Finally … the lace dress of doom is finished

The finally finished dress

The finally finished dress

The hours of my life spent on this dress just doesn’t bear thinking about. Four three hours classes, homework every week of two to three hours, two hours at sewing club and then all the handsewing – phew.  Only to  discover that instead of looking exactly like Lisa Comfort in her dress, I look rather matronly in a dress that doesn’t fit very well.

I feel ambivalent about this dress.  It is very exciting to have finally finished a longer project, particularly one that introduced me to so many new techniques but there is also so much wrong with it I don’t know where to start.

Here are the errors that true sewistas would just sort out: the waggly hem, the dodgy loop fastening, it’s too big pretty much all over.

My toile - why couldn't I see this was too big?

My toile – why couldn’t I see this was too big?

I started the class at Sew Over It  – Clapham in November.  There were five in the class and our tutor was the wonderful Julie.  I love it that the studio has toiles already made up in all the different sizes for you to try on and then you take your own fitting from there.  I went for a 12 and had to take out a central V on the chest to take account of my small boobs.

Lovely studio at Sew Over It - can you see the lovely cake?

Lovely studio at Sew Over It – can you see the scrummy cake?

The dress needed further taking in on the seams and again after I tried the zip – I ended up trimming so much off I think I definitely should have gone with a 10.  The interesting thing about the class was how I emerged as a student.  Being a teacher I thought I would be a good student – retrospectively I think I was probably a pain. To encourage me every time I wailed, Julie would say “It’s couture!”.

My first problem was my lace.  I decided to buy my lace from Sew Over It so that I could look exactly like Lisa Comfort. I soon realised that everyone else had bought their lace elsewhere and it was far prettier than mine: moan, moan.

The lace and the lining

The lace and the lining

Then I realised I was slower than everyone else; my dress fitted less well than everyone else, and so it went on.

Cutting out - there seemed to me a huge number of pieces - a seven panel dress and a separate yoke

Cutting out – there seemed to me a huge number of pieces – a seven panel dress and a separate yoke

As I approached the class for the last night of the four week workshop I only had my zip and hem to do – I was very excited.  I came away from that class three hours later with still only the zip and the hem to do!  The last minute fitting took for ages.  It became apparent that what I thought was an invisible zip was not in fact so I decided to hand sew in a normal one which took me ages because I realised, rather perversely, that in my brief sewing career I have only put in invisible zips so didn’t know what to do.

Hand sewing my not so invisible zip

Hand sewing my not so invisible zip

Working with lace was a pleasing challenge.  It had to be “mounted” on a base fabric = I used the crepe de chine I was using for my lining  – it has made the dress incredibly heavy.  Julie suggested a way of using my lace to make a more interesting necklines (others had scalloped edges as part of their lace).  I had to cut two rows of daisies out, run a line of stitches thorough the middle to gather and then sew onto the neckline – I am pleased with this.

Lace finish on the neckline - a unique feature!

Lace finish on the neckline – a unique feature!

I have realised that I need to get a camera that sits on a tripod – these photos on my IPAD are rubbish and my photographer has to be cajoled and bullied so does not undertake his task with good grace!

Finishing the dress at Sewing Club

Finishing the dress at Sewing Club

I plan to wear the dress of doom to my work’s Christmas supper on Monday week. It’s a very low key affair so I think I might just about get away with my waggly hem and matronly fit.  So, onwards and upwards on the sewing front.  I am tentatively thinking about booking the coat making workshop!

Front yoke – can’t imagine Tracey Emin, herself a great sewista, wearing a frock like this

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x

6 responses

  1. Pingback: Outerwear, Underwear – it’s all happening here! | clarinda kaleidoscope

    • Hi, it was all new to me but basically you cut out three of everything – the lace, the base and the lining. The lace is then attached to one layer of fabric, piece by piece and this is called mounting. The you make up the dress, and make up the lining separately. For how you attach the lining it would be best for you to look it up on YouTube or in one of the sewing books. I was only learning in the workshop and wouldn’t know how to even start explaining that stage!


  2. That dress looks great! As a my first sewing teacher once told me,” If a non-sewer wouldn’t notice, and you don’t feel like changing it, it isn’t a mistake.”


  3. Oh. My. Word!!! I read your post with interest, so hear what you’re saying about what a mission it was to make this dress, but from the comfort of my sofa it looks AMAZING! What an achievement to create and fit such a complex make, and how much you must have gained from being tutored along the way. The Lace Dress of Doom looks fabulous in your first photo. Perhaps give her a new name to change how you feel about her?! (If it’s any consolation, my birthday dress of doom is in the naughty corner and won’t be coming out! It didn’t look anything like as amazing as this!).


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