My Christmas Dress

Thursday, February 12, 2015


Yes, I know it is February already, and yes you did read that post title correctly - I'm just a little late in uploading my Christmas dress from last year!

I hadn't actually planned on making anything special to wear on Christmas day as I just thought I would throw on something from my wardrobe. But as the day grew closer I started to realise that this little bump I was developing was going to make it slightly difficult to just pick whatever from the wardrobe! So in a slight panic I rummaged through my stash of fabrics and patterns. I found a very drapey red poly-blend (again, I picked this up during a sale at my local fabric shop a few years ago) which I thought could work, but I didn't feel up to tackling a difficult project as A) I was still in the tired stages of pregnancy and B) I thought this fabric might not behave very well with difficult lines. So I settled on making up another Colette Patterns Laurel dress (first one here).

At the time of planning and making this dress I had only just started to develop a bit of a bump, nothing that anyone would notice, but enough for clothes to start to feel a bit tight. Because of that I thought that if I kept the dress quite loose it would just skim my curves and, bonus, allow space and comfort after eating a giant Christmas dinner! As you may be able to tell from these photos, which were taken about a week ago, the dress is no longer such a great fit. It's too tight at the bust, and although there is still room, the drape of the fabric shows my belly button, which I'm not very keen on (not that I'm not keen on my belly button, more that I'm not so keen on seeing the indent being highlighted in my clothes!!!).

From my previous Laurel I knew that the bust dart was far too high for me, so I decided to tackle moving the dart. I used this tutorial from Megan Nielsen which was super easy to follow and resulted in a near perfect dart placement, so I was very happy. Again, please don't analyse these photos to closely to check bust has changed since making this dress!

I also remembered that the sleeves had far too much ease for the armsyce so I decided that instead of ending up with a poofy gathered sleeve (I know some people like this, but I do NOT like poofy sleeves), I would create little pleats at the shoulders. I believe other people have done this with the Laurel before and from what I could remember it looked very cute.

Unfortunately none of the photos I have for this post actually show off the pleats very well. Either I've got my hands on my hips, which makes the pleats stick out, or they are covered by my hair! Sorry about that, but trust me, they look cute and add an extra detail to a simple dress.

Adorbs. Work outfit!!Speaking of simple dress, as I was making up this garment I decided to try adding the gathered cuffs from Version 3 to add a bit of interest to the dress. I was also slightly inspired by this red dress (left) which I have had pinned for I don't know how long. I am relatively pleased with how they turned out, but I did find gathering two layers of this fabric rather awkward and as such, the gathers are not as even as I would like. 

To my surprise, this poly fabric was actually really easy to manage and sew, which was just as well because I only started making the dress on the 23rd Dec, so I didn't have very long to pull it all together! Due to the deadline I decided to work all day and managed to get a pretty much finished dress by the end of the day - quite an achievement for me (I don't think I would stand a chance on GBSB, I'm not a speed sew-er!).

Although the Laurel requires a bias binding finish for the neck I decided that for this dress, and this fabric, it would look much neater if it had facings so I went about drafting some. I haven't done this before but I have read about it many times on various blogs and in books so I knew it wasn't a very taxing job. It all came together very easily thankfully. I did tack the facing down at the shoulders and attempt a couple of nearly invisible tacks at the back of the neckline because the facing did tend to want to flop out while wearing, which was very annoying!

As I said above, I had a finished dress by the end of the 23rd, but I felt that something was missing. It was a simple red dress and really quite nice, but I didn't feel it was 'special' enough for Christmas. So after a bit of contemplating I decided to hand stitch the decorative trim to the hem. If you have read my blog for the longest time, you may recognise this trim. I bought it on a work trip to Croatia, along with some gorgeous red shot silk (still untouched - too scared to commit to a project and cut it!), and previously used it to embellish a RTW green dress a couple of Christmases ago. Unfortunately I only have 1m of this trim, which wasn't enough to go right around the hem so I decided to fold under the ends and only sew it to the front (I wasn't going to trim it to size - no way!!!). It obviously would have looked far better going right around the dress, but I decided a front trim would look better than no trim. Plus, this is just temporary, I plan on unpicking it and leaving the dress more work or every-day appropriate, and salvaging the trim to be used on another project (I wonder how many time's I'll manage to re-use this trim!!).

Annoyingly I thought I had left the dress loose enough to get a few more wears out of it during my pregnancy, but due to the tight bust I just don't think it fits right anymore. A shame, it would have been perfect to wear this weekend for Valentines Day! But I'll definitely be keeping it to wear in the future. And if it's a bit loose it will be very easy to take in at the sides. Oh, that reminds me, another alteration I did to the pattern was omit the back zip. I knew the dress would be loose enough to forgo a zip so I left it out - which helped with sewing it together quickly! Perhaps if I take the sides in in the future I may need to add a zip.

Overall I was really pleased with how the dress turned out and that I had something lovely and new to wear on Christmas day!

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  1. This is lovely. I bet it was perfect for Christmas, festive but comfortable! The red looks great on you and that trim is beautiful.

  2. Beautiful! I have the Laurel pattern but after one not so successul attempt havent tried it again since. Think I need to try lowering the darts and see if that helps!

  3. What a beautiful dress! You should definitely wear it again after you have the baby, the shape is so classic and I love the colour - it's perfect on you (I'm a tiny bit biased about the colour btw!). xx

  4. Ooo! This is gorgeous, and I love the cuffs on the sleeves. And I agree with everybody else that red really suits you. Lynne

  5. Thanks so much Jane - I'm a big fan of red too ;)

  6. Yeah, I wasn't so in love with my first attempt at this pattern as it came out WAY too big and unflattering - but it could be worth persevering as it can be quite a good 'basic' to have on hand. :)

  7. Thanks Sam, yes so perfect for the big Christmas dinner feasting!!! lol


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