When it was prom time for my youngest daughter she asked me to make her dress. We’d done the usual thing of trawling through rooms full of overdesigned dresses, old-fashioned, ageing on young girls. And expensive. Yes, I know a lot of work goes into them but as usual, I look and think…we could do better.
Alice found me some dresses she liked as inspiration and we sent for swatches of georgette. We knew we wanted simple lines and embellishment, and drooled over Elie Saab confections. Then we found this pretty Valentino number on Pinterest. It fit the criteria: simple shape, modest, comfortable style and plenty of scope for embellishment.
I hacked a bodice pattern from a summer dress and worked out the engineering: we had to accommodate a strapless bra and we wanted to keep the sheer shoulders.
I watched YouTube videos of the Lesage ateliers beading silks for Chanel, to see how the experts did it. I thread traced the bodice pieces, then tacked them over tissue paper for support. The tissue mounted georgette was put into a tapestry frame and then the beading began. I cut lots of blossom shapes from the georgette and added pearls, sequins, little crystals and bugle beads. This was a lot of fun!
I made a strapless under bodice in satin and attached the georgette over the top, catching it along the top edge so the fabric would blouse softly at the waist. I bound the neck and armholes with georgette and hand stitched in place
The skirt was simple, full gathered into the waist, with a waistband of the satin underlay. I put a zip at the back waist and pearl buttons to hold the georgette closed at the lower back and at the neck.
I loved making this. It took more time to plan than to sew, even with all those beads. I drafted the pattern on June 26th and finished the hem on the day of the prom, July 9th.
The blue matched her eyes, and she looked absolutely gorgeous.