Office-Party Gold Dress – or not

Ok, here’s the story I owe you guys, from yesterday’s Top 10 Sewing Projects recap:

Last winter, I absolutely loved Reese Witherspoon’s look on the cover of InStyle magazine. What a perfect office-party look, don’t you think?

I even managed to find nearly-identical fabric at Fabricana to recreate the dress. See! Look how close the fabric is to Reese’s. And there was plenty of time before the first holiday party of the season, for once I felt prepared for the holiday festivities!

I arrived home with pattern, fabric, and an evening to myself and got to work. I had the bodice all sewn together and nicely pressed in no time. Totally pumped and proud of my work, I ran into the office-slash-sewing-room to show my boyfriend.

‘Look, isn’t it cute?’ I held it up to myself to show off my work – and started to panic when I realized my hands weren’t meeting in the back!

I ran to the mirror in the bathroom where sure enough, there was a good inch and a half between the left side and the right side at the top edge. It didn’t matter that the edges were meeting at the waistline when there was a ‘V’ of skin upwards of the waist. Look at it on the dress form below – embarassing.

What did I learn? When buying gorgeous expensive gold brocade, make a muslin first. Especially when picking a very fitted style…sigh.

I went back to the store to buy another 0.5 metres of fabric only to find it was completely sold out. The original fabric was not cheap, and I love shiny, gold things so I can’t just toss the project and chalk it up to a learning experience this time. That’s why it’s number 7 on my Top 10 Sewing Projects list.

Will it become a skirt now, or is there a way to make it work? I have an interfaced gold bodice with the side seams sewn together and a cut-out gold circle skirt. I was thinking of cutting a contoured waistband out of the bodice and finishing it as a brocade circle skirt. Wouldn’t it be pretty with a black lacy blouse tucked in?

Does anyone have a suggestion? Leave it in the comments below!

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23 Responses to Office-Party Gold Dress – or not

  1. AmyG July 2, 2010 at 6:37 am #

    How about banding the back of the bodice in either an “almost matching solid” or a contrasting color and continue making your dress and then band the hem line of the skirt in a thinner band of what you use on the bodice.

  2. Em July 2, 2010 at 6:43 am #

    Couldn’t you make it look like a corset in the back? Use another bit of fabric underneath and set in eyelets in the original back, then lace it?

    For example:

  3. jj July 2, 2010 at 6:47 am #

    You could always finish it with a corset back. Add some grommets or button holes and a pretty piece of satin cording and lace it up.

  4. louise July 2, 2010 at 6:52 am #

    gorgeous fabric tasia!
    how about using your bodice to make a very high fitted waistband, (thinking like up to the bottom of bra-line…) to maintain the over-all ‘dress’ appearance.
    then have the choice to either wear a vest/top underneath it or finish it as a dress with a different fabric for the top section (and if you use a different fabric to finish it up into a dress you could always make the back v a design feature by filling it in with the other fabric.

  5. Clare July 2, 2010 at 7:46 am #

    I’m sure you can make this work as a dress with a corset-style back. Or have you any long enough vertically cut scraps to make an extra back panel? Otherwise I’m sure it’ll look lovely as a skirt.

  6. Meg July 2, 2010 at 8:10 am #

    I think Louise is on to something. How about tying into the two-tone dress trend by retaining the skirt portion and using the rest to make a high waist-band. And then a simple black shift-top portion with an exposed (or not) zip at the back. You wouldn’t be able to mix an match as much as if you made a skirt from it, but then how many things would you be able to wear it with in the first place!

  7. Jaime July 2, 2010 at 8:32 am #

    Do you have enough fabric to just add another section to the back with a princess-like seams – the back will just have a unique design line near the zipper, but with the texture of the fabric, I’m not sure it would be noticed much or thought to be out of the ordinary. And, if you plan to wear a jacket over as she did, even less noticable? I do like the high waisted option the others are mentioning too. I know you can save it – you’re awesome!

  8. Melissa July 2, 2010 at 8:33 am #

    How large are your seam allowances? If you resew it with smaller ones it may fit (although you may not be able to breath). Also, if you have any fabric left, you could add 2 small panels in between the front and back pieces.

    The corset idea isn’t bad either.

  9. CGCouture July 2, 2010 at 8:50 am #

    I concur with the corset style idea, put a floaty peasant blouse underneath and go with it. :-) Is there enough length on the skirt to cut some off and make a waistband, even if it’s just a narrow one? Or use the skirt fabric to make a vest like Simplicity 2556 ( along with the corset top…you wouldn’t wear them together, obviously, but just make both. :-P HTH! :-)

  10. Tasia July 2, 2010 at 9:26 am #

    Yay, I knew you guys would have some good ideas!
    @AmyG: What colour do you think – black? That could work..
    @Em: Ooh, I like that – the corset opening is basically the shape of my not-quite-meeting back edges. And I’ve got small scraps left to use for the underlap.
    @jj: Yup, I like the corset-back idea. Plus, then it’s slightly adjustable if I go up or down a bit in size!
    @louise: I like that idea too! I already thought about the high-waisted skirt but I like the two-tone idea, plus then I don’t have to think about what on earth to match with a gold skirt. I love the fabric too, that’s why I have to find a way to save this project!
    @Clare: Agreed, I’m beginning to think the corset back is the way to go.
    @Meg: You’re right, it’s better as a dress than a skirt. I’m either going to work the two-tone look or the corset back I think!
    @Jaime: True, I’m likely going to wear a jacket over it (next holiday season, now that it’s the middle of summer!) Thanks for the vote of confidence!
    @Melissa: Nooo…I WISH I had enough seam allowances. I clipped them so they’d lie flat, before trying it on. What can I say, I was over-excited…
    @CGCouture: Thanks for the suggestions! There’s enough length on the skirt hem to cut some off, but it would be in a circle shape not straight like a waistband. I might be able to piece it out of scraps..
    Sooo… I think it’s either:
    A) make a skirt with a super high waist (and make a blouse to go with)
    B) add a corset-style laced up back detail to the dress
    C) use the brocade skirt, enough of the bodice to make a waist panel, and use a contrasting fabric on top (Macaron-style).
    Thanks everyone for the feedback so far! It’s so helpful to hear second opinions..and third and fourth…

    • Sheila August 24, 2013 at 7:58 am #

      You could remake the bodice with a complementary smooth finish gold fabric?
      Or you could make it into a top with a peplum finish and use some of the skirt fabric to recut new back pieces for the bodice?

  11. ~Sherry~ July 2, 2010 at 1:07 pm #

    Cool – you must saved this! Do you have any leftover pieces that would be big enough to insert into the bodice side seams? They would be virtually unnoticeable – and you’ll have the dress you originally planned for!

  12. vicki July 2, 2010 at 3:40 pm #

    Ok, my ideas are already mentioned :) I like the side seam inserts best, followed by the corset back idea. You really can make this work and best of all the “mistake” will become a design feature!

  13. Rachel July 2, 2010 at 4:23 pm #

    I’m voting for the corset-style dress, with a little bit of contrasting black. Gorgeous fabric – you’ll be able to save it with your wonderful sewing skills! Good luck, and can’t wait to see the finished product!

  14. Brumby July 2, 2010 at 4:30 pm #

    I was going to say seam allowances too as it did look like you would have enough to do it had they not been clipped.
    I think the corset idea would work, but myself personally I am a little wary of if would suit the style of the dress. What about adding in another couple of inches by way of panels from scraps, and doing an exposed metal tooth zipper? I think it would work with the style of the dress.

    Good luck, whatever you do I am sure it will look amazing!

  15. K July 2, 2010 at 8:00 pm #

    Gorgeous!! I was going to suggest a corset back, but I see I have been beat to it. I think that would look really nice and the shape that the opening has is like many corset back dresses I have seen.
    Whatever you choose, I hope you find some way to finish it up, I really want to see the finished dress! :)

  16. just chic July 2, 2010 at 8:58 pm #

    This is what I would do: The bodice is formed of the main part in the front and 3 strips on each side. I would replace strips 1+2 (on both sides) with 2 a little larger strips so that the back could meet. I would use a black color for the new strips and so that they don’t stand out too much, I would add a black ribbon tied at the back with a bow. Like this you keep the great looking of the dress in the front and the original pattern. It might work.

  17. Renay July 4, 2010 at 4:07 am #

    ooh ohhh cant wait to see how it turns out!

  18. Angela July 5, 2010 at 12:15 pm #

    Oh no!! I can imagine the heartbreak! I love the corset back idea that other’s suggested! Good luck!

  19. Gail July 5, 2010 at 6:41 pm #

    Unpick your seams on the bodice, add a chanel of contrasting fabric between each seam (suggest plain gold or black) and it will fit perfectly. Behind every tragedy there is a creative solution.

  20. Tasia July 6, 2010 at 9:19 pm #

    You know what’s awesome, I wasn’t excited to re-do this project until you guys chimed in. Now I know not only can it be saved, but I have options! And dare I say, cheerleaders! Thanks for all the great suggestions!
    @Gail: I’m worried about unpicking the seams since I’ve clipped the allowances really close to the stitching! I could do it very very carefully though. @just chic: Ooh, good idea, if I’m going to use black I like your idea of tying it all together (literally!) with a black band of ribbon.
    @Brumby: I didn’t think of an exposed metal zipper but that WOULD give me a few more millimetres of room. Thanks!
    @~Sherry~: I do have leftover pieces – and perhaps with all the shiny distraction they’d be fairly unnoticeable.

  21. Kathleen October 11, 2010 at 7:31 am #

    So, what is the status for this dress? Love the fabric!

  22. Sharon January 29, 2014 at 2:54 am #

    I’m a bit late with this suggestion but…. How about a sheer panel to fill in the back gap, with crystals going up the back seam starting in a single line and then branching out into a “V” and rimming the entire neckline; or spread out the side seams about an inch and add sheer fabric thus bringing the back together. Sheer strips could also be added to the skirt.