s This This Fall, there’s a new kid in town, the Little Red Dress. While the Little Black Dress and the Little White Dress have always been favorites of mine, there’s something fierce and unexpected about a red dress. For one thing, you can’t be a shrinking violet if you’re wearing red at a party. You will be noticed. You might feel a bit powerful, too.
I decided to make this dress from red because when I looked at my Fall wardrobe, only one word came to mind – Somber! Everything I saw was gray or black. Eeek! Is there anything worse? I decided it was time to find a new favorite color. Then, I met this fabric. True love! It was the most perfect shade of red; not too orange or pink, but a true, cardinal red.
My lovely cardinal fabric became the back drop for embellishment, courtesy of the second round of the Pattern Review Sewing Bee. We were asked to make the fabric our own by using surface embellishments. It took me a few days to get my head around that one (clock ticking, ticking, ticking). But once I got used to the idea, the embellishments used by Italian designers, like Dolce and Gabbana came to mind. Inspired by their swoops and swirls, I decided to try my hand at it.
Because I suspected the trim and appliqué would be heavy, I decided to make my dress from a medium weight rayon (woven) with some body and weight. I’m glad I did that, because the finished dress is surprisingly heavy. Just think what the royals have to deal with, given the size of their medals and jewels!
Dress Pattern: I used Simplicity 3833 for the bodice but added self drafted sleeves because I wanted them to be bell-shaped to match the a-line shape of the dress’s lower bodice. The embellishments on the sleeves are meant to match the themes on the dress bodice. I highly recommend this pattern. It’s really fun and easy to sew. The curved seam between the upper and lower bodice gives it a unique look, I think. I chose an a -line style because the skirt is wide, a nice blank slate for embellishments.
- Before constructing the dress, I made a template of the swirled pattern, so that the design would be consistent on both sides of the upper and lower bodice which I knew would be tricky.
- Then, I transferred the finished designs to the right side of the fabric with basting stitches. Nightmare. I could have used one of those lovely invisible ink marking pens, but I discovered with a test swatch, that the ink didn’t disappear on this fabric. Since I knew I’d make mistakes, I didn’t dare use one.
- Following those markings, I laid the trim onto the fabric pieces, adjusting the curves as I went so that the swirls wouldn’t look forced. This took forever as it had to be done in stages – – so that the curves of the swirls would be remain perfect and symmetrical. I hand basted each trim to the fabric to keep it from shifting, before using my machine to secure it with a appliqué stitch.
- I created the appliqué flowers and trim from lace, then appliquéd those embellishments to the center of the swirls.