Making a Black Lace Dress, Part Three

11 Sep


We are onto the third and final blog post about this dress! Part one shows the process of making the bodice, part two shows the skirt, and this part will cover making the collar and adding the final touches. I also have video “progress logs” about this project posted here.

The most unique part of this dress is the collar.  This was a big part of what attracted me to the dress I used as inspiration, and what I was most excited to replicate. Unfortunately my materials didn’t let me do that.

I had planned on making the collar from ruched lace. That didn’t go so well. Since the lace print consists of solid floral designs and sheer mesh I ended up with areas completely opaque, and others that were very sheer. Even though it was gathered properly it looked uneven and messy. My only other option was using the point d’esprit netting for the collar, but I didn’t like how it looked gathered either. The stiffness of this netting makes it bulky when it’s gathered, which isn’t very flattering in the arm area.

So after a very frustrating evening I gave up on my pretty draped neckline and chose to pleat the netting instead. This way the netting will lay flat and won’t add bulk, it just looks nothing like what I had planned.

I pleated large rectangles down by eye – I didn’t want to leave any visible marks on the mesh so I tried my best to make them even without the help of a ruler.

Before attaching the collar I sewed the black lace around the neckline, with only the scalloped edge extending past the bodice. Once the collar is sewn on only the scalloped edge will be visible. I did this partially to created some contrast, since the netting is similar to my skin tone, and also to imitate the way the scalloped edge of black lace meets the netting on the skirt.


I sacrificed some skin from my knuckles (holy mother of pin pricks this process was not fun) and spent an hour pinning and arranging the collar in a way I liked.


I put it on my dress form and was surprisingly happy with it. Does it look anything like I had planned? Nope. But once I got over that, I started to appreciate it for what it is, not what it was supposed to be. That isn’t ideal, but sometimes it happens. And what matters is that in the end I had a dress I really liked!


It  looked surprisingly like the sketch I made for this project before studying the Mairlyn dress. I sort of forgot about this, and chose to go in a different direction after sketching this, but the dress looks almost identical to it! I guess sometimes your first instincts for what to do with fabric are the best ones.


I sewed the collar on and tacked the pleats down with a whole bunch of hidden stitches. I also gathered the collar slightly on each side of the armholes, which makes it sit a little nicer on my arms.



Here it is worn. This was my first time trying it on so I was a bit nervous! Luckily the collar looked pretty, more symmetrical than I had expected, and it fit my arms. Those were the three things I was concerned about and to have them all be non-issues was a pleasant surprise.


Now it was time for rhinestones! A little while ago Creative Crystal sent me the bejeweler pro tool, which is for hotfix rhinestones. It is supposed to pick them up, melt the glue, then drop the crystal when it’s pressed against the surface you are embellishing. When I decided to buy rhinestones for this project I chose to buy them from the same store so I could give it a try.

I bought two hundred 3mm crystals, and two hundred 4mm ones. The 8mm ones were sent to me along with the tool, and they are all in the shade Jet. This project has pretty low fabric costs (maybe $30? the lace and netting were cheap) so I could justify spending the $27 for swarovski crystals…though I definitely won’t make a habit of it!

I felt the tool worked really well for the 3mm ones, it picked them up and melted the glue very quickly. The 4mm ones were kind of a hassle, the tool wouldn’t pick the stones up at all so they had to be placed by hand before using the tool to heat them. But the process was definitely cleaner and faster than it would be if I was using E6000 and the stones felt very secure once attached. So I kind of have mixed, but mostly positive feelings towards it.


I placed a bunch of 3mm ones underneath the collar.


And you can’t really tell, but 4mm crystals were placed in the center of each dot on the scalloped lace that trims the neckline.


But most of the stones went into the skirt. I placed them somewhat randomly on the lower four inches of the lace. They look really pretty in certain lights, but aren’t as noticeable as I had hoped. I think it’s my own fault for buying black stones and placing them on black fabric, but still, i’m a bit disappointed!


With the skirt and bodice done it was time to focus on attaching them to each other. But before doing that I cut out the lining and assembled it.


Then I pinned the lining into the bodice.I only stitched it down around the neckline, the lower edge and back edges were left open and will be sewn down once the skirt and zipper are attached.


It was at this point I realized the bodice wasn’t quite as symmetrical as I had thought. From the front it looked pretty good, but the pleats did not line up in the back. Luckily I had the perfect solution: Use a bow and cover that shit up. This isn’t the most professional solution, but I had wanted to put a bow on the back of this dress from the beginning.  I just placed it a little bit higher so it has a benefit other than being adorable.

The bow attaches with two hooks/bars after the bodice is zipped up, so if you are some  strange person who is offended by bows you can take comfort in the fact that it’s detachable.


I sewed the back of the skirt up with a french seam. I left the top eight inches open, since that is where the zipper will be.


Apparently I don’t have any photos of the zipper or attaching the skirt. But the process was pretty straightforward, the skirt was whip stitched to the interior of the bodice, then the lining was folded over the raw edge and sewn down. I sewed the zipper in but the zipper was three inches too short. Which is a stupid thing to have happen.

At this point I just wanted it done, so I closed the top few inches with hooks. Then I sewed the lining to cover the edges of the zipper. The final step was sewing in the petticoat topper, which is what you see below.


And it was done!







Here are some worn photos of it. After taking these I decided it needed a necklace, so I bought one from Macy’s which I will wear to the wedding. The shoes are lace with scalloped edging, which makes them perfect. They were purchased from DSW. The hair clips are from H&M, the earrings are PBS Downton Abbey Collection,  and the lipstick is Colourpop liquid lipstick in Creeper. I had lace nail decals from jamberry as well, but you can’t really see them.

Black Lace Dress 3

The bow is a little crooked in this picture, but that is an easy fix.

Black Lace Dress 1

Black Lace Dress 2

And that’s it! I think this will be the last fashiony thing I make for a while. Even though I love how this turned out, I didn’t enjoy the process as much as I would have liked. I’m definitely ready to get back to historical stuff – maybe with a silly Halloween project mixed in.

Thanks for reading!


Posted by on September 11, 2015 in Fashion & Fantasy, The Making Of


Tags: , , , , ,

26 responses to “Making a Black Lace Dress, Part Three

  1. Tonia Jeffery (@LittleEllaLu)

    September 11, 2015 at 5:36 pm

    I love it! So lovely!

  2. Patsy

    September 11, 2015 at 5:45 pm

    you do amazing work!!!!! I been reading for a few months now and am always impressed and amazed. ❤

  3. Julee

    September 11, 2015 at 5:54 pm


  4. Celia Valdez

    September 11, 2015 at 5:55 pm

    Oh my gosh! Angela, I want one!!! Size 16 plz😉Sent from Yahoo Ma

  5. acraftymind2013

    September 11, 2015 at 5:57 pm

    It is amazing! Your work is so beautiful.

  6. Diana

    September 11, 2015 at 6:47 pm

    You look amazingly classy! Beautiful dress! I love following your creations!

  7. Breenah

    September 11, 2015 at 7:21 pm

    This is just gorgeous! Also, “but the pleats did not line up in the back. Luckily I had the perfect solution: Use a bow and cover that shit up.” is just the best.

  8. Alethia

    September 11, 2015 at 7:26 pm

    Beautifullll! Thank you for taking the time to post and video tape the process.

  9. Sasha

    September 11, 2015 at 9:42 pm

    This dress is just charming. I hope you enjoy wearing it to the wedding (although I cry for your squeezed midriff!) I enjoy reading your blog so much and am so inspired by your creativity and talent.

  10. lorindadavis

    September 11, 2015 at 10:50 pm

    Stunning! I always love seeing your work. Can’t wait to see your next project!

  11. Miss Biddy

    September 12, 2015 at 3:11 am

    Beautiful – the dress is stunning xx

  12. springystitches

    September 12, 2015 at 4:47 am

    Just beautiful! You are an inspiration!

  13. Ea

    September 12, 2015 at 3:42 pm

    Hi, i’ve been following your blog for quite some time now, and a few times you’ve been talking about not wanting to leave marks / having markers leave unwanted marks on your fabric.
    There are ‘magic markers’ available that you can simply remove with a bit of water (one of those refillable watercolor brushes works super). Here’s a link for them on amazon .

    They also sell them on aliexpress:

    and at Joann’s:

    Technical things aside, i truly love following your projects!!!

  14. kathylouwho

    September 13, 2015 at 9:23 am

    stunning!!!!!!! both you and the dress!!!!!!!

  15. Kia

    September 13, 2015 at 2:34 pm

    Wow, it looks gorgeous! The Marilyn dress would’ve have been to die for, but your original design is just as breathtaking.

  16. pandadeww

    September 14, 2015 at 3:33 am

    Its so BEAUTIFUL!!

  17. Mi

    September 14, 2015 at 11:33 am

    That turned out adorable!
    I love the subtlety of the crystals

  18. Diena Cameron

    October 12, 2015 at 5:13 pm

    I’m just in awe of your sewing skills, and can’t believe you’re only 18. You’re definitely a “beauty” and you should be modeling. My Granddaughter did a pin-up style calendar with some friends and they’re all dressed up in the 40’s style clothing. It’s so beautiful, i could see you in it as well. Thank you for sharing your talent, i can’t wait to see the rest of what you’ve created.

  19. arsalan

    October 22, 2015 at 12:08 pm

    its so sister like black color

  20. Holly

    October 24, 2015 at 8:03 pm

    Wow! Great work, Angela!

  21. Duane Piippo

    January 3, 2016 at 12:23 am

    I just watched your 3 part video on this dress/project…….it’s fantabulous and you look SMASHING in it!!!! It’s like moody Alice in Wonderland meets Chanel haute couture.I’m so impressed and will be checking out your other projects /videos.

  22. Haliyma

    January 14, 2016 at 1:16 pm

    Hi Angela! Any books you recommend for sewing?

  23. Jayde Ingrid Taulien

    February 10, 2016 at 6:39 am

    Wow. This dress is stunning! Looks amazing on, and has superb dressmaking workmanship. Thank you so much for sharing the process!

  24. Kimberlea korn

    March 6, 2016 at 9:31 pm

    Angela can you make me a adoption anniversary dress? I like powder pink like the 50 pink and lace kind of like this dress but instead of black lace can you get just plain pastel pink fabric and instead of netting white fabric kind of Like Ariel dress colors

  25. Cordelia

    May 31, 2016 at 9:41 am

    You are a very talented young woman and truly inspiring! Thank you for sharing and continued success with each and every future project.

  26. Abigail

    February 17, 2017 at 11:34 pm

    This is the prettiest dress I may have ever seen! I’ve been looking for a pattern or SOMETHING similar this so I can make it ( as I forgot where it was I saw this, ugh!) but could never find it. I’ve had literal dreams about making this in a sort of light blue plaid, could I use your dress as inspiration?


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