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This archived content is from Mary Wilkins’ sewing and quilting message board “Sew What’s New,” which was retired in August 2007. It is being provided by “Sew What’s Up,” which serves as the new home for many members of “Sew What’s New.”
From: jvcruz
Date: 04-20-2007, 02:55 PM (1 of 26)
hey guys! well, im a beginner sewer and im already tackling all these formal wear... ok... well ive been designing dresses and i decided that for my friends prom, id make her her dress and she said ok so i did. i designed it, made it, and i thought it looked ok, maybe a little revealing, but not that much. when her mother saw it, she was enraged because she said she looked like a skank. heres a picture of what the dress looked like before it was finished when she came in for a fitting:

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as you can see, the whole back is exposed and some of the sides... so, because of her mother, i had to start over and make another one... i came up with a design that she, her mother and i agreed on... heres a rough sketch of it:

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now this is where you guys come in... i kinda had a problem making her skirt. im not really familiar with sewing terminologies so forgive me... i didnt want it to have "gores?" so i didnt use patterns... i dont like patterns. THEYRE EVIL so i worked with a mannequin... any pointers on how to make skirts without patterns? i especially had troubles with the zipper and how to sew it on... HELP!! anyone?

and oh yea, im the 18 year old boy who reallly doesnt know anything about sewing yet, but is very much willing to know how... thanks again ladies! love you much!
User: jvcruz
Member since: 12-30-2006
Total posts: 4
From: jwright
Date: 04-20-2007, 04:42 PM (2 of 26)
Honestly, when that dress is done I would be shocked if her mother would let her wear that one to a prom as well. When you are that young, you need to cover yourself. No other people like seeing anything that revelaing on a gal that young. I would be suprised if anyone on this board helps you because it is so revealing--we have respect for ourselves and others.

Look for some other prom desses online--buy some more material and make something that covers up those areas no one wants to see (between the waist and chin). a reavealing back is ok--not a revealing front.

Tell you friend to wear something that revealing when she meets Hugh Hefner and wants to show the world everything she has...
User: jwright
Member since: 12-28-2006
Total posts: 96
From: dmoses
Date: 04-20-2007, 05:13 PM (3 of 26)
First, let me say that I admire your ambition to create designs from scratch! :up: I've been sewing for some time, but I'm not that creative, so I rely on patterns.

Even though you don't like patterns, it may be necessary to look at some that have a similar skirt so that you can get an idea of how to make it.

The design is very revealing, I think, and you should consider the dress code of the school that is sponsoring the prom...they may bar her from entering, which would be very devastating for her.

You may want to consider using another, complementary fabric to 'fill in' the bare parts...perhaps like that which is used in dancing and skating costumes. At least, the wearer wouldn't have the discomfort of always worrying if 'something' might inadvertantly fall out.

Sorry that I couldn't be of more help. Good luck!
Take care,
User: dmoses
Member since: 02-22-2002
Total posts: 964
From: Pudge99
Date: 04-20-2007, 05:37 PM (4 of 26)
I want to start off by agreeing you need more fabric on top. :shock: I agree with the mother on that first attempt:shock: . The drawing is definately better, but there are serious falling out issues that need to be addressed. If she tries to dance to any song with even a moderate beat she is going to be exposing a bit more than her midriff. The iceskater fabric in your subjects skin tone would work beautifully.

Now after a bunch of unwanted advice. Let's address the skirt. Why is it that you don't want gores? They are rather useful when trying to get a nice flowing skirt. There is of course a circle skirt (think poodle skirt) that has body but no gores, but I think that is a bit more skirt than you want. YOu have your basic skirt, one front and one back piece. Can be shaped to fit or A shaped or can be a rectangle giving you a gathered skirt. Even though you don't use patterns you can learn a lot from them. I suggest browsing through the pattern sites find what you like and then tell us a pattern number and maybe we can help you achieve wht you are looking for.
Pictures of my successes and failures
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User: Pudge99
Member since: 10-30-2001
Total posts: 1375
From: mommydionne
Date: 04-20-2007, 09:35 PM (5 of 26)
OK... practically speaking you do not have enough support built into the bodice of this dress, the Left panel needs to be enlarged to go around the breast unless you plan on using tape to hold it up (it has been done)
I would also advise bringing the sides of the bodice more around the back a bit or you will have a gaping from the sides problem, The dress will have more stability if you underline the fashion fabric with something a little stiffer, perhaps an organza. This is a layer that goes between your fashion fabric and lining to give your garment structure. Also is the pix is the young lady who will be wearing the dress she does not have the bustline to manage this dress without some more structure.

You also will need to create a structured (possibly boned) facing at the waist to support the skirt as there is no support for the skirt from the bodice or you will have serious sagging.

Draping a skirt is not hard but you are starting out with a long one which is more difficult. For now I would put the expensive fabric away, get an old sheet and use that to drape and create your own pattern.

So... you need to
1. drape a skirt with throwaway fabric that can stand alone, I would use a side invisible zipper for closure
2. widen the panels on your bodice and possible extend slightly around her sides to the back (prevent side gaping)
3. Find an underlining and lining fabric,
4. check out the prom rules, just in case,

as a design suggestion a more gathered technique over the bust may give the garment more body and not look quite so skanky, you are using a very shiny, ? thin fabric which needs more design detail, if you were using a heavier or more textured fabric it might not look so skimpy

good luck!
User: mommydionne
Member since: 01-08-2004
Total posts: 838
From: VenusElaine
Date: 04-20-2007, 09:40 PM (6 of 26)
The designs are stellar! They are not, however, age- appropriate for prom.:re:
As a "mature" alteration specialist and custom designer and fabricator, I can tell you that over the last several years the prom gowns I alter have increasingly become more revealing. Unfortunately, no matter how "grown-up" these girls feel, they are still that - GIRLS.
They do not need to be swathed from neck to hem in fabric, but neither should they look like a twenty-five year old exotic dancer.:shock:
As for patterns, they are the basis of all I create. Using patterns when I was younger gave me the basics of design and proportion. I can now create any design from adapting and modifying the patterns in my cabinet (yes I have my own - full).
If you truly do not wish to use patterns, you MUST have a decent, adjustable dressform on which to drape and refine your designs.
Welcome and look forward to your further posts!

"Always put as much effort into your marriage as you do into your wedding."
User: VenusElaine
Member since: 10-22-2005
Total posts: 126
From: PaulineG
Date: 04-20-2007, 11:10 PM (7 of 26)
We don't have a prom in Australia but from what I see and know I would have said that the dress is more in the style of a nightclub than a formal occasion. In my younger, wilder days it was not unknown for me to wear some fairly edgy outfits. Ultimately I was only really comfortable wearing the more suggestive things when I went to gay (male) nightclubs with a good friend of mine. There is a tendency for the more immature males of the species to equate a brief or sexy dress with indiscriminate availability. So while she may like the look and effect of the garment - there could be a price to pay. I hope she has a lot of confidence!

On another note - I think more of a curved edge/finish around the waistline at the back might be nice. The sketched looked a bit "cut in half" to me. Just my two cents worth.

Not know exactly how skilled you are with regards to construction it might be a bit easier if you mixed the fabrics between top and bottom. By which I mean you might get the result you want for the top half by using a stretchy sort of fabric - jersey or some sort of blend with lycra, spandex or elastene in it - for the top and a drapier sort of fabric for the bottom - chameuse satin or similar. It would mean you wouldn't need to spend quite so much time and attention on construction details like boning and would hopefully give the effect you're after.

It would probably be difficult to get a satisfactory combination though.
User: PaulineG
Member since: 09-08-2006
Total posts: 901
From: jvcruz
Date: 04-20-2007, 11:11 PM (8 of 26)
hahaha... thank you all for your replies and help... im sure they will all come in handy in the future while im making it... i just want to also say that that design is a rough, very rough, sketch that i made while they were feeding me ideas of what they want it to look like. and i agree, it is very revealing, but i think that there are many other girls whos going to wear something much more revealing... when i went to mine last year, almost half of the girls backs were completely exposed and someone even had pasties on so i dont think itll be a problem with the school, but just in case, i will check...

and as far as patterns go, i bought this one pattern; mccalls m4709... the skirt there is something that i think shed like... and i think itll work... and as for the materials, i was going to use satin... anymore suggestions? and thanks again ladies...
User: jvcruz
Member since: 12-30-2006
Total posts: 4
From: MaryW
Date: 04-21-2007, 05:52 AM (9 of 26)
jvcruz, you have talent! :up:

I think the idea of a pattern for the skirt is probably the right way to go until you get more experience under your belt as far as drafting a skirt.
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User: MaryW
Member since: 06-23-2005
Total posts: 2542
From: PaulineG
Date: 04-21-2007, 06:56 AM (10 of 26)
The skirt from that pattern does look pretty similar to your design. I probably prefer the flow at the bottom of yours but it appears to be a different fabric type (as much as you can tell from drawings) - not quite as stiff.

If you're using a mannequin is it pretty close to her measurements? With the cutaways that you have done you'd probably want to fit as close to real life as possible. If she is patient enough to stay still long enough - great. Otherwise you could consider doing a home made dress form. Quite a bit of discussion on these here - Then you could do a muslin out of an old sheet as mommydionne suggested.

What sort of satin - there are several kinds and they have different properties. What are your priorities - does it need to be easy to work with, are you budget conscious? etc. etc.
User: PaulineG
Member since: 09-08-2006
Total posts: 901
From: paroper
Date: 04-21-2007, 04:37 PM (11 of 26)
I am not your mother nor am I your friend's mother so I don't have to worry about what you are wearing to the prom. My daughter graduated last year. Their school did not have a dress code and didn't need one. I was not thrilled with her dress as it was waaaaaay to low in a couple of spagetti laces across the center and about 3 inches past her naval and no back. But she and I both made it through the night. On the other hand, I have seen pictures from other school proms and even the first dress would be tame compared to what I have seen. However, it is not just a matter of being suggestive on that night, it is also a matter of personal safety. I don't know about the guys at your school...they may all be perfect gents, not over-sexed teens who will probably put back a couple before they get to the prom...or sneak out to get a little it may not be a problem. A lot of guys plan to SCORE BIG on prom night. However, she will more than likely be seen in public and there are plenty out there who would give her a VERY hard time, and it could be dangerous for her to be seen like that in a restaurant on the streets...just a word of caution.

About the skirt...if you are going to do that type of skirt, may I suggest that you bias cut the skirt? The entire dress in this link is bias cut in 4 pieces with a seam in the center and it is fuller than you are wanting but if you'll notice the drape? This is what a good bias cut skirt could buy you. This is the type of drape I think you are looking for...

BTW--if you have a Hancock's store in the area? Their patterns are 3.99 this weekend for Vogue..if you look through the book you may find another skirt with more the line you need...even a plain skirt as often found in bias cut a-lines would work for the basic need it more cut in at the hips than that to achieve the look and feel you want...also, I don't see the dress in a normal satin, I see it in some sort of pretty jersey which would also hug the body well. You might be able to find a good jersey with a glitter in it. I've done several things in that type of fabric and it looks nice...

As for the top... Well, that one streamer going down the left side is too close to the front, and as previously mentioned too narrow...if you want that to hide anything it needs to more "sling" from the side so that it will hug the body better and not leave things "hanging". I think that when you test this pattern you'll see that is true. I'm not sure about the one on her right side, because of the way that it is supported more in line, I THINK it will be OK, although it also may need to tip slightly toward the back. Basically though in this pattern the left side of the dress has no is about plane geometry.

Bernina 200e, Artista V5 Designer Plus, Explorations, Magic Box, Bernina 2000DE & 335 Bernette Serger, Bernina 1530 Sewing Machine, Bernina 1300 DC Overlock (with coverstitch)
User: paroper
Member since: 02-03-2004
Total posts: 3775
From: paroper
Date: 04-21-2007, 04:42 PM (12 of 26)

This bias cut dress is a little more the line I was thinking for your skirt. I would put the zipper in the back or the side. In this particular dress, they do suggest crepe back satin although I think the jersey would hug well.

Bernina 200e, Artista V5 Designer Plus, Explorations, Magic Box, Bernina 2000DE & 335 Bernette Serger, Bernina 1530 Sewing Machine, Bernina 1300 DC Overlock (with coverstitch)
User: paroper
Member since: 02-03-2004
Total posts: 3775
From: jvcruz
Date: 07-17-2007, 02:35 PM (13 of 26)
heres a picture of what the dress looked like towards the end... how do you guys like it... or not like it?

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User: jvcruz
Member since: 12-30-2006
Total posts: 4
From: Mom of Six
Date: 07-17-2007, 04:18 PM (14 of 26)
I wouldn't let my DD out of her room in it!
Happiness is having time to sew!!
User: Mom of Six
Member since: 11-03-2001
Total posts: 1115
From: paroper
Date: 07-17-2007, 04:30 PM (15 of 26)
I think there is a strong possibility that you'll look back and hide those prom pics from your high school daughters. Personally, I would have a long heart to heart with my daughter if she, as a young lady were to want to wear a dress like that to the prom. I think it will send the wrong message, one that you may not have the life experiences to deal with...I hope I am wrong. Fortunately, in most of our area schools, it wouldn't pass the dress code for prom, but unfortunately, it would pass in our school.

Bernina 200e, Artista V5 Designer Plus, Explorations, Magic Box, Bernina 2000DE & 335 Bernette Serger, Bernina 1530 Sewing Machine, Bernina 1300 DC Overlock (with coverstitch)
User: paroper
Member since: 02-03-2004
Total posts: 3775
From: Mom of Six
Date: 07-17-2007, 05:03 PM (16 of 26)
Unless my DD changes her mind over the next 2 years( a good possibility) I won't have to worry about what she will wear because she thinks proms are a big waste of money. She would rather go bowling or to a movie than to spend hundreds of dollars on 1 night. But she also doesn't have a boyfriend yet so that could all change.
Happiness is having time to sew!!
User: Mom of Six
Member since: 11-03-2001
Total posts: 1115
From: MartySews2
Date: 07-17-2007, 05:27 PM (17 of 26)
My DD chose to skip the prom as she thought it would be dull plus she didn't know many of the students. She is now 19 and would not choose something as revealing as that dress because it would be too hard to keep her boobs covered. That said, you did a good job on draping and creating your own design. Congratulations! Did you get a photo of the completed outfit? Would be interested in seeing the final outcome.
Happy Stitching!
Marty :smile:
User: MartySews2
Member since: 05-03-2007
Total posts: 293
From: PaulineG
Date: 07-17-2007, 05:31 PM (18 of 26)
Well modesty aside and with total lack of ability to construct anything like formal wear here's my 2 cents.

I quite like the shape (as long as it flattered the wearer) but I'm not fussed about the difference in colours.

Also -the right hand bit (what I see on the right in the photo anyway) would probably look nicer (to me) if after it tapered in towards the waist it flares back out slightly where it meets the waist (I think it was more like that in your original drawing). Almost a trumpet shape - particularly on the left hand side of the right hand bit. Having said this - with the way you've slightly ruched that piece horizontally I'm not sure how you'd construct that.

Also on the right hand bit I'd take a little bit off :shock: tbe strap from about the centre of the breast up towards the shoulder.

I'd be interested in seeing closer up shots and back details and really interested in seeing it on and hearing about how it performed (from a construction perspective - i.e. when she moved did anything gape).

All in all you should be pretty happy with the job you've done (as long as your friend's mum doesn't chase you round the kitchen with a broom - or scissors).

Most important though - are you and the wearer happy with how it turned out?
User: PaulineG
Member since: 09-08-2006
Total posts: 901
From: grandma C
Date: 07-18-2007, 01:24 AM (19 of 26)
Your dress certainly curdles this grandmothers blood. BUT......... Your design has potential. Why not use what you have and add a spegetti strap or strapless fitted chamisole out of the skirt fabric or the black fabric. I find the bumpy ruched look to the first skirt interesting. Just show some respect for the femenine form and give it some beautiful fabric covering.
User: grandma C
Member since: 01-15-2007
Total posts: 263
From: IsabelleB
Date: 07-18-2007, 05:11 AM (20 of 26)
There is some potential in your creation jvcruz... I would simply add a camisole in the red satin beneath the black "straps". Even a short camisole if your friend insists on baring her midriff. You know, a bit like what is worn under Indian saris?

Adding red satin on top would have two advantages: from an aesthetic point of view, it would tie the dress together (like Pauline, I'm not sure the black and red work together at that point, but having some of the red fabric on top should really help make it work). From a practical point of view,the other advantage would be to make this a wearable dress. Honestly, and to be quite blunt, I don't know how your friend would manage to have her nipples not show as the dress is. :shock:

Now about the modesty thing... I am not a grandma, I am 26, and I honestly do not consider myself a prude. What bothers me most about your dress as it is, is that it is to me a concession to machismo. It does not sublimate the feminine body, but simply seems to be offering it up for grabs.
There's a fine line between sexiness and vulgarity... Adding a camisole to cover the breasts if only a little would help you not cross that line.
I don't mean to be censorious, I really just want to help you... Take this from a 26-year-old who does remember what it is to be 18... Take this from a young woman who lives in Paris and has had ample opportunity to reflect on that fine line between revealing subtly and baring grossly.
Because other girls at the prom will be wearing half a dress does not mean your friend should do so! Because a hundred people do the same mistake does not make it any less a mistake.

BUT, as I said in the beginning, there IS some potential in your creation and you're definitely inspired! Keep up the good work. :up:
Sewing blog: Kitty Couture
User: IsabelleB
Member since: 10-25-2006
Total posts: 265
From: paroper
Date: 07-18-2007, 05:18 AM (21 of 26)
I do agree with the originality of the design. I think the potential is there.

One of the things that keeps crossing my mind is whether or not the garment will "spin" on the body. Because of the natural pull of the fabric I am thinking that it may move. If it does, it will be a bit uncomfortable to wear for an evening.

Bernina 200e, Artista V5 Designer Plus, Explorations, Magic Box, Bernina 2000DE & 335 Bernette Serger, Bernina 1530 Sewing Machine, Bernina 1300 DC Overlock (with coverstitch)
User: paroper
Member since: 02-03-2004
Total posts: 3775
From: AndreaSews
Date: 07-19-2007, 09:36 PM (22 of 26)
{stirs the soup pot...}
I really liked the first skirt you made, with all the tucks. I'd love to see that with a snugly fitted bodice, straight across the chest. I know that's not where your friend is going with it, but I think it would be lovely and still quite exciting, both for you to work on and for her to wear. Here's a pic from Vogue ( a bodice like I'm describing. It has an element of asymmetry. More modest than you planned, but I think paired with the fitted and scrunched skirt you started with, it'd be something special. And certainly unique and memorable.
User: AndreaSews
Member since: 02-18-2005
Total posts: 1007
From: AndreaSews
Date: 07-19-2007, 09:38 PM (23 of 26)
PS: I _love_ the creative start you're off to, and I think it's a great act of friendship as well! Thanks for coming around with your project. I'll be following this thread with interest.
User: AndreaSews
Member since: 02-18-2005
Total posts: 1007
From: mozeyrn
Date: 07-21-2007, 12:02 AM (24 of 26)
I have to admit when I saw the first pic I thought, "'Where's the rest of the dress?" I used to bartend in Piscataway and lived in Union County during my prom years - we would have NEVER considered that kind of dress for prom! Our prom queen & everyone in her court were wearing dresses that didn't show any kind of inappropriate skin (ie boobs, belly - she should wear something that covers her middle, nor gave men the idea that they were easy). She should have respect for herself, even though at 18 everyone thinks they're 9 foot tall and bulletproof she should have some self respect for herself (at least her mother does). An elegant dress fitted correctly will always be more sexy than an overly revealing dress. This is one of those times when less is definitely NOT more.
- Maureen.
Learning something new with every stitch!!
Kenmore 16231000
User: mozeyrn
Member since: 11-29-2005
Total posts: 349
From: Kaitlinnegan
Date: 07-22-2007, 03:53 PM (25 of 26)
Honestly, I do kind of like the design, but it is much more suited to a young adult woman in her 20's than a high school student. It's the type of dress I can imagine Lil Kim or Christina Aquilera's less revealing than some dresses I've seen on celebrities, but I still wouldn't really classify it as "elegant." I guess part of what bothers me about it is that what will be getting attention is not the dress, but everything the dress is *not* covering. All your hard work will basically go could have wrapped her in a bed sheet for the same effect. The lines of the dress are beautiful, and I love the colors. I would be interested to see how the effect would be changed with black mesh over the exposed parts of the bodice -- that might tone down the bare skin while still keeping the daring feel.

I think the problem I have with a high schooler wearing it is not necessarily the dress but those who would be viewing the dress (high school boys). There is a reason we protect our young people with dress codes and the like -- teenagers are not yet ready to make those decisions and deal with the consequences. Teenage boys see exposed skin like with this dress and unfortunately don't have the maturity to realize that skin is just skin -- not an open invitation. Teenage girls may not have the skills necessary to deal with the type of attention they would get from wearing a dress like this.

I hope that you will keep sewing and posting here! As others have said, you have a lot of potential, and I think you will keep us on our toes. :bg: - the new home for Sew What's New
User: Kaitlinnegan
Member since: 03-20-2006
Total posts: 222
From: Maya
Date: 07-22-2007, 03:54 PM (26 of 26)
"There's a fine line between sexiness and vulgarity... Adding a camisole to cover the breasts if only a little would help you not cross that line." IsabelleB

I have never had a daughter or a figure to wear a dress like that. However, I agree with the others on your potential to go on designing. I also agree with Isabelle's above statement. If camisole top doesn't grab you what about a shrug or something on that line in red lace or red slinky material. I agree with PaulineG you need something to pull the red black combo together.

I am showing my age, however, lots of glamous women of the past, Marylin Monroe, Betty Grable, Liz Taylor,Sophia Loren, etc. didn't wear gowns like that and were considered quite sexy
User: Maya
Member since: 02-17-2007
Total posts: 7
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