THE SEWING DIVAS sewing, design, fashion

January 1, 2007

Progress on the Laura Bennett Dress – design decisions

After celebrating New Years with my family and Sewing Diva Phyllis and her brood at a local hotel, I got back to work on the Laura Bennett dress. Since the bulk of our New Years celebrating was spent by the indoor pool watching our kids swim, eating pizza and drinking wine out of plastic cups, I didn’t sweat finishing it for the countdown to 2007. But Diva Phyllis (and hopefully Diva Gigi) and I are converging on New York City later this month, and I need a fabulous dress for dinner on that trip. Plus, I’m going to a trade show in Las Vegas in April, and I want to bring this to that.

Back to the dress. The neckline on the dress as designed is quite wide:McCall’s 5269.

I don’t have any problem with that, but I would like to be able to wear a non-strapless bra underneath it. So I widened the front shoulder piece by 5/8 inch, and I thought that it might be nice to add some lace trim to the neckline as well. It can cover a multitude of sins, and gives a little more leeway for bra straps without weighting down the look of the dress. I had some really nice yardage of pleated black lace in my stash, so I cut a few galloons out and started playing.

Because I want this dress to be “just so”, I have been testing and basting almost everything before making any final design decisions. This is not a “fast to make” project, but it will be one that I have for many years, so it’s gotta be good. To test this neckline treatment, I did a few things. First, I hand-basted the seamline on the outside of the garment: Basting along the seamline
This would allow me to place the lace precisely. I wanted the motifs to be a certain height above the seamline when sewn, and this gives me that control. I was able to place the lace so the bottoms of the scallops hit right at the seamline:Basted lace along the seamline.
Notice that you can see the white basting thread along the seamline through the lace. This allowed me to place the scallops precisely. Next, I basted the layers together using a long running stitch, and put the dress on my (way smaller than me) dress form to see how I liked the result.Nope, no good

Bammmmffff! I didn’t like it. I pulled all the basting out and removed the lace. Then I sewed the neckline to the lining without any embellishment. I like it much better. I’ll post a picture of it later on after I attach the sleeves.

Now, some of you may be thinking that it was a frustrating waste of time. It wasn’t. It was time very well spent. I’d rather spend the extra 20 minutes prototyping and basting the parts together to get an idea of how the finished garment will look. It beats not prototyping, then hating the results when everything is sewn and pressed. And it eliminates the possibilities of a very costly fabric turning into a very, very costly wadder.

I’ll post more when I have the garment closer to being done: either tomorrow or the day after.
Happy sewing!



  1. Oh yes, trying it out is the only way to answer the question: Do I like it? Ann, it’s great to see your process here. I liked the vintage feel of the lace but it was bordering on overdoing that fabulous fabric.

    Comment by Mary Beth — January 1, 2007 @ 6:38 pm

  2. I do agree with you and MaryBeth trying things is the only way to find out what is the best way to sew a garment or in this case adding lace or leave as it is. I did not liked the combination of your fabric and the lace , although the idea was a good one but the lace was just too much .
    Thanks for sharing the process of The dress.
    To keep the neckline a bit snug and hug your bra you could sew the upper bust princes darts a bit deeper and sew a lightweight stay tape at the neckline this will help to prevent the neckline from stretching .If you already sewed the princes lines you could ease in the neckline to get a snug fit.

    Comment by els1 — January 1, 2007 @ 7:30 pm

  3. As usual you are going to have one marvelous dress! You are inspiging me to give up sewing children’s pajamas. haha! Hopefully you will all be able to meet up in NYC. I’d love to see photos of you all wearing the fabulous outfits you will have each sewn up for the occasion. 🙂 Happy New Year!

    Comment by Rhonda Noah — January 1, 2007 @ 7:33 pm

  4. looks gorgeous. i bet laura would like to read about your journey on this dress.

    Comment by mamafitz — January 1, 2007 @ 8:12 pm

  5. I think the lace will be fine too, and another nice touch might be something like beading at the seam that joins the lace to the neckline.

    Comment by phyllisc — January 1, 2007 @ 8:29 pm

  6. Thanks for posting on the progress of the dress. Seeing the details and the thought process involved is inspiring. It is never a waste of time to spend time testing the ideas before sewing the final seams, what sounds like a good idea, sometimes turns out to be too much, or not right, as you have shown.

    Great post!

    Comment by Mardel — January 2, 2007 @ 5:25 am

  7. I agree with MB that lace should be a feature not an extra, especially with the beaded, feathered, etc. mesh. Love how this is turning out! Laura would be proud!

    Comment by Lisette — January 2, 2007 @ 7:55 am

  8. I do this all the time – it certainly isn’t time wasted. Sometimes you just don’t know if you like it until you see it. Usually I get these ideas I *think* is cool, but isn’t when I see it.

    Comment by Summerset — January 2, 2007 @ 4:18 pm

  9. Agree with taking off the lace. The fabric already has a lot going on. It will be a very beautiful dress.
    I need a dress for my son’s wedding and don’t seem to be able to find a pattern that I love and will be flattering to me and you always manage to find that right combo of pattern and dress. Did you get this fabric from Kashi?

    Comment by Nancy — January 3, 2007 @ 9:02 am

  10. I actually meant fabric and pattern.

    Comment by Nancy — January 3, 2007 @ 9:03 am

  11. Nancy, I got the fabric from Kashi. I don’t know if he has any left, since I bought it in October. It’s worth giving him a call to see, though. If you need his number, it’s in a recent post on my gorgeous things blog. Good luck and congrats on the upcoming nuptials!

    Comment by gorgeousthings — January 3, 2007 @ 9:09 am

  12. Just dropping you a note to compliment you on your blog and the beautiful dress you are creating! Being a sewing enthusiast myself, I appreciate the opportunity to learn from and share information with other sewers.
    best regards,

    Edited by Gorgeous Things to add: Please do not use this site for unauthorized advertising. Any comments deemed as such will be removed immediately. Thank you for your cooperation

    Comment by Susan McKenzie — January 4, 2007 @ 1:23 pm

  13. Sage advice Ann! It looks like it’s going to be a stunning dress.

    Comment by Kelly — January 4, 2007 @ 10:37 pm

  14. I am so glad you are an advocate for prototyping and sampling. Thank you X3.

    Your dress looks very nice. I’m eager to see it finished.

    I’m a Laura fan, too.

    Comment by J C Sprowls — January 4, 2007 @ 10:56 pm

  15. Why don’t you just put in lingerie straps? The kind made of thread with the snap at the end is the type I mean.

    Comment by Nancy — January 5, 2007 @ 3:56 pm

  16. hello ann

    well i like the neck line with the lace – it looks very moulin rouge. although i think that it looks good in the photo, perhaps it looks too much in real life?

    best wishes

    Comment by ruth — January 5, 2007 @ 6:01 pm

  17. Did it get finished? Is the pic on this blog? I must know.

    Comment by TJ Hernandez — November 12, 2007 @ 7:48 pm

  18. I found the finished one. Fabulously finished.

    Comment by TJ Hernandez — November 12, 2007 @ 7:55 pm

  19. fantastic job……..
    you also use some simple design for natural beauty girls

    Comment by gaurav — November 24, 2007 @ 8:50 am

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