Sunday, August 15, 2010

Dressmaking 101

For all of you ladies out there who sew, I thought I'd pass along this little "experiment" I tried over the summer. My sweet husband gave me a gift certificate for Mother's Day to a local boutique to pick out a custom-made dress. With my sister's wedding coming up, he knew I was going to need some new dresses for bridal showers and so forth.

Most of you locals are probably already aware about this darling little boutique. But me? I live under a BIG ROCK. When I opened my gift certificate I was like, "Huh? What?"

I'm not going to share the boutique's name because I don't want to take any business away from her, but there is another company based in Charleston, LulaKate, who makes very similar dresses (just to give you an idea).

I don't know if I was more surprised that I had never heard of this boutique before, or that my deer hunting, Carhart wearing, comes-home-with-muddy-shoes-every-evening-husband not only knew about it, but walked in and bought the gift certificate for me! :)

Once I walked in to pick out my dress, I wanted one of every design.
They. are. precious!
Absolutely adorable!!!!!!

However, they do come with a nice price tag. Being the DIY addict that I am, I decided to see if I could make some similar for myself.

I found some McCalls patterns on sale at Hobby Lobby for 99 cents that looked similar to the dresses I wanted to make. There is a local fabric store that sells a wide selection of duponi silk for $12.00 a yard so I bought 2 yards for each dress. I then tweaked the patterns by adding ruffles where I wanted them to look like the dresses I had seen in the boutique.

And here are the results!

Using the McCall Pattern M4440:
pattern M4440

My version:
What I changed in the pattern to make this dress:
-added a ruffle to the top of the dress
-cut out a slight sweetheart neckline (instead of making it straight across)
-added a sash from a contrasting fabric

Using the McCall Pattern: Laura Ashley M6024


My version:
What I changed in the pattern to make this dress:
#1) used Top A & Bottom C (refer to pattern)
#2) ignored the pattern's design for the ruffles and instead just made a standard 2-inch ruffle for the top of the dress. I measured the length from the top where it meets the skirt, all the way around the neckline back to the other side where the top meets the skirt. Multiply that number by 2.5 to find out how long to make your strip of fabric so that when it ruffles up, it will be the correct length.
#3) I also added about 5 inches to the tie to make it wrap around the front of the dress and tie to the side.

And guess what?
I'm sharing all of this today because I just found out Hobby Lobby is having their 99 cent sale again for all of their McCall patterns this week!!!

If anybody is interested in trying this yourself, let me just encourage you by saying that this was the first time I have ever sewn anything for myself. I have to say, it wasn't as hard as I expected it to be! Each dress took a total of about 4 hours from cutting out the pattern pieces to trying the actual dress on. The total cost for each dress was around $30. People, that is a 10th of what the original dresses in the boutique that I saw were priced!!!

This is totally addicting and I ended up making dresses for my sisters to wear as well! I also have several other designs that I'm working on right now and will share once they are finished. Good luck sewing and let me know if you make one yourself!! :)


  1. Wow, that is awesome MC! They look great!

  2. I only have one word... Jealous! Of your skill and that I don't own either one of these dresses! :) Love them and you even more!

  3. Not sure you know me but I saw that you sew and loved your blog. I started sewing a year ago for my baby niece. I have only sewn one thing for myself and look forward to trying your ideas. Thank you so much!

    Rachel Price
    LHS 2000

  4. Beautiful!!! I love the first or turquoise and red are my's beautiful!

  5. Unbelievable! I know exactly the shop/designer you're talking about and I love those dresses. Yours look fantastic!

  6. These dresses are amazing!!! I am hoping to come to one of your sewing classes soon!! Can't wait for the next dates! :)

  7. SO classy and cute! I've been trying to figure out which patterns to change around myself...I might just have to copy this! :) about the hems using the silk? Do you have a serger or do you just zig zag or some other way, so they don't fray?