My Wedding Guest Dress Dilemma!

So - there are a few things that have been at the top of my list to share with you, and I really wanted to this, early on in 2016 - you know, to start the New Year with a clean slate... Yes, we're nearly in February, let's overlook that for a minute! ;)

I'm going to start with the evening dress, that I shared a snap shot of with you, back in November... and this Bruno Mars song is the blogpost soundtrack for today; it's one of my favourite releases from the whole of last year, and hopefully the way I'll be going into 2016, in a funky way..!
So! When I found out I would be going to a wedding in Hong Kong, I knew I wanted to make something special. There were to be two ceremonies, the daytime outdoor event - and the evening dinner. I put some effort into finding out what I could and couldn't wear...
Starting with no red, as that's the traditional colour a Chinese bride wears, no white - as that can be associated with death - and although black seemed acceptable, I couldn't bring myself to wear it, following a lifetime of avoiding it to weddings in the UK... SO! I knew the evening do would be black tie, which gave me full rein to make something glam. This was the pattern I chose;

My first thought was to make the full length version, in midnight blue sequins. And (you'll never believe this, I still can't get my head around it) a last minute email to the groom, asking if he - or his wife to be - had any advice regarding dress code, turned out to save the day. He replied to let me know that Ivy (the gorgeous bride) would be wearing floor length dark blue sequins for the evening do. I mean... what??!! Thank God I asked!! What a faux pas that would've been... Even if no-one had noticed me, I would have been very embarrassed. So I'm pleased I asked before buying the fabric!!
I headed onto the fabric-shopping-mecca-that-is Goldhawk Road and set my mind on buying some velour in blue, or dark red...

The thing I always find with shopping on Goldhawk Road, is that PATIENCE IS KEY. If you buy the first thing you find, you'll be disappointed, especially if you continue walking from shop to shop... that is, of-course, easier said than done - but I did it! In one of the first shops, one of the salesmen shouted after me "You'll be back, you won't find this quality anywhere else, for a better price!". Suffice to say, I DID find better somewhere else, in the LAST shop I went in. Beautiful drape, and even colour - which, when you're buying velvet or velour is a major point - get them to unroll the fabric, otherwise you may well find a strange 'stain' in the pile. I saw it a few times - admittedly on the cheaper rolls... Anyway, that's my advice!

In fact, while we're on the subject of advice, I should tell you about my mistake, that was ALMOST the end of this dress... I didn't factor in the *nap. "What's that?" I hear you say - oh, only the bit that I always ignore, because it doesn't apply to me, or rather, the fabric I'm using. Except it DID THIS TIME!  In short, if you're using velvet, or any fabric with a pile, that feels different when you stroke it in one direction, to the other, then that's the nap. And that means you can't always be as clever with your pattern pieces... (*it can also refer to the pattern on the fabric, like having to match up stripes, for example).

As I was using velour, I wanted the pile to run downwards, but it was only when I started to cut the skirt length, that I realised my four metres wouldn't be enough.. Now, I don't know what you'd do in this situation... I decided to half the backside of the skirt, to make a two-panelled back piece, and then attach it to the (one-piece) train. I really wasn't sure if it would work (and, had the pattern been any more complicated than it was to piece together, it could have thrown me) - but it did seem to work. Or at least, no-one at the wedding said "what on earth is going on with the back panel of your full length skirt..?" - so I'll take that as a win. I did think, however, that I was lucky on this occasion - any pattern on the fabric would have made that technique impossible. Here's a pic so you can see what I mean!

I could also go into great detail about the hem - which the pattern advises to stick up with hem tape. Which I did. And I shouldn't have. I don't think you can tell too much, because of the way the fabric puddles, and moves, but the train did cause extra 'stress' in that area, so it needed more strength than just hemming tape.

If/when I make this again, I'll do a proper blind hem; but time was tight on this project - I was still sewing the armholes in the hotel room in Hong Kong, the night before the do!!
Unfortunately I didn't take any photos on the night of the ceremony - but here's one from outside the hotel, just before it started...

 You can see I've used a filter to try and minimise the shadowing - but I was unfortunately positioned! ;) Here's a better pic of the dress on Dolly!

And of the accessories I wore on the day; a gold belt, with black and gold shoes and clutch bag.

I would heartily recommend this pattern, but do take extra care with sizing... The pattern envelope told me that, based on my measurements, I needed to cut a size that was MUCH bigger than reality (I can't remember exactly now, but I think I was cutting out the size 18). I know a toile would have been ideal, but a) that amount of fabric is expensive enough in a stretch fabric - sometimes making a toile can almost double the cost of the final dress, and b) I was tight on time, with JUST enough time to sew up the actual dress! But in terms of variety, this pattern has lots of options; in length, neckline, sleeves, and in terms of whether you want a peplum or not.

Interestingly enough, Mimi G very recently posted her own version of this dress... quick intro; Mimi Goodwin is a blogger (this is her blog) I've been following for a few years now, I love her style - I think she's rather gifted as a seamstress; and she now has her own range of Simplicity patterns, so she's quite inspiring to boot. You can imagine how surprised I was when her version of 'my' dress popped up on my Bloglovin feed! I think the best thing about this serendipity, is the fact you can see how versatile the pattern is.

I mean, you could just take my word for it - but I think imagery is much more effective at telling a story... so here's the back shot of my dress next to Mimi's.

Just to dissect, then, mine is the full length version - with the added train, and bias-bound armholes, Mimi's is long, without the train, and three-quarter length sleeves. Mimi's gone for the simple bateau neckline and added the peplum - whereas mine has the ruched neckline (still not sure that was the way to go) - without the peplum (as it thought it would be a bit fussy with both). What do you think?

And this wouldn't be a proper wedding post if I didn't share some photos of the beautiful couple! (Hope you don't mind Colin and Ivy, as I haven't asked your permission!!). These were taken during the day (so no black tie shots here);

Hong Kong was such a magical place, deserving of it's own blog post! I might just do that...

In the meantime, I've shared the newest addition to my sewing family on Instagram - and I'm excited to get started with her! I'm thinking I'll call her Suzie... (Suzie Serger).

And I've got a class coming up in Harris and Hoole - can't wait to share the proper details with you; picture it - me sharing refashioning tips with a group of Mums over coffee; a cosy caffeine-driven crafty chat!

Speaking of refashioning, I've got a fab project to share soon... and remember I'd love to share your makes with everyone else here, so drop me a line if you'd like to contribute to Sequins and Slippers :)

See you soon!
Gema x


  1. Just a quick comment to say it looks gorgeous! (That's all :-) )

  2. Each time I think your creations can't get any better - you come up with another winner ! This time I witnessed your 'makings' through various stages ( including a rather hairy final stage when the garment lay on the floor whilst the airport taxi waited at the gate! Rod was worried). But finally and predictably the final gown appeared ' and it was definitely a Gown. Though Hong Kong High Society may have been overpowering to say the least, you were most definitely the Belle of the Ball in your latest exquisite creation. It was truly beautiful. I am, as always, humbled and awed by your talent and imagination. And as always I am very, very proud. Love you. Mum

    1. Love you too Mum! X And yes...I'd rather not have the taxi-waiting-at-the-gate-while-i-finish-dressmaking scenario again! :)

  3. This dress is gorgeous! The color is perfect on you and I love how the fabric drapes on your body (that sounded more crude than I intended...). I agree that the peplum would've been too fussy with the neckline you chose. For the occasion, I think you made the right choice with the dramatic neckline. I wish you had more pictures :)

    1. Thank-you so much Laura! Well it is very comfortable to wear... :) And I'm glad you agree re.the peplum.
      I wish I had more pictures too! Funny, I was so busy taking photos of the food, and the other guests, that I completely forgot to ask anyone to take one of me (felt a bit weird doing that!). I even considered taking a few now I'm back in the UK, but it's so dark, and the days are so short, it's tricky... Maybe I'll add some in the Spring! ;)


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