I’m wearing Bellville Sassoon

I thought I’d do a little story-telling around this dress for the fun of it, since I’ve posted pictures of it twice, and a couple of you commented on it in the last post. This gratuitous second posting of this picture is my second sized-up version of the dress, since my first version didn’t fit anymore.grad gownI think the first post mentioning this gown was here, from my high school graduation.  I do not have this pattern anymore, and I can’t tell you the number of it because an internet search was completely fruitless.  But I can tell you that it’s a Bellville Sassoon Vogue pattern, and I graduated from high school in 1987. I vaguely remember the pattern envelope:  a model wearing the dress in the exact colour I made it up in, and a shorter drawing in black, I think.  Anyways…

This dress was one of the reasons that I continued sewing.  I knew I was going to make my prom dress, and I was given cart blanche for colour, fabric and design.  Woo HOO!!!  That is dream news to a 17 year old.  I remember my mom driving clear across the city of Edmonton for what seemed like hours to a little European fabric store – no Fabricland fabric for this! – and choosing the teal moiré taffeta for the gown.   And I remember choking as my mom laid out more than $200 for it.  Eeep!!!  Ah, well, in typical teen prom dress la-la land, who cared?  Not me!  I had the makings of a fabulous dress.

So I went started in on it, and not knowing how to even dot the “i” in the word “fit” at that point in my sewing adventure, blithely cut out my standard size 12.  Then I sewed it up with 1 inch seam allowances, knowing it may be a bit small, but it fit perfectly.  I learned a lot from sewing this dress:  boning, lining, underlining, ruching, petticoats… it was a complete high to sew it up.  And then I tried it on and realized that the skirt was going to be too short if I did the recommended 2 1/2” hem.  So I learned from my mom how to do a French hand-rolled hem.  I think that’s what she called it.  Anyways, the taffeta was very unkind to my fingers by the end of that hem.  I don’t know how wide the bottom of that skirt is, but I remember cutting 3 – or was it 4? – complete 1/2 circles of 60” taffeta for that darn skirt.  I was in prom dress heaven!!!  And I wanted the rhinestones or whatever they were on the CF bow at the neckline, so I sewed a bracelet around that lovely bow and I had a perfect dress!  YAY!

After the prom was said and done, I happened to be wandering through our one and only Holt Renfrew (the only Canadian store close to the likes of Neiman Marcus or Bergdorf Goodman) and stopped dead when I saw my prom dress.  Actually, more than one.  In the exact colour and detail as the pattern.  Imagine my shock!  So I inspected the dress from top to tail and discovered that the quality of the taffeta I had used was superior (in my mind, anyways) to the one’s in the store, and that I had paid $200 for a dress that was selling for $1299.

Who wouldn’t continue sewing after that?friends grad accoutrements

P.S.  My BFF’s dress was peach satin with alençon lace, and her brother was my date. His shirt, cummerbund and bow tie were all me-made.  Looking back it’s a miracle any of it fit because I didn’t know anything about doing muslins or fitting people properly!

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13 thoughts on “I’m wearing Bellville Sassoon

  1. Oh, I’ve just read your earlier me-made post and was dying to know the history of the dress! I love that your mom splurged on the real taffeta. It’s so fun hearing stories of past garments. (And I had my prom in 1988 so I totally understand the styling!)

  2. That is awesome!! 😀 It’s true that RTW is often cheaper than sewing your own items, but formal wear is definitely the exception to that rule!! Kudos on making something so intricate at such a young age – I never had the patience back then to even make a simple dress let alone a prom dress! (can I go back and fix that now? LOL)

    on another note, I swear my prom dress was the exact same one your friend is wearing LOL – except I graduated in ’93 😛

  3. I really enjoyed reading the story behind the dress. I am amazed you pulled off such a complicated dress at such a young age! You look gorgeous in the photos. It must have been so much fun.

    1. I thrifted them, I think. I went through a “clear out the closets” phase about 8 years ago when I stopped performing and set everything the local thrift shop.

  4. That is awesome—and way way way more intricate than anything I ever made in high school (heck , more intricate than anything I’ve made yet!)

    My biggest impetus to getting (more) into sewing was realizing that the kind of long, wool winter coat I wanted would cost $500+ from a store… and still probably have sleeves that were too short. You can buy a lot of fabric for $500. 😉

    1. Unfortunately I don’t own either version anymore because I grew out of both dresses! My rationale: I could always make another one if I ever needed it. So far, I haven’t because my performing days are over!

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