Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Dita-Inspired New Year's Eve Dress


I went into an absolute frenzy of last minute sewing over the holidays! I posted all of it on my Instagram and Facebook, but I do want to detail some of it here as well. My favorite dress was the result of a completely hare-brained idea to make a party dress in less than two days for a New Year's Eve swing dance party, after seeing this picture of Dita Von Teese:


I love that neckline so much and wanted to attempt to recreate it, but adding a swingy skirt to dance in. It turns out that it was much easier than I expected! Here's my final neckline result, which I was pleased looks almost exactly like Dita's:


To get this result, I modified the Strapless Sweetheart Bodice from my book Gertie's Ultimate Dress Book. You only need to change the center front piece, and it's pretty easy. Here's how I did it: 


That's the original pattern piece above. Make sure you have the seam lines drawn in 5/8" from the edge. On all the instructions below, work on the actual seamlines, not the seam allowances. 

Make an inch-long horizontal mark at center front that is 1.5" below the sweetheart center front neckline. This line should be exactly perpendicular to the center front line. Here it is in orange pencil:


Next, make a little mark that is .25" to the right of the princess seam line.


Use a French curve to connect the two marks you've made.


That's the shape of your new neckline! Add a 5/8" seam allowance to the adjusted neckline.


Cut away the old lines.

That's all there is to it!

As far as construction goes, I sewed it pretty much like any other strapless bodice, using an underlining, steel boning, and a waist stay. The outer fabric is cotton velvet, and then I underlined it in horsehair interfacing. (I usually use muslin for this purpose, but I wanted something a little stiffer for this dress.) The below photo is from my Instagram Stories, where I've been posting step-by-step photos of my sewing projects with caption. (If you're not familiar, Stories is the new Snapchat-like feature of Instragram. I've never understood what Snapchat is, so I'm thrilled to have an alternative on a platform I already understand!).

I lined the entire dress in acetate taffeta, which is always my choice when I want something with some stiffness. It's especially great for the skirt lining, since it helps it stand out on its own. (Plus it swishes when you walk!) The boning is applied to the lining. As usual, I used 1/4" spiral steel boning. I was out of boning casing, so used single fold bias tape as an alternative. It's important to have a bone going up each princess seam, and I also place them diagonally on the bodice side front. (Boning placement is detailed in the book.)

A waist stay is important in a dress like this; I always use cotton petersham or grosgrain for this purpose. Hot pink!


The skirt is the 3/4 circle skirt pattern, also from the book, and it has two layers: the taffeta and then a sparkle dot-flocked tulle. (The sparkles didn't really show up, sadly, but I am left with glitter everywhere.)


The tulle doesn't need a hem, it can just get a clean cut (I use a rotary cutter for this). Then make a narrow hem on the lining. Everything else is finished as usual, including hand stitching the bodice lining around the zipper and the waistline on the inside.

Add some sparkly vintage costume jewelry and some statement shoes and you're done!


I adore this neckline modification, and I'm thinking I might even use it for some summer dresses when the time comes. Hope you're all having a fabulous new year so far!

19 comments:

  1. I love your dress, but aren't you worried you might, ermmm, fall out of it? Or twist around and the dress says put?
    I guess I'm just a worrier,

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    1. I was, but then I did a very animated dance test in front of a mirror and it was fine!

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  2. as Rick James would say:

    GIVEITTOMEWHATCHASAY.

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  3. So gorgeous!! Your rendition is spot on!!

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  4. Lovely replication of the inspiration dress!

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  5. Is there a name for this type of neckline?

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  6. That neckline is just amazing! Thank you for sharing your adjustment to the pattern piece :D

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  7. Oh I really fell in love with this dress as soon as u posted it on Instagram! ❤️ And got so so happy when I found out the pattern is in my book I got for x-mas!! Definitely gonna try and make this but as i just started sewing clothing I'm a little intimidated by boning a bodice and still have to find out where I can buy steal boning here in the Netherlands, but this is on my "to see" list for sure! It looks amazing on you! I bet you stole the show at the party!

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  8. Utterly gorgeous dress, that neckline is stunning!

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  9. What a dress! Perfect for swing dancing! I adore swirly skirts for dancing! I like your neckline adaptation better.

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  10. Wowser!! Your dress is absolutely gorgeous!

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  11. The dress is gorgeous, and you *rocked* it! Confidence is always the best accessory.

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  12. Stunning creation Gertie, I love the tulle overlay!

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  14. That is definitely a 'sit up straight' dress. Nice neckline re-creation!

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  15. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    1. Wow, you must be a really sad person to go out of your way to make nasty anonymous comments to a stranger like that. Gertie, you look gorgeous and I am impressed as always by your skill!

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  16. Thank you Gertie for the great explanations! I will try it, this week for my birthday dress! :) I am so thrilled to try it. I'll post an update on Instagram.

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Thanks for your comments; I read each and every one! xo Gertie

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