You just don’t know where inspiration will hit you. I was walking past Laura Ashley – a shop from which I’ve never bought anything – when in the window I saw a dress very much like the one I made a year ago, lying crushed at the bottom of the mend pile.
The Laura Ashley velvet dress (reduced to £84) is dark blue with beads on the front arranged like flowers. A band of sheer (not that it shows here) fabric at the hem, double-sided, is a great solution if the dress you make is a bit short, though you may need to hunt around for the perfect match. When I unpicked the hem that I’d hand sewn quite messily, I found enough length not to bother with a sheer panel. Instead, I did as suggested in the original Blue Velvet post and used a bias strip of organza to hem the dress which required only 1cm off the dress’ length (the strip is turned under and catch-stitched).
I took me a couple of hours to add the beads, and that’s including a bit of practice on some scraps. But my bead placement is different from the inspiration. I put the dress on and looking in the mirror decided where to place the flowers, avoiding, ahem, ‘areas of controversy.’
Another improvement came via Kate who suggested not to molly-coddle the velvet but to allow it to age – and go boho. I washed the dress and thinking ‘what have I got to lose?’ tumble dried it. This fluffed up the nap and as a side-effect, the blue colour has deepened, i.e. not being as flat, it’s not as silvery and reflective. Having said that, it’s all quite subtle and this is a difficult fabric to photograph!
But the best decision was to ditch the collar. Initially, I’d fixated on the idea of making a velvet dress with a lace collar and, having got what I wanted, couldn’t admit it wasn’t working. I’m sure you know the feeling, be it with dresses or relationships! It made me feel prissy. And also a little bit like a Jacobean gentleman 😯 I could always see the collar ‘in me peripherals’ and it was giving me bad vibes.
But the collar is saved and will look nice on a T-shirty blouse, some day.
Dark blue Organza: from Unique Fabrics, Goldhawk Road (which is where the original velvet was from). I only bought 0.25m, as you can guess from the seam in the bias strip!
Dark blue beads from Beadworks, Covent Garden.