Vogue 8723 and a journey to a graduation dress

So the kid is about to finish primary school and, as it goes, those years have flown by with breathtaking speed. A couple of months ago, I put in an oh-so casual query as to whether or not she’d like me to make her a dress for the school graduation. You know, like, #likenobigdeal but hey, if you like I can make you something to wear…? The initial response was a polite thanks-but-no-thanks.

And then we went shopping. This could be the perfect segue for an angry rant on some of the crazy inappropriate tween clothing out there but, I figure if they’re selling that stuff, there must be a market for it. But it’s not my market, I can’t go there and my kid can’t either. And on the plus side, guess who then realised that maybe mum sewing her a dress wasn’t such a bad idea after all…?

She was armed with a rough idea of what she wanted based on a dress she wore to a formal event a few years back. The design brief was pretty simple – white, fitted bodice, full skirt and just above the knee. Oh, and preferably a square neckline. I showed her this dress and the accompanying pattern – Vogue 8723 – and she tried mine on. Even though it swam on her, I was able to do enough pinning and bulldog clipping to give her a clearer idea of what it would look like and got the two thumbs up to proceed *silent fist pump*.  I brought home a couple of fabric samples and she eventually settled on this gorgeous cotton broderie anglaise, Zenith White.  Keeping with the circular theme, I chose an embroidered cotton spot for the lining, Little Swiss Dot (available all stores).

I started out by making a calico because nailing this dress is all about nailing the bodice. Being an adult pattern, the smallest size and cup was still too big for her. Fortunately, all the adjustments were fairly straightforward and to get the fit, I only had to remove some of the bodice length (across the bust), double the side seam allowances and shorten the bodice length. I also dropped the neckline a couple of centimetres. For the straps, I used a white grosgrain ribbon and chose a slighter narrower width to accomodate her smaller shoulders.

There’s a healthy amount of gathering in this dress and because I didn’t want it to be too bulky with all that embroidery, I used the wide selvedge for gathering.
I also gathered the skirt lining but reduced the pattern piece width by about a quarter, again to eliminate bulk around the waistline. Oh, and I removed the pockets too.
As a finishing touch, I embroidered a small something into the lining. It started with just a small heart and I then decided to add the 2-1-6 so that we never forget what this dress was about and the occasion it was made for. But I’m pretty sure we never would anyway…
Did she like it? She loved it. So much so that she even said I could make her Year 12 graduation dress. OK, but slow down kid. And thanks for asking xx