I have been planning to make myself a Christmas dress for years, ever since learning to sew, but somehow I never got around to finding just the right pattern for it. Last Christmas I finally made it. And I must say, I’m in love with it. This is a very simple dress style, but it is elegant, and the sleeveless bodice is just what I needed during the hot days that, strangely for me, Christmas happens to fall in.
The pattern I used is the free knit dress pattern from The Littlest Studio. This was one of many free patterns that I found years ago and downloaded, intending to do something or other with it later. It sat in my patterns folder for several years until last month when I was organizing my files and came across it again. When I saw it again I decided right away to make myself a black dress out of ponte di roma. Then it suddenly occurred to me that this pattern would be perfect done in red velvet! A quick and simple Christmas dress that I could get done in less than a week. Well, it didn’t quite turn out that way… but I did finally finish it before the end of the Christmas season.
My measurements matched the smallest size of the pattern, however, probably because I’m a bit busty, I ended up with a gaping armscye. I had to put in a tiny dart to fix that.
The little strips of elastic sewn to the shoulder seams and side seams are ingenious. They give them a lot of stability that they wouldn’t otherwise have. I’m going to remember that trick for when I sew other stretchy garments, especially with heavy skirts.
I love the full circle skirt and I appreciate that it’s a single piece with no side seams to sew. The circle skirt template makes calculating and cutting super easy. Since it is so full, it is very heavy, though, and that caused me some trouble with the bodice. First, the waist seam ended up pretty low. I sewed another seam 3/4″ from the first seam, which both raised the waist and took some out of the skirt as well. It also made the waist looser, unfortunately.
The heaviness of the skirt was pulling down and distorting the shape of the bodice in front. Instead of the same thin elastic I used for the other seams, I used a wider elastic sewn to the waist seam allowance to better support the skirt. I had to take out and redo that stitching several times because the skirt was still weighing down the bodice. I pulled the elastic while sewing to reduce the waist measurement, and after several tries I got it tight enough where it would support the skirt. In the end it was several inches smaller than my waist.
Since the fur trim on the collar is not stretchy, I put an invisible zipper in the back. I added an extra 1/2″ to the center seam to allow for it. I dislike putting in invisible zippers because of the work involved, but they do turn out so beautifully! Hence I will continue to do so for all my dresses that need one. It is definitely a rewarding task.
The most time-consuming part of this project was preparing the fur trim. First I had to carefully cut pieces to match the neckline. Then I had to shave the fur at the edges to reduce bulk in the seam allowance. I also had to shave the seam allowance on both edges of about 2 1/2 yards of trim for the hem.
Afterwards I thought that maybe I should have made the neckline trim wider. I can’t help thinking it sort of resembles a feather boa more than fur. Oh, well. Maybe it’s something that I will change in the future.
I hope the pictures allow you to appreciate the luxuriousness of the red velvet. It was extremely important to me to use real velvet for a Christmas dress instead of sateen or synthetic velvet as I have seen on some Santa outfits in stores. It is really the perfect look coupled with fur trim. I also just love velvet, and I’m planning a few more garments made with it.
As I said before, I love the full circle skirt and the way it flares. Twirling it is so much fun! Be careful, though, or it will flare out a bit too much!
I think I might have to adjust the pattern a bit more to better fit me, but overall it is very nice and the fit is good, and it is a quick and easy project. There are a few more outfits I have planned using this pattern that I’ll be working on in the near future.
I hope you enjoyed seeing what I created with this and maybe got some inspiration. Come back later to see the new things I make with this pattern and others. Until next time!