Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A Homecoming Dress.

As hard as I try, I just can't get away from high school dances. Last year I went to prom with my boyfriend (even though we were both in college... don't tell!), and this year I'm going to homecoming. Not only that, though, but I'm making a dress for my little sister to wear to the dance. She asked me if I'd make it for her about two weeks ago.

So let's just say it's been a crazy two weeks. I was really torn about wether or not to agree, since homecoming is next weekend. The rational part of me was saying "this is the last thing you need to add to your already-long list of responsibilities." But the side of me that really, really loves making formal dresses told me to go for it; plus, I could hardly disappoint my little sister.

Becky wanted a floor length dress, so I knew I needed to go with a simple pattern if I had any hope of getting it done on time. We chose Simplicity 2178, a Cynthia Rowley pattern, which I then made a ton of alterations to.

Unfortunately, this is the first Cynthia Rowley for Simplicity pattern I've used that hasn't worked out too well for me. I can almost never go wrong with Cynthia Rowley; I've sewn up 6 or 7 of her patterns and they've all turned out pretty great. Hey, I'm even wearing a sweatshirt I made from this pattern right now. But 2178 gave me a ton of problems; for some reason, several pieces just didn't fit together. The waistband was far too large for the bodice, even though I triple-checked that the correct sizes were cut out. And the facings also ended up being over an inch too large. I would normally attribute this to some mistake that I made during cutting, but just to double check, I pinned the actual pattern pieces together and they still didn't match. Hmmm. 

To solve the problem I just gathered the bodice into the waistband (which looks fine, it's just not what the instructions call for) and I tried my best to ease the top of the bodice into the facings. That's the part that doesn't look ideal, but I honestly didn't have a great alternative, especially with my time crunch.

The alterations I made to the pattern were to create my own braided straps, instead of using the pattern's way-too-thick ones; to draft my own skirt pieces (a shorter underskirt with a long chiffon overskirt, gathered a bunch); and to shorten the bodice a bit, making it slightly more empire-waisted. I also added decorative braided trim around the waistband, which took a ton of effort to create, but which really ties the dress together (at least in my eyes). 

Cutting the dress was my biggest challenge to overcome, since the main pieces are chiffon; but after that, construction was fairly simple. So far this semester I've been having to work on speeding up my sewing (if I wanna get my homework done on time, that is...), so knocking this dress out was a great exercise in fast-paced sewing. I sewed about 75% of this dress in one manic 6-hour stretch, fueled by copious amounts of iced coffee.

I'll post real pictures of my model in the dress after next weekend, but for now I'm really happy with how it's looking. I'm going to wear an old dress that I made to homecoming as well; maybe I can convince someone to do a sisters-in-handmade-formals photo shoot :) 

Thanks for reading this huge post! Have a great day, you guys :)


  1. Oh, this is so pretty and ethereal! I'll bet your sister will love it! Pity about the issues with the pattern, but I often think that's when we need to be the most creative and some of the best details come out!

    1. Thanks so much! Yeah, everything worked out in the end; I'm just surprised a commercial pattern could be so flawed! You win some, you lose some, I suppose.