Saturday, 13 November 2010

Melbourne Cup Dress 2010

At last year's Marketing Department Melbourne Cup function, I won the "Best Hat" competition for an OTT creation that involved a miniature bird's cage entwined with pretty little ribbons, with two tiny pretend birds inside it that sang and flashed like a car alarm at the press of a button. This was assumed to be a parody of the Bird Cage at the Melbourne Cup.

This year my team was again invited to Marketing's Melbourne Cup function, and I decided to go a bit more classy and enter the "Best Dressed" comp with a home-made dress. The Louis Vuitton 50s style dresses were an inspiration, but the closest matching pattern in my stash seemed to be this one, Vogue 1074 (yes, DKNY yet again), so this is what I went for:

I bought some zebra-patterned ramie at Tessuti fabrics, and made a muslin for the bodice from leftover fabric from a kid's dog costume (a future post :-) naturally). Amazingly the size 12 bodice fit without adjustment. And just in case you get bored easily, you don't have to read the details - here's how my dress turned out (I'm so happy):

V1074 is not a tricky dress pattern despite its "Advanced" rating - I intend to make the coat that's also included and perhaps this coat is where V1074's challenges lie. In this dress pattern you sew the outer fabric bodice and skirt pieces, sew in an invisible zip down the centre back, then make and place shoulder straps (and cut to size) before sewing up the lining pieces and attaching them at the bodice. Below you can see where I galloped ahead to make the lining pieces and sew them to the outer dress without having included the straps... which meant that after positioning the straps I had some unpicking to do!

positioning the straps
pinning the straps between outer and lining after unpicking
And here's what the bodice with straps looks like up close and the right side out - I sewed some black ribbon down the centre of the straps before attaching them:

close-up of a strap

Now there's nothing about this in the pattern instructions, but with the dress basically done bar finishing I found the edge between lining and outer wasn't crisp enough, even with lots of ironing spray. I've read this article by Kenneth King in Threads magazine about staying necklines and armholes with organza strips, but I wanted more stability. Somewhere or other (very late at night, and I can't recall where) I found some advice to use a strip of grosgrain or petersham ribbon to stabilise the edge... I didn't have any grosgrain or petersham ribbon so I sewed what turns out to be bra strapping along the lining side of the seam between outer and lining fabrics and it worked well. The black colour luckily isn't noticeable through the dress fabric:

sewing in a "stay" strip on the lining side of the seam
 Next up was an invisible zipper down the centre back, then some rather boring finishing, including a nice deep hem on the skirt. Then voila, the Melbourne Cup dress!

with jacket
What? I am NOT a sore loser!
I had plans for a matching fascinator but even though I'm used to staying up late sewing there are limits to just how late I'm prepared to stay up, and I simply ran out of time.  Instead I wore a black cloche hat with a tree of dusty pink feathers tucked into its ribbon... which was OK, but a matching fabric and feather fascinator would have been a million times better.

So thinking ahead, is it possible next year there'll be a "home made" category?? Well, more likely I'll celebrate the Cup next year with fellow analysts... and not so many dresses to compete against!


  1. Hello there, fellow night sewer! I like this dress and your blog so far. You're very productive!

  2. Thanks lin3arossa, it's nice to meet another night sewer! Actually I'm really not as productive as it looks... just have the whole of the last year to draw from in my early posts :-). BTW your blog is great - and your daughter is gorgeous! Thanks, Gabrielle


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