ALL SEWN UP: A Last Minute Panic.

by Jamie on April 25, 2015


Today’s ‘All Sewn Up’ is a dress I made toward the end of last year to wear to my beautiful cousins wedding. Yes, the wedding was in November last year and yes, It’s taken me this long to take pictures of me wearing it… And no, being in front of the camera is not getting any easier!

I had known about the impending wedding for a few months – so you would think I had plenty of time to plan and sew a dress. But unfortunately this dress went the way most projects I plan for myself with a deadline go – into the ‘last minute panic’ category. It seems I need a good shot of adrenalin and a feeling of impending project disaster to get my own sewn garments over the line.

I procrastinated unnecessarily about the overall design and fabric of the dress until with only one week to go and no fabric purchased I finally decided on a 1950’s-inspired garden-party dress. I was happy with that decision as the dress code was smart but not formal and the venue was an old homestead garden in central Victoria.

As this was a last minute rush-job, the fabric and design needed to fill a few specific criteria if it was to safely come to fruition.

  • The dress design needed to be as fuss-free as possible – meaning no lining, zips, buttons or fussy details.
  • The fabric needed to be easy to handle – meaning no slippery, hard-to–cut fabric and preferably choosing a stable fabric with a bit of give to help with fitting issues.

So, armed with my prerequisites and a vague idea in my head, I set off a week before the wedding to buy the fabric. With very little time to spare I nipped down to ‘Clegs’ – a fabric store in the center of Melbourne.

I was momentarily seduced by the designer silks on offer, but I quickly snapped back to reality. Apart form being expensive, silk was too hard to handle in the time I had available… I had a week, but I also needed to juggle it with other work for clients.

Eventually, I eyed a mid-weight polished cotton sateen with a floral print on black ground. It had a small percentage of Lycra stretch in the weft, which was just what I needed to make the job easier. I bought 4 metres and headed for home relieved that I had made at least one major step forward in finishing my dress in time for the wedding.


Back in my studio and inspired by my new fabric purchase I settled upon a wrap-style dress. This solved my no zip or button-opening problem, as the wrap and tie ensured I could achieve a fitted looking dress without the fiddly sewing applications or fitting issues.


I designed the bodice section of the dress, opting for a collar neck detail and 3/4 length sleeves. I drafted the pattern but could not quite resolve how I wanted the skirt to look. I decided to sew up the bodice section and then choose the best course of action after giving it the ‘overnight test’.


Unfortunately, the next day I had an emergency job for a client – and what was meant to be a good day spent finishing the dress was spent at the computer redrawing designs for a client’s website… With only a day left and no skirt solution I was starting to consider what else I had in my wardrobe that could be called upon as a substitute. The dress just wasn’t coming together for me and I was having serious doubts that it would.


The day before the wedding I placed the finished bodice section on the mannequin and stood back to try to visualise the possibilities for the lower half of the dress. A completely gathered skirt would not look right because of the wrap closure detail, yet I wanted at least some fullness at the hem whilst remaining fairly smooth around the front wrap and hip areas.

Flower dress side detail

After fiddling around with pattern paper on the mannequin and pinning the pieces together to get an idea of the proportions, I decided the best option for the lower half of the dress was to make it A-line. For slightly more fullness I added six flat tucks to the back skirt to match up with the tucks at the back bodice and added a tuck to each side of the front skirt wrap.   The fullness created from the tucks at the back gave the back skirt a slight bustle-like silhouette reminiscent of  the 1950’s styles and the 3/4 skirt length also reminded me of that era – but the overall dress was definitely current, given the fabric choice and wrap detail.

Flower dress full length

So I did finish the dress in the end and was happy enough to wear it for the day  – albeit still finishing the hem about an hour before we left for the event… Phew, I always tell myself to leave more time to finish these projects – but the last-minute-panic always seems to happen anyway!

Sew, Wear, Love


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

pamela April 27, 2015 at 11:58 am

Its a gorgeous dress, I love the print. Well done, you clever lady!


Jamie May 10, 2015 at 8:22 am

Why, thank you Pam : )


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