How do you sew a lace dress? With patience! I made this cocktail dress as part of a sewing class with Sew Over It. Guys, I can’t recommend this class enough. It is aimed at intermediates and comprises of four three-hour classes, plus homework, plus… Well, if you’re anything like me there will be a lot of extra hours spent indulging your perfectionist streak. I feel as though I have just emerged from a long, narrow, windowless corridor of sewing obsession. That’s a hobby for you!
I ordered my lace online from … darn, I can’t remember! I think it was Stone Fabrics, but if that’s right, there’s none left. It’s a matt cotton lace. I wanted to be able to wear my dress at afternoon events, without any garish shine beneath sunlight. The lining came from John Lewis. The dress is underlined and then lined in the same fabric. For my underlining, I chose to use the reverse side of the lining fabric facing out to keep things looking matt.
The big surprise about lace is that it can be incredibly forgiving to work with. Sleeves eased in pretty easily and stitches just disappear. The challenge of lace is that it can stretch. I never hung this dress between classes; I kept it carefully folded. It’s important to insert hanging loops.
The stretch elements of lace inspired me to test myself with a new-to-me technique of stay taping necklines with a narrow red ribbon.
In fact, there were lots of new-to-me techniques involved in the construction of this dress. I flew by the seat of my pants when it came to reinforcing the zip placement at the upper back, where I was dealing with a single layer of lace.
There are a gazillion details I shall share in other posts. A lot of the construction was shared in real time on Instagram and I’d like to thank all the people who left comments, encouraging me. It was an interesting exercise, showing the reality of making a dress at this level – the blood, sweat and tears. I hope it provided a window on what realistically goes into a sewing project. No magic sewing wand here!
This is one of the loveliest dresses I’ve ever made. A big shout out to Sew Over It and my teacher, Julie. She platformed kindness, patience, humour and expertise. What more could I have asked for? I’ll tell you what more – behind-the-scenes gossip from sewing wedding dresses for a living, that’s what!
Lace is in all the shops right now. Are you inspired to sew with it?