Tuesday, 29 March 2011

What I've been reading... "The Party Dress Book"

Well hello there, how nice of you to visit! I've had a few days to get myself back to normal after Holland and I finally feel up to blogging once more so hurrah :)

One of the books I took away with me on tour was the particularly gorgeous "The Party Dress" by Mary Adams, and my goodness it is full of yumminess (and yes, that is a technical term). This book promises that after reading you will have the skills at hand to create the best dress in the room, and I have to say that if I create something as pretty as the pictures I'd probably agree! I first heard about this book after reading about it on Gertie's Blog, she seemed so taken by the book as a whole that I thought it must be worth a look, so I ordered a copy that sat sadly neglected for many months before I remembered it was there and dusted it off. And I'm so glad that I did!

Take a look at these yummies!
The majority of the book consists of Mary Adams discussing her various techniques and inspirations, ranging from ruffles to applique, deep sea fishes to Marie Antoinette. I found this whole section of the book fascinating. Adams has a very absorbing way of writing, really holding your hand and leading you through the pretty pastel coloured working of her mind, I couldn't help but feel inspired! Just reading the first section of the book leaves you chomping at the bit to create your own girlie works of art, at least it did for me!

Adams uses really simple techniques to produce extravagant and elaborate finished pieces. It also makes me feel a lot more confident about creating my own dresses when I hear that she had no form of training in dressmaking apart from what she picked up at school - there's hope for me yet!! One of my particular favourites is the dress below, completely covered in bias strips and absolutely stunning!

Soooo pretty!
The book provides you with the patterns pieces to make three different styles of party dress:  the soaked silk taffeta, the pieced cotton, and the layered silk organza. Out of these the one that interests me most is the layered silk organza, but I'm also a bit in love with the cotton pieced dress. There are several gorgeous variations of this dress in the book, including this sweet apron version:
Le sigh, Le swoon
The possibilities are just endless and the construction is so simple, I think I may be running up a few of these for Summer! But first I want to tackle the layered silk organza dress. 
My new challenge
I want to make a variation on this dress using some beautiful black spotted soft net for the overskirt (a recent find in the John Lewis fabric sale!) and then green/blue taffeta underneath with black silk organza for the petticoat and ruffles. I think it's going to look gorgeous, I can't wait to get started on it! My Sweetheart and I have tickets to go and see The Hurly Burly Show (a new Burlesque show in London) a week on Sunday and I would love to have the dress finished by then and really go out in style. This will be the first fancy party dress I have attempted, so anything could happen!

I will do a follow up post on fabrics and progress soon, but for now I will say that I think "The Party Dress" is a beautiful read filled with colour, inspiration and a real love for creating pretty things, a book that every craft loving girl would be happy to have on her bookcase - it has become a firm favourite of mine :)

Bye for now!

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