My belated ball gown

I can’t believe Opera Ball was almost a month ago! I got my dress finished in time, but didn’t get a photo taken that night. It was just too crazy! I should have though, on the grand staircase of the majestic San Francisco City Hall where the event was held. That week was pretty insane. I work in education, not events, so my workload was totally unrelated to the ball and we had a couple issues pop up at the end of the week. Dealing with that while being pulled in the other direction for my added event responsibilities left me little time to care about how I actually looked. Besides, I was just scurrying around checking attendees in, folding napkins, checking place cards and seating charts, trying in vain to get people to sit down for dinner, cleaning up volunteer meals, schlepping boxes back to the office at 2am, and so on. It’s hard work!

I ended up making Vogue 1176, an OOP Michael Kors pattern. I added a gathered skirt with big pockets to store my phone, badge, and keys, and these pockets were the envy of every one of my coworkers. Seriously, you could see the look of longing appear on their faces as they noticed me whipping my phone out! The dress served its purpose, but I don’t feel very sophisticated. I think the combination of the too-short skirt, the wide straps, and, well, maybe the pockets too make it feel a little frumpy.

I also had some trouble making this dress. First, I ran out of fabric! I had bought four yards, which seemed like an infinite amount. I usually make a dress using no more than two yards of fabric, since I’m short and on the smaller side, and I really didn’t think that a long, full skirt would take that much extra fabric. I wanted the skirt to be cut in an A-line shape with gathering at the top, so that it would have a pretty full skirt by my shoes to keep them hidden. That was absolutely not going to happen, and this skirt not only isn’t full enough to not show my shoes, but it’s also too short. I didn’t want to step on it, but I think it needs another couple inches at least.

Then the bodice… it was fun to put together, and for a 100% polyester fabric it was pressing pretty well. But then I tried it on and realized it was really big. Too big to just take in at the side seams. Everyone always talks about the extra ease in McCall, Butterick, Vogue, and Simplicity patterns, and I’m always skeptical because I tend to sew Simplicity and Burda and I have never, ever had a problem with excess ease in a Simplicity pattern. I might become a believer when it comes to Vogue, though. I had to take it in three whole inches at the waist, and could easily take in another inch, and also took it in about one inch at the bust. The alterations were distributed through the side and back seams, but I couldn’t really take it in on the front due to the design and you can tell. It’s pretty baggy under the bust. I feel like the fit is acceptable, but it was problematic and I don’t really care about making another version to figure out all that was wrong.

I still love the color (more gray, less deep purple than the photos show) and the draped detail of the bodice, and I think I’m going to cut the skirt to knee-length to make it into a cocktail dress that I think will be much more successful.

23 thoughts on “My belated ball gown

  1. Despite the problems you had, I think it's lovely! And I really like it that everyone was jealous of your pockets – that's so cool! I'm glad you're going to shorten it to continue to get some wear out of it!

  2. It looks beautiful! I was going to suggest that you chop it to knee length to get more wear out of it, and then I got to the last sentence of your post saying you were going to do that very thing!

  3. Thanks, Beth! I just love the color, it won me over to this subpar fabric! I'm glad the bagginess isn't too noticeable. I think the good fit through the bust helps!

  4. You just have to have pockets at events like this! I think it will work even better as a cocktail dress, and next year I'll know to buy more than four yards…

  5. Thanks, Erin! I'm actually excited to wear it as a short dress. Maybe to an event this fall, if I can get around to rehemming it – I'm kind of over it right now!

  6. From the photos, it looks like it fits you well and the color looks fab on you. When you shorten it, it's going to be even cuter. Those pockets are fantastic though and everyone was right to be envious!

  7. This is gorgeous! That bodice is incredible, I am in love with that asymmetrical design going on. I also LOVE that it has pockets! I think that's the one thing gowns are severely lacking in, I mean why not? Girls gotta have a place to put her stuff. You're genius for adding them and you're also genius for figuring out how to do that draped bodice! I'm serious, I'm amazed right now.

  8. I think it looks lovely! The bodice draping is just fabulous! And, if you follow through and shorten it, I think it'll become quite a cute little sundress.

  9. Your dress is gorgeous! I love the pockets and the colour; it looks darker at the bottom, but that could just be my screen! The shape of the bodice is beautiful, and the fit looks great.

  10. I'm actually quite fascinated at the curved shape of the pocket cutout you've made here – so very practical as well! It's a lovely dress. I can understand your concerns though 😦

  11. Thanks! One of the discussion topics among us workers that night was how of all garments, gowns really should have pockets. Benefits are obvious if you're working, but even as a party-goer, who wants to keep track of a clutch all night?? Especially while dancing and getting tipsy.

  12. I decided not to try to hide the pockets πŸ™‚ I just hope that the other Vogue dress I started before the gown project fits better than this one did!

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