Sunday, 27 July 2014

Elen's Prom Dress - Part 1 - A design concept

We'd left it rather late to sort out my daughter's prom dress - this is also her main GCSE exam year and due to the staggered approach her school takes, she's either been sitting exams or studying hard since November which rather limited the time she had to go shopping!

Elen had pretty firm ideas on what she wanted - one of her optional subjects was Textile Design Technology and she had already designed her own perfect dress!  

Elegant with a historic feel. Strapless with a sweetheart neckline. A very fitted bodice with boning. With a low waistline (dipped at the front) and a corset back. Full length with a flowing skirt that is not too puffy but has a very full hemline. And in blue or green chiffon over satin. And maybe with a bit of diamante.

Should be easy enough, I thought. But after numerous online searches, lots of phone-calls and visits to loads of shops across South Wales, still no dress. There are hundrends of beautiful dresses out there. And most of them looked gorgeous on her. But none of them were right... too puffy... wrong bodice... too much bling... wrong colour... too straight... I started to regret encouraging her to do the design course!

Ok, Mum, she said - you can make me a dress, rather naively assuming I could just whip up something to her specification! I did make my own wedding dress and have done bridesmaids and prom dresses for family and friends. But I usually started with a pattern not a design concept. And I have an irrational fear of working with chiffon! However, I do make stage costumes without patterns, and although she is almost an adult, she does seem to still have a child's belief that her mum can do anything. So I said I'd give it a go. Brave words.

I looked at dress patterns but there is nothing at all similar to what she wants - they were either too basic or followed current fashion - there were lots of empire line and sheath styles. I even looked at traditional wedding dress patterns - some of them had almost the right bodice but the skirts were high waisted or were way too puffy.

I eventally managed to track down a pattern for old fashioned wedding underwear - a boned corset top and a full "A-line" petticoat - the sort of thing you'd expect to see under a Victorian costume. They were separate pieces but I hoped I would be able to put them together as a dress - at least for the satin under layer.

So far, that was the easy bit. I decided to have a go at the boned bodice first, before worrying about how to add the skirt. I'll share how I got on in my next blog post.


  1. You are brave, but as a fellow costume maker and Mum to a teen daughter who also believes I can do anything, go for it! I've decided that there's a certain mathematical simplicity in sewing so long as you don't over think it. I've never done boning but I'm keen to try and any garment is really just the sum of a series of relatively simple tasks. I'll be looking forward to the end result. Good luck :)

  2. Thanks so much Mimi Mama - I'm an accountant by profession so love your idea that there is a certain mathematical simplicity in sewing. That's certainly how I usually approach my patchwork quilt designs - although I sometimes wish I was a little less hung up on symmetry and accuracy - I'm hoping to do a pure improvisation quilt one day!

  3. The dress is really very nice. It would have made you look extremely elegant, stylish and beautiful. The famous fashion clothing brand is offering a mega stock clearance sale offer on some selected items which includes evening, prom, party and wedding dresses. Avail upto 50% discount on these items. The offer is available on first come first come basis. For further details check website or visit your nearest store.