I am in love with my Christmas party dress. The colour is a beautiful bright Royal Blue with a silver thread running through so it sparkles in a subtle way.

I love the way that the weight of the fabric makes the skirt hang perfectly, and there is plenty of movement in it when I walk.

The design and fabric choice make this a dress which is easy to wear. There are no worries about the fabric creasing, it is a dress which you just put on and forget about knowing that everything will stay put and it will look great all night long.

So what is this beautiful fabric and pattern?

The pattern is The Stasia Dress by Sew Liberated. There is a separate top pattern included which I fully intend to make up very soon.

The bodice is very closely fitted but the skirt is wide and flowing and can be made up in any length from above the knee to floor length

The fabric is totally beautiful. It is a Ponte Roma by Lady McElroy in Royal Blue and Silver with an embossed design all over it. It is quite a heavy fabric which lends itself well to this pattern. It does stretch but not massively so you need to take it into account when choosing your size.

The pattern instructions include a really good guide to choosing your correct size. The bodice has " Negative Ease" which means that it makes up smaller than your body measurements.

I strongly recommend making a toile of the bodice using fabric which has the same amount of stretch as your actual fabric, as you may find that you need to increase the side seams and also the sleeves as they too are closely fitted.

The back of the pattern envelope gives measurements, fabric amounts and suggestions. The recommended fabric has 40% stretch but my fabric choice has less. This is not a problem for me as I like a closely fitted garment but it might not suit your taste or figure so be prepared to adjust the size of you want to use the same fabric I did. All that matters is that you choose the size which best flatters your figure and which you feel good in.

There are a lot of sizes on the pattern pieces and I found it difficult trying to figure out which was the correct one, so I marked my size with a felt tip pen. You should really trace the pattern off onto tracing paper and keep the original, as it is printed on a good quality paper, not tissue.

I am afraid that I am guilty of cutting the original out.

There is just one length on the printed pattern, and it is very short, so  for anything longer it is necessary to make the pattern longer.

If this were a straight skirt I would merely extend the bottom of the pattern to the length I wanted. However this is a very full skirt and so in order to keep a good shape to the skirt the pattern needs to be split into two along the line marked "lengthen or shorten here" and then joined back together with a strip of tissue in between.

Take some tissue paper and draw lines to give an insert which will increase the length by the amount wanted. I'm my case I wanted to lengthen the skirt by six inches. I drew parallel lines six inches apart and cut out a strip of tissue with a one inch margin at both sides

Tape this carefully to each skirt piece, lining up the straight edges at the centre front and centre back.

You will need to also extend the side seam on the lower part of the skirt.

This makes perfect sense once you come to do it.

I don't use any fancy stitch to sew knit or stretch fabrics, I use a narrow long zigzag and find it to be perfectly adequate. Do make a note of your settings. Some machines have the facility to save these settings so you can return to them many times.  

The first sewing I did was to attach the skirts to the bodice pieces. The front bodice has a slight V shape at the centre front so mark this point before stitching and pivot on it when you get up to it. After sewing clip into this part of the seam allowance so that it lies flat. 

I like to sew sleeves in before the side seams are sewn as it is much easier to do on the flat. Make sure that you match the notches (there are two on the back pattern pieces and one on the front) and ease the sleeve gently in place.

The neckband was the next piece to be stitched. I did this twice actually. The first neckband I stitched in made the neckline gape as it was too long,  so I took it out again and shortened it by almost two inches before replacing it. I was much happier with the result then.

You can see the design on the fabric better in this photograph. I am at the stage where the sleeves and neckband have been stitched in place.

It is now a simple procedure to stitch the sleeve and side seams with one long row of stitches, although it would be prudent to tack the side seams first and try it on for fit.

Make sure that you match all seams so that they look neat and professional.

Whenever you are working with a stretch fabric you need to hang the garment at least overnight to give the fabric a chance to relax.

Check that the hem is still even and make any adjustments if not. I chose a narrow hem for my skirt as the fabric is heavily embossed and my stitches will not show on the right side

I finished the hem with my overlocker then turned the hem up by 5/8"  stitching it with a slightly wider zigzag.

The dress has had a final press using a pressing cloth and I absolutely love it.

As you can see the bodice and sleeves are very closely fitted so do choose a different size if you want a looser fit - which is perfectly fine. Fit is purely a matter of personal taste.

The skirt is very swishy . It's a great pattern don't you think.

 

Will I use this pattern again? Definitely. I am considering using a finer cotton jersey for summer, in which case I will make the bodice slightly looser.

I also intend to make up the top pattern, maybe next week!

Many thanks to Minerva for this fabulous fabric and pattern . I'm all set for my Christmas party next week with this beautiful dress to wear.