A Summer Party Dress

In June two good friends eloped to Las Vegas.  When they returned to L.A. they set about organizing an elegant party to celebrate their wedding. Maybe it’s that two people are starting a new life together, maybe it’s a completely irrational desire for something new to wear to a celebration, but there is something about a wedding that begs for a new frock.

I had dresses I could have worn to the reception, but my colorful dresses weren’t formal enough for the occasion and I still hold to the idea that it’s inappropriate to wear black to a wedding.   I knew just what I wanted to wear.  I wanted a navy  blue strapless cocktail length dress in linen.  Now the problem was finding it.

It is not easy for me to find dresses that fit correctly.  They’re usually too tight in the hips and too loose at the waist.  I’ve pretty much given up looking for fitted dresses at retail. It seemed like the best thing I could do was to find a pattern and sew the dress myself.  There was a lull between freelance projects at the time, so I got out the sewing machine and set about finding a pattern, fabric and notions.

I used Simplicity pattern 2212 (You can see it here.) and found the fabric at “Mood” fabrics here in L.A. (If you live in the area and you haven’t been to Mood go check it out! It’s fabulous.) The ensemble consists of a dress and matching belt.

I didn’t take any photos before the actual reception and I was too busy having fun at the party to ask my husband to take some outfit shots.  These photos were taken before my Father-in-Law’s birthday party this July.


  • Linen Strapless Dress – made by me!
  • Scarf – Echo
  • Sandals – Donna Karan
  • Jacket – Marni
  • Earrings – Target

Do you ever become so frustrated by what’s available at retail that you decide to take matters into your own hands and start sewing? Do you share my desire to always wear something new to a wedding?

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27 Responses to A Summer Party Dress

  1. Tershbango July 28, 2011 at 1:30 pm #

    I’m so impressed! It’s beautiful, and so are you! 🙂
    Tershbango recently posted..Drumroll, Please…My Profile

    • Heather Fonseca July 29, 2011 at 1:18 pm #

      Thank you so much! Glad you like it. I guess it’s an appropriate post as you’re wedding is coming up soon yes?

  2. Alexis of NorthOnHarper July 28, 2011 at 4:44 pm #

    Wow— you are so talented!!! And the dress is great!!!
    Alexis of NorthOnHarper recently posted..Blackberry & Nectarine HeavenMy Profile

  3. Paula July 28, 2011 at 6:31 pm #

    Yup, and I usually have this idea in my mind that I can never find ANYWHERE! sO proud of you that you hauled out your machine–a girl after my own heart!
    Great job too-such a great dress and perfect for the day! Kudos, GF!
    Paula recently posted..A Year of Blogging: A RetrospectiveMy Profile

    • Heather Fonseca July 29, 2011 at 1:17 pm #

      Thanks Paula! I actually have a whole table set up to sew, but rarely have time to do so. I hope this Fall some time will open up because I miss it when I don’t do it.

    July 29, 2011 at 10:35 am #

    I love that first photo. You look so happy (and pretty)!
    THE-LOUDMOUTH recently posted..Be a better shopper (part three) : : Following upMy Profile

  5. Ariane July 29, 2011 at 10:54 am #

    Looks beautiful. How much would you charge to make one like that for a friend ; ). I could never have the talent to make a dress.

    • Heather Fonseca July 29, 2011 at 1:16 pm #

      You’re sweet Ariane! I don’t know if I’d have time to make one for a friend right now. I’m up to my eyeballs in work, but you’d be surprised what you could do if you set your mind to it. Sewing isn’t that hard.

  6. Dress Code: High Fashion
    July 29, 2011 at 11:24 am #

    PERFECT choice for a wedding!

    My, I`m jealos – your summer consists of garden partys, picnics, days by the sea – just like a summer should!
    Looks like we`re going straight from spring to fall this year in Germany 🙁 It`s cold, rainy and the leafs are already turning brown…*sigh* Wtf I`m buried in the library anyway..*louder sigh*

    Have a nice weekend, dear.

    • Heather Fonseca July 29, 2011 at 1:15 pm #

      It does look that way from my blog doesn’t it! Much of my time has been spent on vacation, but I’ve also spent a lot of hours working. I just don’t show that part! But still the weather has been beautiful. Sorry to hear it’s been so dreary in Europe!

  7. Aquí July 29, 2011 at 8:50 pm #

    very impressed! Gorgeous result and it flatters you so well! I really love the fabric!

  8. Stacey - Total City Girl
    July 30, 2011 at 4:58 am #

    Heather I love how you jump right in and take charge. I do get frustrated by what’s out there but unlike you, don’t know how to sew!! You did a great job!
    Stacey – Total City Girl recently posted..Butterfy GardenMy Profile

    • Heather Fonseca July 31, 2011 at 1:51 pm #

      Hey Stacey! You’re so crafty you should learn to sew. I think it would be right up your alley.

  9. Lee Oliveira August 1, 2011 at 4:14 am #

    And helloooo summer to you.
    This dress is to die for
    lee x
    Lee Oliveira recently posted..On the streets of BerlinMy Profile

  10. Jamillah August 6, 2011 at 10:15 am #

    Mood is the best!!! We have here in NY too :D.

    Love the dress you made and the first pic is maybe my favorite pic of you ever :). So so pretty!
    Jamillah recently posted..Smile File-Cutest Baby EVERMy Profile

  11. Jessie at Fashion Limbo August 24, 2011 at 8:58 am #

    Love this dress Heather, great job, looks great on you. I’ve made my own clothes, badly but hardly anyone notices so who cares 😛 and not only it’s fun a seriously rewarding, but yes, with the options of bad quality stuff, or the dozens of trends that are simply not kind to a woman’s body, or the wrong cuts, it’s a great thing to make your own clothing. Plus there’s hundreds of great tutorials out there that make things very easy. I have heard about US Mood, wish I had one nearby 😉
    Jessie at Fashion Limbo recently posted..My Problem With ZaraMy Profile

    • Heather Fonseca August 26, 2011 at 4:06 pm #

      The only problem with making one’s own clothes is that it is time consuming. I so want to get out the machine right now and start sewing some more but I’ve got a big project that takes priority over my wishes. Next I want to try my hands at a clutch purse, which I really want but can’t find at retail.

  12. Patricia Streeter
    April 5, 2012 at 8:07 am #

    Nice job! Did you use a maniquen or did you try it on as you went along?

    I have a sewing machine but no room for it in my dorm room. I’m hoping to find room for it in my new place so I can dig into some sewing projects this summer. MY first project will be a beach bag I found on pinterest.
    Patricia Streeter recently posted..Where to buy Dansko Marah Shoes?My Profile

    • Heather Fonseca April 5, 2012 at 9:52 pm #

      A beach bag would be a great first project. I didn’t use a mannequin because I don’t have one, I just tried as I went along. I’ve lost a lot of weight since so the dress no longer fits, which is really sad!

  13. Eleanor July 13, 2012 at 5:22 am #

    Its really awesome dress. I buy my summer party dress from ladywishes.com and i think my dress is so beautiful than yours

  14. andrea
    October 26, 2012 at 6:35 am #

    Fab dress…guessing it’s one of those really versatile dresses that yes you can wear for a summer party but it can be worn for loads of other occasions to. That’s what I call a good investment!
    andrea recently posted..Best Xmas Party Dresses For Women 2012My Profile

    • Heather Fonseca October 27, 2012 at 7:07 pm #

      Thanks Andrea. It’s linen, so probably best for spring and summer, but I’m glad you like it. It is a classic style.


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