A Lace Dress for a Non-Lace Girl
Hi, all! I hope you guys have enjoyed the lace project posts this month as much as I have! Now, it’s probably pretty apparent that I’m not much of a lace girl, so my goal with this challenge was to make a garment that I would actually wear and love. I decided to avoid anything overtly floral or feminine, and with this in mind dug through a gazillion bolts of fancy lace (inadvertently missing an entire section of what I guess is “not fancy” lace, whoops!). I settled on this gold mesh-like poly lace:
Pretty cool, right? I decided to pair it with a black cotton sateen. Dude. There is TONS of cotton sateen at Mood Fabrics (and tons online, too!), so I was having a hard time deciding which to choose when Michael pulled out the perfect bolt. Moral of the story: talk to the folks at your fabric store! They know their stuff! I had no idea that humble, inexpensive cotton sateen could feel so luxe! It’s medium-weight and has an amazing sheen and body… I could hardly bring myself to cover it with the lace! But I did.. and here’s how it turned out!
I used the Belladone pattern from Deer & Doe (which I’m now MADLY in love with). The pattern suggests using a soft, drapey fabric, but I thought it would be fun to see the pleats in a more structured fabric. I think it worked out pretty well!
Since the lace is pretty stretchy, I basted each piece to the sateen underlining by hand and pulled the lace just the teensiest bit taut as I pinned it. I basted the layers together up the middle of each dart (like I always do when I underline fabric). The poly lace couldn’t handle a ton of heat when I was pressing it, so it’s a little baggy in places and I really had to work to get the darts to lay flat. I decided not to line it A) because the dress was already pretty heavy for a sleeveless dress with a back cutout and B) because I’m in love with the sateen and wanted to feel it against my skin. I just serged the seams, which worked really well… until I caught a wee bit of the bodice in the serger and cut a hole right at the, um, apex, of the bust… sigh… I had to tons of hand stitching to repair that screw-up. It’s not invisible now, but it’s not immediately apparent.
The neckline and armscyes are finished with handmade bias binding. Cotton sateen is pretty heavy for bias tape, so if you want to use medium-weight fabric, you have to really grade the seam allowances to reduce as much bulk as possible. I made the waistband out of just the sateen to
The only thing I’m unhappy with is the hem. I stitched a machine hem, thinking that it would make the dress look a bit more casual, but I don’t think the stretchy lace played well with the feed dogs so there’s some twisting and such around the hem. I’ll probably rip it out and do a blind hem by hand.
Overall I’m pleased! The color is a bit more drab than what I usually wear, so I was nervous as I was constructing the dress that I was going to hate it. But luckily I really like it!– it just feels so fancy and fun! I love the way the skirt hangs in a full-bodied fabric– I felt like a Parisian princess when I slipped the dress on (and not like someone who’d spent the better part of the afternoon cleaning up after a sick dog!). Maybe I cheated a little by not choosing a really lacy lace, but I’m still going to count this as a successful lace project. 🙂
How do you guys feel about lace? Like, love, hate? What are your tips for sewing with lace? I’m especially interested to hear if anyone has any tips for sewing lace with a bit of stretch!