m in love with these pants! I made them in a wonderful, silk charmeuse with a big, bold swirly floral print I purchased at Mill End Store in Milwaukie, Oregon a few years ago. I originally bought this fabric to make a maxi dress, but decided that they would make great flowy pants instead.

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I made these using New Look 6271 pattern:

6271These were fast and easy to make. Using my serger to make the side, inseam and crotch seams made it go pretty fast.

I added 3″ to the leg of the pant and another 2″ to the hem. I wanted these to be long and flowy and to have a deep enough hem to weigh down the drape. I think I ended up with 2″ for a hem.

I let the pants hang for a day or two before I hemmed them so that they had time to relax and “grow” if they wanted to.

Pants hanging before hemming

Pants hanging before hemming

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I also made a couple of quick sketches just to practice and to get ideas of tops I could wear with these pants:

Sketch 1

Yup, that's me!

Yup, that’s me!

I love these pants and they are SO comfortable! It has to be a “skinny” day to wear these as they can really make the thighs, butt and waist look just as wide as the pants if you are not careful, or make sure to wear something form fitting on top to balance out the fullness of the pant.

I was going for a summery, beachy look such as these images:

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I will definitely be making more of these pants. Maybe out of linen, a soft cotton, rayon or silk again. I love them!

Adios Amigos!

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Denim Sheath Dress

Denim dress Vogue 8995

This dress was completed just in time to wear to the Pattern Review weekend retreat in Los Angeles back in April 2015. Here is a photo of me and Deepika Prakesh (who is amazing and hysterical!), the founder of PatternReview.com, at the group dinner that weekend.

With Deepika at PatternReview weekend in LA

With Deepika at PatternReview weekend in LA

I met so many wonderful sewers and connected with them in a special way. Here is my new buddy Kristin that I also met on this weekend retreat:

With Kristen G.

With Kristen G. at PatternReview weekend in LA

I used Vogue 8995 pattern to make this fitted sheath dress with interesting seams:

V8995

 

I’m always looking out to expand my creativity with commercial patterns. I really consider this denim dress sort of another muslin version, a draft, to see if I like the dress and want to “move forward” with it, creating other dresses from this as standard. So fun! And good sewing practice too!

I really enjoyed making this dress. It took some time and planning, as I originally wanted to add metal studs to the shoulder yoke part of this dress, but then decided that would make it too limiting. I may go back and add the studs though and give it a bit of an edgy look. I did use a metal-look plastic exposed zipper for this dress to give it a little back interest. The dress looks actually kind of flat and the seams are not apparent in this dark fabric. perhaps some top stitching would have been a good idea for this to really help the cool seam lines “pop”. Next time….

Seam detail of denim sheath dress

Seam detail of denim sheath dress

I made up a muslin and asked my good friend and fashion designer Rachael to help fit it for me. She was great! I definitely will be using her fitting help again in the future!

The dress is made up of a dark wash stretch denim and a stretch silk lining. I serged the fabric edges of each cut out piece of the pattern for both the outer shell of the dress as well as the lining. I use my awesome Baby Lock Imagine serger to overlock and stitch seams as often as I can. It’s a beautiful machine!

I will like to make up this pattern again, but making changes to the neckline, carving it out a bit so that it is not quite so high. Also, I will taper the skirt to more of a pencil skirt.

The opportunity came up to have a photo shoot done at The Nines Hotel, a really lovely, luxury hotel in Portland, Oregon, and I grabbed it! An acquaintance of mine, Gina, has a photography business Afar Photography and wants to expand her portfolio, so asked me if I would like to have some of the clothes that I have made in the shoot. Heck YEA!!!!

Here are some of the great shots she got of me in this dress:

At The Nines Hotel in denim dress

At The Nines Hotel in denim dress

Denim dress on bench

Denim close up against wall

Back exposed zip of denim dress

Exposed zip of denim dress

Of course, I have a little bit of fashion inspiration for this sewing project:

LBD sheath influenced by Audrey Hepburn

LBD sheath influenced by Audrey Hepburn

Red fitted sheath dress

Red fitted sheath dress

Versace sheath dress

Versace sheath dress

I love my new dress and thank my friends for helping me make this a great one!

Denim dress in doorway

Denim dress in doorway

Colorful Print BurdaStyle Tube Dress: Possible Contest Winner!

BurdaStyle.com was taking entries for making the Gathered Tube Dress pattern and the winner would be featured as the pattern model in place of the illustration:

BurdaStyle Gathered Tube Dress 04/2010 #165

I decided that this was an easy enough pattern, and I could make it up quickly with some nice fabric. It definitely was a fast and easy sewing pattern, with only a front and a back pattern piece, a measured and fabric strip for the waist elastic casing. The entire dress took only about 3 hours to make it. Downloading it from the BurdaStyle website and taping the pattern pieces together took the most time actually!

Silk Charmeuse Print Strapless Dress

I ran out to Mill End Store in Beaverton, OR and grabbed up this lovely printed silk as I felt this would be great fabric for this dress. I did need more fabric than the dress calls for because I wanted to try to match the colors of the pattern at the side seams. The lovely ladies at the fabric store helped me to decide on this fabric as they felt it was artistic and colorful and would stand out in photos.

Also, thanks to two of my super cool girlfriends, they help pick a great spot as a backdrop to take photos and snapped away! Thanks Girlfriends!

Printed silk strapless dress

Gathered Tube Dress #165

I am happy with my dress, although I should have taken a few extra minutes and measured the pattern pieces again, as I feel that the fit around my hips is a bit too tight, and I fiddled with that the whole time I was wearing it. The annoying, ill-fitting half-slip I was wearing under this didn’t help either.

I was informed today that I am actually one of the four finalist in the contest! So if I win, you might be seeing me in my dress as the model for this sewing pattern on BurdaStyle.com. Pretty cool!

Member Model? Maybe so!