Smocked Dress

Everyone else has a blog, so why not me? Let’s just jump right in to my current project, which is a dress inspired by this one from Bottega Veneta:

It really took my breath away. I wanted to see the actual dress, but, alas, I don’t have the leisure to go trotting off to the Bottega Veneta store on a whim. My first concern is that there’s a lot of fullness released from the smocking, and I can’t tell where that fullness is going at the shoulders. But if you look closer, there’s something strange going on at the armholes, where there’s some sort of gathering. Then I found this Vogue pattern 8353, which is a very similar dress, but with pleats at the waist instead of smocking:

The pattern deals with the fullness by placing pleats at the shoulders. I might do pleats, but I might use shirring, which is I think what the Bottega Veneta dress has. And what were they thinking putting a wing collar on that pattern?!? Of course, that has to go.

I bought some cotton shirting from Michael’s Fabrics (a great Internet fabric store) and got smocking. This is how the back looks so far:

I find hand sewing to be very relaxing (good thing). I’ve actually finished smocking the front, as well, but no photos of that yet. I bought 3.5 yds of fabric, but I think I may need an extra yard. Bummer. I’m hoping to be done with the dress by Easter. I think the model is wearing a corset, because she’s totally wasp-waisted. Maybe after I finish the dress, I’ll try it on with a corset just to see how it looks.

Next day now. It looks like I’ll have enough fabric, and maybe even be able to wear it for Easter! I had to piece together the facing (which won’t show) and the skirt will not be as full as the original. I’d like a fuller skirt, but I’m on a roll and don’t want to lose steam waiting for more fabric. I cut out the smocked pieces today, then of course had to sew them together right away to see how they fit on my form. They seem OK. I based the pieces on the Vogue pattern mentioned above. This is what they looked like:

And here they are sewn together:

Then the skirt (with pockets), facings, buttons, etc. I gathered the shoulders at the shoulder seam near the armhole. It looks sort of similar to the photo that I based this whole project on. When I was hemming, I was glad that I did not make the skirt any fuller. One thing that is clear once I’ve finished is that you really need that sash at the waist to give the dress some definition. The smocking is not enough to hold it in at the waist. Here is a photo of the finished product:

Unfortunately, it’s supposed to be cold this weekend, so I probably won’t wear it for Easter. But I’m sure there’s some other holiday coming up for it.


  1. Posted May 26, 2010 at 5:54 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Wow, that’s some dress and some inaugural post.

    When do you have time to sew? So you go without sleep?

  2. Posted November 12, 2010 at 9:12 pm | Permalink | Reply

    What a lovely dress! The inspiration picture and your finished dress both took my breath away. I can’t wait to see you wear it. Do you have something to wear under the skirt t create the poof?

    • Posted November 13, 2010 at 8:31 am | Permalink | Reply

      Thank you! I wear this dress all the time, actually, when I am going about my daily life walking the kids to school, etc. When you get right down to it, it’s just a cotton shirtdress. So no, I don’t wear a crinoline under.

  3. Posted November 13, 2010 at 2:57 am | Permalink | Reply

    That is gorgeous! I love smocking on children’s clothes and never really thought about it on adult clothing. But I really love your dress.

  4. cidell
    Posted November 14, 2010 at 8:59 am | Permalink | Reply

    I bow. Marji did a similar version of this dress several years ago and I’ve been in love with it since. Love. It.

  5. Sarah
    Posted September 22, 2017 at 10:06 am | Permalink | Reply

    If you have an actual list of the changes you made to the pattern I would love to try this! Thanks for the post

    • Posted September 22, 2017 at 1:26 pm | Permalink | Reply

      You should try it!

      Unfortunately, since the project was 10 years ago, so I can’t remember in any detail exactly what I did. The photos do show the shape of the pattern pieces, though, which may be helpful.

2 Trackbacks

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