THE SEWING DIVAS sewing, design, fashion

May 18, 2006

Graduation Dress – Final

Filed under: Fit/Pattern Alterations,Pattern Reviews — Gigi @ 8:00 am

by Diva Gigi 

Sleeveless is not my best look so I had originally intended to make this dress with long sleeves. I basted the first sleeve in just to double check the fit and hang. As I looked in the mirror I decided I liked the dress a whole lot better sleeveless. The shoulder line on this pattern is wide enough to be flattering for those of us who can’t carry off a dainty spaghetti strap. As I frog-stitched (ripit!) the sleeve I thought about how I wanted to finish the armscye. Since there is no topstitching anywhere on this garment, a facing strip was not an option. I didn’t like the idea of French binding either. Both of these methods somehow seemed too casual for what I wanted to be a dressy dress. So, I did the unthinkable. I still can’t believe I did it (because I just never do) but I am so pleased with the way it looks. Yes, you guessed it. I used (gasp) facings! I interfaced them with Palmer/Pletsch Sheer (I’ve mentioned at least a thousand times that this is my favorite interfacing in the world). The facing pattern was a nicely shaped one-piece pattern with an underarm seam only. I sewed and understitched it just as one would on a woven fabric. I then tacked the facing to all of the seams – shoulder, side back and side front. This turned out to be the perfect solution. Again, please excuse these terrible, fuzzy photos. I didn’t look at them until I uploaded.

By the time I got to the hem it was 3:00, giving me 2.5 hours until we had to leave for the ceremony. I would have preferred to do the hem on this fabric by hand but, to save time, I hemmed it with Wonder Thread (a super-fine monofilament) on my blindstitch machine. It looks good but I am going to redo it as soon as I have time because I think it will hang just a little better. Here I am in the finished dress. And see how nicely I match my front door. The dress does not hang longer in the front – my husband is just quite a lot taller than I am and he was shooting down despite my reminder not to. I will definitely be making this pattern again. A girl can’t have too many pretty dresses in her wardrobe!

Here’s a photo of the dress on my dressform, Ethel (Mertz, of course):

Here’s a photo taken from the side. Note how the side panel seams curves around the bustline. I really love working with vintage patterns. It’s so obvious that a lot of thought went into designing and drafting them. This pattern also has back neckline darts (you just never see those anymore!) and an elbow dart. Fabulous.

Using a lightweight fabric with a weighty drape is the key to success with this pattern. There are a lot of gathers under the bust, anything heavy would result in a maternity look. I don’t agree with most of the fabric recommendations given *unless* you are a supermodel. Mind you, this is just my opinion. If you are very thin perhaps you could get away with some of these fabrics.


Crepe back satin – too bulky
Shantung – too crisp, not drapey enough
Lightweight Double Knit – sorry, I can’t see that. Imagine the bulky gathers.


Crepe – only if it’s extremely thin and drapey
Surah (a silk twill) – again, depends on the drape
Lightweight wool – possibly a featherweight crepe


Printed silk (think crepe de chine)
Matte Jersey

Additionally, I think this pattern would work nicely in silk charmeuse (although one must always take care to avoid the nightgown look).



  1. Gigi — the dress is just beautiful on you. Good decision to go sleeveless.

    Comment by colettema — May 18, 2006 @ 9:57 am

  2. very pretty. i just love your shoes too.

    Comment by mamafitz — May 18, 2006 @ 10:24 am

  3. Gigi, that turned out so beautifully! You’ll be the proudest woman at the graduation for several reasons!

    Comment by Gorgeous Things — May 18, 2006 @ 12:41 pm

  4. Shantung? ? Must have been a blind cut & paste from the instruction library! I just love this dress Gigi and really hope we get to see it on you in person. XO Phyllis

    Comment by Anonymous — May 18, 2006 @ 1:00 pm

  5. Wow, gorgeous dress Gigi! I love the shoes, too!! You are such an enabler! Now you’ve got me looking at vintage patterns… I just picked up this one on Ebay, since yours looks so fantastic!

    Comment by jemgirlca — May 18, 2006 @ 1:45 pm

  6. Gigi, the combination of the right fabric choice, the right pattern which suits you and your sewing skills results in a beautiful graduation dress. And those shoes which are complete the outfit. You will be the best dressed mom.
    Why do you gasp at facings? I do use them often in knits not only at armholes but also at neckline. I find it adds some more elegancy for knitted garments.

    Comment by Els — May 18, 2006 @ 3:46 pm

  7. beautiful dress and looks great on you; and I’m enjoying your blog!

    Comment by sue vite — May 18, 2006 @ 4:00 pm

  8. GIGI
    So pretty makes me want to look at some of my vintage patterns for actually sewing not just adornments in my sewing room. You pulled off sleeveless with out a hitch I think your arms look great. I went out in a tank the other day to walk the dogs just so I can get some color on my arms because just like black makes us all look thinner tan makes my fat look tanner hahahaha beautiful dress and congrats on the Graduate.

    Comment by sewinstuff — May 19, 2006 @ 1:56 am

  9. Gigi I love your dress. Much, much nicer than the pattern envelope. Are you as emotional as I am for graduation? Is your son going away for College?
    I’ve been enjoying the your blogs.

    Comment by Debe — May 19, 2006 @ 6:09 am

  10. Gigi, that dress is simply smashing! I’m so impressed that you got something new made; my DS is also graduating this year (tonight, in fact), but I still haven’t decided what I’m going to pull out of the closet to wear. No new duds for me this year.

    I’m curious, too, is your dear only soon leaving you, now that he’s a HS grad?

    Comment by Lisa Laree — May 19, 2006 @ 7:38 am

  11. Thank you all for your nice comments! Yes, my dear only son will be going off to college the first week of August. I’m sure I’ll be sobbing the whole way home! But I try to remember that I’m not losing a son, I’m gaining a place to put my cutting table. 😉

    Comment by Gigi — May 19, 2006 @ 7:48 am

  12. Gigi, what a smashing dress! I love it. Have fun with all the graduation festivities.

    Comment by Pbrommel — May 20, 2006 @ 1:40 pm

  13. Gorgeous!

    Comment by Katharine from PR — July 14, 2006 @ 7:55 am

  14. All the old stuff I wore as a child is coming back. Kinda scary and makes you feel old, but it looks great most of the time.

    Comment by Retro Fashion — October 12, 2007 @ 4:59 pm

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