One of the things I love about sewing is that you have great flexibility. I recently got invited to an Army Summer ball at Sandhurst and their dress code is strictly below the knee. Being a short lady (all 5ft 1′ of me!) I tend towards above the knee styles as they are typically more flattering to my shape. Not wanting to spend loads on a dress I will only wear once I decided to raid my stash and become a bit adventurous. (Photo warning: desperate to get a post out on this I took the photos today having not had a chance to wash it since wearing it last night so the dress is a little on the creased side!)
I traced off and made an Anna dress (BHL) a couple of years ago in a lovely quilting cotton I bought in San Francisco last year but haven’t gotten round to making any more. Having made it in cotton before the thought of making it in a more drapey fabric was quite exciting. So I retraced the top part of the dress adding some length to the bodice to make it fall more at my natural waist. I also reshaped the neck line to take more of a scoop out. Whilst I love the original dress I felt it would be nice to test my skills at reshaping a design (got to make good use of the French curve I bought a few months ago!).
The fabric was some incredibly cheap fabric from Walthamstow market. I bought about 5 m of it with the intention of using it to line a Robson coat but I’ve been wondering about making the Robson coat unlined and it seemed to fit the bill nicely for my dress. So I got cracking. The fabric has a deep purple satin side which I suspect is meant to me to right side of the fabric and then a dusky pink on the reverse. I again used flexibility and opted for the dusky pink as a more summer appropriate colour.
For the skirt part I just cut the entire width of fabric at the length I needed from the bodice to the floor with the some extra for seam allowances and hems. I didn’t cut particularly accurately as I figured I could fix any issues with the hemming process. I then just pleated the skirt onto the bodice until I had used it all up.
For some reason the process of figuring out the direction of pleats confuses me. It should be so simple but inevitably I always end up pining, checking, realising its the wrong way round and then re-pleating.
In all honesty the dress very nearly didn’t get finished as I very much fell out of love with it, but determined I wanted a dress to wear I ploughed on, and in typical me style was sewing the neck bias bind down an hour before we were due to leave the house for the ball… nothing like working to the wire!
Overall the dress may not be the most beautiful long dress in the world but it was incredibly comfortable and stood up well to the my 4 solid hours on the dance floor, even when I took the heels off. I would definitely consider making this again for future balls and having reminded myself how much I love the pattern I think its time to make a few more above the knee versions for more every day wear. I leave you with some action shots of the dress last night including my epic fish face on the dance floor!