Monday, April 27, 2015

The Graduation Dress

Now, before you all ask me about the title, I made this dress last year for my brother's graduation from high school. I repeat, I am not a proud recent alumna of anywhere.

And yes, it did take me almost an entire year to blog this dress (I made it for a June 2014 graduation), but I have ideas. These ideas usually involve lots of searching for what I think might make the perfect backdrop to complement said dress and what I think those photos should look like. I waited until spring break this year to get this picture because this cool succulent fountain is directly across the street from a bus stop where there are usually at least 50 students waiting for the shuttle. And hell if I'm going to be taking pictures with that many people watching.

Anyways, all that nonsense aside, this is my first lined dress! And third dress ever!

Graduation Dress

I found this neat fabric that is a white cotton with tiny black flocked dots, so fuzzy! It's fun to pet when I'm wearing it :)

Graduation Dress

And the fun back detail! Check out that invisible zipper! Can you believe this is the first time I've ever put one in? Not bad, huh? I did however accidentally pinch a pleat in the skirt so it does look a little funny, just something to remedy for next time. I did have some trouble zipping it up right after I put in the zipper because of all the bulk at the waist seam - invisible zippers are just not that strong. Because there are two lines of stitching I just unpicked a few stitches of the line closer to the teeth at the waist seam (based on internet advice) and it totally worked! You can see it pulls apart a little there revealing the zipper, but it doesn't bother me.

Graduation Dress

The pretty collar! I had to tack it down to the bodice front because it kept flipping up otherwise.

And here's some flat shots:

Graduation Dress Front

I actually used fusible webbing instead of interfacing for the collar because it's what I had on hand, and it seems to be fine. As I mentioned, I just hand tacked the collar in the very center to keep it from doing anything weird.

Graduation Dress Back

Graduation Dress Inside Lining

Here's the inside! Isn't it so clean? I only lined the bodice because I didn't really feel like doing the skirt too so I just wear a half slip underneath since the white is a tiny bit see through. I'm so pleased with how it turned out for my first time lining a bodice. I also french seamed the skirt pieces so the inside of this thing is super neat! Absolutely no messy zigzagged edges like I usually finish a seam with.

Graduation Dress Waist

I had the crazy idea to use a bit of grosgrain ribbon to enclose the raw edge at the waist and also add a bit of stability a la a waist stay. This is two pieces of floral grosgrain ribbon, one one either side and then sewed at both edges. I won't say it's the best idea I ever had because it certainly caused some problems during construction, but it turned out all right.

Pattern: Prom Perfect from the Peppermint Magazine Sewing School (scroll down to Issue 17 - free!)
Size: Small
Fabric: 1.5 yards of a flocked dot cotton from JoAnn, white poly "posh" lining from JoAnn
Notions: ~22" white invisible zipper, less than 1 spool grosgrain ribbon
Size Alterations: None
Design Changes: Chopped off a ton of length at the hem so that it sits at about 1" above my knee. Not a fan of midis.
Techniques used: Clean finish lining, installing an invisible zipper
Construction Notes: Basically ignored the instructions that come with the pattern and went with the clean finish order of construction. I had way too much bulk at the waist seam so the zipper wasn't zipping the first time around, so I unpicked a few stitches at the waist seam, and I was then able to get the zipper up. Hand sewed the lining to the zipper once it was installed in the fashion fabric because I still can't figure that shit out.
Will you make it again? I'm thinking yes! It's really cute, pretty simple but interesting cut at the same time. I do need to take a SBA on the next version though because my bust darts are looking a little pointy/baggy at the apex. I need to adjust the armscye too because it is a tad tight right now.
Final thoughts: Love this dress! I feel this is very much the style I like: sweet and a little retro/vintage. The fabric pairs perfectly with this pattern, and it's just so wearable!


  1. This is adorable and so professional! The lining and the ribbon enclosure are amazing! (When I sew, I think I almost love those details more than actually making a garment itself.) Have you worn it again since your brother's graduation?

  2. I love this dress, and you look so pretty in front of the fountain! Did you wear this to Mandy's bridal shower?

    --Jenny :)