Little White Laurel

Posted by Kristin on Sunday, February 16, 2014.

I'm a sucker for contests. I especially love to enter sewing contests. Granted, I've never won, but I just keep entering! And because I am such a procrastinator, I typically don't get my entry in until the last 30 minutes. This contest was no different...

This contest was the "Little White Dress" on The rules stipulated an all white (or off-white dress) styled for both day and night. Other colors could be used in the accessories, but not the fabric. I signed up at the end of January, bought my fabric at the beginning of February, and didn't start sewing until the day before the contest ended.

This time I had a reason for procrastinating...I was scared. I've managed to screw up my last three projects and this one required a large dose of creativity, not just following a pattern. I was afraid I'd have a mess of white fabric that would go back into a storage box.

My inspiration dress was an Anna Sui lace dress that retails for around $400 (and doesn't come in my size - surprise!).

From Atlantic-Pacific
From Atlantic Pacific
The silhouette of this dress immediately reminded me of the Colette Laurel, a simple shift dress that is super easy to whip up.

Colette Laurel
I had already made one Laurel, and I knew that it fit well and I had already made any pattern adjustments.

Remember me?
Since I had never worked with eyelet, or lace, or piecing with different fabrics, this project required a lot of thought. Lots and lots of thought. Two weeks worth to be exact. Or two weeks of paralyzing fear that I would screw it up.

From the original pattern, I took out the back zip since my first Laurel slips right over my head without unzipping. I adjusted my back pattern piece to be cut on the fold so it would be one piece, not two. I needed to eliminate the back center seam since I had chucked the zipper. Next, I cut each pattern piece into three horizontal blocks and added in seam allowances. I have to admit that I was quite shocked that my horizontal seams from the front and the back matched up perfectly. Granted, I had measured and was very precise in my new pattern pieces, but I'm always shocked when I do something right!

Once I had my front and back pieced together with the three different blocks of eyelet, I hand basted them to the solid cotton underlining.  The underlining not only covered up see through holes in the eyelet and lace, but it also stabilized my pieces so that I could work with them.  I debated between lining (where the eyelet and lining would hang separately from each other) and underlining (where the lining and outer fabric are stitched together and used as one piece of fabric). I wanted to just line it so I could have the lining shorter and the bottom layer of lace would be a little sheer.  But I really needed to stabilize the fabrics, the daisy lace tore extremely easily and was difficult to work with on its own.

The next step was to sew my darts and then I could hand stitch the eyelet trim over the seams between the lace and eyelet blocks. I was originally following the original inspiration dress but I realized that the trim was not only pretty, but it also covered my seam allowances where I pieced the fabrics together. The eyelet trim was only stitched to the outer layer, I didn't go through to the underlining because I didn't want the stitching to show on the inside.

Just look at that! I have never, and I mean never, been able to match seams up at the side. And I managed to match up the eyelet trim in four spots - perfectly! I'm not bragging, I'm just surprised at myself!

I left the sleeves sheer. That was fun. Not really. I opted not to do the ruffle at the bottom of the sleeve like the inspiration dress because I wear a jacket or sweater over EVERYTHING. Even in summer. I didn't want the pretty ruffle to end up all bunchy in a jacket sleeve. I did a french seam in the sleeves to give the seams a finished look since they are so sheer.  I also had to hand stitch my seam allowances to the underlining so they stayed inside the dress instead of poking out and waving to the world through the sleeve.

Here are my finished dress pics!  I had hoped to have someone else take pretty pics of me outside but 1. I procrastinated and there wasn't anyone available at 11 pm, 2. We got 21 inches of snow the other day, and 3. It's cold.  So you get my usual sloppy indoor shots.  But you also get a bonus pic of Max snoozing behind me because he was ready for bed.

 I had lost my sewing mojo there for a while and I felt like everything I tried didn't quite work. My New Year's Eve tulle skirt was just a big fat NO, my Lola sweatshirt dress doesn't fit right, and my Schoolhouse Tunic that I just finished will never see the light of day again.  I was actually close to quitting there for a while (I also tend to be overly dramatic). But this dress makes me feel like I can do stuff worth wearing again. I'm proud of the fact that I was able to customize the original Laurel pattern in order to create this on my own with no instructions. Still not bragging, but instead looking back to see how far my sewing skills have grown since I made my first garment a year ago.

I still don't think I will win the contest, there are 40 other fabulous entries. That's ok, I'm just happy I had something worth entering.  On to my next project...A DOCTOR WHO SKIRT!!! (or a purple coat for spring that was supposed to be done for this past fall)

Totally Geek-tastic fabric on Spoonflower

3 Responses to Little White Laurel

  1. niema

    It's beautiful! You did a fabulous job"

  2. niema

    Very beautiful! You did a fabulous job!

  3. Kristin

    Thank you! I'm actually quite happy with it (which doesn't happen often)....

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