A Purple Dress

Pattern: Self drafted

Fabric: Midweight wool/poly blend from Fabric.com, bemberg rayon from my stash

Notions: Invisible zipper, a couple of yards of lace trim

Time: Maybe about 8 hours total. There was some hand stitching to be done.


I’ve been so excited to share this dress with you! After making up the first muslin for my someday dress, I started thinking about what type of skirt I’d like to add to it. My first thought was some form of circle skirt but since I don’t own anything like this, I wondered how much wear it would see. I started by rummaging through my stash to find some yardage that wasn’t already tagged for something. I had picked up this wool blend from Fabric.com in December at 25% off for another dress and quickly realized that it was just too heavy for what I originally had in mind. It was perfect for a wearable muslin though!

I drafted a simple bodice to go with a half circle skirt. I took my notes from my last dress and drafted the body with only 1/4″ of ease. I probably would have taken it to 0″ but I wanted to leave some room for the bulkiness of the wool. After cutting out the pattern, I had second thoughts about the simplicity of the bodice and started brainstorming for some details that I could add. I’ve been seeing all these great cut outs (particularly in back bodices) on Pinterest and wanted to try my hand at it. Since I had already cut the pattern, I was limited on what I could do but finally settled on leaving the back seam open until the neckline.

Having never done something like this before, I wasn’t entirely sure how to go about it. I ended up attaching some lace trim to the right side of the seam allowance (remember that I had a seam allowance for the zipper). I then turned the seam allowance to the back and handstitched the lace to the lining. The top is secured with a small ribbon at the neckline. Now that it is all done, I’ve learned that I would have gotten a better fit by taking the back bodice to negative ease at the armholes to prevent the gaping that you see in the bottom picture. That being said, I think it fits quite well for a trial garment and the gaping you see is as bad as it gets.

The design is surprisingly wearable. I wondered if the back would make me feel really exposed and worried about the taste level but I was amazed at how comfortable I felt it in. I ended up wearing it to the movies with friends and everyone gave me such wonderful compliments. There is one downfall. As you might imagine, the material is rather warm while the cut is not. It’s possible that I’ll only get a few weeks of wear out of it each year. Then again, we’ve been having such wild weather here that I could be wearing it all spring. I’m going to play around with layering different shirts under it to see if that’s a good way to get more from the dress.

I realize that I’ve been on a bit of a dress kick lately. I wonder if my subconscious knows that another challenge is looming and that its desire to sew up pretty little dresses will be squelched soon. I know I’m not alone when I say that I love sewing dresses and could probably be quite satisfied never sewing another garment type again. Unfortunately with my lifestyle it just isn’t realistic. I don’t, and won’t, wear a dress everyday no matter how many of them I try to cram into my closet!

So, the half circle skirt was a success! I know I wouldn’t want any more fullness but I might try out a quarter circle to see what that would be like. I’m getting some help on the sweetheart/opera neckline at school and I figure that I’ll use the design for one of my “final” projects. Slowly but surely, the dress is coming along.


38 Responses to “A Purple Dress”

  1. Gorgeous! The sassy open back is such a great style detail and the colour is perfect on you. Once again, very well done Lizz!

  2. Wow, that is one daring back! 🙂 I love the fabric and I think you did a great job on your dress.

  3. I love how the cutout is a cheeky surprise on an otherwise ladylike and demure outfit 🙂 It makes the perfect balance 🙂

    I was wondering too about the warmth of the fabric but you could always wear tights and a cardi with it outside, then when you get inside, you have options 🙂

  4. You know, I poo-poo’d the open back on my last dress, but this is so pretty on you, I feel like a seam ripper is baout to come out….

  5. STUNNING! I think this has just supplanted the Kimono dresses as my favorite make! The color, the design – everything! It’s just perfect!

  6. A person who drafts their own patterns!!!! Yeah! I always make my own patterns. It’s so much more satisfying =D I love the circular skirt of your dress.

  7. oh my gosh. I love it—especially dig how playful the open back feels in a tweedy, very grown-up fabric and silhouette. Just lovely!

  8. Really pretty! The half circle skirt is so sweet, and the color is perfect on you!

  9. The back cut-out looks hot! It looks great for a test piece.

  10. Love the dress! And it’s my fave color. 🙂

  11. That is fabulous! I love the colour 🙂

  12. This is fantastic! I love it!

  13. Oh this is lovely. Wearable muslin you say? Far more deserved of a better title. This is a quality dress and I love the half circle skirt… so classic and flattering 🙂

  14. That looks fantastic. I love that skirt and the fabric – it’s such a gorgeous colour.

  15. omg the earrings!!! where/how/what/who?? Are they starched lace? Did you make them? The dress is gorgeous too, but that’s a given because you made it!

  16. This is just so beautiful! I agree with all – the color is really becoming on you and I love the demure front with the somethinsomethin in the back. I think the dress might be more versatile than it seems at first. also – love the earrings.

  17. I think you’ve designed a quite modest and becoming peekaboo cut out! It’s quite subtle, and especially unexpected!

    Those earrings are GORGEOUS! I just got my ears pierced late last year, so thanks for the White Owl link!

  18. Beautiful dress! And I must agree with the other comments, the earring are really nice and go really well with that outfit!

  19. Lovely! And, self-drafted as well. I’m impressed. Also, I agree with Veronica Darling – gorgeous earrings.

    By the way, I read your comment on Grainline about you being close to Britex. Are you in San Francisco? If so, how did I miss that before?

  20. This is your color! The dress is fantastic. And your hair looks great. I love daring & demure at once, a little unexpected and playful. Are there bras that could work with this? Not being nosy… just pretty ignorant of fancy underthings. I wish I could wear something like this, but can’t go bra-less outside the house!

    • There are! I like (and am wearing) Nubra (ultra lite)- it has adhesive cups so it’s great for backless, strapless, or sheer clothing. I wouldn’t recommend it for all day because it isn’t breathable but for a few hours or a special event it’s great.
      I also think, if done correctly, a gorgeous bra peaking out of the back can be super cute and still tasteful. Sadly I’m rather utilitarian with my underthings so I couldn’t do this. Someday I’d love to get into sewing lingerie and this could be a great way to show off these pieces.

  21. It;s gorgeous Lizz , I love the open back.

  22. Gorgeous! Looks well-made. I love the lace cut-out earrings.

  23. Great fit!


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