Miss R’s Floral Graduation Dress

A few months ago I was asked to help a good friend shop for her daughter’s prom/graduation, as she didn’t feel she knew quite where to start navigating the maze of promdom.  I suggested we go on a reconnaissance mission, push the boundaries on all pre-conceived notions of likes/dislikes and appropriate/inappropriate and see where we ended up.  Everything can be duplicated, regardless of the RTW price tag, I assured her.

So we went shopping.  And Miss R tried on everything from red sequin Vegas showgirl gowns to pink sherbet blinged out cotton candy dresses, to mom-approved middle-aged dowdy navy blue gowns that made her look old, and, well, dowdy.  At the end of the day, she settled on a navy beaded full length blouson dress for her prom and something made from this skirt, purchased at a steep discount by moi a few weeks after our reconnaissance escapade, for her graduation ceremony.floral skirt

The RTW beaded gown was hemmed and happily worn a couple of weeks ago.  The floral dress, however, required a bit more time and effort.  The end result was lovely, imho.  I found some stretch cotton for the bodice, and shortened the RTW skirt.  It was a few sizes too small for the client, so I used it all up making it a lovely knee-length pleated skirt.R's dress

The inside of the bodice has a boned corselette.


It’s lined in washed muslin – perhaps not the greatest choice, but comfortable in hot summer weather.

bodice interior

I kept all the petticoats and the lining from the original RTW skirt.


The bodice has a deep V back, hence the necessity for a built-in corselette.  Here’s a couple of pics from one of the last fittings.

Some pulling and drag lines in the bodice.  So frustrating trying to eliminate them because the stretch cotton kept losing it’s shape and stretching itself out, and, of course, the snugger and tighter the better.  Between you and me, I wasn’t 100% happy with the fit of this bodice when it was all said and done.  The fabric was so lightweight and because it was stretch I didn’t (felt I couldn’t) underline it.  My mistake, in retrospect.  *sigh*  It fit beautifully before this set of pictures, just skimming the body instead of straining across it.  Ah well.  Always lessons and ‘should haves’ to take away from each project I make.  :/

In the meantime, here’s a couple of pictures of DD1’s prom dress.  It was RTW (I know, bad seamstress mom), but she fell so head-over-heels in love with it and it was impossible to find a similar fabric to make the skirt, so I caved and bought it.  I did need to alter the shoulders (forward/sloped shoulder) on the top to get the bodice to sit correctly, and some reinforcement was added through the bust.  I have to say I was surprised at the amount of reinforcement required in the bust area to keep it from collapsing on DD1.  Some US manufacturers/designers must be getting the message that most women are not B cups these days and are making busts bigger.  The skirt is huge.  HUGE.  Five layers of petticoats huge, with horsehair braid in the hem. Dressing up is such fun, isn’t it?


12 thoughts on “Miss R’s Floral Graduation Dress

  1. Hi Tia…experimenting as two comments that I left yesterday didn’t seem to take. Not sure if it is a wordpress thing. Great job (don’t be too hard on yourself!). DD1 looks gorgeous. She must have been thrilled.

  2. I’ve learned not to mention any tiny niggles I have to clients because they rarely notice ‘dressmaker level’ gripes. As long as they go away smiling – and it’s not a howling problem that would make you ashamed of the job – smile and say nothing. The dress looks fine and I’m sure she had a lovely day.
    Your daughters dress is gorgeous. You were right to just buy it – it’s a real treat for children of dressmakers to have RTW sometimes!

    1. Thank you for your kind comments. I am (slowly) learning that people are not interested in the geekery about which I tend obsess in sewing projects!

  3. Hmmm.. I thought I left a comment this afternoon but it has disappeared!

    First: What a lovely combination of floral skirt and pink bodice for the grad dress! I think you are being too hard on yourself re. the bodice as I have made a couple of skirts and a pair of pants with that kind of stretch cotton and know how it can stretch. She looks lovely and I’ll bet she was pleased!

    Second DD1 looks amazing in that dress. Just gorgeous! I have always wanted a skirt like that but have never had one. Lucky girl. This is one of my all-time favourite pics from the Sartorialist, but I’ve never managed to cajole myself into making this exact outfit: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/458030224581302690/

    Very interesting comment about the cup sizes and US manufacturers.

    1. You did leave a comment, Steph! I found it in my spam filter this morning. Why, I’ll never know. The floral theme is a nice one for prom and graduation this year. Very light and youthful compared to the heavy stuff I wore in the late 80s.

      Those floral skirts on the Pinterest board are gorgeous. I think you should find a watertight excuse to make one (like, just because you want one!).

  4. Wow I have to look again when I am not on my phone but lovely work on the dress with the floral skirt and DD1 also looks absolutely stunning. Both must have been so pleased. I think you are likely being overly self-critical about the bodice!


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s