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The Dressmakers Ball

Last week saw the first, and hopefully annual, Dressmakers Ball, hosted by Crafty Sew & So. Needless to say, the second I heard about it from the lurrrrvely Elle Harris of Sew Positivity, I was already planning my ballgown! It's not all that often I get to actually go to something where the over the top outfits I make don't look out of place. Not that I care about being overdressed, in fact I kind of revel in it, but to spend a whole evening in a beautiful venue surrounded by sewing friends and jaw-dropping handmade dresses... Heaven on a stick.

So what did I make??

I toyed with a couple of ideas, but knew right from the start that I wanted to go for a solid colour in a weighty, luxurious sandwashed cupro. I'm having such a love affair with cupro right now, which I highly recommend if you've never had the pleasure of working with it before. Cupro is a drapey fabric made from regenerated cellulose fibre, similar to viscose. It breathes and drapes just like a weighty silk, but is much easier to work with. I had been searching for the perfect shade online (a tricky undertaking in itself!) when I stumbled upon the perfect shade of princess blue for only £2 a metre at Rainbow Fabrics, hidden away in Kilburn Market. I hadn't even planned to go there that day, I was just killing time before a meeting, with plans to go to Goldhawk Road later that day and shell out god-knows-how-much on specialist Japanese cupro... So I was feeling pretty smug, and when I found that heavenly colour, I knew I had to make an Elisalex Dress with a neckline capelet and a full length 1/2 circle skirt. Fully lined and piped at the waistline no less. Sort of grown up 70s Disney princess. You can find our tutorial for adding in a neckline capelet to the Elisalex here.

I really did feel like a proper bonafide princess, and it was great! I hardly took any pictures on the night - too much real life fun to be had! - so I managed to sneak in some snaps a few days after the party while we were shooting our new soon-to-come pattern... Following pictures were all taken by Tamzin Haughton; makeup by Poppy France, blow dry still intact by Emily Crowther.

The night itself was up in Leicester at the suitably grand City Rooms, and everything from the food to the cocktails, the company to the sequin selfie wall, did not disappoint. They even kept the musical entertainment in the sewing family with Gabby Young of Gabberdashery and her amazing band tearing up the dancefloor!

With Helen of Stitch my Style and Nina of Nina Lee Patterns

And as if all the dancing and deliciousness weren't enough, there was even a catwalk competition element to properly celebrate and show off all the hard work everyone had put into their handmade gowns, and I was honoured to have been invited to be on the judging panel along with Amy Thomas (editor of Love Sewing magazine), Elle Harris (of Sew Positivity, formerly known as Laura Loves Pugs), Marie Koupparis (of A Stitching Odyssey) and Bekki (representing Crafty Sew & So). The catwalks were divided into categories - Beginners (sewing for less than 3 years), Advanced (sewing for more than 3 years), Mens, and Accessories. There was so much greatness, especially in the first two categories, that picking our winners was such a monumental task that we actually missed dessert over it! Our winner for the beginner category was a gorgeous girl called Kendall who had only started sewing in September, and showed up in a mouth watering gathered mint green extravaganza to put any princess to shame (centre top row in the image below). Our advanced winner was Helen of Stitch my Style who had actually recreated the scarlet opera gown worn my Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman (centre bottom row). Incredible!

With my fellow judges!

I'd just like to end by extending the hugest of thank yous to Freya, Sarah and the whole Crafty Sew & So team - the night went off without a hitch and I am already looking forward to next year!

Comments on this post (5)

  • Feb 05, 2019

    Love your dress. Ever sense I was a kid I always loved a good ’twirl" dress!

    — Jean G-B

  • Jun 28, 2017

    Hi Dorothy, I’m afraid I don’t know where this particular fabric was made… Have you checked out Offset Warehouse? They sell beautiful fabrics, all ethically and sustainably sourced and made, with details as to their origins as well.

    Hope this helps!

    — Elisalex - By Hand London

  • Jun 26, 2017

    PS: Your dress is absolutely stunning, by the way. I LOVE the design.


    — Dorothy

  • Jun 26, 2017

    Hi. I’d be interested to know where the fabric for your dress was made. I have a hard time finding the origins of fabrics, but it’s a matter that is important to me.

    I enjoyed your blog. Very interestingly written.

    D. :)

    — Dorothy

  • May 24, 2017

    I hope I can make it next year. It looks like a fabulous evening. I’m gutted I wasn’t sewing when I lived 5 minutes from Kilburn Market nearly 20 years ago!
    I can’t believe your fabric was only £2 a metre. It looks so luxurious and beautifully made xxx

    — Karen

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