Ginger Made: Lace Belladone Dress

Hi, all!  I’m back– after only one day!  What?! What’s next?  Regular scrubbing ‘o’ the shower?!  Well, maybe I shouldn’t get ahead of myself…

So, have you guys been enjoying the lace projects over at the Mood Sewing Network this month?  I sure have!  It’s fun to see everyone’s take on the same theme.  🙂  Now, it’s probably pretty apparent to most people that I’m not much of a lace girl, so my goal with this challenge was to make a garment that I would actually wear and love.  I decided to avoid anything overtly floral or feminine, and with this in mind dug through a gazillion bolts of fancy lace (inadvertently missing an entire section of what I guess is “not fancy” lace, whoops!).  I settled on this gold mesh-like poly lace:

Pretty sweet, right?  I decided to pair it with a black cotton sateen.  Dude.  There is TONS of black cotton sateen at Mood, so I was having a hard time deciding which to choose when Michael pulled out the perfect bolt.  I had no idea that humble, inexpensive cotton sateen could feel so luxe!  It’s medium-weight and has an amazing sheen and body… I could hardly bring myself to cover it with the lace!  But I did.. and here’s how it turned out!

I used the Belladone pattern from Deer & Doe (which I’m now MADLY in love with).  The pattern suggests using a soft, drapey fabric, but I thought it would be fun to see the pleats in a more structured fabric.  I think it worked out pretty well!

This pattern is my new favorite– I absolutely love it!  It’s very straightforward to put together.  I made a size 38 with no alterations whatsoever, and it fits really well.  My advice for anyone making this pattern is to reinforce the diagonal lines of the upper back bodice pieces and to handle them as little as possible.  The pattern instructions suggest reinforcing light fabric with bias tape, but rayon seam binding might be a good choice, too.  If your pieces stretch out at all, you’re going to end up with some gross gaping at mid-back… never a good look.  Also, just to be clear, the pocket yoke pieces need to be cut out of fashion fabric rather than lining because they form part of your skirt (this may be common knowledge to you guys, but I’ve never made anything with diagonal pockets before so it took me by surprise).  One last thing… there’s no closure at the neck (you just pull the dress over your head).  It’s a pretty snug neckline, so I can just slip it on comfortably, but if you’re coming from the salon with a fresh new beehive, you may have to do some real wiggling to get this on over your head without harming the ‘hive.  🙂


Let’s see… what else can I tell you about the construction?  Since the lace is pretty stretchy, I basted each piece to the sateen underlining by hand and pulled the lace just the teensiest bit taut as I stitched it.  I basted the layers together up the middle of each dart (like I always do when I underline fabric).  The lace was tough to press without melting, so it’s a little baggy in places and I really had to work to get the darts to lay flat.  I decided not to line it A) because the dress was already pretty heavy and B) because I’m in love with the sateen and wanted to feel it against my skin.  I just serged the seams, which worked really well… until I caught a wee bit of the bodice in the serger and cut a hole right at the, um, apex, of the bust… sigh…  I had to tons of hand stitching to repair that screw-up.  It’s not invisible now, but it’s not immediately apparent.  Don’t worry– it wouldn’t be a Ginger project if I didn’t have some sort of massive, complicating issue on an otherwise straightforward project.  I also managed to slice my left index finger with my shears– be careful with those things!  I didn’t realize they could snip through a dadgum FINGER!  Luckily I figured out how to PhotoShop the bandage out of the photos!

The neckline and armscyes are finished with handmade bias binding.  Cotton sateen is pretty heavy for bias tape, so if you want to use something like that (I didn’t have anything else), you have to really grade the seam allowances to reduce as much bulk as possible.  I made the waistband out of just the sateen to emphasize my virtually non-existent waist.

The only thing I’m unhappy with is the hem.  I stitched a machine hem, thinking that it would make the dress a bit more casual, but I don’t think the stretchy lace played well with the feed dogs so there’s some twisting and such around the hem.  I’ll probably rip it out and do a blind hem by hand.

Overall I’m pleased!  The color is a bit more drab than what I usually wear, so I was nervous as I was constructing the dress that I was going to hate it.  But luckily I really like it!  I can’t rave enough about the magical sateen– it just makes the dress feel so fancy and fun!  I love the way the skirt hangs in a full-bodied fabric– I felt like a Parisian princess when I slipped the dress on (and not like someone who’d spent the better part of the afternoon cleaning up after a sick dog!).  Maybe I cheated a little by not choosing a really lacy lace, but I’m still going to count this as a successful lace project.  🙂  And the pattern is just so fun– I love where the shoulder seams fall, the length is perfect, the pleat looks super cute, and the cutout is an awesome surprise when you turn around.

Alright, so I’m pretty sure this marks the beginning of a serious love affair with Deer & Doe.  I’m already planning out three more versions of this dress, and I’m trying my hardest to ignore their new patterns, but… you know how good I am at not buying patterns.

What’s next for all of y’all?  Any fun spring dresses on the docket?  And how do you feel about lace?  Love it?  Hate it?  Are back cutouts heading out of style anytime soon (I hope not!)?

168 responses

  1. This dress is scrumptious! I hope you get to wear it somewhere lovely soon–somewhere that hopefully doesn’t involve sick dog secretions of any sort! I’m glad you were able to fix the hole in the lace. I would have absolutely panicked. And probably wept softly in a corner for a long while.


    • Thanks, Jenny! I’ll have to come up with a reason to wear it soon! Nothing too exciting on the dockets for some time…

      I definitely shrieked when I discovered the hole. And maybe teared up a little. But I’m gradually getting a little calmer and more able to face adversity (after, oh, 30 years of buckling in the face of obstacles and/or throwing a hissy fit with the least provocation).


  2. Every time I see someone make up the Belladone, I think hmmm, that sounds familiar, but it doesn’t look that special…then they show back pictures and I’m like AAAHHH that’s why I remembered it as being awesome!!! Yours is no exception, and I’m a huge fan of the gold not-quite-lace over black. And yes, isn’t cotton sateen absolutely dreamy?


  3. This turned out so cute! I love that pattern, and love the fabric you chose. Great way to challenge yourself! Also the scroll-down on this post was awesome – each new picture was a surprise. Ha!


  4. This is absolutely rad! I really love your lace choice (I too don’t find the florally ones rock my boat) And how rad is Belladone? She is one sassy pattern! Love your work 😀


  5. Gorgeous dress – i love it and I like the way you used the lace and sateen together, I am trying hard not to buy any more patterns – but this dress is so sweet. 🙂


    • Thanks, Debbie! It’s so hard to resist sometimes! I’ve done OK this year, but not great, with not buying patterns. I’ve drawn the line that I can only buy patterns that will work with fabric that I’ve got stashed away.


  6. Oh this is lovely on you and the back is such a fun surprise. Beautiful work – bravo that you found a lace that fits your style and taste.


  7. This dress looks fantastic!! The design is so cute on you, of course. Brilliant fabric pairing too! I’m also partial to that style of non-lace lace. I’m actually planning to use something similar for my wedding dress.


  8. I love this lace dress that you made! I know lace is not easy to work with, you did an amazing job! I am in love with deer and doe patterns too, it is all I can do not to buy one of the new ones!


  9. Wow, love that lace with the black cotton sateen! Casual, but dressy, you totally succeeded. It looks smashing on you. Great job! Still loving lace and cut outs btw… Hope they are not going anywhere!


    • Thanks, Elise! I’m still blown away by your gold Elisalex dress– that gold is exactly what I was looking for when I was shopping for fabric! Ended up with something a bit different, but I’m seriously in love with yours!


    • Thank you! I’m still feeling a little nervous that I’m going to make a big mistake, and feeling like I need to prove that I’m competent to a new boss. But I’m easily getting used to being home for dinner every night!

      Thank you! You know, it’s silly, but I very, very rarely wore my hair up until recently, even thought it’s more convenient to have it out of the way. I have a lot of acne scarring on the sides of my face from my teens and early 20’s, and I’ve always styled my hair in a way that hides or minimizes that. But for some reason (maybe cause I’m 30 now), all of a sudden I don’t care about what people think nearly as much. F–k it, I’m wearing my hair up!


      • Go you, thats a deadly attitude to embrace, shaking a feeling like that about your face is hard, no matter how silly it may seem – maybe we’re wise now we’re 30?!!
        I hear you, I’m harder on myself at work than my bosses are and hate making mistakes, stresses me out no end!


  10. Love love love this. And you are a very bad influence, young lady. Somehow I happened to find myself on the Deer and Doe website after you showed us their new patterns and before I knew it I had bought their new dress and this one as a little bonus (and Bleuet, but who’s counting?). Well it makes sense to save on postage doesn’t it.


  11. This is such a gorgeous dress and the combination of the black binding with the fabric really makes it interesting. I love the pattern on you its so cute. Love it!


    • Thanks, Jo! I’ll do anything for a good shot! Plus, there’s nowhere else– the two sides of my building I have access to are ugly and cluttered! So I risk it all for the blog. 🙂


  12. Ginger, ginger, ginger, this is absolutely lovely, and feminine. I thought it looks gorgeous on you, and I must say, I am now in love with belladone dress, thanks to you. I have already a good stash of paper patterns which I haven’t started on, and now I am itching to get this.


  13. i totally had that finger-stitching problem a few weeks ago…OUCH. but in your case, worth it for such a great result (you have to bleed for great fashion, right?)…for me, i was just swatching fabric 🙂


  14. Wow I’ve been away too long XD This is awesome and the style+colour really suit you. Don’t know if it’s already been said but you might want to rotate your dart apex next time so it’s pointing at the bust point. All else is perfect-I didn’t notice the hem until you pointed it out.


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  16. Love the dress. Love in on you. But please, please, please get over your phobia for blind hemming:) it will make everything soooo mucht more elegant!!


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  19. I am sewing this directly for one of my Twins and we have been scouring the Flickr pool for a nicely fitting one.
    Yours is perfect!

    Thank you for all the tips and hints-invaluable.
    I will link back to you when I show it off in my blog.

    Thank you
    xx Nicole


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  23. I totally adore that gold mesh! looks so elegant and expensive 😉 … just a quick question? Is there any way to fix black mesh? I just bought a gorgeous dress but as I was pulling the zipper up and it was a bit tight on me, some holes were made!!! 😥 really small but as its black mesh you can see them! I am in total shock and panic 😦 … HELP! xo


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