Hello! Sorry for the radio silence around these here parts for the last few weeks. My phone line was damaged and I was without internet for weeks. Weeks! To be honest, if I had been able to post, there wouldn’t have been much to show you. My sewing machine broke at the beginning of November and since then I’ve been borrowing my mum’s machine when I can. A replacement was on the cards but then my washing machine broke down, my boiler sprung a leak and Betsey the cat has had two vet visits. The dream machine budget has all but vanished. Still, I’m lucky to have a machine I can borrow, even if it has meant that my Christmas party dress plans have gone out of the window.
I’m pleased to report that I have managed to finish my little red dress, and I’m pretty happy with it. I chose the Sew Over It Ultimate Shift Dress and made it from some crushed stretch velvet from Bombay Stores. It’s really a wearable toile, as I wanted to have a practise with the pattern before sewing up a shift dress in nicer fabric.
I know its customary to remove pretty much all of the ease when sewing a woven pattern in stretchy fabric, but I didn’t. The Ultimate Shift Dress is loose-ish fitting, but I decided that I wanted my festive version to be loose AND stretchy. Because pigs in blankets. See also, roast potatoes.
As it turns out, I think stretch velvet may be the most perfect “occasion” fabric on Earth. Velvet, even the cheaper stuff, has a luxurious quality. When it’s on a jersey backing, you get all the glamour but it’s comfortable too. I took my dress for an outing before Christmas and I shopped, ate a three course meal, drank too many glasses bottles of wine, danced, then ran for the last train home without the slightest discomfort. A posh frock that’s comfortable? I want one in every colour. There’s endless scope for velvet party dresses. If you don’t believe me, type “velvet gown” into Pinterest for droolworthy evidence.
Having said all that, my favourite thing about this dress is how versatile it is. I was tempted to make a proper knock-out dress, but I knew I didn’t have an occasion to wear one. I’m so happy that I went for a simpler silhouette because its already become a winter wardrobe staple. I never thought that a red velvet dress would get so much wear! With a blazer and smart heels its passable as office wear. I’ve worn it casually with tights, a denim jacket and military boots. It’s coming with me to a wedding with stilettos and a teeny bag. On New Year’s Eve it’ll partner up with ridiculous, glittery, velvet boots. You get the picture.
As for making the dress, it was a doddle. It’s basically three seams and a neck facing and took almost no time to put together. The hardest part for me was hemming. Despite my best efforts to avoid it, I did end up with a slight “lettuce” hem.
I used an elastic loop and a vintage button instead of a hook and eye, and didn’t gather the sleeves before inserting them. Because of the stretch in the fabric I was able to ease them in without any trouble. Otherwise I followed the pattern to the letter and really enjoyed stitching up this quick project. I can see this pattern will be firm favourite. By next Christmas there may be an army of velvet shift dresses in my wardrobe!
I’ve really loved #TheLittleRedDressProject and want to say a big thanks to Renata for dreaming up a challenge the whole sewing community could get involved in. I’ve enjoyed seeing everyone else’s dresses too. Some of them were total showstoppers!
I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and wore your little red dresses with pride!