I am lucky in that I do get to wear a lot of evening dresses both long and short, so it was an easy decision for me to want to make the long version of the dress. I decided against the slit in the skirt seam as it can be very draughty in hotels!
The fabric I chose is this beautiful peachskin polyester fabric in Aubergine
Before even contemplating cutting into my lovely fabrics I made my toilet. A toile is a test garment made by every single fashion house there is, it is made from cheap fabric because many toiles can be made for one garment, they are made and made again until the Atelier is happy with the design. .It made from just the basic pattern pieces with no facings etc.( although I sometimes tack a zip in.) I often just make a toile of a the bodice and sometimes if the toile looks nice I will finish making it up in the cheap fabric. A few of my favourite clothes were meant as toiles.
I have never used a By Hand pattern before and was pleasantly surprised to find that the only alteration needed was to the neckline where it gaped a little. I sorted this out easily by easing in the neckline with the stay stitches and by altering the shoulder seam slightly. I also shortened the skirt pattern by three inches.
Time to cut out. Shrink your fabric and pin it together along the selvedges to ensure the grain remains straight. I also look for flaws at this stage and mark them with chalk. Decide which is the right and wrong side. I put a chalk cross on each wrong side to avoid confusion later. I learned this trick after many years of experience!
Make sure that you follow the grain lines when pinning the pattern in place.
Sharp scissors and away you go.
There are a lot of pattern pieces for the skirt so I put them in order before I did anything else and then pinned them together, I measured the waist just to ensure it was the right size and machined and over locked. That was the skirt out of the way. Don't stitch the centre back seam at this stage.
Even after making a toile I still wanted to try the bodice on before machining it, so I tailor tacked the darts, tacked them, tacked the rest of the bodice and tried it on again.
It was at this stage I changed the high neckline to the lower V neckline.
The neckline gaped a little so when I did the stay stitching I eased it in slightly. This meant re-cutting the front facing but it was worth it.
The bodice was completed easily, without any more adjusting so I stitched it to the skirt and pondered over the lace
The original intention was to stitch the lace fabric and the main fabric together as one for the bodice, but something made me reconsider.
In the end I cut the lace out using the main bodice pieces and left it until later. When I was cutting it out I preserved as much of the lace edgings as possible, trimming them with small scissors.
I tried the dress on again and tailor tacked the back where the invisible zip is to go.
I never rely on the actual seam line, I get a better fit doing it my way. This is where my OH comes in, he is becoming handy with the dreaded pins.
I experimented with the lace for ages, and in the end decided to make a button-up-the-back over top. I stitched the side and shoulder seams. Then I pinned it to the dress which was on my tailors dummy. I decided to follow,the original darts, pined them to match the dress and stitched them in place.
I used the edging offcuts to finish the edges everywhere, stitching them in place with a zig zag stitch. I turned in the back edges with a zig zag stitch again.
I found this flower trimming in my local shop, it matches the colour exactly. I stitched it over the join where I attached the edging lace.
This is the dress without the lace top. The fit is superb and the cut is very flattering I think.
This is the back of the dress
This is the dress with the lace top. I love it!
Everything I used can be found on the Minerva Crafts web site, and I would like to thank them very much for the beautiful fabrics and the pattern. Thank you Minerva!