UPDATE: I added a section to this post about how I designed and sewed this dress. Scroll to the bottom for more details!
Black and Gray Backless Dress
I am absolutely in love with how this backless dress turned out! It is by far my favorite dress that I have ever designed. Medical school takes up a lot of my time, so I haven’t designed or sewn a dress in such a long time. It was so nice to get back into it and make this dress for our end of the year ball, the Tensegrity Ball. I was looking around for a dress for the ball, and I couldn’t quite find one that I liked. The idea of this backless dress slowly started designing itself in my mind, so I just decided, what the heck… let’s make a dress!
Putting the Pieces Together
The top of the backless dress is made with mesh and a beautiful lace fabric. The bottom is chiffon layered with tulle. My favorite part of the dress is the little chiffon roses that I put on the back of the dress. My vision was a very whimsical dress that was ballerina-esque, which I accomplished with the tulle. I went with black lace and mesh for the top to make it more elegant and dressy. It was so fun to piece together all the little details to create my vision. I love doing creative things to break up the monotony of medical school.
Photography: Kimberly Davis & Brendan McFall
I went lighter on the accessories and the hair because the backless dress has a lot going on. For my hair, I wanted big loose curls and parted my hair down the middle to give it more of a modern look to contrast the ballerina-like dress. I only wore a single ring for jewelry. My shoes are chunky velvet heels, which I loved against the light gray. I went for a smokey eye and blush colored lipstick. My nails were a dark plum color.
The Design & Production Process
I have received a lot of requests for more info on how I designed and made the dress, so I thought I would update this post and talk about it a little bit here! All of you sewers out there are going to be scolding me right now… but I didn’t use or make a pattern. Designing and making clothes is one thing that I do that is not systematic and structured. It is a whimsical process of picturing how things will fit together in my head and putting that straight into action with the material. Instead of making a pattern (basically the blue-prints for the dress that you make out of paper first), I just measured myself and drew my pattern out right on the fabric.
With all of the science and medicine in my life, I like to have something that I don’t feel pressured to follow a mechanical process. That being said, putting the ideas in my head into a 3D article of clothing is like a fun puzzle. Sometimes I will just close my eyes and think about how all the pieces will fit together. I absolutely love these types of 3D puzzles (I was obsessed with gross anatomy lab in med school).
The best part… almost all of the fabric is from Hobby Lobby and WALMART. Yup, that’s right, Walmart. The lace was ordered online, but everything else is from Hobby Lobby and Walmart (talk about an inexpensive evening gown!). I spent a total of $40.00 on the material and 5 hours spread out over a couple of weeks to make it. I was busy studying for school and boards, so I would just take a little bit of time at the end of each night to have a glass of wine while working on the dress.
The Top. The top was pretty easy. I went with a backless dress, so basically the top is just one simple shape with lace overlay and an elastic strap running through the front and down the sides.
The Skirt. There are a lot of ways that I could have gone about making the skirt. However, being a med student with not a lot of time, I went with the quick and easy way to make this type of full and twirly skirt. I essentially took a ton of fabric (one layer of chiffon and two layers of tulle) and looped it over an elastic band. This causes the fabric to scrunch up and be very full. Then I attached the top to the skirt, and cut out the elastic where I sewed the top (to get rid of extra layers and material). I kept the elastic in the back. This ended up making it a little fuller in the back, which gave it more of a whimsical princess look.
The Roses. My FAVORITE part of this dress are the little chiffon roses on the back of the skirt. They were super simple to make too! Basically I took a strip of chiffon and wrapped it around itself while hand sewing the base together. I then hand sewed them one at a time to the elastic. I had to hand sew certain parts to keep them laying how I wanted. This is kind of hard to explain without pictures, but I hope this gives you a general idea. Eventually I will get around to making a full tutorial.
From now on I will take pictures of the design and sewing process a long the way. But I hope this helps a little bit! Comment below with any questions or feel free to shoot me an email.