Some of you might remember this dress from a post Erin did on Dress A Day back in October. I loved the sweetheart neckline, the pleated cap sleeves, the softly pleated folds of the skirt etc, bought the pattern and decided to make a winter party dress out of it. I used a red silk bought for £7/m in a tiny fabric shop in Brick Lane that was literally stacked to the rafters with bolts of fabric. I’m not sure exactly what you would call it – dupion or silk taffeta – but it has a lot of body. Unfortunately there was probably too much body for the pleats, and I had to make a fairly dramatic net petticoat (following Gertie’s crinoline tutorial and adding more layers) to make the whole thing look like it was meant to stand out stiffly rather than drape softly.

Other changes: I redrafted the bodice to lower the bust darts and ended up having to make just one French dart, because I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to lower two parallel French darts. I also lowered the neckline a bit, and I self-lined the whole bodice instead of using facings. That gives it a nice finish, but the bodice yoke facing was shaped to pull the neckline in a bit above the bust – you can see in the photos below that not having that means there are some problems with gaping. It’s not unwearable – I wore it to a party quite happily – but I’m seriously considering making a facing and hand stitching it to the lining and seams to try and bring the gape down. (Has anyone else ever done this? Any tips?) I inserted an invisible zip for the side fastening instead of poppers (so much safer). I was running out of time by the time I got to the hem so I machine-stitched folded ribbon over the raw edge then used fusible hem tape to secure the hem – not ideal, I know, but at least the body in the fabric means I more or less got away with it. I made a long sash instead of a belt. Oh yeah, and I accidentally cut the skirt on the crosswise grain, which definitely didn’t help with the drape!

Despite the reservations I’m quite proud of this dress – it’s the first time I’ve worked with silk, the first time I’ve redrafted a pattern, and I took a lot of care finishing the insides with French seams, seam binding, self-lining etc – but I definitely learned a lot of lessons for next time!