Red Silk Party Dress

As mentioned in my last post, I was commissioned with a party dress for Niece #2.  Something dry-cleanable only.  I wanted to make it out of silk taffeta or a tightly woven duppion, but couldn’t find the right colour of red for the right price in the right quality.  And then one sunny day, browsing through my local thrift store, I stumbled across a custom made garment in the right red silk duppion.  It seems to be a plus-sized garment, so there was no question that I would be able to cut the flared skirt for this dress.  The garment was remarkably well made.  Here’s a shot of the interior underlining.  You can see a full shot of the original dress interior

I salvaged every scrap of silk and the lining from the original garment.  N2 wanted a halter style dress, so I thought I’d start with Vogue 7503, which is OOP and I’ve had in my stash for ages and never used.  The front of the dress is Vogue 7503.  The back of a smocked sundress is from Australian Smocking & Embroidery No. 75.  I took the measurements of the back elasticized band of the sundress and the measurements of the skirt as my pattern.  Once I had cut the rectangle of fabric for the back waistband, I thought I may as well use all the width and flare in the original skirt, and so stitched the back and side back pieces together and gathered them into the waistband.  Then I turned down the facing, stitched three channels for the elastic and attached it to the side fronts.  IMG_3593For the halter ties, I chose the tie pattern from another Australian Smocking & Embroidery No. 61 sundress called Frangipani.  They’re about 2 inches wide at the top and are shaped like elongated leaves.  You can see another picture of them here on a sundress I made for Niece #1.

IMG_3595  Here’s the rather plain, princess a-line front.IMG_3601 And the more interesting back.

IMG_3602As dear N2 wanted the skirt poufy and big and party-ish as well as mid-calf to ankle length, I thought I’d add some sparkle to an otherwise plain dress.  I attached about 12 inched of red sparkle tulle to the bottom 8 inches of the lining.  It looks uneven in the photo above, but that’s due to it’s not hanging straight on the hanger.  If I manage to get any good pictures at the party this weekend, I’ll post them for you to see.IMG_3591 Oh, and as a lark… yeeeeeeears ago… a good friend suggested it was rather not in the best interest of my abilities (!?) to send all my smocking, embroidery and little dress coats out into the world without any credit, so he designed a label for the garments I make for children.  Three buttons for my three girls.  Cute, eh?IMG_3606Well, this dress is a good example of how I mix and match patterns to get what I’m wanting.  Do you do this pattern slash, burn and mix & match thingy, too?

Wedding Dresses


My DH’s 2nd cousin is getting married at our local castle in August this year, and as DH’s family is Portuguese, you know the family wedding-of-the-year is a big family party.  And party dresses are required.  Preferably new.  So I’m sewing party dresses for DD2, DD3 and hopefully – time permitting – myself.


DD1 is planning on giving her grad dress another airing with the shoes.  A sneak peek of the girls’ dresses, which are finished and waiting, will have to suffice until they’re worn with proper primping and nice pictures are taken.  The fuchsia dress is for DD2; the yellow for DD3. I’ve also been commissioned to make a red dry-clean-only party dress for Niece #2.  I imaged something in silk taffeta or duppion, but couldn’t find the right shade for the right price anywhere until I hit my local thrift shop.thrifted red silk I didn’t take any pictures of its interior.  It’s a custom garment, made locally – the label had the phone number of the seamstress!  It was very well made: completely lined and finished beautifully, and there’s enough fabric to make the princess-skirted halter-top party dress Niece #2 desires!  And speaking of dresses for weddings, please click on over to Toferet’s Empty Bobbin and see Molly’s gorgeous silk wedding gown!

Harris Tweed from where?!

VV tweed finds
Harris tweed & wool plaid

I’ve always been intrigued by fellow bloggers’ thrift finds, especially of the sewing kind.  My local Salvation Army and Value Village carry a lot of linens, but nothing that looks like I’d like to introduce it to my living space.  However, out of curiosity, and with a couple of free hours last Friday morning between appointments and waiting for my kids’ summer camps to end,  I popped into a very large VV that is not in my neighbourhood.  Mostly out of curiosity, mind you, and with not much faith that I’d actually find something interesting.  I was game to look through the enormous store just to see what they had and entertain myself until responsibility called again.

Imagine my surprise at finding Harris tweed (on the left above).  Now, I have no way of knowing for sure if this is the real deal, as there was no label attached, but here’s my arguments in favour.  First, the weave is fairly dense and identical to all the Harris that I have in my stash, purchased directly from weavers in the Outer Hebrides.  Second, it’s only a single width (35″ wide), which is a very odd width to find in tweed anywhere, and is very typical of Harris tweed.  You can purchase it in a double width, which is more around 60″ or more if you like, but the traditional weaving width of Harris is the single width.  And there’s about 3 yards of it, to boot!  It also has little bits of what I call “extraneous wool” fibres here and there that I’ve also noticed is a characteristic of the Harris that I’ve in my stash.

The plaid on the right is not Harris tweed, but a medium-weight wool that I will probably make into a circle skirt.  There is about 4 yards of it, and it’s 60″ wide – enough to match pattern if I decide to make a jacket instead.  There was wool crepe, a moth-eaten hand-embroidered real cashmiri pashmina, various sorts of lining and cotton velveteen, to mention just a few other treats in the store.  Oh, and a couple of fur coats in excellent condition that I didn’t buy, but inspected very closely.

So I must say, I’m no longer skeptical about thrift fabric finds in my (driving) area.  I think I might make it a regular thing… when I’m not working hard stash bustin’!

Bette Boop is the parting shot for today.  It’s an offshoot of the original in my grandmother’s prairie garden that apparently came over from Switzerland in the mid 1800’s with her grandmother.  I always have a dickens of a time getting it to bloom, and am thrilled that it’s happy to do just that this year.

bette boop
Bette Boop