Hot! The “Modern Geisha” Dress


Another favorite blogger of mine, Sunni from The Cupcake Goddess, is far more disciplined than me.  The best proof of this? Her meticulous attention to detail during her Trouser Sew-Along! Sunni has a wonderful personal aesthetic and this week, with the help of The Lace, ventures into the world of trims. Her results are marvelous, I might add! Thanks for participating, Sunni!


The Facts

Fabric: 3 different fabrics were used in the making of this dress – the body is a silk shantung $6 per yard from Joann; the lining is china silk $7 per yard from Hancock; trim and belt are made from Dupioni silk $20 per yard from Yellow Bird Fabrics
Pattern: Heidi from Burda Style
Year: I think this pattern came out 2008-ish
Notions: Lace from Mena, invisible zipper, hair canvas, eyelets, grosgrain ribbon and thread
Time to complete: this took me a full week, but I sew very slowly….
Wear again? Oh yes. Maybe even to sleep in as it's terribly comfortable.
Total Cost: A very shameful $49.50 – this for the fabric as all the notions and the pattern I had in my stash.


Geisha 2 I was terribly excited to participate in this project when Mena asked me. Especially since it was based around the idea that I had to incorporate a trim into the sewing of a garment, which is actually a rarity for me. There's no use beating around the bush either, this was a serious challenge for me. In fact, so serious that I had no idea what I was going to do with the lace either. I pulled out patterns from my stash and nothing really hit me. I sorted through inspiration images and internet resources and even then I wasn't taken with any particular idea. I wanted a belt involved somewhere in the project so I took the idea back to my pattern stash and found the Heidi dress from Burda Style. Then it all fell together, though I'm still somewhat surprised by the result.

I've had the floral silk shantung in my stash for some time now and had always wanted some sort of dress from it. I bought it on an outrageous sale and think it's meant to be a home dec fabric. Putting the lace up against it really grabbed me. But then of course, I had to make it pop somehow especially with a color that really copper-tones up my hair. The chartreuse isn't even a color in the floral fabric, but that's the beauty of it I think. Completely artistic.


Hopefully, what I've achieved in this dress is just a bit of artistry. It's pure fluff, I have to say. Silk is my kindred cloth, I'm completely convinced since I hold it in such high regard. I do believe it's my most favorite fabric. I love wearing it and I love working with it and handling it.


I made a few alterations to the pattern itself, lengthening the torso since mine is abnormally long, plus widening the hip and bringing up the neckline a bit as the original was too low and on the verge of looking unsavory. I incorporated the lace into the neckline and the pocket openings while also using the chartreuse dupioni as an added bias trim which I non traditionally used with the raw edges facing out, as its something I've always wanted to do. The belt I went off a little in my own direction for. It hit me one night that I should make the back a lace up to add more to the modern geisha effect. To finish it off I made a silk flower from the lining and gave it a little lace trim decadence. The end result is terribly comfortable with all the romance of a beautiful spring day when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom. Sadly, the cherry blossoms here are still getting snowed upon which is why you see me inside today. One step outside and I nearly froze to death!


A huge thank you to Mena for seriously testing my creative abilities here! I had so much fun making up the dress and finally using a fabric, pattern and notions that I had lovingly stashed away for just such a project.




Fashionable Stitcher


Comments are closed.

  1. “Total Cost: A very shameful $49.50”
    yes, sunni, SHAME on you for making the perfect dress that would cost hundreds in stores for a mere president grant!
    that dress is all kinds of mind blowing wonderful. i love how you incorporated the lace, what a cool task. (i imagine mena must be like the wizard of oz of sewing, only with real powers and not some guy in a hot air balloon).

  2. SO lovely! The coloring is perfect on you, and I love the little lace chartreuse dupioni details – they add so much character. Fantastic work!

  3. This dress is so perfect and beautiful and it fits you so well! Definitely an investment piece worth every penny and hour. I love how you used the trim with the ends out. This really shows your creativity and style!

  4. GORGEOUS! I’m working on my second BurdaStyle Heidi dress–it’s a fantastic pattern–and you’ve totally inspired me to plan one in a gorgeous silk. I love silk, too, but rarely have an occasion to wear it. The way you used the dupioni bias trim and incorporated Mena’s lace is really creative and looks amazing!

  5. Woww this is amazing! I love the lacing on the belt and that color combination is genius!

  6. It’s just gorgeous, Sunni! Well done!

  7. Superb. If I keep sewing one day in the far, far distant future I might be able to produce something like this.

  8. Oh my – your dress is breathtaking! I love everything about it – you are so very clever. Thank you for sharing and inspiring!

  9. oh wow! this is so pretty and so beautiful on you! Breathtaking!

  10. Beautiful! I love the chartreuse silk accents.

  11. Your creations always look like they come from an expensive boutique, I love the details and the time you put into your garments! The belt with the ties in the back is so cool, and the idea to use the green to make the lace pop is fantastic. I second oonaballoona, paying nearly $50 for this in the store would be a major, major bargain!

  12. Absolutely gorgeous!!!

  13. This is just so beautiful on you. The colors really do give your skin that geisha porcelain glow. I am always afraid of things like home dec fabrics and lace–I can’t believe how simply lovely this is ! Seems like your move away from the job has been good for your creative output!

  14. Inspiring! I love the colors and fabric and now I’m obsessed with making my own version!

  15. WOW- I love it and am so so inspired!

  16. The lace over the neckline trim is inspired. Beautifully simple dress that lets the fabric shine. Lovely.

  17. Oh Sunni that is one of the most stunning dresses I’ve seen in a long time! The combination of the mix of types of silk and the print and solid, the brights colors and lace touches… WOW. The chartreuse is just the perfect addition and I LOVE the use of it with the lace trimming the neckline and pockets. I’m riveted! I could look at that dress all day. :)

  18. FABULOUS dress…I absolutely adore the details and the chartreuse fabric looks stunning against the floral print! Great job!!

  19. The chartreuse (did I spell that right?) brings out the shine in your hair. I have no idea how, since your hair isn’t green…but it really makes a pop. I do love the combo of the lace edging along with chartreuse trim. It’s so creative.
    You totally rock the Heidi pattern.

  20. beautiful! gloriously beautiful – well done.

  21. Amaaazing. I love everything about it:)

  22. The colors are great together! And you know… with all the problems that the poor people in Japan are going thru..
    I think that you were inspired! It’s turned out beautiful!
    Ahem… and as a fellow Utahn… I don’t blame you a bit for not going outside to take the photo’s! Although… today it was lovely for a trip on the FrontRunner to SLC!
    Good Job!


    glad to see someone who uses decent fabric – it makes all the difference I am sewing in silk and would like more blogs on sewing silk etc – cheers sally

  24. This is gorgeous! I am in love with it!!

  25. SO GORGEOUS!!! Wow… that fabric is a stunner, and I really love how you artfully incorporated the lace and the green. It really is the perfect springtime dress. Plus bravo for being the first of the group to make a dress! hehe. Beautiful job, Sunni–your work is always so stunning.
    ♥ Casey

  26. So beautiful, Sunni, just incredible design. And I’m terrified of silk, but you inspire me!

  27. Wow, this is truly amazing! Now that I sew I rarely buy retail, but I REALLY want this dress!

  28. Your attention to detail really paid off Sunni, it looks store bought! Great job, and I love your hair :) And yes, like so many other commenters have said, I WANT IT!

  29. Thank you! I was trying to keep in the style of The Sew Weekly, but alas my eyes are so much bigger than my wallet! I want silk and I want it now!

  30. Thank you! I had seen that technique used a few years ago and thought it was so clever. You’ll get a little bit of fray but since it’s cut on the bias you don’t get as much as say if it were cut on the straight grain! Easy and fun technique!

  31. Thank you! It’s a pattern I’ve always wanted to make! I’m so glad it finally got out of the stash and into real life! Good luck with your second Heidi!

  32. I was pretty crazy about it when I first saw the two fabrics together! I’m so glad it worked! Thanks a bunch!

  33. Thank you! It was really fun putting it together! I have quite a silk collection, so it was fun to finally be able to use some of it.

  34. Thank you Sigrid! I was actually having a hard time coming up with some sort of name for the dress. After looking in the mirror and seeing my rather glowing white skin it just hit me. I’m also afraid of home dec fabrics as many times they just don’t have the right wrinkle factor. This fabric was definitely an exception. It’s terribly soft and seems to hang just right.

  35. Thank you! I keep looking at it myself and am still surprised about it! It really did come together so nicely. So glad as I was on the brink of not knowing what to do!

  36. It’s very strange how I can wear this color, I’ll admit. Everytime I wear chartreuse or pea green I always get people asking me how in the world I can look quite so good in such a color. For some reason it really makes my hair stand out and my skin color come to life. Thank you!

  37. I know. My heart really goes out to the people in Japan especially when I feel that they have such an influence on so many aspects of sewing.
    I tried to take the photos on Monday and found it was still too cold. Now if I had finished this by Saturday and was able to rock the 70 degree weather, that would have been near perfect. Oh well!

  38. It’s not so hard to sew with really. I should post a few more tips for silk sewing. In fact, I’ll do just that! Thank you!

  39. Thank you Casey! I still can’t get over the Armistice Blouse you made last week. It’s on my short list of patterns to buy now. I’ve seen the folkwear patterns but I thought they were more for costume type events, but after having a second look can see that I was completely wrong.

  40. Thank you for all your kind comments everyone! I should let everyone know that I wore this number for my birthday and loved it! Comfort couple with style could never be bad!

  41. What!!! amazing.I may have to steal this idea of lace over bias trim.

  42. Oh, that is beautiful!

  43. This is a gorgeous dress !

  44. Wow! This is really lovely – the silk, the details, everything!!
    One thing I must know – where are those amazing shoes from?

  45. Payless, if you can believe it! Ha! They actually have some not too shabby options for a cheap thrill. Especially when you just don’t have the money and are trying to scrimp by, but need something of a fix.

  46. It is lovely. Good price considering what you got.

  47. Squee! That means they’re in my budget – huzzah! Thanks so much!

  48. I think this is an excellent example of why it really does pay sometimes to spend a lot on fabric. Good fabric makes a good dress GREAT. Love the pocket detail.