Neoprene Pleated Dress

‘Tis the season to make dresses

I feel like I’m only ever able to produce one outfit a month because of how busy I am, but this month I’ve been able to make TWO Christmas dresses and this bundle of blueness right here is one of them. This dress is everything I thought it would be and more, considering that this is how I imagined it:

Dress Sketch

To avoid sounding like my own biggest fan, I’ll just say a few simple and humble words about this slightly above average dress that I made, that isn’t too bad and could definitely be worse even though it is ridiculously the most amazing dress I have ever made in my whole life and should basically be the staple garment for AW2016.

Neoprene Dress Front

The pattern

Funnily enough, I used the bodice and sleeve blocks that I drafted for my beginner series tutorials. All I did was some dart manipulation to get the neckline pleat and then I attached the front side seam and back side seam together. I then cut it out on a folded sheet of paper to get the full pattern piece, which meant I only had to cut one pattern piece from my neoprene. There was no way I was cutting things out of the fold, it’s way too thick for that.

I also wanted to minimise the number of seams because I was stitching pieces together side by side with a zig-zag stitch and I couldn’t attest to how strong it would be and so my dress has no side seams- only shoulder seams.

Shoulder Seam

Neoprene

Shoutout to neoprene! I love you!!

Neoprene is basically rubber sandwiched between two sheets of fabric and if this didn’t scare me before I bought this fabric, it definitely scared me when it arrived! It took me about a week to muster up the courage to even touch the fabric, let alone cut into it, and when I did, well! I messed it up… big time!

As you can see from my artistically drawn sketch of the above dress, I wanted a pleated neckline, just because I knew neoprene would be stiff enough to hold the shape of the pleat. But what I didn’t anticipate was the build up of fabric around the neckline from the folded rubber. I had about 6mm worth of bulk there with no way of covering it up, not with binding and not by lining the dress. The neckline was a terrible mess and so I had no choice but to cut the whole bodice out, start again and approach it in a different way (changing my design wasn’t an option either)… What a waste 🙁

Through my ingenuity, I was able to come up with a way of avoiding the bulk! Phwahahahahaa! Message me for the not-so-secret secret 😉

Working with this fabric was way too easy. I was expecting broken needles, ruined dresses and tears but I loved it and I look forward to using it again! But what I love about it the most is the way it can hold shapes, and that’s what inspired me to go for pleats on the neckline and skirt.

neckline

Sleeves

Anyone who’s seen my other stuff (check out my gallery) will know that I’ve never created any female item of clothing with sleeves. I hated sleeves, I avoided sleeves, I just couldn’t do sleeves. But it wasn’t until I decided to partake in a project, where I’d be using an incredibly difficult and expensive fabric, that I had the realisation that it was time to work on my sleeve phobia but funnily enough, sleeves were the easiest part of the whole thing!!

I love these sleeves. They’re very sleevesy. And they fit the armhole perfectly, with zero cap ease. Although I can’t imagine how I’d ease sleeves into such a fabric. I think I just got lucky. Hehe!

Sleeves

The skirt

The skirt is nothing fancy but I think it’s perfect for the fabric. It was basically just a huge rectangular sheet of neoprene pleated lots. I was going for the poof factor and so I used a 90″ long rectangle and pleated it into a 30″ waistline, which created massive poof!

Pleated Skirt

The back

I added a simple metal zip down the back of the dress. The black zip definitely offsets the blue of the fabric while still complementing the other black elements added around the neckline and sleeves.

Back

Conclusion

I loved loved loved using neoprene. There’s no way I could have fathomed the simplicity of working with such a fabric. Every time I wear it, I do feel like I’m about to go deep sea diving, but I guess that’s what you get when you buy wetsuit fabric! I’m even starting to consider whether ALL my future projects should involve neoprene!

I’m definitely more willing to work with unique fabrics and can’t wait to imagine up something as lovely as this dress.

If you’re interested in working with neoprene, you can check out Fabric UK, where I bought it from.

A few more pictures

Thanks for stopping by! Feel free to leave your comments!!

Subscribe to My Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to my blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Sharing is Caring...
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on RedditShare on Google+Share on TumblrEmail this to someone

8 Comments

    • Thank you 🙂
      I have tutorials on my YouTube channel that you can check out about pattern drafting 🙂

  1. I love how structural this dress is. It really makes for the perfect party dress. I’ve not sewn with neoprene. I feel like I’ve seen more people in the UK sew with it, so I wonder if there’s just not as much of it here in the US in fabric stores. Well done!

    • Thanks! I think that’s definitely the great thing about neoprene – it holds it’s shapes well! See, I thought neoprene was a US thing because I don’t really see it much in the UK. Haha! Guess it just appears sporadically around the world.

  2. I love this dress. I was thinking of making a skirt like this from my neoprene in my stash ( I’ve never sewn with it, I am a fabricolic and just collect fabrics with no idea what I will do with them ) for my 11 year old granddaughter. If you were just making the skirt, would you use a 1 and 1/2 ” grograine ribbon as a waistband or a 1″ elastic? I just ordered both online to match my neoprene. And what would your seam be? How would you attach the waistband; with a seam, or just hide the pleats behind the waistband so they would show from the inside? Thanks, Pat

    • Thanks so much! Hahaha I too have my fair share of untouched fabrics with no plans for them whatsoever. The thing is, when finishing the sleeves and neckline, I used bias tape, but fold over elastic would have been better as it’ll move with the dress instead of against it. The belt I’m using is basically just 2″ thick elastic which definitely works well. If you were using ribbon you’d need to think about adding an opening to the skirt as it wouldn’t be able to stretch to accommodate your granddaughter. Neoprene is stretchy so I guess it’ll serve it well to use a waistband that could also stretch. Have a practice on some scrap neoprene and see which works well for what you’re trying to achieve. The seam allowance could be whatever you want although mine were very small, I used 1/4″. Attach the waistband the same way you’d attach any waistband – the top of the pleats will be hidden on the inside – just be careful with bulk.

  3. Thanks, Doha. I ordered both the elastic ( neon pink) and the grosgrain printed ribbon and haven’t received them yet. If I use the ribbon, I will have to put a zipper in. And with the ribbon, I would sandwich the pleats inside. Doesn’t fold over elastic come wider than 5/8″? I think it does. Happy holidays. Pat

    • I’ve just had a quick look and I’ve seen some 1″ thick fold over elastics. I’d love to see this skirt Pat once it’s done! Have a merry Christmas 🙂

Let Me Know What You Think