Silk Evening Gown – self drafted/frankenpatterned


Here I present to you one of the two best things I’ve ever made… and a silk evening gown!

The senior formal is a huge event on a school kid’s calendar, its the big shindig before final exams. There is much ‘pinning’  and ‘Facebooking’ of potential dresses; that all starts in early February! The Princess tried on quite a lot of beautiful gowns, as well as some chinese dross parading as after 5, seriously – #1 son and I could only roll our eyes! Given her very ample bosom, nothing would fit outta the box. So it was with great trepidation I became gownmaker to the Princess.

Here is ‘the chosen one’, her initial inspiration. We had actually bought the fabric before finding this picture – quite odd that its so similar.


Princess said she had 100% faith in my abilities – which is about 98% more than I had! No prior experience with bust cups, underwires and such and only 3 weeks to complete!

The Brief

  • must have bust support
  • long dress for the formal, short dress for the ‘after party’
  • preferable short lining in dress so that the illusion is of a translucency through to ‘en trend’ mini look

Princess organised her own make-up, hair and shoes, deciding against the Dorito fake tan look – thank all the gods, imagine that coming off on the delicious silk!! But you may notice that false eyelashes have never been so popular since the 70s when my Mum wore them.

Apologies for the crappy photography. Hotel rooms are small and their furniture is big which makes it very difficult to get a clean shot at a gown, we finally resorted to the hotel hallway! That’s Melbourne in the background.

Short ‘after party’ version with detachable and optional halter straps.
She reckons this is an awful fat tummy shot, but I disagree!
These do not look like 34F chesticles do they? Sneaky positioning of underwire binding worked.


With silk georgette overskirt for the formal' part of the formal!
With silk georgette overskirt for the
formal’ part of the formal!
Back closure - lapped zipper and button/loops
Back closure – lapped zipper and button/loops, this is a shot with one shoe removed so she didn’t tower over her boyfy – that girl is a natural stylist I tell ya!
  • Over skirt fabric – silk georgette
  • main fabric – cotton/silk satin
  • lining – bemberg rayon
  • structure – french canvas with interfacing both sides and rigilene boning


The long skirt was finished with a rolled hem overlock using rayon thread in the upper looper – not as stress free as I would have expected. Also the french seams in the skirt drove me nuts with stray hairs poking out like a bad bikini wax. I had tried the infamous overlock then enclose, but still got strays for my troubles – any suggestions? I’ve since learned that tiny zig zag and then straight stitch is the way to go, do you have other advice please?All in all the overskirt caused me more trouble than I would have anticipated.

I had quizzed my class mates as to their preferred construction method and they all agreed french canvas was the go. But I’ve never used the stuff before and there was mention of steaming into shape – what the? So I engaged the couture teacher for 2 hours private tuition and she explained the ways of the canvas. I’ll do the same for you in the next post – FOC!!




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  1. I am supposed to be sleeping but OMG stunning in every way!! Congratulations to you and the gorgeous Princess. Now that is fabulous!!

  2. An absolutely beautiful dress; your daughter looks like a Princess. Great fabric and fabulous result. Congratulations!

    Looking forward to reading the tips you picked up about sewing French canvas, so thanks in advance for taking the time. Unfortunately I have no advice for stitching seams in georgette and wish they caused me less grief, so I’ll be returning to read the comments.

  3. Beautiful girl and a beautiful dress.

  4. Not one but two dresses completed to deadline! Well done mum (can you start having fun again yet?). Enjoyed your humour as usual (ah, yes, the bikini wax hairs in French seams: you get that with organza too.)

    We were in no doubt that Princess would look gorgeous and she does. How did she enjoy the senior formal by the way? Feel free to inundate us with more photos, including close ups of the dress, inside and out.

    • Oooh, lots more close ups coming in the next post Marijana. She and her beau did not like the formal much at all, but she had organised for a group of 16 to go to a nightclub after and they had an exclusive booth reserved. They absolutely loved that and judging by her shoes, she danced the night away! Funny thing is, I’m struggling to go back into the sewing room, might have to start with a mend!

  5. Ay-maay-zing!! What a fabulous result – and all the more so knowing that it was achieved in such a short time! It prompted fond reminders of my own mother, who hadn’t attempted couture sewing for decades, obligingly making my first school formal dress while still working long hours full-time as a community nurse. There was gold silk spread on the lounge room floor for weeks… It’s the stuff of wonderful memories.
    Thank you for sharing your project and the wonderful images…

    • Yes, such lovely memories. Princess had to talk me down from the precipice a few times though ;Q Just goes to show how resourceful a nurse can be when pushed! (I was a nurse too!). Thanks so much for the heartfelt comment.

  6. its brilliant. love the versatility of the over-skirt…. which conceivably could be worn with a white linen shirt on a summers day…. really beautiful shaping…..and a stunning model!

  7. I love this dress could you knock one up for me for the wedding hahahaha Brilliant!

  8. Incredible work, everything looks perfect! Love the fabric. Your beautiful daughter has a clever mom,!

  9. Oh my goodness. This is so beautiful. The fabric is gorgeous and you’ve done such an incredible job! I wouldn’t know where to start for that bodice. Kudos, kudos, kudos!

    • We really fell in love with the silk overlay ear and paid $34/m only to go back 2 weeks later and find it 50% off! What’s a girl to do but buy another couple of metres JIC!! You’ll know exactly where to start after the next couple of blog posts! X

  10. Stunning! A brilliant design idea and beautifully executed and worn!

  11. Wow, stunning! Love the idea of the removable overskirt, it gives her do many more chances to wear it! Interesting to hear about the narrow zig zag vs french seam thing, i’ll look forward to your construction post!

  12. What a great job . Well done . Let’s hope there are no weddings in the near future! I hated sewing silk chiffon and georgette until I squared an old singer straight sewing machine . What a difference . It just handles this fine fabric so well . I couldn’t believe the difference . I also use the fine zig zag , it’s much finer and lighter especially in seams which are a little on the bias . I loved doing my course I hope you are too!

    • I’m in love with my straight stitch Janome, which is why I was reluctant to break out the Bernina for a zig and a zag! I think this course is completely variable depending upon the teachers engaged at the time. Couture dress construction isn’t covered in mine at all – hence extra private tuition. But the beading n stuff – oy – so inspiring!

  13. Both Princess and the dress look stunning. Great work making it perform as both long and short (great comment ‘re linen shirt too – I like clothes to work hard). Have a break, and a G&T or several before you feel you need to sew again. You have earned the break.

  14. All gorgeous!
    And I can feel the stress and responsibility all aspects of this labour of love!
    Bet your glad it’s all over and I hope you all had a fab evening.
    I have ironed on very narrow lightweight interfacing to stop a chiffon type edge from fraying and stretching, which sounds really clumpy and potentially ugly, but I was really surprised at how the interfacing disappeared, wasn’t expecting that at all? It was used on a narrow double turn hem, so might work on french seams too!

    • Thats an interesting idea Linda, I’ll have to give that a try cos’ I see more silk in my future x

    • Hi Linda, yes, tres stressful, we were just the taxi drivers unfortunately! Or perhaps that was fortunate?!! I will give your interfaced edge a try for sure. Might just do the trick. I have so much silk in the stash I’ve been too afraid to bust out – but now…

      • Go for it. Make something lovely!
        Yes we were taxi drivers too! The parents were allowed to stay in the reception for an hour then of the prom goers went for their meal and dance, with a selection of teachers. Does that sound similar, all the way across the world? 🙂

      • I think you may have done better! For $150ea they got 4 alcoholic drinks and finger food – what the?! No teachers, the school takes no responsibility for the ‘formal’!

      • Haha! I went up to the drinks table and was told it was for the pupils only?? I said Even though I’ve paid for it all!! They didn’t reply.

  15. Your daughter looks absolutely beautiful. Such great colours for her. You deserve to feel very proud – of her, of course and for also making such a perfect outfit.

  16. That dress is the best – just gorgeous! I’m in love with the fabric as well. She looks amazing!

  17. WOW! That is quite exquisitely stunning, and your daughter looks so beautiful and elegant! The fabric is absolutely gorgeous, though it sounded difficult to tame the result is outtasight fabulous, you must be so pleased. Well done, Mum!

  18. What a super outcome Lesley. It is such a lovely dress and I can’t even begin to fathom how you designed, pattern cut, fitted and constructed it. What a labour of love and what a fabulous dress. Love all the versions – halter, strapless, long and short. A totally wow dress. Beautiful.

  19. This is stunning – you achieved such a great fit and finish on the bodice.

  20. This is the most beautiful dress I’ve seen in ages (and ages) you did an amazing job especially in the time frame! This would work as a wedding dress too, the fit is spot on and your daughter looks utterly gorgeous. You are are one very clever lady!!

    • Gosh, thanks Lynsey, I’m blushing! It certainly added to the ‘greys’ but wouldn’t have missed it for the world! She’s hard at the books right now, fingers crossed for a good ‘end of year’. x

  21. You are so clever making the overskirt. As you know – all that work and the long evening gown will never be worn again. Now the mini party frock will have a life of its own! Well done.

  22. Beautiful! Such clever ideas all put together to get two lovely dresses in one!

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