Thursday, March 8, 2018

Gala Party Dress

Every now and then, I get a ridiculous idea and have to follow through with it. When my Kindergartener told me she wanted to go to her school Father/Daughter dance, naturally I wanted to sew her something special. Nevermind that it was Monday, and the dance was Friday night! Let's be real: I could have run over to the local resale shop and found her an acceptable dress for probably $10. It would have taken minimal effort, money, and time. But it wouldn't have been special! Isn't that enough of an argument for sewing clothes?

I had a few patterns dancing (har har) around in my head, but decided to pick fabric first. My daughter requested pink. I went to Jo-Ann's and spent an inordinate amount of time browsing. After a lot of debate with myself, and input from my two year old, I ended up with an embroidered netting and stretch satin. I used my rewards points at Peek-a-Boo Pattern Shop and bought the Gala Party Dress for a steal (her patterns are SO inexpensive anyway!). I ended up spending about $65 on fabric and supplies, even with three hundred coupons. That's definitely more than I ever would have spent on a RTW dress for her. That's possibly the most I've ever spent on a garment for her. Hopefully, her two sisters can wear it, and maybe all my grandkids!

By the end of the day Monday, I had pre-washed my satin (polyester, but better safe than sorry) and printed my pattern. That was it! I had a lot of work ahead of me. I made a straight size 6 and to save time I *gasp* cut the pattern and didn't trace it. The first day I had a minor setback when I realized an extremely stupid error: a square is not a circle.

The dress called for a circle skirt, but I had bought a netting with a scalloped selvedge, intending for it to be the hem. Face palm. It worked out fine eventually...I ended up cutting the yardage right up the middle, sewing the short ends, and creating a square skirt. Then I gathered the top to fit the opening for the circle skirt. This would not have been so easy with a thick fabric, but netting is not that thick. I didn't actually measure my pieces but it was probably a bit over a yard. I just used what was left after I cut the bodice.

I spent Tuesday through Thursday frantically sewing this dress. Thursday evening found me hand-sewing the bodice lining to complete the dress.

And because I can't have my life be that simple, I had also planned on making a bolero, and a matching tie for my husband. Why not right? I found a free bolero pattern on Pinterest, and a free tie pattern from Purl Soho. I BARELY squeaked out the tie pieces, and in fact cut corners (literally). The lining was muslin from my stash. The majority of the tie was sewn by hand and it also required careful (read: time-consuming) pressing.

The bolero was super simple even though it's fully lined and reversible. Magically, I had a perfectly sized piece of netting left to put on the back of the bolero, and this perfectly matching pink knit ribbing in my stash. The inside is a cream bamboo knit from The Fabric Fairy that sacrificed itself to the cause (I was saving it for a tshirt for me). I also appliqu├ęd a few flowers to the front (didn't have enough fabric to fully overlay the front).

Friday morning I cut and sewed the entire bolero, AND shopped at the aforementioned resale shop for tights and shoes and hair accessories. Friday afternoon I finished hand-sewing the tie and the bolero (just the opening for turning). The moment I tied the tie and hung everything up on hangers, my brain completely shut down. All the adrenaline disappeared from my system and I felt totally wiped. Everything I had made was gorgeous, perhaps my favorite ensemble ever, but MAN was it draining to work on such a deadline!

When it was all said and done, they spent an hour and a half at the dance before my daughter got tired and wanted to come home. All that time, effort, and money for an hour and a half. This is not an indictment of her, OF COURSE it was only that long, but perhaps I should have thought harder about my return on investment. She loves it, obviously. I hope she felt special and wonderful, but who ever really knows with a six year old. I wish we had another occasion for her to wear it, but I think it might be too fancy for Easter? I'm rambling, a bit.

I know there will be a time in my life when I look back at these photos and get the sniffles, and I forget all the work that went into the outfit. A little bit like bringing a child into this world in the first place, right?


  1. It all turned out amazing! I don't think it's too fancy for Easter, get a few more hours of wear. :-D

  2. It's beautiful! And I think it'd be a perfect Easter dress (though I guess it totally depends on your church).

  3. I get it, I’ve done similar crazy kid marathon sewing and to that end I say let her wear it to everything!! It’s great for Easter and people love seeing kids dressed to the hilt! She’s adorable and give yourself a reward!


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