The ‘Royal Engagement’ Dress


The Facts

Fabric:  Viscose jersey
Pattern: McCalls 5752 Palmer Pletsch Fitted Dress
Year: 2011
Notions: None!
Time to complete: About 5 hours (Most of this was spent dyeing the fabric and cutting out)
First worn: January 2012
Wear again? Definitely!
Total price: (Dye – £12 and Material £12) £24

Like most of the world I fell in love with The Royal Engagement dress. Unlike the Royals I did not have a spare £550 in my back pocket to buy the genuine silk jersey dress. This look prompted a slew of copycats – both in the shops, by the pattern companies, by lots of home seamstresses and now me!

(Photo from New York Times/Net-a-Porter)

Luckily I happened across some viscose jersey in my local fabric shop nearly a year ago. It was a funny pale blue colour but had a lovely sheen, so reminiscent of the original Issa dress that I knew immediately this would be perfect. As it was viscose I knew it would dye fairly well, except that when I first tried it didn’t! So, I popped it back into my fabric stash and promptly forgot about it, another item on my never ending ‘to do’ list. So when this challenge came up, I knew I had to make it once and for all. This time though, I used a different dye (Procion MX) and the finished colour came out perfectly.

Which is when I discovered I had bought too little fabric… (Feel free to add multiple swearwords at this point!) Stubborn girl that I am, I refused to admit defeat. I took a little off at the sides of the skirt and did not lengthen the pattern pieces, which I would normally alter. The only downside is that I couldn’t make the tie as I just didn’t have any fabric left and I suppose the sleeves are a bit shorter. However, I love the end result and it does look pretty similar to the original if I do say so myself!

Apologies for the terrible photos – as luck would have it (or not), I had this dress finished on Friday, went away for the weekend but forgot to take the dress with me to take pictures, so when I came home the only time I could take a picture was before work this morning when it was still fairly dark AND chucking it down with rain outside!


Handmade By Freya

Freya caught the sewing bug a couple of years ago and is now pattern and fabric obsessed! She desperately needs to commit to making things weekly as her fabric stash is out of control.


Comments are closed.

  1. This dress is on my list to recreate! I just learned to use my serger, so someday I will give it a go with the same color fabric; I bought Simplicity 2145 to make it. :)

  2. This is a great effort :D And nice work on the fabric dye job!

  3. Ah great idea for inspiration, I also love that dress and yours looks great.

  4. I bought Simplicity 2145 to make a version as well! I think we all realized that this is the kind of dress that flatters many figures, but who has £550 to spare?

    Even though you don’t like the photo, the dress looks great! ;)

  5. Thanks everyone! I really appreciate the comments!

  6. You’ve made some very good modifications to get the look you wanted with what you had. Perfectly lovely dress.