Dances, parties, dates – who knows when you’ll need a formal in a hurry. Forget trying to locate a gown at the last minute, then spotting the high-dollar price tag. There are lots of impressive formals you can make quickly, for a fraction of the cost. And, because you save so much on the gown itself, you’ll have more to spend on jewelry
One quick formal that looks great on just about anyone is created by first making a stretchy tube top. You’ll find stretch fabric in sequin and other beautiful designs at a large fabric store or outlet. The tube top is made by first measuring around the bust line. Add an inch to this measurement. Now measure from just below the underarm to the bottom edge of your bra. Add two inches to this measurement. Fold the chosen fabric in half, with right sides together. Cut half of each measurement that you’ve taken, to make a rectangular piece that will serve as the top of the formal. Stitch the side seam together.
The bottom part of the gown can be designed in many different ways. To make a full-skirted number, take the hip measurement and double it. To make a straight-line skirt take the hip measurement and add five inches. Cut the hip measurement depending on the design you’ve chosen, then choose short, below-knee or floor length. Cut that measurement as well.
The fabric for the skirt doesn’t have to be the same as the top fabric. Choose layers of wispy fabrics for the skirt, or opt for the ever-popular satins or silk. Cut the skirt on the fold and hem right away. Place the fold at the side seam of the formal top. Sew all the way around the bottom of the tube top, ruffling if it’s a full skirt, or taking four equal darts – two in front and two in back – if it’s a straight-line skirt. Finish by going down the tube top side seam straight on to the skirt side seam, and down to the hem.
For a straight skirt you can now cut a slit and hem it, giving the dress a totally different look. For the tube top, you can put a piece of elastic from the top edge, between the breasts, to the lower edge of the top, pulling tightly as you stitch. A zig-zag stitch will best hold the elastic. This design will separate the breasts and give the dress more of a “V”-neck look. Add straps to the gown if desired. Make them ordinary, braid three straps together before attaching to the dress, or cris-cross the straps in the back of the dress.
There are many different ways to change the look of the skirt or hem, too. Cut “V” shapes out of the bottom, before hemming, then hem each “V” to give the dress a tattered look Or, cut the dress to where it’s short on one side, but hangs to the floor on the other side.
If the tube top isn’t the look for you, try using a tee shirt as a pattern but choose a delicate fabric that’s dazzling. Cut the tee shirt at an empire-waist design or cut it to the belly button area before adding the desired skirt. Cut the tee shirt with no sleeves or leave short-sleeved. Add sequin to the neckline, or try other notions. Purchase a golden rope to tie the waist together or even a wide ribbon to stitch across the waistline. Once you get your main design done there’s no end to the notion choices you can add to your gown.
Formals don’t have to cost thousands of dollars. You can whip one up for under $50, usually. And the best thing is, since you create it yourself, it’ll be a perfect fit!