Friday, 14 October 2016

Navy Floral Cotton Voile Dress

Coming up in January, I will be attending my little brother's wedding, so naturally I had to sew a new dress to wear for the occasion! The dress code is formal wear, but it is going to be outside, in the middle of the afternoon in the middle of an Australian Summer, so I had a hard time deciding what to make that would be appropriate but still comfortable. I pulled out a bunch of possible sewing patterns, and also had a good look through my fabric stash.

I knew I wanted a fitted bodice, and I got the impression from my brother's fiance that she wanted people in full length skirts. Even though the dress code is formal, I really really didn't want to be wearing satin, polyester chiffon or any other sweaty fabrics. After trawling pinterest for ideas, and seeing all the floral wedding dresses that are a current trend, I thought of some Navy background floral printed cotton Voile that I had purchased semi-recently on sale at Spotlight. I grabbed it out and checked how much I had. It was just over 4 meters, so the perfect amount for a full length dress!

Front bodice sewn together

I decided to use the bodice from Butterick B6019 as it is very structured, and wouldn't make the dress just look like a summer maxi dress, which was something I was worried about, using such a casual fabric. I have used the pattern before, almost 2 years ago for my Christmas dress, so I knew how it fit and how it went together. I used the size 20 this time around, instead of the 18, as I have put a bit of weight on since then, and while I can still wear that dress. it has gotten quite snug.

Bodice with the lining, boning, underwires and padding added

Close up of beading

The bodice is fiddly, but I got it made in just 2 afternoons. Just like last time with this pattern, I added some extra boning as well as bra underwires for extra support, based on the version Gertie herself made from this pattern. The only difference I made, apart from the size, was to round out the bust points slightly, as the pattern is quite pointy in that region. For a little extra something, I tried adding a few beads to the centres of some of the roses on the bodice to see how they looked, and I really liked the effect. I think it helped the fabric look less day wear and a bit more evening wear.

Some more beading

Once I was done adding beading to the bodice, I cut out the skirt panels. I had about 3.5 meters of fabric left, so I decided to go with an 8 gore flared and slightly gathered skirt. I trimmed the fabric to a width of 43 inches (roughly how long I needed the skirt, with seam and hem allowance) then cut the gores 7.5 inches at the top, flaring out to 25 inches at the bottom, alternating them up and down on the fabric to utilise it the best I could. I attached 4 gores together for the front, then 2 pairs of gores for the back, overlocking the seams as I went. I then sewed the side seams with inserted pockets, nice and big, to make up for those tiny little handbags us women always seem to take to formal events. I then gathered the skirt with 2 rows of long stitches, and sewed it to the bodice, matching up the side seams. The back seam was then sewn up and the zip inserted. I tried it on at this point, and it actually felt a touch looser than I was aiming for, but still fitted, thanks to those shirred back panels. Unfortunately the spare room was not tidy enough to take a full length mirror selfie, so I just took these awkward photos.

Late night selfie!

This sorta shows the fit....

Because the fit isn.t as tight as I was expecting, I may end up adding shoulder or halter straps, to keep everything up and in.

On the Mannequin

Beading and Outlander

As I had not yet decided on what shoes to wear with this dress, I left the skirt un-hemmed at this point and worked on beading the skirt panels. I didn't bother beading every rose, and I also didn't bead any of the back area that I would be sitting on, as I thought that would be uncomfortable. It still took quite a few episodes of Outlander to work on the beadwork, but I think it gives the dress a very subtle, elegant detail.

I took the dress in to work to show my boss, as I was also thinking of wearing it out to a Melbourne Cup day lunch with her. She suggested shortening it to Ballerina (ankle) length, and accessorising with nude coloured heels. I had already been toying with the idea of ballerina length for this dress, so I checked with my brother's fiance to see if she was ok with it, and she was. I'm glad my boss suggested nude heels, as I was struggling to find a pair of shoes that I already owned that looked good with it, but I hadn't tried my nude heels, and I think they finish off the modern look of this outfit.

I still need to decide on something to cover my shoulders and head from the sun during the ceremony (a wrap, hat or parasol) as well as a bag, but I've still got plenty of time. I'd love anyone's opinions on accessories, and also on whether I should go full length or ballerina (ankle) length.

***UPDATE*** 3/11/16
My Marvelous friend Beccie and I got together yesterday afternoon to take some snaps of our Melbourne cup outfits, as we both forgot to get some on the day. Thanks Beccie, perhaps we need to do this more often for blog outfit photos!

As you can see, I ended up keeping it full length, as I thought it made my legs look longer, haha. I made a removable halter strap, and unraveled and restitched a sun hat into a boater style hat, with the biggest bow I could manage from my leftover fabric.



  1. Hi I think the dress will be lovely and ballerina length will look amazing especially with a net petticoat underneath. A short capelet to wear over it in one of the dress colours would look good here's a link to some: Look forward to knowing what you decide on.

    1. Thanks, I considered a petticoat, but decided it would make the dress too hot and sweaty, on what could possibly be a 40C+ day. The Capelet could be a good idea, if I can find a suitable lightweight fabric to make it from

  2. That looks stunning - just the thing for a Summer wedding. I agree with the other comment on adding a capelet to protect your shoulders or to add a bit of warmth in the evening.

    Katie @ Katie Writes Stuff

    1. Thanks, I doubt I'll need any warmth at night, unless they have the Air conditioner up too high!