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!

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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:

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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!

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Ruffle Me Pretty!

I’ve finally finished this dress and I am really excited about it!

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I purchased the beautiful floral print silk and cotton blend voile at Josephine’s Dry Goods and the pink silk habotai lining at Mill End Store back in April, as well as the McCall’s 7537 sewing pattern around the same time. I gently laundered the fabric and cut out the pattern fairly shortly after that, and that is saying a lot because many of my desired projects sit and wait patiently their turn in the sewing queue.

I eagerly got started on this dress as I had a special event for which I wanted to make this that occurred back in June. However, by the time the date rolled around for the event I was not even close to being done in time for the event, plus it poured buckets that day and I would have been miserable (not to mention way overdressed!) if I had worn it, so it wasn’t meant to be quite yet.

Usually, I don’t take too much time sewing up trendy garments, but something about ruffles just calls to my inner femininity and I felt that the pattern silhouette it was classic enough that the trend would stick around for at least a little while, so I went for it.

Here are some of my ruffle inspiration looks that I find to be quite appealing, super feminine and flattering:

 

As with most dresses or garments that carry the details at the top and near the neckline, this pattern took the most time and attention to make at the bodice and gathered waist band. This pattern is labeled “Advanced” on the envelope and I can agree with that rating as there are quite a few pattern pieces and more advanced sewing and construction details.

Looking at the pattern envelope, it is a little more difficult to see all these pretty details with the print of the dress she is wearing:

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However, the line drawing shows these details clearly:

M7537 Line Art

I was immediately drawn to the feminine and girly silhouette of this dress! I love the sort of boho-chic, gypsy vibe this dress gives off. I think it would be amazing (although a total beeotch to sew) in a floaty silk chiffon, with or without the sleeves, made with all couture seams and construction (of course) and I believe would turn out a high end boutique-worthy frock.

So, I took to making this dress the best I could with the spendy fabric and luxe lining. I used French seams where ever I could, and took the time to sew by hand where needed.

It took many hours to carefully pin and sew the two separate ruffles, each ruffle consisting of three pattern pieces to be sewn together first and then hemmed with a micro-mini curved hem before attaching to the neckline:

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Then, a lined facing was attached over the two tiers of ruffles and slip stitched by hand to the inside of the facing. I don’t have a photo of this in process, but it took a great deal of time and ended up kind of bulky, uneven and wavy with all of those layers. I skipped the elastic loops and lace up ties since there was NO WAY I could get these tiny loops made from elastic thread to sew down. I then edge stitched around the inner edge go the neckline to try to tame the ruffles and keep them from sticking up too much.

I read other sewing reviews about this on my favorite go-to sewing website Pattern Review that claimed that the neckline on this pattern was a pain to work with, which I do agree with, and very low cut, but I find the neckline to be OK and not reveal too much boobage.

Next came the gathered midriff. This was not too tough to do, just getting the gathers even between the top and bottom of the midriff was the only real challenge. As a finishing touch, I’ll make tiny invisible tack stitches on these gathers in various spots to keep them from poofing out or shifting around. This is a little trick I learned while working in alterations at a bridal shop where many dresses and gowns had this technique done on gathered areas of midriffs and necklines.

I thought I might make the long gathered sleeves of this dress, lengthening them to wrist length to suit my liking, but then as the summer days in Oregon reached temperatures in the 100 degree range a few weeks ago, I couldn’t bare the thought of a long sleeve and decided to cut the little cap sleeves from view C of the pattern:

M7537 view C line art

Here is the bodice before and after I sewed on the sleeve:

 

 

The pattern directions have you just sew the sleeve to the armhole and press it towards the bodice, but I felt that this left a raw edge here that could potentially show and fray when worn (or hanging on a pretty hanger in a fancy boutique!), so I serged over the armhole and sleeve seam after sewing it and plan to tack it down at the under arm seam to keep in under control. I usually don’t like to serge seams and take shortcuts when I am making a dress as “couture” as possible, so if I were to make this pattern again in the future, I would most likely make a French or some other finished seam here.

Before the serger:

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Sewing the skirt and skirt lining was a breeze. I used French seams for the side seams of both, then attached the two at the top and part of the side where the zipper opening was. Attaching it to the bodice while gathering it to fit proved to be a tedious task, but I got through it carefully and slowly as not to have any uneven gathers or puckers here.

Next, I slip stitched the midriff facing (or lining, whatever you want to call it) over the skirt seam by hand. I usually really enjoy this step in making a dress, whether with ot without a waistline band, as it really finishes off the inside of the dress, and is usually near the end of the process. Here is the facing pressed under and pinned in to place ready to hand stitch in place:

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Putting in the side zipper was a little tricky since the seam doesn’t open all the way (the zip opening begins a couple of inches down from the armhole and extends through the midriff into the skirt), so it is a little difficult to maneuver the zipper in. The inside of the zip opening doesn’t look very pretty, so I might go back over this covering it with a binding to finish the edge and prevent stray threads from getting caught in the zipper teeth. I think I have enough of the lining material to make self binding over the zipper tape, that would be nice!

I hemmed the dress and lining just doing a fold and turn hem, nothing too crazy. Possibly an invisible hem would have been a little better for the outer skirt, but I don’t have my better sewing machine with the blind stitch foot and setting with me just yet (I’m in the process of moving and currently just have my “travel” machine at home with me), so I just made do with the turned under hem as shown here on the lining:

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A few things I wish I had done differently with this dress is to 1) make in seam pockets. That would have been great, and an easy add. And 2) I should have taken the time to make a muslin mock up, even if it was just the bodice and midriff, as I feel that it is a little short in the torso length for me, and slightly too tight. We will see how it wears and how comfortable it is. Otherwise, the dress is great and very pretty!

I really enjoy how this dress turned out after all, but am not 100% sure if it is a great fit (whoops, I skipped the muslin mock up and just compared my measurements to the pattern measurements), or of it’s a great look for me. It may end up becoming a one of a kind Love, Stephanie for sale garment, so prepare to possibly place your bids Kids!

 

 

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by!

Love,
Stephanie