Tag Archives: designer dresses

Burgundy Cocktail Dress

How to dress for less

Hi and welcome to this week’s blog.

Do you ever find yourself drooling over the glamorous clothes you see in the pages of your favourite glossy magazines?

Do you ever worry about how you can afford the latest fashion looks or a new dress for that important family occasion or the smart presentation you have to do for work?

Well I have the answer

Sew your own clothes. Yes, it can be far more cost effective to sew your own fashion than to buy ready made off the rail clothes. Especially those items like a good quality shirt or an elegant dress. When you make your own garments you can make sure that they fit you perfectly so you will look better and feel prouder too. Sewing and dressmaking is a very satisfying pastime, you will be  learning a new skill and forever improving upon it.

Go on grab a pattern and some fabric and have a go.

I have been looking at a few of the fashion designer’s collections for fall/winter 2014/15 and I noticed that one of the prominent colours which really stood out was burgundy. Its surprising. When I started looking I realised the colour is everywhere, in a variety of shades. So I took the colour as my inspiration this week.

Follow Sewing Avenue’s board Burgundy Dress on Pinterest.

Burgundy cocktail evening dress

I’ve drawn a couple of sketches of a dress I saw recently with a cowl neck line. I like this style as it is soft and flattering without being revealing.

IMG_0851

The fabric I am using is a crepe fabric with no stretch to it so this style would be suited to any medium weight woven fabric.

How I pieced the bodice together…

The cowl neckline is the main feature of the look of this cocktail dress. It is cut as one piece of fabric which consists of both the front bodice and it’s lining. It’s cut out on the bias of the fabric, this will give it the lovely drape effect I desire.

Burgundy Dress Construction
Burgundy Dress Construction

The front is attached to the bodice back at the shoulders and armhole edges then turned out, as you would when constructing any regular bodice with this method.

Burgundy Dress Construction
Burgundy Dress Construction
Burgundy Dress Construction
Burgundy Dress Construction

The lining on the back neck and the armhole edges is under stitched to stop it rolling out.

Burgundy Dress Construction
Burgundy Dress Construction

Don’t press the edge of the cowl neckline to a crisp edge though, the intention is to keep a soft edge look here.

Then I stitched the side seams together and checked the fit. The fit can be altered at this stage by using the seam allowance to let out or take in fabric to get the desired look. I always try to use a seam allowance of ⅝ inch/15mm. If you are dressmaking for someone else you can allow as much seam allowance as you think may be needed to achieve the fit, it can always be trimmed back later, when you are happy with the finished fit.

I have used a concealed zipper in the back seam. Which type of zippers do you like to use in your dressmaking. Lapped can look nice but I don’t usually put in an exposed zipper on a smart dress, I would keep this style for a more casual or sporty outfit.

Burgundy Dress
Burgundy Dress

I am so excited about this dress. It fits well and definitely looks dressed up enough to wear out to dinner and drink those cocktails in! I want to make it again now in another colour. Don’t be surprised if it appears again in another blog!

What’s on your sewing table at the moment?

Happy sewing

Purple Bodycon Dress

Do you wear your dresses in the winter months?

Do you need more winter dresses so that you can be warm and comfortable?

Finished purple body con dress with piping
Finished purple body con dress with piping

I’ve decided to make a series of warm winter dresses over the next two months of this New Year. And I’m starting with a simple bodycon style made from purple Ponte di Roma.
The pattern that I have chosen to use consists only of four pieces, the back, and the front and the two sleeves. Because it is such a simple design I felt that I wanted to break up the body of the front of the dress to create a bit more interest. I looked around for ideas and inspiration from a few of my favourite recent fashion shows and came across the Christopher Kane Spring RTW 2015 collection. I’ve pinned two of the pictures from that show here and here

It was both the colour of the fabric and the directional lines, which dissect the body at differing intervals, which appealed as a starting, point for my own ideas.

Sketch of purple dress ideas
Sketch of purple dress ideas

So maybe my sketch doesn’t look as dramatic as the designer’s, but I am making a new winter dress and it has to be a practical day wear outfit too.

I’ve used a basic sewing pattern, which I have used before so I know that it fits me. I drew it out onto paper and played around with it, drawing the piping lines onto the front until I was happy with the placement, then I cut it up!!

purple dress pattern
Purple dress pattern

I numbered the paper pattern pieces and marked them with the straight grain line so that it would be easier to keep them in the correct order. It was important that I remembered to add the seam allowances onto these new pattern pieces as well. I used an allowance of 15mm / 5/8 inch.

I’ve selected to use a Ponte di Roma fabric for this make. It is a warm double knit with a directional stretch. It is very easy to sew with and comfortable to wear. It is also simple to wash and press.

Inside front of dress
Inside front of dress

When I was cutting out the fabric it was important to get the straight grain of the fabric on the vertical but also to check that the stretch was going to be going around the body and for the sleeves, around the arms. I numbered all of the fabric pieces as I cut them out to save confusion when it came to sewing them together.

Front of dress with piping detail
Front of dress with piping detail

I handmade my own piping from a darker shade of purple, to add an accent. I wasn’t sure about it at first so played around with a few options on a small scrap of the fabric. As well as piping with the accent colour, I tried piping with the main fabric, it would have worked well, but I was after a bit more punch.

Piping samples
Piping samples

I was pleased with how easy it was to put the main front section of the dress together. The seams were overclocked/serged before sewing the back and front together with the sewing machine, it gives a neat finish.
I decided to sew a single line of piping on to the sleeves as well. By simply measuring my arm length and cutting the sewing pattern where I wanted the placement of the piping to be and not forgetting to allow an extra seam allowance so that the tapered sleeve would still fit my arm.

Was this a successful first winter dress of the New Year? (@sewingavenue)

Finished purple body con dress with piping
Finished purple body con dress with piping

I think so. I am happy with the result; it will be fun to wear inside and with the addition of boots and a cardigan under a coat it will be great for outdoors too.