Festive sewing part 1: Party Dress!

Warning: This post contains an excessive amount of sparkle.

For the first time in six years, I get a holiday over The Holidays! I’m really looking forward to it, I’ve worked either Christmas or New Year for the last several years (the joys of working in a 24/7 job!), but now that I’ve sold my soul and gone to work in the private sector, we get to close for several weeks over the festive season. We also get invited to a big Christmas cocktail party, which has caused me some anxiety. I’m really not the small-talk-and-mingle type, and I find these sorts of social occasions can be stressful and exhausting! Of course, they can be lots of fun too, which is why I’m going. I’ve even made a new dress for the occasion!


Now, this dress is outside of my comfort zone for a few reasons…its relatively short, its pretty shapeless, and its GOLD AND SHINY. But, I’m kind of loving it anyway! I modified my Deer and Doe Datura blouse pattern into a dress by just lengthening the side seams and straightening out the hem, it was super simple! I also cut the back on the fold, rather than making it button down the centre back, even though that would have been cute. i just felt like there was quite a lot going on with the fabric already!



The fabric…holy crap, what a nightmare! I fell in love with it at The Fabric Store (of course) at the end of last summer, and knew I wanted it to be a Datura immediately. Its silk, with gold metallic threads forming the pattern of polka dots. I used what I decided was the reverse (gold with cream polka dots) for the yoke, and the ‘right’ side for the skirt. Unfortunately, it was the most stressful fabric I have ever sewn with! My needle kept catching on the gold threads, which were wider and firmer than the silk theads, and would pull them out of the weave and through to the other side of the fabric, leaving an empty stripe in the warp. You can kind of see what I mean in this photo…


So that made things seriously unfun. It shows up more on the gold side of the fabric, of course, so I could see just how many flaws I was causing as I sewed! I also had a bit of drama trying to get the clever lining origami thing to work with the shoulder seams, I couldn’t match the instructions and the picture with what i had in front of me, which made for an irritating and frustrating 10 minutes. I got it eventually, and have written myself out detailed instructions for next time! I had a similar struggle the first time I made the Datura, so I should have learned from that! I hand sewed as much of this dress as I could, uncharacteristically, just to avoid the thread pulling. The lining is hand stitched down, and the hem is hand picked. All of the other seams are french seamed.


Looking at this photo, I am forced to accept that I need to learn how to do a sway back adjustment. I can fudge my way through fitting the back of a garment which has a centre back seam, or a waist seam, but I have no idea where to start when its a seamless shift! I’ll add it to my list of fitting issues to resolve in the new year. I like it anyway, I can deal with a few back wrinkles and flaws in the fabric! I think it has quite a 60’s feel to it, which I like for the party season. Now I just need to convince myself that it isn’t too shiny and sparkly and short and gold to wear to my work Christmas do…


One last photo, silly face but I want to show off my new favourite earrings! I asked Monsieur to take some photos showing some of the detail on the dress while I was wearing it, but I just ended up with photos of my arm pit (the armscye), and my neck and chin (the neckline), so I gave up. Sweet of him to try!

18 thoughts on “Festive sewing part 1: Party Dress!

  1. It’s the perfect party dress! I really hope you wear it, it’s so festive yet elegant. Your fabric frustrations sound super irritating, good on you for persevering despite the adverse sewing conditions. And, cute earrings!

  2. This dress is awsome, I love it! It’s sooo cool, the fabric, the colour, the shape, everything! (Except from sewing by hand, but that’s of course unvisible and luckily I didn’t have to do it πŸ˜‰ )
    Be confident and wear it, I’m sure you will get many compliments.
    And I’m glad to hear you won’t stop after this years challenge. πŸ˜‰

  3. It’s a lot of fun and I like the use of the two sides of fabric. I’ve done a lot of research on sway back adjustments as I have a massive one, and there’s no easy way to do it without a centre back seam….. Do let me know if you come across a method let me know!

  4. Ahh I love this! I think it’s great for a party.

    So I had a short-ish metallic gold dress awhile ago that I found to be pretty versatile, believe it or not. I could dress it down with a belted cardigan or blazer if I wanted to play down the glittery shortness for something other than a holiday party. So I think you might end up wearing this a lot!

    1. Thanks Teri, I’ll have a look! I don’t think anyone will be close enough to see the missing threads, its one of those things that looks major to me but no one else will notice!

  5. New Mexico State University has a very good publication that shows how to do all sorts of alterations. Go to http://www.cahe.nmsu.edu and look for Guide C-228. On page 5 is an illustration on how to do a sway back adjustment. I just did it on a shirt and it turned out wonderfully. Love your fabric and your dress, it looks just like some I wore in the 60’s. Did you try using a ball point needle in your sewing machine to prevent catching the threads?

    1. Thanks for the reference, I’ll check it out! I used a really fine silk needle in the end. I considered a ballpoint, but i thought it might just catch more on the gold threads. I’ll need to do some experimenting before I try sewing with similar fabrics again!

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