Red Lace Flora Dress

I had a vision to make this dress for my Christmas party but the fabric didn’t arrive on time (the lace was from an Etsy seller called Fashion Lace, shipping from China). I therefore went on a quick fabric trip to Goldhawk Road and ended up making the silver brocade Elisalex dress instead which you can see in full here.

As for the red lace, I still wanted to see if I was up to the challenge since I haven’t worked with lace before so I decided to make it for a wedding in April. I took inspiration from Mr Self Portrait – if I bought clothes then this brand is definitely one I would aspire to buy from, and so I went for a nude/peachy coloured gossamer crepe underneath the red lace.

I was a bit nervous that it could look trashy, and one of my Bessies actually said to me that I might look like I’m straight out of Love Island (you know who you are!) but I’m glad to say that it turned out more classy than that.

To start, I basted each of the bodice pieces together before even sewing the darts; I didn’t want to be able to see the folded over lace through the dress. I used the By Hand London Flora pattern (my absolute fave) but I skipped the part where you neatly sew the straps into the lining. I wanted to make sure the lace was well placed on the shoulders so I left that until the end and just pinned it to try it on as I went.

Treating the outer lace and crepe as one layer, I attached to the lining crepe as usual. Similarly I basted the skirt pieces to the lining, but while I hemmed the lining crepe, I left the edges of the lace raw.

I then became a bit stuck when it came to inserting the zip. I tried an invisible zip (about 4 times actually) but it just wouldn’t zip up because of all the catches in the lace. I then let out a desperate plea, or something slightly less dramatic, to Instagram and Elisalex herself recommended a lapped zip. I hadn’t done one before but thought it was a good shout so I watched a few tutorials and then took the plunge.

I wasn’t able to do the painstaking marking and pressing recommended on the tutorials because of the nature of the fabric I was working with, so the finish is far from perfect. However it’s definitely a suitable fastening for this fabric and I reckon if I practiced it before I could have got a cleaner finish.

Lastly, I attached the straps and faffed for evenings on end chopping off tiny bits of the lace until I was happy with the raw edge hem.

If you know me and my impatience this was actually a fairly slow sew; I don’t think I’ve ever done a zip so many times, so for that I am proud. And it’s a lace dress not dissimilar to Self Portrait that set me back around £75 rather than £300, so I’d say that’s a win.

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