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Designing a Dress

When Tracey first messaged me in September, all she knew was that she wanted a Steam Punk dress. So I sent her a picture of a skirt that I had worn as Ma Adams. She liked the ruffles in the design but wanted the front shorter than the back. I suggested a split and sent her a design rendering by AJ.

Steampunk Skirt Concept

Tracey loved the design and said yes to the dress. So I asked for her measurements: Waist, hips, waist to knees, and waist to floor. And then I waited, and waited, and waited some more. Finally, I asked her if she no longer wanted the skirt? Tracey assured me that she did. So I waited. Well, Halloween was fast approaching and she wanted it to wear for a party – so I got the measurements that I needed. But first I made a mock up of the dress for Elsa, yes I have a Frozen doll! I think it turned out fantastic. But I also found that it really needed a necklace to give it some pop. So while constructing the skirt, I was thinking about accessories.

Constructing it: Tricks of the trade. It was a costume so Tracey didn’t want to spend a year’s salary on it, so how to make it nice????

Taffeta: There are times when I can find taffeta on sale for a really great price but it is hard to work with because it likes to fray. A serger really comes in handy! After cutting the width of the material to 1.5 times her waist and the length from waist to floor; I cut the rest of the fabric into 6-inch strips, folded them in half (wrong sides together) and ran them through the serger. (The length of a ruffle is twice the width of the fabric so I know how much I needed to piece together.) Thankfully, I own a ruffle maker that evenly makes the ruffles for me. It is possible to make the ruffles on your own just YouTube the instructions. After hemming the bottom and sewing the front seam from the knee up, I was ready to begin my ruffles.

Lace: Having rows upon rows of ruffles would have looked spectacular but it would have been very heavy. So I decided to place rows of lace between the rows of ruffles. Lace on spools cost a lot of money for how many yards I would have needed. There were 6 rows of ruffles and 5 rows of lace. Instead, I bought laced material and cut it apart. Little more work but certainly more cost effective. It also lightened the skirt up quit a bit.

Elastic: The easiest way to finish off the skirt is with an elastic waistband. I used 2-inch black elastic for comfort. I also make it about 2 inches shorter than it should be. Why? The skirt was so heavy that it would have stretch the elastic. In fact, had to tighten the elastic more after Tracey tried on the skirt, which made her feel very good!

Remember that accessory? Well, I found it at Tampa Bay MegaCon! I messaged Tracey a

pictures of two necklaces and she pick the one I would have chosen. So I was happy to pick it up for her to make the outfit complete. She is very happy with the look and more importantly, has commissioned other pieces from me.

Remember when designing:

Always think of it as designing it for yourself. You would want it to be perfect and so does your client.

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