Makes,  Tutorials

Back with a bang: How I made a sparkly evening gown in two days

Hello there, remember me? It’s been a while. This year was a bit of a whirwind. I was working hard to finish my PhD thesis (which I handed in in October, yay!, although the viva won’t be until the end of February) on the top of my regular job, and then I took some time off to go on an adventure to Australia. I came back early December, three days before my work Christmas party. Of course, I needed a new dress!

I had the fabric ready, but I only had one eveing and the next day to make it. I had an idea of what I wanted and I really did not make it easy for myself, as I had to essentially draft the skirt. I won’t lie, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to pull it off with so little time and being jet lagged and all that… But miraculously I managed to finish it and I am absolutely chuffed with how it turned out!

For the bodice, I chose to use my tried and true Burdastyle 04/2020 dress bodice, which I’ve tweaked to perfection by now (I’ve written about it for example in this post). For this version, I’ve just lowered the neckline a few centimeters both in the front and back. I made thicker straps and then hand-sewn big bows on top of them. I lined it in the same fabric, which is a rayon/polyester blend crepe with a tiny bit of stretch and sparkle.

Drafting the skirt

For the skirt, I took inspiration from an RTW dress I tried on in Australia. I really liked it, but it was too big on top and as much as I loved the sequins, it made the dress too heavy, plus it kept snagging on everything… But I loved the shape of the skirt, with the fitted silhouette, the faux wrap with the rounded edges and the pleats hiding some imperfections. Here’s what I did to achieve something similar.

1. Tracing your basic pattern

I traced a basic straight skirt block with darts. For the back piece, the usual half on fold is fine, but for the front you need the whole thing as the finished pieces will be asymetric.

2. Determining the shape of the side seams

I started with the back piece, which I just extended down to floor length and flared out the sides a bit. I then extended the side edges of the front piece to mirror the back so that the seams would match.

3. The wrap & underskirt

On the front piece, I marked where I wanted the wrap to meet and then freehanded the shape of the curved skirt hem on both sides of the wrap. That’s all that was needed for the underskirt (the skirt piece under the wrap).

4. Creating the pleats

I then traced the front skirt again, following the hem for the top skirt and marked where I wanted the pleats. I cut the pleat lines open, leaving a little hinge. I also cut the darts open and closed them, transferring the volume into the newly created pleats, which I spread as desired. If you need a bit more help, here is a video tutorial for something similar which I found quite useful. Here’s the finished pattern piece.

Putting it together was easy after that. I just folded the pleats, tacked them in place, then tacked the underskirt and top skirt together at the side seams and the waist seam, and then continued as you would with any other skirt of a dress.

After wearing mostly travel/casual/outdoor clothes for the last ten weeks, I felt a million dollars putting this dress on. Shame I don’t often have occassions to wear floor-length evening gowns to, I really enjoyed it!

Till next time,


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