Completed: My Valentine Dress

6 Mar

For the past couple of months, us Mood Sewing Networkers have been plotting to have a month where the entire group worked with a similar fabric. Lace was decided for March, and since I had already been lurking the lace selection and dreaming up options, I was 100% game. I was also inspired by Liz’s Macaron Lace Dress because GIRL(boy?), have you seen that shit?! so jealous. I thought it would be fun to have the dress ready for Valentine’s Day – I’m not really much of a Valentine’s person (this is like, one of maybe four Valentine’s EVER that I haven’t been single, aha), but it’s not too late to start yeah? Not to mention, if I had a fancy dress all ready to go we’d HAVE to end up doing something. Preferably something that involved gelato.

So, without further ado, I give you… my Valentine’s dress:
Lace Valentine's Dress

Lace Valentine's Dress
I bought my lace back in the very beginning of January – and then sat on it (well, not literally – that would get wrinkly) for nearly a month. I knew the minute I saw this red floral lace that it was ~the one~, but I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do with it other than wrap my body up in it’s yardage. I couldn’t settle on an appropriate pattern – and when I finally did, the muslin was a DISASTUH (let’s not even go there), so it’s safe to say that about three weeks of that month were spent pouting and thinking I’d end up with a boring circle skirt.

Lace Valentine's Dress
I mean, I like circle skirts as much as the next gal, but I really like them when they are attached to a matching bodice, see.

Lace Valentine's Dress
In the end, I improvised and merged a few different patterns together to create my Frankenpattern Dream Dress: the bodice is McCall’s 5972, the sleeves are a vintage Butterick pattern, and the skirt is my self-drafted circle skirt. I’m actually surprised at how well everything fit together, it’s like I fulfilled some kind of pattern destiny or some shit.

Lace Valentine's Dress
I knew I wanted a substantial lace in a bright color (no whites or pastels for me, please), and while my original dream dress involved visions of navy, I knew this red lace was “the one” the second I laid eyes on it. It’s perfect for this type of dress – the pattern is large and bold, but held together with delicate netting which keeps the fabric from being too heavy. Since it’s a cotton lace, it will wear nicely in the summer as well as during the cooler months we’re in right now. The lacework is erratic enough where I didn’t have to worry too much about matching up the design at every seam line (just thinking about that is making me break out in a sweat, argh!).

Once thing I did notice with this particular lace is that the pattern runs parallel to the selvedge — so I had to adjust my pattern layout accordingly. This wasn’t difficult to do, and my lace was wide enough where I was able to get my pieces in there (including the full circle skirt) without too much fuss, but I thought I would point that out if you are thinking about working with directional lace. I’m so used to the pattern running perpendicular to the selvedge, I almost didn’t check before I started cutting

Lace Valentine's Dress
The dress is underlined with pink Bemberg Rayon – everything except the sleeves. I basted the pieces together by hand, using silk basting thread, around all edges and also along the dart lines. Then I sewed the dress up as normal, serging the seams as I went and pressing them flat.

Lace Valentine's Dress
I love that you can see a hint of tattoo through the lace sleeves 🙂

Lace Valentine's Dress
The sleeves posed a special challenge since they were unlined and I wasn’t sure how well that netting part would hold a seam. I had a small piece of pink cotton batiste in my stash that perfectly matched the underlining, so I cut long bias strips and bound the sleeve seams for extra stability. The resulting seam is very strong, and I love the little peek of pink that shows when I move my arm 🙂

I actually used that pink cotton to add a lot of special touches to an otherwise plain dress…

Lace Valentine's Dress
Facing the hem on the sleeves

Lace Valentine's Dress
Binding the armsyce seams (again for stability at an area that can get a lot of stress, and also because serging there would just be ugly)

Lace Valentine's Dress
Binding the waist seam

Lace Valentine's Dress
The neckline facing (label is from here, fyi!)

Lace Valentine's Dress
Piping the waistline (my favorite!!)

Lace Valentine's Dress
I mostly plan on wearing this with the satin bow (because I love looking like I’m wrapped up like a present), but I do like the way the dress looks with just the piping 🙂

Lace Valentine's Dress

Lace Valentine's Dress
I hemmed the skirt with 2″ white horsehair braid, since I wanted it to flare. Actually, hemming was the worst part – and not because it involved nearly 5 yards of hand-sewing. I could not decide how I wanted to treat the hem, since the lace is sheer and the braid would show through. The dress is underlined, including the skirt, but I was afraid that pulling the underlining all the way down to the bottom of the skirt would end up with some funky grain problems. In the end, I laid the skirt out VERY CAREFULLY on the floor and matched up the hems on the lining and lace, pinned everything together, and then stitched the braid on. There are a few areas where the fabric doesn’t hang *quite* right, but thankfully the giant circle skirt-ness of the whole thing kind of hides that.

Lace Valentine's Dress
Anyway, it’s TWIRLY ♥

All in all, I think it’s a pretty snazzy Valentine’s Day dress. Lookit how fancy me & Landon look!
We fancy ❤
And just for the record – my evening did involve gelato, whoop whoop!


90 Responses to “Completed: My Valentine Dress”

  1. june lovell March 6, 2013 at 10:45 am #

    i love this dress and i appreciate your tutorial. you and your darling are a very cute couple. please try some sheer stockings, however, this dress deserves some glam in the hosiery department.

    • LLADYBIRD March 6, 2013 at 10:50 am #

      You can’t really see too well in the pictures, but the tights I’m wearing are sheer net with tiny polka dots 🙂 Normally I’d wear this sans tights, but it’s been a bit cold here lately!

  2. Tugba March 6, 2013 at 10:50 am #

    Really pretty! The big ribbon reminds me of the dresses I used to wear as a kid 🙂

  3. Rochelle New March 6, 2013 at 10:50 am #

    Gorgeous! It should be Valentine’s Day everyday with a dress like that! 😉

  4. Ruth Meek March 6, 2013 at 10:56 am #

    You are so beautiful, & this dress is just lovely!!! My jealousy meter goes up every time I see your posts lol! I need to sew for myself more. I would love to see a photo of the inside hem….it intrigues me.

  5. puu March 6, 2013 at 10:57 am #

    i love the whole thing, but i especially love the little details and the piping at the waistline. that takes it to an entirely new level of special garment, to me…

  6. Karina March 6, 2013 at 11:02 am #

    Such a lovely dress!

  7. Shar March 6, 2013 at 11:04 am #

    Thank you for showing the construction details – very useful info! The lace was a perfect fabric choice for your dress. Love, love, love! (the tag is a really cute detail too).

  8. MadeByMeg March 6, 2013 at 11:04 am #

    oh i LOVE it. the lace makes it girly, the color makes it hot! i will have to use horsehair braid sometime, too…

  9. pd March 6, 2013 at 11:12 am #

    This is wonderful!

  10. didyoumakethat March 6, 2013 at 11:13 am #

    Did you just describe this as ‘an otherwise plain dress’? Are you kidding?! It’s absolutely beautiful. Understated, yes. Plain, no. I love, love, love it. So much care taken! You look beautiful. That lace is just gorgeous. I love the strong colour.

  11. carmencitabs March 6, 2013 at 11:14 am #

    Lovely lovely dress, and I’m ordering some of your labels as we speak. Very funny.

  12. CGCouture March 6, 2013 at 11:17 am #

    Aw, you two are so cute, and your dress perfectly matches the rose! 🙂

    So I noticed that you baste the markings for your darts, what kind of thread do you use for that? And where do you get it? Do you like that method better than using marking pens/pencils/chalk/whatever?

    • LLADYBIRD March 6, 2013 at 11:20 am #

      I basted the darts for this dress because of the underlining… since the rayon is so shifty, I didn’t want it moving when I sewed the darts. I used silk thread because that’s what I had on hand (Gutterman has a few colors at like Joann’s… nothing fun, though!), but any thread will work in a pinch. I usually use chalk or a tracing wheel, though 🙂

  13. Clare March 6, 2013 at 11:18 am #

    Girl, you are SO talented, this dress is gorgeous! I loled at the label too, fantastic 🙂

  14. trisha March 6, 2013 at 11:18 am #

    You guys are such a cute couple! And the dress is fabulous of course. I need to get some of those labels for when we get around to making my dress. 🙂

  15. jstarr4250 March 6, 2013 at 11:25 am #

    Twirly indeed. I honestly feel that you are among the most, if not THE most talented young sewist/blogger on the internet. Your taste in patterns and fabrics, your creativity and your skilled techniques are inspiring. I always look forward to your beautiful work.

    • LLADYBIRD March 6, 2013 at 11:45 am #

      Aw shucks! Thank you very much 🙂

  16. Kerry March 6, 2013 at 11:26 am #

    That lace is lovely and you really did it justice with that dress. And what a sweet couple you make! Too adorable 🙂 x

  17. Marie March 6, 2013 at 11:26 am #

    Oh my, so so beautiful! You look like a such a doll in this ;o) Love the label too!!!

  18. Meigan March 6, 2013 at 11:30 am #

    Gorgeous dress. The fabric, fit and (franken)pattern are a magic together. Awesome label too!

  19. maddie March 6, 2013 at 11:33 am #

    Seriously, how do you have time to finish all of these projects. It takes me two weeks to finish a bra. Damn you! Okay, maybe not.

    The dress looks great and your description of how you treated the lace was helpful – I’m using lace for my bras and it can be a struggle to sew.

  20. Kelly March 6, 2013 at 11:38 am #

    What a sweet valentine’s dress! Its simplicity makes the fabric shine, and it is really is the perfect fabric.

  21. vondalin March 6, 2013 at 12:00 pm #

    That lace is gorgeous and its a great color on you. I’m totally in awe of your sewing output, everything you make is awesome!

  22. Kay March 6, 2013 at 12:01 pm #

    It is very cute.

  23. Ash P March 6, 2013 at 12:02 pm #

    You look so nice!!! I love the dress and it looks fabulous on you! 🙂

  24. christine haynes March 6, 2013 at 12:06 pm #

    ADORABLE!!! Love this, 100%.

  25. Lori March 6, 2013 at 12:15 pm #

    It is just stunning and you look beautiful. Love the label, heading to check that out. I started my lace dress last night, the lace is just wonderful.

  26. Sarah W. March 6, 2013 at 12:18 pm #

    I love this dress, and I’m happy that I’ve seen it in person. I didn’t realize you made it from three different patterns! It’s so pretty and special. Great job!

  27. tania@sewitanyway March 6, 2013 at 12:21 pm #

    I love this!! It’s so so gorgeous… Perfect mix of sweet and strong 🙂

  28. Claire March 6, 2013 at 12:21 pm #

    I love red dresses and this one stopped me in my tracks, well would have done if I was walking! I absolutely love it and it suits you so well.

  29. Liz March 6, 2013 at 12:28 pm #

    Adorable! I’ve been wanting to make the. exact. same. dress! (except navy lace w/ light brown lining) My skillz are not nearly there yet though 😦 Question- the original pattern you used that went so horribly wrong- was it Vouge 8766? It’s the one I got to eventually do and now you’ve got me worried it ain’t gonna work :-/

    • LLADYBIRD March 6, 2013 at 12:50 pm #

      It wasn’t Vogue 8766! I wanted to try that, but I didn’t see any upcoming sales on it in time to make it 🙂 The pattern that I fucked up was some vintage pattern I had in my stash, ha 🙂

  30. Sabs March 6, 2013 at 12:31 pm #

    Think you should call it your strawberry gelato dress. It’s lovely. Swoon.

    • LLADYBIRD March 6, 2013 at 12:55 pm #

      Ooh, I like the way you think!

  31. Tasha @ By gum, by golly! March 6, 2013 at 12:52 pm #

    That is totally amazing! I love the twirly-ness that you got with the horsehair braid, totally worth it. I love it with the bow or the piping! So beautiful but fun!

  32. Jo March 6, 2013 at 1:10 pm #

    What everyone else said 🙂 it’s stunning! The waist piping is such a good idea! All the little touches… So beautiful 🙂

  33. Rosie March 6, 2013 at 1:32 pm #

    Look at you – all sassy and sweet at the same time. You did a fantastic job and you and your honey are a great looking pair. See you soon!

  34. Kacie March 6, 2013 at 1:36 pm #

    This is the.perfect.dress. Love it!

  35. Elsa March 6, 2013 at 1:36 pm #

    OMG ! That is just THE perfect dress ! I dream of being able to do something as pretty as this… I know this day will come.. in a very very long time 🙂
    ps- the big bow is adorable

  36. Cheryl Fontenot March 6, 2013 at 1:52 pm #

    Wow! I’d say you hit this one out of the ballpark! Looks great, and I loved the step by steps of what you did! The info on reinforcing the seams, etc was really helpful…I just don’t think of that unless it’s staring at me from the directions!

    Well done, and I totally agree with you on the gelatto! Fabulous!

  37. Juli March 6, 2013 at 2:31 pm #

    Wow, this dress is beautiful – it looks like it fits you perfectly to boot! And can I just say… OMG TWIRLY = WIN! Looks like you guys had a great time. Those labels make me laugh – they are seriously one of my favorite things! Haha. Anyway, thanks for posting your tips and photos about working with lace. I’ve had some really cool/pretty/funky lace sitting at my desk with a project in mind for awhile now and have been feeling a bit intimidated to cut into it. I hadn’t really thought about using binding or anything (what a great idea), so this really helps!

  38. Vicki Kate March 6, 2013 at 2:33 pm #

    Amazing! I don’t know what else to say!

  39. sew little time March 6, 2013 at 2:39 pm #

    Stunning dress! The simple shape really makes the best of that gorgeous lace! I like the piping but I LOVE the bow!

  40. Maggie March 6, 2013 at 2:44 pm #

    Fabulous! I too want to eventually make a lace dress and have always passed over the cotton lace for no reason whatsoever. Good to know that it can make such an adorable dress! And, honestly, shouldn’t every date include gelato?!?! 🙂

  41. Neeno - Sew Me Love March 6, 2013 at 4:12 pm #

    That is such a beautiful dress!! and soooo romantic!

  42. Roisin Muldoon March 6, 2013 at 4:20 pm #

    You’re hilariously awesome. And you and Landon are so cute! That will look great at the tractor pull, girl xxx

  43. Cassie Stephens March 6, 2013 at 4:33 pm #

    You are SO my sewing hero!! Seriously! You are amazing and it appears you have more hours in a day and magical sewing fingers. Along with your hilariousness…I LOVE that label. Of course, being slow as hell, I’d have to put that on EVERYTHING. Dinner and cleaning included. Well done, you look beautiful!

  44. Lelie March 6, 2013 at 4:43 pm #

    I love this dress so much! I’m lurking for some nice lace, but the most I’ve found in Belgium aren’t the right shade for me 😦 Maybe, one day I’ll find the perfect lace, untill then I’ll use all of my other pretty fabrics.

  45. Reana Louise March 6, 2013 at 4:57 pm #

    Dude you are a garment making machine! It’s amazing! It’s even more amazing that everything, like this, is so damn beautiful. I’m starting to believe you’re a vampire that doesn’t sleep.

  46. Rebecca Wagner March 6, 2013 at 4:58 pm #

    Gorgeous, you are so talented. Love the lace colour too.. cute couple;)
    I really want a derss like this for a wedding in Nov, but I dont know what underlining and horsehair braid is.. and not sure how to do the bias binding on the insides so clearly i’m not ready hahaha.. youtube might help me?

    • LLADYBIRD March 7, 2013 at 6:36 am #

      I have a tutorial for underlining here on my blog, and Gertie has one for horsehair braid (I would link but I’m on my phone, sorry!). Lace isn’t hard, just takes some extra precautions to keep its structural integrity. You can do it 🙂

  47. Lisette March 6, 2013 at 5:17 pm #

    SO CUTE! Much better than my lacy macaron which is languishing, unworn because I despise it so. Also, where the hell do you get all this time to sew?! Or are you one of the sewists who is a stay-at-home gal and therefore has all the time in the world?

    • LLADYBIRD March 7, 2013 at 6:38 am #

      Lol I wish! I do work full-time in an office gig… I just get lots of sewing in after hours and on weekends 🙂

  48. Krista March 6, 2013 at 5:38 pm #

    SO pretty! Get in my closet! Though mine would probably be in some pastel color, ha!

  49. Joyatee March 6, 2013 at 5:40 pm #

    This is soo beautiful!

  50. Peter March 6, 2013 at 5:42 pm #

    Lovely job, Lauren. Very glamorous but also very elegant. Beautiful color!

  51. Sarah March 6, 2013 at 10:42 pm #

    Really beautiful, and so lovely the way you have finished all the little details with so much care. Did you find the lace tricky to sew or not so bad because it was cotton? Such a great project!

    • LLADYBIRD March 7, 2013 at 6:39 am #

      I found it quite simple to work with, although the underlining helped a LOT. Definitely underline- it gives the lace structure and makes it easier to handle 🙂

  52. biff March 6, 2013 at 11:03 pm #

    Oh my, what gorgeousness. Please do tell how you inserted the zip. The last time I tried to do a zipper with a lace overlay I about killed myself. Any tips?

    • paisleyapron March 6, 2013 at 11:04 pm #

      Oops, my name is not biff…but it is a good one.

    • LLADYBIRD March 7, 2013 at 6:40 am #

      I just picked it in by hand :). I think the underlining really helped- it kept the lace from moving around too much. I usually just sew zippers in by hand if I think they’re going to be tricky- and I wanted to make sure the piping lined up right. You get so much more control by hand.

  53. Fwaire March 7, 2013 at 4:29 am #

    What a gorgeous dress!! 😀 So so pretty! 😀

  54. goodbyevalentino March 7, 2013 at 6:26 am #

    You’re amazing Lladybird! Thanks for the sleeve binding tip.

  55. Katy March 7, 2013 at 8:03 am #

    Wow, it’s so gorgeous. What a lovely valentine present you look 🙂 You are crazy talented, I don’t know how you keep it up! Long may you continue to inspire me 🙂

  56. sallie March 7, 2013 at 8:17 am #

    Just lovely! Lace is always pretty – but I love that you chose such a classic, feminine silhouette to pair it with. It’s like pb&j (or pb&chocolate?) – anyway, a perfect pair. And good for you guys for celebrating Valentine’s day!! Embrace the damn day, I say!

  57. Tina March 7, 2013 at 8:31 am #

    I love that cotton lace where did you find it? And how can I get some?!!!

  58. mokosha March 7, 2013 at 8:33 am #

    so pretty.. love the little details with piping and facings and everything, makes your dress look even more luxurious

  59. Jessica March 7, 2013 at 9:51 am #

    Gorgeous! Thanks for sharing all the ways you made this special and how you dealt with stuff like seams in the unlined part.

    BTW, I read your post and thought, oh good, she’s got time before VDay. And then I realized – shit, I seem to have lost a month, that’s already passed, hasn’t it?

  60. zilredloh March 7, 2013 at 11:12 am #

    Your dress is lovely!!! Thanks for the props on mine btw. Yours reminds me of that lovely red lacy pushing daisies dress. Do you know the one I mean?!

    I finally can see what that sneak peek of waistline piping was for now! It looks divine on this dress and breaks up the lace a bit. Mega props on another awesome creation.

  61. Lucy March 7, 2013 at 12:48 pm #

    All I can say is BEAUTIFUL…. and it fits you perfectly.

  62. missjoiedevivre March 7, 2013 at 4:55 pm #

    Holy shitballs this is incredible. Without a doubt you are my absolutely favourite blog to read, your stuff is beautiful, your writing is incredible, and you are so damn prolific! I can’t decide whether to be inspired for just sell everything now cos I’ll never be that brilliant. Only time will tell.

  63. Philippa March 8, 2013 at 3:01 am #


  64. sorbetsurprise March 8, 2013 at 11:31 am #

    Oh I love that fabric! I also love how sometimes it looks pink and sometimes red in your pictures as it looks so good in both! Really love the sleeve length!

  65. MariaDenmark March 8, 2013 at 12:29 pm #

    Oh wow! Great work! You look marvellous! And I love the label!

  66. kkegeland March 8, 2013 at 12:45 pm #

    im obsessed with adding piping to waistbands too! good choice 😉

  67. notches and notions March 9, 2013 at 4:44 am #

    Love your tag “this took forever”, I hear you! He he!

  68. deanna March 9, 2013 at 10:30 am #

    This is a great dress. You did a fantastic job. And the bow really dresses it up.

  69. crystalpleats March 9, 2013 at 2:24 pm #

    Beautiful dress and a fun occasion to wear it.

  70. zoe March 10, 2013 at 10:35 am #

    Oh so pretty!!!! That Franken-pattern is the shizzle! xxxx

  71. Kimberly March 11, 2013 at 6:34 am #

    omg piping at the waist = brilliant!

  72. kimmie March 11, 2013 at 1:42 pm #

    This is simply gorgeous…Who doesn’t go apeshit for a twirly dresss? I know I do. Also, your labels are adorable and I wish I could sew just for labels like that. I think I am gonna steal my mom’s old 60’s singer soon and give it a go. When I make that step, I will be picking your brain.

  73. Rebecca March 11, 2013 at 9:34 pm #

    I love love love your dress!! It’s absolutely beautiful 🙂 I’ve recently been adding circle skirts to different bodices as well. They always look lovely and of course fun to twirl in!

    • Rebecca March 11, 2013 at 9:41 pm #

      P.S. I think I recall seeing your early works on craftster!

  74. Becca March 25, 2013 at 10:42 am #

    This is absolutely gorgeous! All of your finishing touches (facings, bindings and pipings) make this dress really special. The dress looks great with and without the satin bow, but I share your love of belts and bows. 🙂 Oh, and twirling around in a dress with a circle skirt is always fun, and it never gets old. This post makes me think that I really need to get around to making an all lace dress. Love it!

  75. Portia May 12, 2013 at 10:00 pm #

    Lovely dress!!! I just bought McCall’s M6754 and started dreaming of all the possibilities. Then I stumbled upon your site and saw this dress and it was EXACTLY what I had envisioned. I do have a question though: I’m totally apprehensive about using rayon for an underlining because of how it can pill and run. Do you ever have this issue when using it? Especially when you add the lace, it seems like a super delicate dress…. and I’m not a super delicate dress kind of girl. I gotta have a fabric that can hold up and take my abuse, lol.

    • LLADYBIRD May 13, 2013 at 10:51 am #

      I’ve never had that issue with my rayon as a lining or underlining. Hm, I wonder if you’re thinking about the same rayon that I use? It’s the Bemberg rayon Ambience lining – it’s an actual slinky lining, not a fabric that is used as lining (if that makes sense). I can assure you I am *not* delicate with my clothes and I’ve never had an issue with my lining pilling or tearing away.

  76. Hannah February 20, 2014 at 3:32 pm #

    Love the dress, really cute.



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