Summer Ball Dress 2018

Hello all!

Today I have to share with you the summer ball dress from my third and final year of university. I'm not going to lie to you, this years dress was a bit of a rushed affair. The thing is, I had a plan. I was going to make a scuba dress which would take a couple of hours at most and at 2 days before the ball I had plenty of time. However, after I'd cut out this scuba dress and the moment I tried it on I knew that I looked like sausage meat in a floral scuba casing and needed a plan B. At the same time I was having this realisation my boyfriend had just cut out the tie I was helping him to make out of the scraps of the teal silk left over from a BHL Anna dress I made a few years ago. I knew that I wanted a dress out of the scraps of the scraps of that teal silk, and suddenly it was 3pm the afternoon before the ball and I had until midnight to draft, construct and finish the dress. Totally doable right?


At first I wanted something drapey, but without access to a mannequin it just wasn't going to work.  I did try to use myself as a human mannequin, but I'm not that flexible and don't react well to having pins stuck into me. This meant that it had to be drafted on paper. I looked at the patterns I had and the BHL Holly jumpsuit jumped out at me. I ended up using only the front bodice piece from the pattern (mainly because I'd lost the back bodice pieces) and splicing together  side back and centre back pieces from a strapless bodice block I had laying around. The skirt is a quarter circle skirt drafted with the BHL circle skirt calculator. 


I managed to squeeze out the dress from the scraps left over and then it was time for construction. The bodice was sewn together and then the skirt attached. The straps were pinned on and then it was time to work out the fit. I fiddled around with the drape of the pleats in the front bodice and ended up tacking them down where I wanted them. I don't think that there was quite enough space so next time I would add more room in. Excess width was taken out from each underarm and down the centre back for a snug fit. What I could not get rid of were horizontal wrinkles in the back bodice, which had I had more time and fabric I could have pinned out the excess and recut. Sadly at this point it was 9.30pm and this was not going to happen, so after a bit of a paddy I had to make peace with them. There's a lapped zipper in the centre back which isn't ideal but I was lucky that I had one lying around to use. 


Then it was time for the finishing touches, bias binding the armholes which continued into the straps, and bias binding on the hem, both of which were slipstitched so the finishing would be as invisible as possible. I spent the next hour or so doing little alterations just to minimise the wrinkles as much as possible, then it was midnight and time to call it a day. 


I found it really frustrating to finish a garment which was less than perfect, because over the last couple of years I've really made the effort to perfect fit and it felt like a backwards step. However, sometimes you've got to cut yourself a little bit of slack and admit that that's the best you can do in a tight situation. I wore my dress for summer ball and had a wonderful wonderful time which is what mattered. 


Thanks for reading and to Edward for taking the photos on a beautiful beach in Hawaii!

Lauren xx