My Floral Franken-dress

4 Mar

Soooo, my brother got married last weekend – pretty exciting, I know. I knew this day was coming for quite some time, so I decided to use the occasion as an excuse to make a fancy dress. And why not!


It all started with almost 5 metres of fabulous floral Balenciaga silk chiffon I picked up at a D’Italia sale – from $90 p/m down to $10 p/m! Score, I know! I was originally going to go with a yellow silk lining, but then opted to go with a smashing watermelon silk from Darn Cheap Fabrics as it made the colours on the fashion fabric really pop. The bodice fashion fabric pieces were all underlined with the watermelon silk (hand basted), and then the bodice was lined with a red satin silk, also from Darn Cheap Fabrics. There were also a couple of layers of heavy, boned, interfacing in the middle as a foundation.


I knew what I wanted as a final output, but it was a matter of finding it in pattern format! I spent hours trawling the Internet, but to no avail. So, a ‘franken-dress’ it would have to be. I ended up using the skirt from the now OOP v7521 and I based the bodice on the Cynthia Steffe v1174.


This one went ‘off the plan’ from quite early on, but here are the key changes made:

  • Added ruching to the the bodice – I traced off, slashed, and reconstructed pattern pieces for the outer upper and middle bodice to create the ruching across the bust.
  • Shaped lower front bodice pieces for a closer fit in the lower bodice area.
  • Used the outer bodice pattern pieces to create the foundation rather than the foundation pattern pieces.
  • Pinched out some of the volume in the skirt pattern.

More fun facts:

  • There’s a total of six, yes six, layers of fabric in bodice!
  • The skirt was constructed using french seams for a neater finish.
  • I hand beaded the ruched area of the bodice with bronze and yellow seed beads, and also three purple teardrop shaped pearls at centre front. Not only was this pretty 🙂 , but it was a great way to keep the ruching sitting how I liked it.
  • I had a belt made at Buttonmania out of the same fabric as the bodice lining – red satin silk.
  • Sizing of the bodice was generous – at least – I cut to my size and then went down by two at toile stage.
  • Ruched pattern pieces were cut out on the cross to allow for more flexibility and a better final look.
  • The invisible zip was attached the bodice at centre back, but only attached to the lining of the skirt. This way the fashion fabric was loose over the top, so small facings were created for the open section, and a clear plastic press stud added to close the fashion fabric and cover the lower part of the zip. It was done this way so that the zip was hidden and didn’t interfere with the fashion fabric’s drape.
  • Both layers of the skirt have rolled hems.
  • Extra pieces of boning were added to the bodice for more structure.

I’m not going to lie, this was a HUGE project, and by the time I’d finished it, I never wanted to look at the dress EVER again! However, on the day, I was so happy with the result, I think it was worth all the effort 🙂

This has definitely been my biggest sewing project – what’s been your biggest?

Z xx


27 Responses to “My Floral Franken-dress”

  1. Amanda Gaylard March 4, 2012 at 6:56 PM #

    Zoe hasn’t said, but on the night of the wedding many people commented to me how beautiful the dress was. When I said she made it they were amazed!!

    • ZoSews March 5, 2012 at 8:14 PM #

      Thanks mother of ZoSews 🙂 x

  2. poppykettle March 4, 2012 at 6:56 PM #

    Oh awesome! I’ve been waiting to see the finished dress being worn! And it looks even more amazing than I had thought it would. I simply love the fullness of the skirt – and I’m sure with 6 layers that the bodice felt secure and snug! You look lovely 🙂

    • ZoSews March 4, 2012 at 7:13 PM #

      Thanks poppykettle – glad I didn’t disappoint 😉 Bodice was certainly snug, had a couple of helpers to do me up lol! I hope you got through your last class last week ok 😦

  3. ooobop! March 4, 2012 at 7:35 PM #

    Oh wow! Zo this is such an amazing dress. I can just imagine how it feels on. I can quite believe the effort put into this but ‘by George’ was it worth it! You look stunning! I have just wrestled with a packet of giant flimsy pattern pieces all over the living room floor but the thought of doing that with posh fabric gives me the shivers!

    • ZoSews March 5, 2012 at 8:12 PM #

      Thank you so much! I know how it feels to play that living room floor vs. pattern pieces game lol! :o)

  4. Julia Bobbin March 4, 2012 at 8:31 PM #

    Zoe this dress is a couture work of art! You would have been the belle of the ball at the wedding. Just lovely.

  5. e1aine March 4, 2012 at 9:06 PM #


    You are very talented.

    • ZoSews March 5, 2012 at 8:13 PM #

      Thank you so much! Tough one, but got there in the end 🙂

  6. jodieclark March 4, 2012 at 9:31 PM #

    Wow, wow and wow. I thought the dress looked gorgeous…and then I read just how much effort went into it. Hats off to you! Seriously. Well. Done.

    • ZoSews March 5, 2012 at 8:13 PM #

      Thank you! So many kind and encouraging words!

  7. Karen March 5, 2012 at 2:40 PM #

    Wow what a magical looking dress!

    • ZoSews March 5, 2012 at 8:14 PM #

      Thanks Karen, glad you like it! :o)

  8. Bernice March 6, 2012 at 8:16 PM #

    Your dress is stunning! It must be the nicest thing I’ve seen on a sewing blog this year. Everything about it is gorgeous – the cut, the fit, the colours, the belt – sublime!

    • ZoSews March 6, 2012 at 8:25 PM #

      Oh my golly gosh Bernice! Thank you so much, you’ve made my night! 🙂

  9. Tina March 9, 2012 at 11:46 AM #

    Zo… I bow before your mad skills! This is beyond lovely work and looks like something one would find in a high-end store (Lord knows I’d pay good money for it!). Well done, friend.

    • ZoSews March 9, 2012 at 7:17 PM #

      Thanks Tina! Your comment made me giggle – in a good way :o)

      • Tina March 10, 2012 at 8:13 AM #

        As long as it was a good way and not a crazy maniacal way…

  10. Janet March 9, 2012 at 8:15 PM #

    Zo, I went and had a look at the patterns that you started off with… You were very clever to have had the vision of what you wanted your dress too look like from those two patterns. What a fantastic work of art and your dress looked so stunning on you. It must have felt fantastic to be wearing the silk.
    You are very gifted!

    • ZoSews March 12, 2012 at 6:28 PM #

      Thank you Janet!! I do love me some silk :o)

  11. Tina March 14, 2012 at 5:55 AM #

    Hey Zo–I was just admiring your dress again. I also wanted to drop you a note and let you know that I’ve gifted you The Versatile Blogger Award. If you’re interested (and by no means are you required to play along), there are more details on my blog, Down the Retro Rabbit Hole (

  12. neeno April 23, 2012 at 9:24 PM #

    WHAT AN AMAZING DRESS. This is exactly what I would like to make next at my sewing class! I’m new to sewing, and so far every dress I have made is cotton or polyester blend… I’d love to work with fabrics other than those!

    I wanna make a strapless dress too because I hardly ever find a nice fitting strapless dress….

    What a great score, $90 down to $10, i’m jelly!!!!

    I’m new to your blog, really enjoying your blog. I;m also in Melb 🙂 Nice to find other Melburnians online

    • ZoSews April 24, 2012 at 7:57 PM #

      Thank you!! You should do it 🙂 Requires great patience though! Fabric was an amazing score – can’t wait till their next sale 😉 I’m glad you like the blog, I’m pretty new to this scene so I appreciate the feedback! And I definitely agree – it’s great to find other locals on here too:)

  13. Kerry August 10, 2012 at 1:34 AM #

    I haven’t seen this dress before – amazing! It’s really, really stunning. Definitely a gold medal winner for sure 🙂

    • ZoSews August 10, 2012 at 8:37 PM #

      Aww thank you :o)


  1. Skills check: How far have I come? « ZoSews - September 17, 2012

    […] Hook and eye – V1174, V1156, […]

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