It has become an annual tradition here at Needle Sharp to do party dresses around holiday time. It's a little bit of glamorous selfish sewing at a time when many of us are focusing on others - what presents to buy, what meal to make, how to keep everyone in the family happy. To be fair, there haven't been too many parties the past two years for obvious reasons, but now that things have normalized (for the most part), I have a feeling this party season is going to be banging.
So, let us help you dress for the occasion! The November, we're pulling out all the stops for the best party dresses you can make. These are not everyday dresses that you can throw on for a trip to the grocery store. These are special occasion, cocktail party attire, live it up for one night dresses that will be made even more special by the fact that you made them yourself. Because after two years holed up in sweats, zoom blouses, and nap dresses, we are ready to go glam.
This philosophy is reflected nowhere better than in our fabric selections this month. Since it's holiday-themed, we leaned into the reds, greens, and golds of the season. We played with texture as well. These fabrics are jacquards, satins, and crepes. (There's even a damask thrown in for good measure!). The idea is that no matter which one you chose, you'll get a stunning dress that will make you feel like the star of your very own movie. And who doesn't want that?
So, without further ado, let's dig in!
Sew Essential Box: Elodie Wrap Dress from Closet Core Patterns
We almost used this pattern last year for our Wrap Dress Boxes but decided against it in favor of another pattern. But in the last year, the popularity and prominence of the Elodie Wrap Dress has only grown, and so has our admiration.
Like all Closet Core Patterns, the dress is elegantly tailored and thoughtfully drafted. The cut-on sleeves are romantic and flattering, and the full skirt is flowing and full of movement and sway. The simple wrap closure keeps the dress comfortable and easy to sew. It's a pattern that can be dressed down for a summer's day or dressed up (as we are doing here) for even the most special of occasions.
The fabric makes a huge difference in the look of this dress, and since we wanted a cocktail-style dress, we chose options with a ton of drape and shine. A cranberry red crepe, a silky green satin, and a winter floral rayon will all give you an elegant, chic look that will have everyone at the party asking you where you got your gorgeous dress. So let's take a look:
*Note - this box contains enough fabric to make the midi length dress*
- Pimpinella Ditsy Floral Crepe de Chine - This fabric, a silky crepe de chine, is all about the pattern. A deep red background is covered in ditsy cream and light red floral clusters for a look that is evocative of the holidays without being actual poinsettias and holly and the ivy. The fabric is light and thin, with a fluid drape that will add flutter to the sleeves and swish to the skirt of this dress. We dare you not to twirl when you put it on!
- Bottle Green Satin - A crepe backed satin, this fabric is silky and shimmery, like gorgeous silk, but without the temperamental nature. Medium weight, with nice body for a satin, it is heavy enough for a winter dress, but light enough to stay flowing and soft for this dresses shape. And then there is the color. A deep, earthy green, it's the color of emerald and pine trees rolled into one, and it's ideal for the holiday season. A stunning fabric for a gorgeous dress!
- Sepia Petunias Rayon Challis - If you're looking for a more neutral tone for your dress, this fabric is just the one. The substrate is our favorite rayon poplin, with its tight weave and dramatic, flowing drape. Paired with a subtle and wintery floral, like dried, pressed flowers on a black background, and you have the makings of gorgeous party dress. A little less glam than the other two options, while still retaining all the sway and drape of its compatriots, this fabric is perfect for a dress you'll wear all season long, not just to the fanciest of occasions. Sounds good, right?
Sew Select Box: Betty Dress from Sew Over It
I can't be the only person who watches The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and Mad Men and ogles the clothes. The fifties and sixties were filled with such amazing dresses! The Betty Dress from Sew Over It takes its inspiration from this period of time and is actually named after Betty Draper of Mad Men fame.
An utterly quintessential style, this dress is a darted bodice with a wide neckline (and an option for a v-neck) and a half circle skirt. Understated and elegant, it cinches in at the waist and flares out for a twirl-worthy skirt that will make you want to Lindy Hop at your next holiday party.
Because of the simplicity of this style, it can be made in so many fabrics for different looks. Lighter fabrics would be ideal for summery garden party dress, but since this is the holiday season, we're going for bold colors and elegant, special occasion textures. Brocade, sateen, and lawn fit the bill, and the ones below are phenomenal. Here are the details:
- Copper and Black Enchanté Jacquard - Back when we did our first party dress boxes, we featured two metallic jacquards that were so popular, we knew we had to revisit the theme. This fabric, a copper-hued, tone on tone marvel, screams party dress with its subtle floral print, crisp drape, and metallic sparkle. Medium weight, with good body and a beefy hand, this fabric will hold its shape and really play up the fit and flare design of the dress. For a touch of vintage, cocktail dress flair, this is the fabric for you!
- Red Sateen Drill - Combining the sewabilty of cotton with the sheen of satin, this fabric has it all! A great fabric for newer sewists who want the look of posher fabrics without the headache. And with just a little bit of stretch across the grain, it will move with you while still holding its shape. And speaking of shape, this medium weight fabric has a full-bodied drape that will really accentuate the sweep of the half circle skirt. In a scarlet red, this fabric will transform into a fit and flare dress that is both bold and beautiful!
- Elephant and Chameleon Viscose Lawn - A lot of lawn prints out there are bright and summer, but we were thrilled to find this dark moody pattern, featuring an elephant no less. A deep, black-navy background covered in dark green leaves and jungle animals may not seem like a holiday fabric, but the color combination feels just right to us. Plus, the silky viscose lawn, with a tight weave and soft drape, will look so stunning, it won't matter what season it is. You'll just look amazing all the time!
Sew Curvy Box: Tulip Dress from The Assembly Line
I must admit, this dress wasn't even on my radar until a couple of months ago when @frocksandfroufrou posted the picture you see above on Instagram. I probably didn't do this in reality, but in my mind, I was doing a cartoon double take. This dress was stunning! And it fit so perfectly with this month's theme that I immediately started planning the box.
Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of plus-size patterns for cocktail dresses that I've found. In previous boxes, we've used the Upton Dress from Cashmerette, but beyond that, there's a lot of daywear and not a lot of evening wear. So finding this pattern felt like kismet. And the fact that it was from The Assembly Line only sweetened the pot. Their patterns are architectural and tailored, all while looking effortless and elegant. In other words, it was a perfect choice for a party dress. Oh, and did I mention this pattern has pockets??
Fabric-wise, the more structured shape of the dress called for medium weight fabrics with body, though not too much or else the skirt could lose its sway. This tension led me to more suiting like fabrics, as well as a delightful double gauze that will give you a true "secret pajamas" dress. So without further ado. . .
- Charcoal Dobby Dot Jacquard - At first glance, this fabric looks like hammered silk. The small dots, created in the dobby weave, create a tone-on-tone spotty look that is extremely subtle but makes the dress look shimmery and complex. Silky soft from the viscose content, this fabric will feel amazing to wear, and the semi-fluid drape will make the tulip skirt flowy and twirl-ready. With this fabric, meet your new favorite take on the classic black dress!
- Navy Calico Floral Cotton Double Gauze - We have been trying to use this printed double gauze for ages, and we've finally met its pattern match. With a navy background printed with cream flowers and light blue leaves, this fabric is soft and subtle. The fabric itself is light and airy, with the classic crinkle texture you've come to expect from double gauze. It will sew up into secret pajamas (with pockets no less!) and isn't that just what everyone wants in a party dress??
- Scarlet Brushed Cotton Twill Suiting - Heavier than a shirting, but lighter than a bottom weight, this twill is just right. Brushed for softness, it has a slight crispness that will help show off the shape of this dress, all while making it easy to sew. But it's the scarlet red color that is the showstopper here, and it will be a bold and festive choice for your new favorite holiday dress!
Sew Indulgent Box: Upton Dress from Cashmerette
This is our first foray into Cashmerette's 0-16 sizing block, and we couldn't be more excited. Especially because this pattern is less of a single sewing pattern and more of the building blocks for an infinite number of dresses. We've used the Upton Dress pattern before, but Cashmerette has added a mix and match expansion pack (in a paper version no less!) that may be the last special occasion dress pattern you ever need to buy.
With two different bodices - darted and princess seams - five sleeve types, and two skirt types with three different lengths, you'll be able to make a dress that matches your exact specifications and preference. We are partial to the maxi pleated skirt and the midi-length dress with princess seams and a gored skirt, but that's just us. Which combination will you choose?
Because there are so many combinations, fabric can make a huge difference. Do you want a silky, swingy dress or a structured, statement one? We've tried to cover the majoy looks with a viscose satin, a midweight jacquard and a heavier damask print. No matter which you choose, you'll have a fabric that is party read and oh sew elegant. Let's dig in:
*Note - these boxes contain 5 yards of fabric, which is not enough to make all dress combinations, but will work for the vast majority *
- Black on Black Paisley Stretch Jacquard - We love texture here at Needle Sharp, and this tone on tone fabric is right in our wheelhouse. A cotton/poly blend, with a hint of spandex for comfort, this jacquard is supple, with a structured drape to show off the shape of this dress's skirt. The woven paisley texture adds a couture look to the fabric that will become an elegant take on the LBD. A classic, yet surprising, option!
- Cherry Red Viscose Satin - This bright red viscose satin is just stunning, with a noticeable sheen from the satin weave and stunning drape that will just fall beautifully in all the right places. With enough body to hide panty lines but enough softness for a good twirly skirt, this fabric will turn into a truly knockout dress for the holidays and beyond!
- Navy Blue/Gold Damask Jacquard - After seeing the skirt sample photo of this pattern, we couldn't get over the idea of using a large scale brocade for this box. Enter this gold and navy damask. This fabric is actually an upholstery fabric (120" wide) and it will create a glamorous statement dress or skirt for your next upscale event. Surprisingly thin with a smooth back, this fabric will also be a joy to wear, which, as sewists, we know is the most important part. A simply stunning fabric!
Did these dresses make you ready to party? We hope so! To keep the elegant, holiday theme going, we're bringing back our woven jumpsuit theme in our Tried and True Series. A different take on party-wear, these boxes will still get you ready for the holiday season, all while keeping your legs warm, which as a perpetually cold woman, can be of utmost importance come November.
Until next time. . .