The Aspen Dress

I wrote this whole post before I even wore the dress to the event, and was just waiting to plug some final product pictures into and post it up. I didn’t manage to get any good pictures at the gala itself.  I decided to just take some pictures when I got home, but then well….things got complicated. I talked to my mom a lot about this dress- asking her advice on the construction and sending her a lot of work-in-progress photos.  One of the last thing we talked about was how much she wanted to see the finished product.  I’m so sad she never got to see it.  Anyway, here is this long, long overdue post. 


Back in October I wrote this post asking you all what kind of dress I should make to wear to a formal work event in December. Well, I finished it in the nick of time- literally hand stitching the lining in on the bus ride to Aspen.  Based on the comments you all left on that post, I decided to do a hybrid dress- the bodice is this Burda strapless bombshell dress, and the skirt is the By Hand London Elisalex.


I bought Gerties craftsy class Sew Retro Perfect Bombshell Dress to construct the bodice, and I am so glad that I did because this thing was really fucking complicated! The bodice is fully lined and underlined, there’s a couple of yards of boning in it for support, and the cups have an extra little layer of batting in them for  more shaping and support. I was very very grateful for Gerties extremely detailed coverage of how to construct the cups because they were a doozy. Thanks to the class, though I can report that I did minimal unpicking here- I only sewed the pieces together upside down on one cup. After stitching a muslin, the lining, and the fashion fabric I now feel quite confident in my ability to knock them together with ease.


 I think I’ll definitely buy another Craftsy class. It was really nice going at my own pace and being able to rewatch the videos as much as I wanted. My favorite part of the class was  when Gertie, about to demonstrate yet another section of hand stitching says “now, this may seem a bit fussy. Well, this whole thing may seem a bit fussy to you.” Uh, yeah. I did cut some corners in the construction in the end, mostly for the sake of expediency.I had no time to order spiral steel boning from the internet and then spend time cutting it, so I bought rigilene and macine stitched it straight into the lining. That was a real snap and has the added benefit of making the dress washable, since the steel runs he risk of rusting if you wash it.

I also did not hand stitch the lining all the way around. I machine stitched it at the top and then understitched the lining instead. and frankly….I think it looks better this way than if I’d hand stitched it anyway.

The elisalex skirt was the easiest part. I made it in just a couple hours, including the time it took to adjust the box pleats to line up with the bodice seams. The end result fits well, and I’m really happy with it.

Here’s a recap of the process:


The lining- I used a beautiful cotton print called “Gatsby”


Endless hand basting of the lining to the underling


The bodice coming together. I used a turquoise polyester taffeta for this. I was on the lookout for silk, but thrift won out in the end. This shot is from the road- I did LOTS of hand stitching during 20 hours of thanksgiving travel time


An internal shot- here you can see the batting that goes  into the cups to give them a bit more shape.


this is the only good picture I have from the actual event.


That’s all folks.  Now I’m off to sew something really, really easy…

12 thoughts on “The Aspen Dress”

  1. Bautiful…nice work and it looks really good on you. I recently got a couple big pieces of masonite so I can lay them on my bed and use it as a cutting table and to lay things out…as you know our table is teeny. I have been really wanting to sew lately, it’s been way too long. I get a crazy sense of satisfaction from sewing complicated things, I made a fitted corduroy dress once with a shirt collar and darts and pockets and cuffs and a million buttons and it look forever but it’s one of the best things I ever made. I’m going to make three skirts (one purple corduroy and two different lined fancy skirts for work or other “nice” things) and maybe some purple denim jeans next. :)

  2. Yowza! The dress turned out beautifully, fantastic color and what amazing sewing skills. Fussy is a bit of an understatement. How high are those heels? Your Mom had sent me a pic of it in progress. Love you.

  3. You and the dress are gorgeous! I love the backdrop of the wooden doors in your house. I agree with Emma – you should become a designer/model!!
    Your mamma would be so proud!

    1. Thanks! It’s a polyester taffeta. I really wanted to use silk, but I couldn’t find anything in my budget so I went with the poly and I’m still quite pleased with it.

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