The Party Dress Finished! Plus A Little Q&A..

Today I have Party Dress photos! If you’re just joining us, I set a challenge for myself to sew a silk party dress in two days. I used a vintage dress pattern that I’ve used twice already (Simplicity 3965) and a beautiful teal silk dupioni… and finished it up just in time!

There aren’t a ton of photos of the dress in action, but here’s a cute one of Mr Sewaholic and me from the party on Saturday night. Look, shiny!The party was actually a boat cruise! We sailed around downtown Vancouver, sang Christmas carols and danced the night away. As you can see, we arrived at the marina after the sun had set. And it was freezing! Way too cold for a photo shoot. Besides, there’s something slightly embarassing about asking your guy to take photos of you around his work colleagues. Not the time or place. Although, a few read my blog! You could tell who read the last few posts where I was rushing to complete the dress, when I was greeted with ‘Oh look, you finished your dress in time!’

So I took a couple of photos after the party in the daylight.

I love that so many of you shunned the LBD! Down with black, hurrah for colour! (Especially when it’s this lovely teal colour, my favourite!!)Back view – I never get tired of the scoop back!

The inside-out shot, just for you guys! (Because I know you’ll ask… and you might be curious if it’s all sloppy and raw edged due to speed.)

And now, the answers to your questions!

Trisha and ellen asked: why did you do linings AND facings?

Well, I wanted to line the bodice for softness and comfort while wearing it. And I wanted the facings around the edges to finish them off with the main fabric, in case of any peeks from the right side.

Plus, it was easy to use the existing facing pieces the way they were, and just cut another version of the bodice out of lining. There may have been a bit of extra bulk by doing it this way, but it was fast!

I stitched the facings on top of the lining around the neckline, and treated it like it was one piece. Then, I used the armhole facings to finish the armholes, turned them to the right side, and catchstitched them to the lining and interlining. Helen pointed out that next time I could eliminate bulk by doing an all-in-one facing. If I make this dress a fourth time (and I just might!) I’ll give that a try and show you how to adapt your patterns as well.

natalli asked about the darts, and how I did them. Jessica asked if I was concerned about the darts unravelling when I trimmed the seam allowances.

I was a bit concerned about trimming the darts! If I wasn’t lining the bodice, I probably wouldn’t have trimmed them. Or, I would have trimmed them, but then whipstitched the edges together to prevent fraying.

For the darts, first I stitched down the centre of each dart, like I did in the Twin Spruce Dress, and then stitched each dart. (Click here to read more about stitching underlined darts.)Here you can see the dart on the left is bulky, but the dart on the right has been trimmed. To reduce bulk, I trimmed the darts to 1/4″, leaving the tip on the end.Next, I snipped into the dart where the trimming ends. This is so the trimmed part can be pressed open, and the tip stays closed.Press the dart open below the clip. Use a tailor’s ham to create a nice dart shape.And you’re done! You can see the difference it makes in the photo below. One of the darts has been trimmed and pressed, and is nice and flat. The other hasn’t been trimmed and looks puffy on the surface.

Lisa asked if I dry-clean my dresses and which fabrics I usually pre-wash.

I tend to pre-wash everything but silk – I wash and dry the muslin interlining, and the rayon lining. The silk I left un-washed so it would stay crisp. I do plan to dry-clean this dress but I can get a few wearings out of it before it needs to be cleaned.

For the Twin Spruce Dress, I pre-washed the rayon, the rayon skirt lining, and the muslin underlining. Technically I could machine-wash this finished dress, but I’m a bit concerned about the washing machine being too rough on the vintage rayon. Probably I’ll end up hand-washing this one and hanging it to dry. Treating it with a little TLC will help it last longer!

Same thing with the Picnic Dress. It’s a synthetic fabric, acetate, which I pre-washed as well. I could also machine-wash this one but probably won’t, just to preserve the dress and make it last longer. I tend to throw all my laundry in together, and there’s a good chance that a zipper or velcro could ruin the dress and all my hard work!

However, I would machine-wash this cotton open-back dress. In fact, I’m pretty sure I have already. It’s cotton, it’s lined with pre-washed rayon lining, and it’s much sturdier than the other dresses. This one can probably withstand machine-washing no problem.

The short answer on drycleaning, washing and care of my dresses:

  • if I haven’t pre-washed part of the materials, I’m doomed to dry-clean only or wash at my own risk.
  • if I am concerned about how the dress will hold up in the washing machine, I’ll hand-wash it and hang it to dry.
  • if the fabric is tough, all parts have been pre-washed, and I feel confident it can withstand the agitation of the washing machine, in it goes!

Uta asked why I constructed the bodice and skirt separately, lined them, and then joined the top and bottom.

I was following the pattern instructions, but you’re right, it’s because of the waist stay. You need the seam allowance to attach the grosgrain ribbon, so that nothing shows through on the right side. (See this post for how to make a waist stay!)Did I miss anyone’s question? Did my explanations answer your questions fully? Anything else you want to know? Let me know in the comments!

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57 Responses to The Party Dress Finished! Plus A Little Q&A..

  1. louise December 7, 2010 at 6:26 am #

    good job tasia! the colour is gorgeous and i am a fan of that scoop back neckline already…
    i think the most comment worthy part of this whole process for me is that although you were in a rush you still had time to stop, photograph and document!!!
    i really like the view of the inside out with the arm and neck facings looking like colour blocking, note to self for future projects :)

  2. Suzie December 7, 2010 at 6:30 am #

    WOW! The dress is fabulous – I’m in total awe that you made it in 2 days!!! And I can’t believe how neat the inside is…it’s so neat infact that you could almost wear this dress inside out!! Well done Tasia :)

  3. Steph December 7, 2010 at 6:44 am #

    This dress is so gorgeous! Well done!

    Just wondering – What does a waist stay actually do? Should I be putting them in all my dresses I make? x

  4. Karin December 7, 2010 at 6:51 am #

    You look amazing! This pattern suits you perfectly. I’ve loved all your renditions of it.

  5. Nancy December 7, 2010 at 7:09 am #

    I love that you always show us the inside of your dresses. I’m still a little miffed that the inside of your dresses look better than the outside of mine…

  6. Sarah December 7, 2010 at 7:13 am #

    That is a seriously gorgeous party dress, Tasia! You look stunning in it – both the style and colour suit you so well! I LOVE that you wore colour instead of black, too.

  7. Sabrina Clementine December 7, 2010 at 7:20 am #

    Gorgeous dress, once again! And that color DOES look great on you! (And I agree with the others about the inside of your dresses. It embarrasses me, but at least it gives me something to aspire to! lol)

  8. Funnygrrl December 7, 2010 at 7:26 am #

    The colour is gorgeous! The shape of the dress suits your shape to a T. Good for you in keeping yourself challenged.
    If you had another day and some leftover fabric you could have made a matching tie for Mr. Sewaholic! :)

  9. Amanda December 7, 2010 at 7:36 am #

    Very impressive on so short a deadline! You make it look easy.

    I received my Pendrell pattern today in the mail after making its way across the continent to the eastern US :) It looks great and I can’t wait to get started with the sewalong!

  10. Amy December 7, 2010 at 7:43 am #

    Amazing job! It looks beautiful on you. The finishing details are impressive.

  11. Samina December 7, 2010 at 7:56 am #

    You look gorgeous. Congratulations on making the underlined, lined and perfectly finished dress in just two days.
    Received the Pendrell blouse pattern yesterday, over here in Texas. Can’t wait to sew my first Pendrell.

  12. Fay V December 7, 2010 at 8:02 am #

    Hi Tasia,
    You look so so beautiful in this dress – the colour suits you perfectly and the dress itself is stunning. I can’t believe you managed to make such a perfect fitting dress in just 2 days! One question, when you talk about sewing the darts, you say that you stitch the centre line and then stitch the dart – I’m confused? I have never stitched the centre line of a dart – is it just a straight line down the centre? Thank you!

  13. Uta December 7, 2010 at 8:35 am #

    You look wonderful in your party dress! Great work, and thank you for answering my question.

  14. Claire (aka Seemane) December 7, 2010 at 9:04 am #


    Hi Steph,

    To quote Tasia’s post….

    “The last time I made this pattern, I followed the directions on the instruction sheet exactly which resulted in a sort-of waist stay. Adding grosgrain ribbon definitely helped to stabilize the waist seam and keep it from stretching out, but it doesn‚Äôt do anything to support the weight of the skirt.

    So this time, I wanted to sew a proper waist stay, one that hooks up around the waistline and helps to support this wonderfully full skirt.

    A waist stay also reduces strain on the zipper, which is great on any fitted dress! ”

    I hope that helps :)

  15. Claire (aka Seemane) December 7, 2010 at 9:05 am #

    @Claire (aka Seemane):
    Opps – I mean’t to say to quote Tasia’s post

  16. Alana December 7, 2010 at 9:05 am #

    Aargh… so gorgeous! I now have all your little tips and tricks from the sewtionary lined up and ready to go to make V9668 – can’t wait. :)It’s like picking someones brains from the other side of the world.

  17. Katie December 7, 2010 at 9:06 am #

    Tasia – this dress is amazing! I really love the color and all of the detailed photos you have shared – I love reading your blog, it’s so inspirational!

  18. magdamagda December 7, 2010 at 9:11 am #

    lovely dress, in and out!:) Im a big fan of the colour and the back neckline!

  19. Shannon December 7, 2010 at 9:19 am #

    This dress and color are beautiful on you. I had a feeling it would be. Love the scoop back too. Gorgeous job inside and out!

  20. Moeno December 7, 2010 at 10:05 am #

    I am in awe, that scoop back! that colour! So cute! The interior is so clean especially considering how quickly you whipped that up.

    I’m planning on making a silk party dress soon so these tips were extra useful, this post has convinced me that I should interline and line my dress. And I’ve never worked with silk dupioni before and was wondering if wrinkling is ever an issue.

  21. Tasia December 7, 2010 at 10:10 am #

    Aw, thanks everyone!! I’m SO glad I wore colour instead of black. Colour is so much more fun! And so what if this dress isn’t a wardrobe staple, it sure will be fun when I get another chance to wear it :)

    @Fay V: Hi Fay! I stitched down the centre of the dart, before stitching the dart itself, because of the underlining. This helps secure the two layers together so they don’t shift when I sew the real dart.
    I have some photos to explain it here, if you’re interested!

    @Steph: Hi Steph! It looks like Claire (aka Seemane) has already answered your question, thanks Claire! In this dress, it’s only sort-of a waist stay because it doesn’t hook around the waist. But adding the grosgrain ribbon like I did helps keep the waistline from stretching out. Which is great when you’re hitting the buffet! You can only eat so much, as the dress will not expand. And especially when you’re sitting a lot, or dancing, the waistline could stretch and distort just from normal wear. Grosgrain ribbon keeps our waistline where we want it!

    Thanks for all the lovely comments about the inside of the dress! It’s easy to make it look nice when you have lining and facings and waist stays. Helps hide all the raw edges and serging! Besides, having to blog and photograph the insides of things puts the pressure on to make it tidy! :)

  22. Sherry December 7, 2010 at 10:15 am #

    It looks gorgeous on you Tasia, hope you had a great night! I really love the scoop back, but I think I mentioned that last time!

    It is wonderful to see lots of blogfriends buying your new pattern – how exciting! I can’t wait to see all the renditions!

  23. Tasia December 7, 2010 at 10:15 am #

    @Moeno: Wrinkling is totally an issue! These photos are after wearing the dress all night and sitting in a car, I didn’t re-iron the dress before taking the photos. You can see the skirt is a little crumpled. It’s not bad, but it does happen! Because it’s a full skirt, a lot of the wrinkles are hidden in the folds. If you were to make a straight skirt, you might end up with ‘sitting wrinkles’ across the legs.
    The underlining on the bodice makes a huge difference! It ‘pads’ it a little, making it more resistant to wrinkling. It’s also very snug-fitting so there’s not a lot of room to wrinkle. Which worked out really well! I chose this pattern because I knew it would fit, but also because the bodice was fitted and the skirt was full. The fitted bodice keeps it from wrinkling, and the skirt looks okay a little crumpled because it’s so full and floaty.
    I hope this helps! I’m planning a post on sewing with silk this week – nothing too fancy, just a few tips from my experience – that might be useful for your project as well!

  24. Tasia December 7, 2010 at 10:16 am #

    @Sherry: Thank you! Yes! I forgot to comment but that is AWESOME that so many of you are receiving your patterns. I can’t wait to see everyone’s versions as well!!

  25. Dei December 7, 2010 at 10:17 am #

    This turned out so beautifully. Love the color and I confess, I love wearing black. Well done and glad you had a great time because the happiness shows on your face.

  26. Samina December 7, 2010 at 10:29 am #

    I realize that I sound like an old fogey saying this, but you look so cute & adorable in that dress! It’s a fantastic color on you & it fits (as it should) phenominally. Great job!

  27. The Cupcake Goddess December 7, 2010 at 10:52 am #

    It’s so gorgeous! And I’m so jealous that you finished this in such record time. I’m sure you looked the belle of the night. That teal is just lush and I love the bluish undertone of the silk. Ahhhhh silk…..isn’t it just a dream to work with. Great Q & A too. My latest jacket had the darts constructed this way already and it really did reduce the bulk on the final product. Especially when you are dealing with the fabric, interlining and the lining. Awfully beautiful job! Just delicious!

  28. Monica December 7, 2010 at 11:12 am #

    Stunning dress – and I agree wholeheartedly: gorgeous teal totally wins over an lbd!

    I just wanted to put in my two cents about prepping fabrics – I make a lot of dresses for others and have generally found silks to be WAY more user friendly than I at first thought.
    Most can be handwashed (if you dare to go there..) and if you want it to remain crisp (so no handwashing) it can be steam pressed with an iron or steamer just to give it a little pre-treatment before sewing. Sadly, you’ll still have to dry clean it later on, but it’s a little extra peace of mind to know I’ve prepped it!


  29. Susan - Knitters Delight December 7, 2010 at 12:07 pm #

    Your dress is as goregous on the inside as it is on the outside! You did your thing…I can make a dress like that in 2 days…but the inside would be too much of a hot mess to photograph. lol.

  30. Lois December 7, 2010 at 12:37 pm #

    The dress looks great. Wondering why you wanted sleeveless with Winter coming on. The pattern arrived yesterday in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. Thanks for the great service.

  31. Rachel December 7, 2010 at 1:28 pm #

    Tasia, you look stunning! The colour is perfect, the fit is perfect, the style is perfect, the sewing is perfect!! It is a fantastic party dress. Thanks for the Q & A — especially around the lining and facing question – I had wondered that myself.

  32. The Slapdash Sewist December 7, 2010 at 1:35 pm #

    Gorgeous! That is just about my favorite color as well. It suits almost everyone! The low back is so flattering.

  33. nicole December 7, 2010 at 1:39 pm #

    Beautifully made, I really love how the inside of your garments always look so tidy too!
    The teal colour is way more fun and festive than black, looks really lovely!

    :-) Nicole

  34. Gail December 7, 2010 at 2:01 pm #

    What a lovely dress. I bet your partner was proud to be on your arm. Vancouver looks gorgeous. My daughter has applied to go on a school exchange there next year.

  35. Ryan December 7, 2010 at 2:50 pm #

    I’ve made a party dress in two days (twice in one year – 10 years ago) but neither was lined. I love making an outfit to fit the event instead of picking something I already own. I need more parties to go to now.
    p.s. I got my blouse pattern yesterday too.

  36. Anita Johnston December 7, 2010 at 3:08 pm #

    You did an impeccable job. (even the inside shot is flawless and pretty … even with contrast lace) I am very impressed.

  37. Corinne December 7, 2010 at 5:26 pm #

    Well, beautiful dress, great photo’s and tutorials. I can also see that Mr. Sewaholic is proud of you too! This dress pattern is surprisingly so versatile. It’s personality is clearly defined by the fabric. Each of these dresses look so different, yet alike. Great work!

  38. The Sew Convert December 7, 2010 at 6:00 pm #

    This dress is a beauty and you look so pretty! I love the color and shine of the silk so much! I’ve never sewed silk so I was wondering if it is a lot harder to sew compare to cotton and any tricks to make sewing it easier?

  39. Kirsten December 7, 2010 at 6:17 pm #

    I’ve always despised facings – floppy, raggedy, recalcitrant things – but you make them look really nice and clean. Next time I’m making something with them, I’ll have to come back here and review. Great site! Thanks for sharing all your know-how.

  40. Marie December 8, 2010 at 3:04 pm #

    Stunning dress, you’re an amazing seamstress!

  41. cidell December 9, 2010 at 2:26 pm #

    Oh, my. This is BRILLIANT! I love all the structural details you put in. It fits so well and is really beautiful. Great, great drop.

  42. Stephanie December 9, 2010 at 6:41 pm #

    Love the color! Great job!

  43. Angela December 10, 2010 at 3:42 pm #

    AHHH!!! How fabulous is your dress and I can’t believe you did all that in 2 days!! Hehe… I’ve been so busy at work and home I didn’t really get a chance to read the details on the making of your dress but it is awesome! :)

  44. Charlotte / l'Atelier December 11, 2010 at 7:23 am #

    The dress is fantastic ! I love the color you chose and the scoop back. It is a great seamstress job. Congrats !

  45. vicki December 12, 2010 at 3:01 am #


  46. Uden December 13, 2010 at 11:12 am #

    Hi Tasia,

    I LOVE your dress!! I was looking for something exactly like that online for my upcoming XMas party.
    By any chance, do you have the pattern for the dress in size 0? I want to ask my Mom to sew it for me (I’m unfortunately not as gifted :( ). Please let me know.
    Thank you in advance for your time.

  47. Tasia December 13, 2010 at 11:22 am #

    Hi Uden! Thanks for the lovely comments on the dress. Unfortunately, it’s a vintage pattern, so it’s not in print anymore. It’s Simplicity 3965 if you wanted to take a look for it.. or you could check out current patterns for something similar!
    This one has a similar bodice:
    And these two are similar as well:
    Good luck! I hope this helps :)

  48. Jackie December 13, 2010 at 3:57 pm #


  49. amber December 14, 2010 at 9:50 am #

    Such a beautiful dress Tasia!! Love the color and the inside finishing work. You did a really lovely job. :)

  50. RobinDenning December 14, 2010 at 6:15 pm #

    just insanely beautiful on you! well done:)

  51. Uden December 16, 2010 at 12:02 pm #


    Thank you for your comment/advice!
    If this project materializes I will be sure to post some pictures. I’ve been showing your dress to all my girlfriends, everybody loves it!

  52. Lori January 10, 2011 at 11:52 am #

    Hi there, I love this dress!! I have tried searching for this pattern but can’t seem to find it online….do you know where I could get it? (I am in the UK by the way)
    Thanks in advance

  53. Tasia January 10, 2011 at 11:55 am #

    @Lori: Hi Lori! Thanks for the lovely comments on the dress, I’m really happy with it as well!

    A couple of other comments also asked where they can buy the pattern Рunfortunately, it’s a vintage pattern, so it’s not in print anymore. It’s Simplicity 3965 if you wanted to take a look for it.. or you could check out current patterns for something similar!
    This one has a similar bodice:
    And these two are similar as well:
    Good luck! I hope this helps :)

  54. Marlene April 1, 2012 at 7:01 pm #

    Have you ever prepared a combination neckline and armscye facing? If so, would it work on this garment?

  55. Dana Cetz December 3, 2012 at 8:46 pm #

    The dress is beautifull. My question is how do you finish the curved neckline seam where the facing and neckline are sewed together and you have to do multiple clipping?


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