Hot! The “I Did It” Dress

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image from pk.b5z.netThe Facts

Fabric: Black lace and stretch velveteen, $35 from Jo-Ann’s
Pattern: Butterick 5209, $1.99
Year: 1947
Notions: none
Time to complete: 7 hours
First worn: To be worn on New Year’s Eve
Wear again? yes

Total Cost: ~$37

There are so many things about this week’s dress that are representative of my past twelve months of sewing. First, it was the third attempt at a dress for the week’s challenge. The first dress only got so far as a very well-constructed bodice. Based on a 1940s pattern, it we made from a floral taffeta which, paired with the pattern, looked too mother-of-the-bride for my tastes. I decided to take that same pattern and buy some black velveteen/black lace and make it look a bit more “youthful.” Well, as youthfull a sixty-five year-old pattern can look. The velveteen, lace and flesh-colored spandex didn’t want to cooperate with me so I gave up, completely defeated. That’s when I decided to move onto a different pattern and try to make use of what fabric I had left.

I’d love to say that after my initial struggles, Butterick 5209 was a breeze to complete. It may be an easy pattern when working with a bit crisper fabric. But, working with the stretchy velveteen just proved to be quite a pain. After a very messy bodice was near completion, I tossed it down and walked away. I wasn’t happy with it at all and was terribly disappointed that I had wasted $35 on the fabric.

But walking away from a difficult project wouldn’t be the spirit of The Sew Weekly! So I decided to try to make the mess work and just finish the thing. Since I planned to wear it on New Year’s, I figured it will be dark enough (and people will be inebriated enough) for its flaws to be hidden. I finished it at 2am on the 24th and was able to go to bed pleased with persevering.

That said, after a night’s sleep the flaws didn’t even seem that bad anymore.

So here’s a dress that was almost headed for the trash — a dress that I can say turned out quite nice. Yes, it’s a bit of a train wreck on the inside (who isn’t?), but on the outside, it’s quite celebratory and fun.

And yes, there’s quite a lot to celebrate: with this dress, my fifty-two weeks of The Sew Weekly 2011 are complete! I’ll be writing up a wrap-up post later this week, but I just have to say it’s feels pretty good to close the book on this year.

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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. Gorgeous! I especially love the back of the dress. Congratulations on 52 weeks! That’s pretty amazing!

  2. I bought just this pattern 3 days ago. I was thinking of making it in sateen, although I had spotted some handsome velvet. Perhaps I will save that for another time!

  3. Wow that’s so pretty! How perfect for New Years. :)

  4. WOW! Great dress to end 2011 with and to bring in 2012 – enjoy your new year’s eve – you deserve it!

  5. Really positive way to end the year – thank you so much. The black lace looks fabulous against the velvet. I like that you were able to see it with fresh eyes on the next day. Many Cheers, Jen.

  6. Spectacular end to 52 weeks of terrific sewing! Thank you for sharing the journey with us … This dress is lovely on you. Well done!

  7. gorgeous!

  8. I absolutely love this dress Mena, it’s definitely one of my favourite makes of yours this year! What a way to end the 2011 challenge!

  9. Mena ,
    The end result is beautiful.. So sorry it gave you such a head time..and so proud you finished it and Loved it in the end..
    I love the black lace with the velvet. so pretty..
    Congradulations to you and the other 4 girls for your weekly contributions..I know ,this has to be very difficult.
    God bless you and your family during this holiday season.

  10. WOW! Absolutely gorgeous (you and the dress)! Congratulations on all of your accomplishments, this year!

  11. Gorgeous dress! It’s amazing how much things look better after a little bit of sleep. :)

  12. it’s a total stunner. congrats on finishing it AND finishng another year! i love the way you used the different types of fabric to create something utterly unique.

  13. Just Lovely!!! Congrats on your year of sewing, it has been fun to follow along with your sewing adventures!!!!!!!

  14. love the addition of the black lace, looks STUNNING!!

  15. This is such a beautiful dress and the lace is amazing!

  16. the lace is amazing and you are being way too harsh on yourself- it looks lovely

  17. So beautiful Mena! What a wonderful way to close out the year!!

  18. You did an excellent job with the Simplicity pattern 5209. I’ve made that dress and shared it here on The Sew Weekly. It is a very cute pattern and looked easy, but the underside of bodice was very challenging. I can completely relate to the struggles you went through and I admire your end result. Your fabric choice and fit are fabulous. As always you look absolutely beautiful in you pictures. Thanks for hosting such an inspirational site. I’m looking forward to 2012 along with all the other creative members who love to sew. Happy New Year!

  19. Just beautiful, Mena!

  20. I’d totally wear this dress! Great job, btw.

  21. Wow, that is stunning, you look gorgeous, that is so flattering – black looks amazing on you. I have that pattern in my stash – love the lace section – it highlights the beautiful cut. Thanks for everything this year!

  22. That looks awesome! I love how the back looks.

  23. This is gorgeous! I have this pattern and have been waiting for fabric for it but never would have thought of the combination you used. Love it!

  24. Mena, you are brave. Congratulations on the nice dress! Stretch velvet is a beast to work with. The last time I worked with stretch velvet, the hand basting and cursing required to control the fabric proved to be a bit much.

  25. This is lovely! You will turns heads for sure.
    Thanks for showing us.

  26. Wow, this dress is incredible! The back is my absolute favourite, but the whole dress together is just fabulous.

  27. Holy crap. This is amazing. You look just stunning and congratulations on a terrific year! You are a constant inspiration to me. Happy New Year, see you in 2012!

  28. Wow, what a gorgeous dress! I especially love the way you used the lace. You outdid yourself for this last week of 2011, thank you for all your efforts and inspiration.

  29. Stunning. Hopefully in 2012, I’ll be able to make a contribution or two.

  30. I love, love the lace at the back! I’d love to do that with the Colette Macaron someday. Thanks for an amazing year. The Sew Weekly is my favorite sewing community by far!

  31. Clarissa Henderson

    Very beautiful!

  32. I. LOVE. This DRESS! Fantastic make and so perfect for New Year’s Eve!! I hope you have a fabulous time and drink a little extra champagne for me ;)

  33. P.S. your hair is fabulous!!!