Red Roses

Mui Mui Spring/Summer 2011

How fitting for Valentine's Day!

via Unbreakable Diamond
These past few weeks have been spent making a friend's dress for her 21st birthday party.

One night last December, the two of us were at Chadstone Shopping Centre, and talking about her plans for her 21st birthday celebrations. It was meant to be a coffee-type catch up but we got distracted by all the beautiful clothes on display (Chadstone hosts several big name brands including Chanel, Jimmy Choo and Lisa Ho).

As Rachel described her dream dress, (off-shoulder, puffy gossamer-like detail, draped, loose-ish, flattering, bold-coloured, striking), our walk escalated into a frantic-tearing-through-stores of "like this?"/"no"/"how 'bout this one?"/"are you kidding?"/"this one?"/"sorta"/"Oh my gosh, THIS one!"

It was a full-length dress of crimson red, layered in chiffon, pleated at the neckline and (empire) waist, detailed with ribbon roses and cord.

Trying it on, the colour brought out Rachel's Spanish side and flattered her body shape. Most especially, she loved the roses. 

Although it was one of those 'I have to get it' moments, the dress that Rachel tried was the last one in the store and it wasn't her size. 

So we decided to have a go at making our own, gratuitously photographing and measuring the dress in the dressing room.

These past five weeks have been spent do just that! I didn't take many progress shots but the basic stages of the making process were:
  • measuring Rachel and creating a block pattern
  • fitting the paper block pattern to Rachel's body
  • adapting the block pattern to a one-shouldered dress pattern for the dress base
  • cutting the final dress pattern onto lining fabric, pinning together and fitting Rachel into the dress base
  • pinning, basting and sewing pleats the chiffon layer onto the neckline of the dress base
  • fitting Rachel again and marking the empire waist
  • pinning, basting and sewing pleats around the empire waistline
  • inserting a long (40-50cm) zip into the side of the dress
  • stitching on the eye & hook on top of the zip
  • sewing down the sides of the dress (separately for the underlayer and top chiffon layer)
  • fitting Rachel with her heels, marking and sewing hems (separately for each layer)
  • making roses and stitching to the front neckline and shoulder strap
    • how to make fabric roses: tear strips of fabric, fold in half and tie a loose knot on the fold, wrap fabric around the knot, twisting as you go, hand-stitch the rose into place. Length and width of strip can be changed according to the desired rose size.

If I could go back and improve on the dress I would remember to:
  • put in a second silk lining to hide the stitches holding the roses
  • keep the seam even for the zip (not angling it)
  • machine stitch on top of the final hand-sewn alterations (e.g. making the dress just a little tighter)
  • not use glue on the roses, it left residue
  • use more chiffon as the top layer, it makes pleating easier.

Happy Valentine's Day!


  1. Amazing!!! You're so talented :D

  2. This is very inspiring!! Thanks!

  3. Thanks ML! If you want to make this dress or something similar, feel free to email me ( :D


Hope you feel inspired and creative- thanks for taking the time to read and comment back.