Hot! The “Slow and Steady” Dress

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The Facts

Fabric: A WHOLE LOT of eyelet lace and an old cotton, sheet: $6
Pattern: Skirt bottom, Colette Eclair; Dress bodice, Simplicity 6001
Year: 1965
Notions: Invisible zipper, $3, Rit Dye in Fuschia, $4
Time to complete: 13 hours
First worn: September 2011
Wear again? Yes!

Total Cost: ~$13

I just have to say that I'm really really proud of this dress. 

Ever since I bought a huge spool (about 300 yards of eyelet lace) for $6, I knew that I wanted to make a dress entirely out of the stuff. I actually started a different dress for the American Apparel challenge — the designer inspiration being Betsey Johnson. That dress didn't pan out for me but my dream of an all-eyelet dress didn't die. So when it came to think about this week's challenge, I immediately knew what I wanted to dye.

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The eyelet started out a cream color — the color that makes up the majority of the bodice. Using Rit Dye in Fuschia, I dyed three batches of eyelet. The four fuschia color ranges were left in for 25 minutes, 5 minutes, 1 minute and 5 seconds. After I dyed them, I washed them in my washing machine and got a big tangled mess of pink. Untangling the lace was my least favorite part of the entire dress making process.

But once I was finished, I had four pretty colors (the lightest pink isn't pictured because I did that after this batch when I realized there needed to be a color between the lightest pink and the undyed eyelet.) I'm not quite sure how much eyelet I used because I just sort of eyed what I thought I would need.

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After I had the lace dyed, I constructed the Eclair skirt out of a cotton sheet that I had also dyed pink. I left one side unstitched and then started the lace-stitching process. It wasn't complicated, just a bit repetitive. But a good sort of zen repetitive. 

I ended up making the Eclair bodice but then I decided to toss it when I realized I'd get more use out of a sleeveless, but not strapless bodice top. So, I constructed the bodice from Simplicity 6001 and then, once those two pieces were finished, I attached the skirt to the top. Oh, I had to gather the skirt and that was a bit tricky with all that eyelet poking out. But it was doable.

So, yes, I love this dress!

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Mena Trott

Mena Trott started The Sew Weekly to document her attempt to sew all of her own clothes in 2010. Since then, she's made over 125 outfits and has way more clothes than she needs.


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  1. Wow! I suddenly have an urge to make DSD a dress for Christmas.

  2. OH. MY. GOD. That is all.

  3. That dress is incredible! Absolutely gorgeous work Mena!

  4. Wow. That looks amazing. I love the ombre effect.

  5. That turned out beautifully.

  6. Wow! I love everything about this, including the color combination on the bodice! This is my inspiration to sew again!

  7. That is really amazing. I admire your patience (and wish I had your time and determination!) Stunning dress.

  8. Wow really doesn’t cover this dress! amazing job!!! Love it.

  9. That is beyond amazing! Must pin.

  10. i LOVE this! i don’t know i if i’d have the patience to do it, nor the vision you do, but wow do i love it!

  11. Love love love!!! I think this may be my absolute face of all of your gorgeous creations. :-)

  12. Amazing…. gorgeous…. congratulations. This is unique. I’d call it couture.

  13. Holy cow!!!! What an absolutely stunning dress!!! I love, love, love it!!! Well done, Mena!

  14. My goodness Mena, this is my favourite thing that you’ve ever made! It’s too pretty! You must wear it, over and over x

  15. HOLY CRAP. That is the most amazing dress I have seen yet on the Sew Weekly site. I must do something similar…and shall give credit to your dress of course! WELL DONE MENA. You are an inspiration to us all. <3

  16. Oh wow, that’s absolutely gorgeous! Completely worth the hours spent on it, it’s stunning. I’ve been wanting to try fabric dyeing for a while and you’ve totally convinced me now :)

  17. it’s amazing! you have great patience! :)

  18. That’s just about the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen!

  19. This dress rocks, LOVE it!

    This is incredible! Excuse me while I pick my jaw off the floor! This is my favourite dress I’ve ever seen you in! xoxo Love it completely!

  21. Wow! Mega-gorgeous. What a brilliant idea!

  22. margueritedesigns

    It’s been said before but that is truly amazing! Especially considering the raw materials.

  23. Definitely worth the dying, untangling and sewing time. This is a very special dress and you should be so very proud of your work.

  24. Wow!!! How fab is this dress! Definitely worth the effort of dying and stitching. I’m so full of envy. Wish it was mine :)

  25. OOOOMMMMGGGG Meeennnaaa, When I opened this on my browser I let out a gasp! She is utterly amazing, by far the most fabulous dress I’ve seen you make yet. She is S T U N N I N G! Congrats to you and your fabulous vision and patience, well done.

  26. You look stunning! This is really what making your own stuff is all about – taking a great idea, and just do it! You´ve done a fabulous job, and I am in awe of your creativeness. So pretty! Well done! :-)

  27. This is one of the prettiest dresses I have EVER seen and the handiwork that’s gone into is incredible! You should be very proud of it, how gorgeous!!!

  28. This is absolutely adorable, great job!

  29. Wow.Beautiful…

  30. This is amazing! I’m in awe of your patience, and your creativity to come up with this plan in the first place. You have created something truely unique, and a stunning piece. Lovely!

  31. Wow, This is a beautiful dress, and beautifully designed. I love how you pretty much designed the ‘fabric’yourself (those pink stripes between the white on top are inspired)and the franken-pattern is inspired, en perfect for this dress. It’s just such a wonderful and original creation. I can totally see a little of betsey Johnson in it; It’s very feminine, but certainly has a little of a bit.

  32. Wow! Such a beautiful dress, and I admire your patience!! Gorgeous.

  33. Wow, this is so amazing! What a wonderful use of lace and dye.

  34. Stunning – simply stunning!

  35. I second what everyone else has just said – it is a truely stunning dress and I’m in awe of your creativity!!!!

  36. Amazing! I’d love to see the back of the dress.

  37. Oh my gosh that is the CUTEST dress!! It’s so fun and pretty. I bet you will get a million comments on it :-)

  38. Very beautiful and so inspiring, even more so than usual this week. Thank you!

  39. This dress looks drop dead gorgeous even on my tiny little iPhone screen in my dark bedroom. :). Now I have to get up and take a closer look on my computer so I can admire the details even mote closely. OH WAIT: you’ve gotta wear this for the meetup!!

  40. Any idea about how much lace you used? I am going to lurk on ebay to see if I can score some but would love to have an approximation of how much to get.

  41. This is lovely! Just out of interest, how many yards of eyelet did you end up using? I’ve wanted to make a dress like this ever since I saw this:
    She apparently used 188 feet!

  42. Really really beautiful amazing dress you can be very proud of!!!

  43. This is a fantastic dress. I’m so impressed. I think you are definitely “back” after your sewing funk, eh? :) I hope you don’t mind that most of us will probably copy this in some way, some day.

  44. FANTABULOUS! Love it, love it, love it. And you look marvelous in it! Thanks for the inspiration.


    I think this is my favorite of all the dresses you’ve posted. Wonderful.

  46. Lovely. Perhaps my favorite since I’ve been visiting this site.


    Oh Mena!!! This is so wonderful, and I can’t imagine the patience it took! Great job!!!

  48. This is stunning!!! I think I may have to have a go at this one day!

  49. This dress leaves me nearly speechless. Gorgeous! Beyond gorgeous. I NEED an eyelet dress now.

  50. Clarissa Henderson

    Wow! This dress is FABULOUS! You always amaze me with your skills.

  51. amaze balls! Really I don’t know if I’d have the patience. It is seriously gorgeous.

  52. This is truly beautiful. I know it had to be soooooo time consuming. I love it. and it looks fantastic on you. The flowers in the pictures are beautiful too.

  53. This is totally lovely! Such a stunning piece! You did a fantastic job on this Mena! I LOVE it, plus you look so positively peachy in it!

  54. Wow! I think this is my favorite creation of yours, Mena. The subtle variations in pink are lovely.

  55. This is just about the sweetest dress I have seen! It kind of reminds me of a strawberry milkshake!

  56. stunning! I’m practically drooling on my keyboard.

  57. So stunning! This is perhaps the most creative and wearable dress I’ve seen this year. You look lovely in it, Mena!

  58. This is absolutely adorable! I love, love, love it! I think I might have to dig into my grandma’s stash of notions now for something to dye!

  59. This is by far the best dress I’ve ever seen from you! Love the ombre, I’d never thought of doing that. It’s fantastic!

  60. Holy moly! This is amazing! I swear, you impress me more and more with each dress.

  61. Wow–this is beyond gorgeous. And you look so happy in it! Wish I had the patience to do something like this.

  62. Wow, this is such a beautiful dress! Well worth the effort :)

  63. Wow,wow, wow!

  64. Completely amazing! It’s so sweet and frilly. And your idea is so creative!

  65. This dress is fabulous! That first picture is a stunner. Congratulations, Mena! Bravo! I’ve been thinking about making an ombre dress this year, and you’ve just convinced me that I must. What a fabulous idea for a dress. I’m glad you saw it through to the successful end!

  66. This is absolutely beautiful, I mean…. wow.
    a m a z i n g job!

  67. Awww you look so pleased with yourself, and rightly so too, your dress is all kinds of gorgeous!!

  68. That is incredible – truly inspired!

  69. Wowza Mena! This dress is ABSOLUTELY STUNNING! This definitely wins the prize for the Sew Weekly dress of the year!!! I think you’ve also made the record for most comments in one day! Woot, woot!!!

  70. Oh my god, that is an absolutely stunning dress! I really wish I had any sort of sewing skills.

  71. That dress is amazing!! It was a great idea and you were pretty brave, stitching all that eyelet lace! Congrats, it looks gorgeous!

  72. Wow! I always love what you make but this is so absolutely over the top wonderful!

  73. Oh my gosh, that dress is AMAZING! I’m excited to try dyeing fabric now!

  74. Beautiful dress.

  75. Wow, your dedication is impressive! I LOVE it and I’d love to give something like this a go, beautiful!

  76. This is the best dress I have ever seen in my LIFE!

  77. WOW! This is incredible!!

  78. Absolutely LOVE this dress! I think it is the most beautiful dress I have seen you make. You look beautiful in it!

  79. You should be really really proud. An outstanding effort. Where did you find all that eyelet lace?

  80. I am just going to leave it at “WOW!”

  81. this is the greatest garment you’ve ever made… and I think I’m totally going to make one too! awesome!

  82. What a great dress! Truly an original. Would love to know more about stitching the lace to the fabric. Where did you start? Is it just one giant spiral? How did you connect separate pieces?

  83. This has to be the most amazing dress I’ve ever seen! Kudos Mena, I am so inspired!

  84. freaking over the moon out of this world unbelievably gorgeous. holy cow mena.

  85. This is gorgeous! I love it!

  86. Seriously amazing, I love everything about this.

  87. I am thoroughly impressed…I would have ‘changed’ my mind and simplified it part way through, when I realized the commitment. I am impressed that you didn’t! Beautiful!

  88. Mena this is AMAZING! Fantastic job.

  89. Wow that is simply stunning!

  90. Stunning and inspiring, it’s so feminine and beautiful. Great job!

  91. OMG!!!!!! could you and your dress look any more perfect! seriously! this is my favourite yet! this is one of those projects that could quickly become a monet somewhere after about the 20th row of lace! You have stuck it out so well and I am so impressed with the finish. well done.

  92. yay for 100 comments!!! I feel like balloons should drop down or something!

  93. That really is beautiful! Wonderful dress :)

  94. Ok, I know about a hundred people have already said this, but this dress is uh-mazing!! You really out did yourself this week Mena. I had a very fusterating weekend of sewing and was dreading going back to my machine tonight, thanks for a bit of inspiration to see what could be possible.

  95. That dress is like the holy grail of all dresses! I am in love. I can’t even imagine the amount of work.

  96. What a beautiful feat! No wonder you look so ecstatic =) Well done!!

  97. perfection! probably my favorite thing posted to the sew weekly this year!

  98. This is so beautiful! I’m completely in love with it :D Kinda want one for myself now :)

  99. Wow, it’s INCREDIBLE. You did a fantastic job, and it is beautiful – and you look beautiful wearing it! You can see how much you love it in your ear-to-ear smile!

  100. Absolute showstopper. Wow!!!

  101. It is maybe two years i regularly give a look at your website… i’m usually impressed with the job you do… but today i’m just amazed!!! Your dress is wonderful. In 2011 i think i haven’t touch a thread… 2012 has to be different! Thank you for your entusiasm. From Verona, Italy.

  102. Just divine!! So inspiring, has made me go out and take my sewing machine to be fixed :)

  103. Wow, Mena. This is my favorite dress that you’ve ever made. Love it!

  104. Wow this dress is amazing. It is my absolute favorite thing you’ve made. I LOVE it!

  105. I love love love love love love love love love love love love this dress!!! it looks so beautiful, and intricate. I love how you added the eyelet lace and dye’d is fuchsia and well everything about this dress is magnificent!! thank you for sharing this masterpiece with us all!

  106. Wow. That’s stunning. As is your patience!

  107. That is one truly amazing dress. I can’t even begin to think of all the work that went into it.

  108. This is so gorgeous! You’d never know it was just a spool of cheap cotton eyelet and an old sheet because it looks AMAZING. I’m really tempted to do a gradient-dyed dress myself, though I don’t know if I can handle sewing that much trim together. Totally impressed!

  109. Do it! A Christmas dress would be really neat with green and red variations!

  110. Thanks, Stephanie!

  111. Thanks, Katherine!

  112. Thanks, Alexandra!

  113. Thanks, Christine! I’ve already scrapped three Gatsby dresses so maybe I’ll just wear this one on Sunday. :)

  114. Thanks, Camelia! I’ve never liked ombre but I liked how it worked for this one.

  115. Thanks, Melissa! I’m so glad it has inspired you!

  116. Thanks, Jen! I’m usually not that patient so I’m glad I could push through!

  117. Thanks, Liz! Give it a try! You’ll be surprise how time flies. :)

  118. Thanks, Kat! I think it may be my favorite too!

  119. Thanks, Francesca!

  120. Thanks, Reana! I think it’s my favorite too! Everything after will pale in comparison. :)

  121. Thanks, Caroline! Do it! I’d love to see other takes on the dress!!

  122. Thanks, Gwen! I never had the urge to dye until we did this challenge. Now, I think I have another tool in my arsenal.

  123. Thanks, Veronica! I think it’s my favorite as well. We’ve certainly sewn enough dresses this year!

  124. Thanks, Diane! I love the fact that this dress basically was just a spool of eyelet. That’s what makes me the proudest. :)

  125. Thanks, Josephine! I’m proud I didn’t give up when I saw the mess of eyelet in my dryer. :)

  126. Thanks, Shelly! Give it a try and then you can have one too! :)

  127. Thanks, Kazz! I’m proud that it was gasp-worthy! :) This one is my fave too, I think.

  128. Thanks, Sølvi! Exactly! Being able to design all the aspects of it was so worth the effort!

  129. Thanks, Marie! I’m happy with how it turned out but even happier that I actually went through with making the thing!

  130. Thanks, Koko! I used 1950s prom dresses as an inspiration — we can always get great inspiration from the past!

  131. Thanks Rosesred! I’m glad you noticed the pink stripes. They’re very subtle but I think needed to break up the whiteness of the bodice.

  132. Thanks, Esz! Yes, this dress definitely set the comment record. :)

  133. Thanks, Vicki! It’s very tempting to wear this to the meetup but I’m going to have to make ANOTHER dress for that challenge. :)

  134. I don’t know for sure since I really didn’t keep track. I do know that the bottom row of the skirt is about 4 yards of lace and the top row of the skirt is about 1 1/2 yards. I would say the skirt alone is between 75-100 yards of eyelet. The top is probably, 10-15 yards? So, the whole thing is probably about 115 yards.

  135. Thanks, Katie! I estimate about 115 yards, give or take some. I hadn’t seen that link! Thanks for posting it!

  136. Thanks, Fabricaddict!

  137. Thanks, Erin! Yes, copy away!!!

  138. This literally took my breath away. It is positively STUNNING!!! Definitely my favorite dress you’ve posted – you look fantastic!

  139. This dress blew my mind. I actually thought about it before I went to sleep. It is the prettiest loveliest thing.
    Thank you so much for the inspiration and just delight of it all!

  140. The back is so cute! I love it all!

  141. Where did you get all that lace?

  142. Wow! I love it!

  143. Gorgeous, truly gorgeous!

  144. Amazing! I would wear it everyday

  145. That is really creative! and beautiful of course :) makes me wanna think outside of the box a little more when it comes to sewing :)

  146. That is phenomenol!!! WOW!!! I want to make one.

  147. This is absolutely amazing!

  148. I have a question. How many yards of eyelet did you use to make the dress? Did you use all 300? It is stunningly beautiful!!

  149. Amazing dress! This is inspiring me to turn part of my laundry day today into a dying day as well. I have some Kelly green liquid dye that I have been meaning to use. This is inspiring me to dye some lace as well. Thanks for the incredible inspiration!

  150. That is a work of ART. Just beautiful! (and now I’m thinking, why aren’t *I* doing something creative like that???)

  151. This is my first time commenting, but I had to tell you that dress is beautiful! Well done!

  152. i like, never want you to take this post down. ever.

  153. of all the dresses you’ve shared with us…i think this has to be at the top of “Mena’s Greatest Hits!” you are amazing. just sayin’

  154. Amazing!!! A credit to your Zen-iss.

  155. that is absolutely gorgeous, love how you dyed the eyelet in varying shades of pink!

  156. I wanted to make a dress like this one and i was wondering how wide your trim was?

  157. You are super amazing- this dress is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen! I have dreams of making a dress like this someday. It’s just perfect- you’re an inspiration!

  158. Wow, that is the most amazing thing I have EVER seen!

  159. Oh my goodness. I just can’t get over the loveliness of this dress. It is so beautiful!! You must be so proud to have completed this awesome project!!

  160. I cannot stop looking at this dress. STUNNING!! You should be proud, wow!

  161. OH MY WORD!!!!! I’ll pay you to make me one just like this!!!!!! I am drooling this dress is SOOOO gorgeous!!!!