Slow Sewn Christmas Dress

Slow sewing November. I did this without actively thinking this dress was a slow project, it just worked out that way.


Happy in my new dress

Usually when I sew, I pick a pattern and a fabric, not necessarily in that order, and I sew it up. I make my alterations, but I rarely stray from the pattern. It’s just not my style. However, in September I got the urge to make dresses, they have been taking a back seat to separates sewing lately, so I invested in the book Sew Many Dresses, So Little Time by Tanya Whelan. I had a fabric in my stash that for many years had been assigned the fate of jule-klänning (that’s Christmas dress), but I had never really figured out what I wanted to do with it, what type of style I wanted. Not to forget the fact that the fabric, while incredibly gorgeous, is a home décor weight jacquard in polyester. It feels like polyester, presses like polyester (i.e. not at all) and drapes like a stiff polyester (again, not at all).


The back view shows a bit of those fit issues

I got the book started reading at set out on making my dress. I knew I wanted a v-neck of some sort, I first eyed the wrap bodice, but it had some draping that I thought wouldn’t work well with the fabric. So, I made the basic bodice, which I changed into the deep v-neck template. I added a cotton voile lining for the bodice, as the polyester would not have been pleasant to have directly on my skin. Also, to add some more slowness, I was a good sewer and made a toile before cutting into the real deal. Inexplicably,  while it says that the patterns are drafted for a b-cup (which I’m not) a straight size fit me well, when I let out the waist darts. Pattern drafting, a mystery I’ll never understand.


Lined bodice as to not have polyester directly on me

I wanted some volume in the skirt, without adding necessary bulk. This fabric was also prone to pouf out so gathers were out of the question. After sampling pleats I decided that they were the way to go. I cut rectangular pieces for the skirt, 3 times as long as the waist, and added 1” pleats along the skirt top. I had them all face the center front and center back, so in the CF there’s an inverted box pleat, at the side seams there are one regular box pleat per side and the rest are knife pleats. I pleated and pinned, pleated and pinned and then basted them all in place.


All those topstitched pleats. See how the meet in an inverted box pleat at the center front?

Even after all this pleating and basting, I was still a bit worried about the pouffiness the pleats might add. So, I decided to top-stitch them all to reduce bulk. After construction of the dress, I did the last thing to complete my dress as a slow sewing project. I hand-stitched the hem. It would have lost so much in having a seam across the bottom, so a (mostly) invisible catch-stitch was hand-sewn by me.


My hand-stitched hem

I really like this dress! The colour is one I love to wear and I loved “designing “ the dress myself, adding the elements I like wearing. It gave me more thoughts regarding things such as the fabric’s properties and how it would behave, things I normally never really consider since I have a finished pattern. I have many fabrics in my stash destined for dresses, so I will definitely use this book to design more of them for myself.


Perfect for twirling!

Unfortunately, despite my being good by toiling (totally a word, right?) and counting, the dress is a wee bit tight. I can get it on, but I’m not sure I could stand this dress for a full day, especially not if that day involves eating a Christmas dinner. Other than that I’m very happy with my slow sewn dress and keeping my fingers crossed I will be able to wear it in the future.



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