Seeing Red!! An embellished version of Simplicity 3833

IMG_1136s 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.

IMG_1438Because 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.

IMG_0928The 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.
The best part of this project, was deciding where to put the embellishments so that my figure would be (ahem) enhanced by the design.  I created the swirl design templates with the a-line shape of the dress in mind. The largest swirls were put at the center of the upper and lower bodice to create a focal point for the eye. The secondary swirls were placed at the side of the a-line skirt to draw attention to that shape, while also (hopefully) adding a slimming line to the design. The design of the front embellishments are carried through to the back of the dress in a continuous line.
IMG_1041
Part of the fun of this project was creating the design templates, then applying the design to the fabric in stages. This was a long process, but it was fun to do this in layers. Each time I added a new line of embellishment, the dress took on a new look, so the design sort of ‘evolved’.
IMG_1051
One challenge I didn’t expect was locating the right trim for the embellishments. To make the design have a bit of energy, the trims needed to be of varying weights and styles. I drove all over Portland, looking for trim and bought everything I saw. So, Portland-ites – – there’s nothing left for you!   If I had to do it again (with more time), I’d probably have ordered some interesting trims from other sources for more variety.
 Ultimately, this was a fun challenge and because of it, I now have a new special occassion dress. And sewing with a color as vibrant as Cardinal was definitely inspiring. I’m determined to add some color to my fall wardrobe, maybe some jade, a bit of gold, a touch of fuchsia? Lots of warm, vibrant colors.  I’m excited to start sewing with some lovely prints too!
How is your fall closet? Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by.

8 thoughts on “Seeing Red!! An embellished version of Simplicity 3833

  1. carmenross88 September 22, 2015 / 6:58 pm

    Cool dress! I’ve actually never worked with embellishments or trim before but it definitely gives a unique spin to a big 4 pattern and makes it completely your own.

    Like

    • ellegeemakes September 22, 2015 / 7:05 pm

      Thanks. It was Definitely a first for me!

      Like

  2. Hila September 23, 2015 / 1:43 am

    Its such a stunning dress! Beautifully done. You will be going to next round.

    Like

    • ellegeemakes September 23, 2015 / 7:53 am

      Thanks! There are so many incredible entries I’d be surprised if I did! It’s been a good experience though…pushed me a bit 😅

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Mads (lifeinamadshouse) September 23, 2015 / 5:48 am

    This is so beautiful! I do not envy all the basting you had to do, but your gorgeous final product is reflective of the work you put in. =) I love the color, too!

    Your Fall color ideas sound wonderful! I am more than a little jealous that you can pull off those shades and can’t wait to see how you incorporate them (and others!) into your wardrobe. My Fall sewing is off to a good start, but there are so many things I want to make!! I am working on another blouse before moving onto jeans–yikes! O_o

    Like

    • ellegeemakes September 23, 2015 / 7:58 am

      Thank-you! Fall is the best time to sew because the fabric choices are so awesome, you know? jEans!! I envy your fortitude…you do a Marfy then follow it up with jeans! So awesome! Can’t wait to see them.

      Liked by 1 person

    • ellegeemakes September 23, 2015 / 6:33 pm

      Thanks. After this intense project I’m longing to make something that’s a bit more ‘low key’…

      Liked by 1 person

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