Sunday, 11 November 2012

Finished Project: Handmade Floral Skinny Belt & Full Circle Skirt Dress!

I think handmaking belts is my new "thing". This is belt #3.

Belt #1 was the floral cummerbund which was part of the vintage Simplicity 3222 dress. Conveniently, that cummerbund can also be worn with my V8511 floral dress cos they are the same fabric :)

Belt #2 was the blue and red bow belt I made for my blue satin party dress using the free Lisette pattern. It's free, get on it!

Belt #3 is this (ok I'm gonna use this word for the first time) amazeballs skinny floral belt for my floral and full skirted dress.

It's almost camouflaged amongst the flowers on the dress :)

I spent about 3 hours reversing the long tube of fabric to the right side. When I was done, my fingers were swollen. The reversing of the belt took almost as long as the time it took me to finish the bodice. Crazy.

I can't explain coherently how I made the 'bow' feature on the belt so forgive me for not giving a mini "how-to" but it was very easy. The whole belt is made using the same length of fabric folded on top and around itself to secure, then hand sewed.

Check out my sew-on snaps, looks much neater than last time.

The making of the dress took about 8 hours all up (over two days). The belt took another 5 hours. I finished it in time for my work party. Phew! Now that my work colleagues know that I sew, I can't turn up in RTW.

My colleague's wife is also into sewing and quilting so when we see each other, we chat about sewing which is awesome. I love meeting other ladies that have sewing and craft knowledge..

For this dress, I used the V8511 bodice and modified the back to a scooped back. I replaced the skirt with a full circle skirt.

I added a pink grosgrain ribbon waist stay and lined the bodice using the clean machine finish technique. The lining is purple sunsilky polyester.

I was short on time (and lining) so I skipped the skirt lining. I felt pretty safe cos the cotton sateen is quite heavy so you can't see my underwear through it... but you could see my underwear when I twirled, I did that a few times on Friday night at my party. But that's a different story, for a different post.

I handpicked the zip and finished the hem on the circle skirt by serging the raw edge, pressing the serged edge over then stitched a narrow hem. 

This full circle skirt has a giant hem which took 5 minutes to sew on the machine. So get this, I finished the hem, decided I didn't like the dark green thread - then spent 2 hours unpicking the 3.6m hem. I'm a sucker for pain. The hem looks great now with a lighter green thread, it has that "top stitched" look.

Even though this is a TNT pattern, the dress ended up being too big and gaped at the back. I discovered this after I had handpicked the zip. Annoying. I had too unpick the zip. 

Because of the way I took in the back seam, I think the CB seam ended up "off-grain" (is that the correct term?) and as a result, I had drag lines starting from the lower side seams pointing towards the zipper tab. I was once told that the drag lines point towards the "problem" area so in this case, it was definitely caused by the inches that I took in at the CB.

Can you spot my belt?

The drag lines are the only thing that bother me about this dress, it's barely noticeable to others, but I'm really OCD about things. I'm annoyed that my trusted TNT ended up being not-so-TNT. And I know I have not lost weight... so what the!

Here are some pics I quickly took before leaving the house on Friday. I was going to get an up-do, but my regular hairdresser was sick so I ended up getting GHD curls instead. It was a windy day so the curls got bit messy before I even left home.

Can you see those drag lines on the back bodice?
Yardage for dress and belt: 1.5m of cotton sateen.

Summary: Frankenpattern dress & skinny belt.

Pattern:  Vogue 8511 bodice with modification to back, self drafted full circle skirt
Size: Size 6
Fabric: floral cotton sateen
Notions: Dress zipper 14" (hunter green), 1m grosgrain ribbon (pink), 1 bikini hook, Gutermann thread, Birch snap fasteners (1)

Time: approx 17 hours over 3 days.

  • Day 1 - bodice, 3.5 hours
  • Day 2 - full circle skirt, handpicked zip, hem, 5 hours
  • Day 3 - belt, unpicking hem and re-doing zip, 8 hours

Cost: Fabric $15; Lining $10; Zipper $2; Grosgrain Ribbon $2, Bikini Hook, Snap Fastener & Pattern from stash.

Techniques used: 
  • Handpicked zip
  • Waist stay
  • Narrow hem on the sewing machine
  • Princess seams
  • Bagging technique to line bodice

Pattern Modification/Adjustments: 

  • Graded out to 1cm seam allowance at the waist on the side seams
  • 2.5cm SA on back bodice, graded to regular SA at waist when inserting zipper
  • Replaced skirt with self drafted full circle skirt 
  • Modified the back bodice to create a scoop

I'll let you in on a secret: this dress is the exact same dress I wore to the last work function, but in a different fabric.

I had an awesome time on Friday night, the food was delicious and so was the wine. Both the red and white, haha. Needless to say, I woke up on Saturday evening (yep, evening) with the biggest hangover, ever.

I'll put together a Me-Made-Weekend post once I get photos from my friend. TBH, I'm a little afraid to see the photos, I hope I didn't disgrace myself :/

What did you get up to over the weekend? Sewing or mischief or both?
Hope you had as much fun as I did :D


  1. So gorgeous! That style of dress looks wonderful on you - the colours suit you beautifully too. I do love a good belt!

    1. Me too!!! I love belts, they are easy to buy, no need to go to the fitting room! I have a drawer full and it's still not enough. I hope to graduate to making belts with actual buckles :)

  2. Looks great! I love the fabric and that bow belt is just great! Next coat I make for my daughter is going to have a bow belt just like that!

  3. I loooooove the full circle skirt!! SO cute!

  4. This dress turned out totally adorable and looks like you bought it at modcloth, only BETTER! I love the fabric and the bow belt and the full skirt and the EVERYTHING! Perhaps your unexpected issue with the back bodice around the zipper had something to do with the alteration you made to the shape of th back-neckline? Who knows. I think the dress looks perfectly perfect and I want one for myself. :)

    1. Hey Sue, I don't think the drag lines were because of the alteration to the neck line cos my "satin blue" version didn't have the wrinkles and I cut everything the same size using the same pattern... but this one was larger so I don't know!! It's always something isn't it hahahha.

  5. I am loving the floral version! That belt is too cute for words and totes worth the effort. You look smashing!

  6. Wow, this dress is FANTASTIC! your attention to the details makes this dress magic. I wouldn't worry about your little drag lines, the pattern on the fabric hides it so well I'd never had noticed it if you hadn't pointed it out.

    1. Thanks baby, my attention to details works against me sometimes cos I notice these imperfections and they drive me nuts!!! But you're right, the fabric does hide it well, and the belt covers the thickest part of the drag line at the side waist. Thanks for your comment hun :)

  7. Your hair is so pretty! :D
    Do you think maybe because your fabric was on the bias at the back zipper, it stretched out of shape? I know some fabrics stretch more on the bias than others, maybe your satin wasn't a big stretcher but this one was?
    :/ I feel unqualified to give advice lol, so it's probably something else....

    Anyway, it's mega cute :)

    1. Hey Jo... I think you might be right. I vaguely remember ignoring the grainline arrow (which was on a slight angle) on the back bodice piece and lining the CB up again the straight grain - I think this might have been where I went wrong!!! I think that's it!! That's the only thing I did differently when cutting this dress.. doh!

  8. Love this so much more than your original dress for this event...that silhouette really suits you! I've had that back gaping issue too when it comes to lowering a back neckline that much -- you don't notice it when it's higher because you need the ease for moving around and stuff. Could you maybe add some kind of bow/strap across the back to help hold it up? Or is it not a holding up issue? Alternately, you could just throw on a cardigan and ignore the problem :)

    1. Hey Cindy! The dress is fine now that I took the upper CB in... and the last version with the scoop didn't gape so not sure what's different this time... it could be what Johanna said about the grains. Gahh!! I've band-aided the situation so all good now hehhehehe

  9. It's super adorable! I am in love with florals right now, that fabric is truly perfect.

    I worked on my "Poetry dress" (post tomorrow!!) which is the one I emailed you about lining! I also made some loose holiday sewing plans. Do you have a tutorial or method you use to scoop out the neck? I want to do that with my Christmas dress, but I don't know where to start, just trace out a circle?

    1. Hey Chris, to make the scoop, I used a back bodice pattern piece with a scoop and sorta traced it using that :) There was a lot of trial and error though :) Good luck!!

      I can't wait to see the poetry dress!! Yay! I love blog posts on Finished Projects :)

  10. I love the last pic, it looks like flowered-dress-you is looking at past-you and thinking "are you wearing the same as me?!" or something.

  11. Oh Neeno! It's just wonderful! Well done!

  12. This is so gorgeous! I absolutely love it!

  13. Just gorgeous and it sounds like you had a great night :)

  14. These dresses suit you perfect they look so adorable on! Such a pretty dress and I love the fabric and belt! Amazing!!


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