I have been collecting all kinds of ideas in the categories of dresses and jackets for casual and work wear but first up is the party dress selection.
So let's turn our attention to the comment from Rachel who blogs at SewSouthLondon.wordpress.com. Here is her comment:
OMG! you've answered my prayers. I was just thinking about writing a blog post searching for inspiration for a very special party dress for my next birthday (a BIG one with a 0 on the end!) I have mainly sewn with Indie patterns except for the (blank here in her comment)
I am in need of a pattern for:
- A party dress with wow factor. Something slinky and figure-enhancing.
- I am an intermediate sewist.
- I tend to have to add an FBA, and usually go up a size at the waist.
- I love designs that flatter a more hourglass figure. I have found that dresses that accentuate a waistline and are fairly fitted on the bodice look best. I would probably go quite short too. It is my birthday, after all...!
Now who could resist that plea? Not me. Hopefully she won't regret asking :)
So I took a look at her blog, and thought about shape and style. And thought some more. Then I revisited her comment, (note the word slinky) paired that up in my mind with her shape in this dress - scroll down to see the solid red version - and came up with this.
Vogue 1342 Donna Karan knit dress. But please not in that color ! I think in a deep rose or wine color, or maybe a very dark amethyst purple. OK, it does say advanced pattern, but as you all may know, these Donna Karan patterns are genius. It is the lining that does all the work. As regards fitting: Hopefully they have the finished garment measurements on the pattern tissue. So far all Vogue patterns do, even these form fitting twisty knit ones. So go by your measurements to choose the pattern size and use the multi size pattern to help with fitting. I also think the straps will allows some shortening at the back which is a nice feature. I think I would keep this one at knee length. It is certainly figure enhancing and the length of the skirt adds to the drama. I know you said you are an intermediate level sewist but I think jumping to the advanced level with a knit dress is a good way to go. Our pattern requester (willing victim) Rachel has a great figure and could wear the heck out of this dress - so be brave!
OK, now that I have shocked you with my first recommendation, how about another one?
Up next is Simplicity 1778 which is one of those pattern envelopes that suffer a bit from either hideous fabric choice or prints that obscure the details. If you don't think this one can be a WOW then check out this version I found.
I am including the line drawing so you can the seaming. this dress has A LOT of fitting opportunities.
what am I talking about? Princess seams - front and back, perfect. Under bust seaming - very useful for lengthening or shortening. Clever pleating across the front - adds to the slinky and still leaves space for some drinks and nibbles. Love that. I am a fan of the square neckline, I just think it is really pretty but some people don't like it. Also allows you to easily raise up the neckline if it is a bit too low which you can't as easily do the the sweetheart wrap neckline. My choice, I would make the square neckline, sleeveless version, in a good quality ponte or other knit. Whatever choice, an quick muslin in a similar weight and/or stretch fabric would really help you to get the fit just right. I am not always a fan of the super tight dress - but as shown in that link in the previous paragraph, when fitting right they look hot!
Rachel, here are two more suggestions that may be closer to items that you have previously sewn. And slightly less va-voom. But who wants that for the special birthday...not you, right?
This New Look 6123 pattern has a standard bodice and attached skirt, so if you have made a dress with a bodice with bust and waist darts you can compare for fit. I like the V-neckline version - sleeveless or the cap sleeves, and the draped skirt. In a solid color it would be smashing,
And one more suggestion, this one may be a bit random but how about Lekala 4078. This is quite an easy dress to sew, I would leave off the sleeves and narrow the width of the shoulder portion a bit - my favorite adjustment for portion - always looks more elegant. If you leave off the sleeves you may need to raise the bottom of the armhole. Or with sleeves - great for winter. You are in the UK and this would be a very quick and economical option - pricing for us here in the US is around $ 3. They send the PDF quite fast (it has always been in less than an hour for me) and since you put in your measurements you probably won't have to do an FBA.
So those are my suggestions for a WOW dress for you, Rachel. I will be so interested to hear what everyone thinks. And if you go in a different direction that is OK too - find something that will be fun to sew, don't stress over it and my biggest suggestion is to pick a color that you LOVE to wear and you will shine. Hmmm...my other piece of advice for party dress sewing. Treat it a little bit like a costume. It doesn't have to be perfect on the inside. You are going to wear it a few times, styles will change or fabrics will go out of favor. It's not a coat you will keep for many years or a pair of jeans that get every weekend wear. A party dress is almost like a party itself, a bit ephemeral - something to enjoy, remember and on to the next thing.
I hope you have a wonderful birthday!
Happy sewing, Beth