1950s | Dresses | Pattern Drafting

Prom Dress!!

January 15, 2014

Hello all-

So this post is not about something that I have made but about something that I plan on making! I am going to make my prom dress and I am so excited. This is a large project that I am taking on and I was wondering if any of you had advice for me! My plan is to make a 50s-esque frothy dress with a layered tulle and lace skirt. IT is going to have a satin bodice and a sweetheart neckline. Here’s an example of what I want it to look like:

I  would love any and all advice you have for me as I have only been sewing for about a year and I really want this dress to come out good!



  1. If you don’t want to spend your LIFE cutting out tulle, I would recommend tulle spools, which you can get at joann’s etc (http://www.joann.com/6in-tulle-spools/xprd985716.html). I haven’t made a dress with them, but I have made a big costume tutu and it was the best idea ever. Secondly, buy a big petticoat! It will make all the difference! And don’t forget to show us your creation when you’re done 🙂

  2. You’re going to want a waist stay and a lot of boning to get it to stay up!

    I made a sort-of-similar wedding dress, and I constructed an internal bodice for that. I got my pattern pieces and traced them to just past the waist, and made two bodices out of flannelette and muslin. I put them wrong sides together and made boning channels along the seam lines. (You could also just make one – flannelette is often recommended because it’s sturdy – and sew ribbon along the seamline for the boning.) For the waist stay, I used 1″ grosgrain ribbon cut to my waist measurement plus a couple of extra inches. That got sewn to the internal bodice along the waistline and was done up with bra hooks.

    That way, you won’t see the boning channels from the outside and the waist stay will support the dress. All that skirt is going to weigh it down and without straps you’ll spend all night tugging it up. The waist stay stops that from happening.

    And yes, start ASAP. I gave myself three months to do my wedding dress and wished I’d started earlier.

    1. I didn’t even think about a waist stay but now that you mention it, you are so right! I made a dress earlier this year that called for a waist stay but I omitted it and even though it had straps, I could feel the skirt weighing down the whole dress. I already knew that I need boning and I think I am going to sew it to the lining of the bodice along with the waist stay.

  3. For instruction on how to build a gown with boning and a waist stay, get yourself a copy of the book “Bridal Couture” by Susan Khalje. The techniques Lucy mentions in her post are explained and illustrated in Susan’s book.

    Also make sure you are wearing a good longline strapless bra, to support your body and provide a stable foundation over which to build your dress.

    Good luck, and start ASAP!!

  4. Pretty! The Bombshell Dress class on Craftsy is another good resource for learning how to create “scaffolding” for your dress out of boning and a waist stay. I have done it for myself twice now, and I thought I could never wear a strapless dress! The boning and waist stay really do make all of the difference!

  5. Thank you so much everyone! I started the drafting for the bodice today and am going to start doing a muslin as soon as I can. I am wicked excited for this prom dress(so much that I don’t care if I get a date!) and cannot wait to see how it comes out. I will make sure I post the final project on here when I am finished (probably sometime in May).

  6. Oh, what fun. I might suggest the Gertie shelf bust dress pattern as a jumping-off point, too? I know it has a boned bodice, and you could do individual tulle ruffles over the sweetheart inset pieces instead of pleats?

    1. I actually made that dress for convocation/senior dinner earlier this year! I loved it but I don’t think it is what I am going for for this dress. I do think having made that dress before will help me with the boning though. Thank you for your suggestion though.

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