Patsy’s Dress


In anticipation of the Homecoming dance, I have been working hard, making Patsy a dress to wear.  It was pretty thought-provoking, as there were lots of alterations to be done.  I finished last week, much to my delight, after several late nights/early morning sessions.  Patsy got to wear her dress last night to the Homecoming Dance at her school.  I got some great pictures of her, and so did Rob.  I know several of you have been asking to see photos of the dress, and I am happy to say I now have some.


I started with Simplicity 1415.  I did not have the correct size and there were no pattern sales for $1.99, etc. so I altered the pattern I did have.  I purchased some fabric at JoAnn’s, and it was all on sale.

First, I taped the bodice pieces onto some butcher paper.  Then, I did a lot of measurements to both the girl and the pattern, drew the new lines where I wanted them, and then cut out a bodice from some muslin I had in the shop.  I basted this together, made more adjustments for correct fit, and then moved on to cutting out the lace overlay.


As you can see, the lace back dips down to meet the under bodice piece (blue).  To make that match with all the alterations was a bit difficult, but I just kept trying it on her, and making adjustments.  When the lace overlay was fitted correctly, I decided to make a binding from scraps of the lace fabric.  It looked much better than the bias tape that was called for.  The bias tape would have been way too bulky and would have shown through the sheer fabric.  I just cut scraps on the bias, sewed them together, ironed them in half, then sewed the binding on.  I then made the underlay and put the facing on.  This also needed many try-ons to make it fit and to make the seams of the lace on top line up with the seams of the blue underneath.  I also raised the neckline a bit on the blue in front and down a bit in the back to match the lace.  I sewed the skirt on, adjusting the pleats so that the skirt would fit to the bodice.  I also needed to adjust the length of the bodice, taking off a lot of excess fabric in the back, and none in the front….but it finally sat at the waistline as is should.  Then, I got to put in my first ever invisible zipper.  I have to admit, I put it in nicely, got the waist seams to line up after a couple of tries, but ended up having trouble at the very bottom.  So, I just finished the very bottom by hand, and you cannot tell from the outside at all.   I didn’t want to rip any more than I had to, as the dress fabric was so delicate, and I had tried a couple of times before I just changed my method.


To sum the project up:  Cost:  Around $25.

Time Spent:  At least 15 hours, probably more

Times tried on:  At least 20.  She was very patient.

Patsy was very happy with the dress, which makes it all worth it.  We had spent an evening shopping for dresses and could not find one that fit her, we liked, and was affordable.  She will be able to wear this dress again for Christmas Eve church.  Our family always dresses up for that service, a tradition we started years and years ago.  So, while people come in every conceivable outfit to that service, my girls usually wear fancy dresses.  It’s kind of fun for them to have an occasion to wear the fancy ones, I think.  We will try to find a shawl for that occasion, as it will likely be very cold.

I like to sew, and have not make a big project for quite some time.  I am glad to be done, though, as it was very hard for me to find enough mental energy for all that altering–I have to really think to change a pattern as much as I did. It also took quite a bit of time during an already-busy canning season.  I’m hoping to find a little more time to sew her a few more things this fall.  I have fabric in the shop, and she could use some more skirts.  Thankfully, they are easier than this dress was!

29 thoughts on “Patsy’s Dress”

  1. The dress is darling. She looks so grown up n it. Good job!.
    When my 3 girls were in high school I made many many prom. Dresses. One I particularly remember was for my middle daughter. She picked the pattern for a tiered dress with boning and spaghetti straps in black taffeta with a purple taffeta bolero jacket. The pattern was a burda pattern written in french. I don’t speak French. I can tell you I cried many tears over that one. Her smile was about a million watts when it was done. All her girlfriends wanted to borrow that dress after the dance. It never did come home again.

    1. That sounds hard!!!! Spaghetti straps are deceptive. They look easy, but it’s hard to get them even, strong, and sewed on in the right place. Lots of fittings there, too, I’m sure. I’ve only done boning one time, and it was a dress I made for one of the older girls. I did it to learn a new skill. It came out great, but I remember it being different than anything I’d done before.

      Sometimes I swear all the pattern directions are written in a foreign language. It doesn’t help when I go off on my own and change things so much the original directions have no hope of working:). This is the first fancy dress I have made for Patsy. When I was in the thick of it, I muttered, stomped around a bit, etc., feeling frustrated until I got a certain part to fit right. She started looking worried, thinking I wasn’t going to get it done or it would be awful. I reassured her, saying, “no worries, there’s always some drama involved with a project like this.” Boy is that true! I carried on, fixed the issue, and we were both relieved!

    1. Thank you. Yes, she has had quite a few Mermaid shirts, etc. in the past. I was glad to find a good color on the sale rack, that’s for sure. We didn’t want to spend a fortune, as she doesn’t have that many occasions to wear this kind of dress to. I think she could get away with it at church occasionally, if she wants, though, but most of the teens at our church wear jeans most of the time, so it would be her choice. There is a mix of clothing, so she would not be totally out of place–lots of girls dress up some weeks while they might wear jeans the next, but don’t wear something quite that fancy, usually.

  2. Beautiful dress and an even more beautiful young lady! Definitely a labor of love on the dress.

    I hope Patsy had a good time at the dance.

    1. Thank you. She did have fun, she said. She also said it was super crowded, and everyone was very hot, so she was glad she wasn’t wearing a sweater, little bolero jacket, etc. over the dress. She usually doesn’t do well in crowds, so I’m glad she did have a good time.

      1. I completely understand the not doing well in crowds. My daughter has very high anxiety and doesn’t do well in crowds either. I am just glad that Patsy had a good time, even with a crowd.

    1. Thank you. I’m loving the color with her hair! I was worried about the lace being too delicate, but it seems to have worked out ok:). I just don’t make these kinds of things very often, so it’s a learning curve.

  3. Patsy’s dress is beautiful and she looks elegant wearing it. The color brings out the beauty of her hair. Good job making the dress I can tell it was quite a bit of hard work but it turned out perfect. I have put in more invisible zippers than I can count and always had to finish the bottom by hand. I love the way they look on dressy clothes.

    1. That’s good to know. I should have asked you how to do it! I really like how it looks, so I will likely try again. When I do, I’m asking for advice before 12 midnight!!!!

      1. A million years ago when I was single and supported myself, I worked at a fancy, high-classed company and how you dressed was important. I could not afford the expensive clothes (because they did not pay well) so I sewed everything I wore. That is when I learned to use invisible zippers. They really look much better.

        1. I’ve never really done it, even though certain dresses, etc., have called for it in the past. I just put a regular zipper in. because I knew how to do it. I guess I was feeling brave this time, and I agree that it looks really good and wasn’t that hard–I just need more practice.

  4. Wow, Patsy looks fabulous in that dress! Especially in the top photo which really emanates a very cool 40’s vibe. Congrats to the seamstress!

  5. The dress is lovely and suits her beautifully. You did a great job sewing it! I’m glad Patsy liked it and enjoyed the dance. She’s growing up fast, isn’t she?

  6. Beautiful dress, beautiful young lady! You did a great job! I’m glad she enjoyed the dance.

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