Racing Red Lace Dress

Skill Level 3 – Intermediate

This project assumes a basic level of pattern making, sewing and garment construction. However, feel free to follow along and comment if you have any questions or suggestions as I’m still learning too, but really wanted to give people an idea as to what goes into designing and making a garment from scratch. I will also have some very basic sewing projects using pre-made patterns coming up next on the blog so stay tuned!!


  •  Basic Skirt and Bodice block (I used blocks made by following the steps outlined in Winifred Aldrich’s book, ‘Metric Pattern Cutting’)
  • Sewing machine & tools
  • Pattern making tools
  • Drafting paper

So initially, I intended to make this dress for the Tessuti ‘Cut-out Lace’ Sewing competition but I got so caught up in the design and pattern making process that I lost track of time and missed the due date….Oops! but confusion and disappointment aside, it gave me a chance to be really honest about the original design concept and make some changes that would better suit the positioning of lace on the dress. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise because the other challenge being I had a limited amount of fabric due to the fact that I had purchased the very last two pieces of lace left in the red colour, even though it also came in black and white.

For this project I’ve broken down the steps into 3 parts. Bodice, Skirt and Sleeves. Once you have drafted all the pattern pieces for each part, it’s really all about just sewing them together like a jigsaw puzzle.

Finally, it should be noted here that working with lace can be a bit tricky. In fact depending on your skill level; I would rate it (on a scale of 1-5) at about a level 3 (1 being the easiest and 5 being the hardest). This is because it requires some knowledge of garment construction and a level of skill as to how lace placement works in conjunction with the pattern.

So if you have never used lace before but are keen to incorporate it into your sewing, I would start with basic trims on a hem, sleeve or waistband first. However, if you have already done some sewing, feel confident using lace and are up for the challenge then go for it!

Design Sketch

Taking inspiration from current lace trends, I wanted to design a dress that was both fitting and flattering on the figure. The boat neckline accentuates the shoulders, drawing the eye to the waist whilst the A-line skirt flatters the hips and gives shape. Flared 3/4 sleeves adds a soft, romantic feel whilst the red colour and cut-out lace adds a bright, bold and contemporary edge…

Part 1 – Skirt

1.) Using a basic size 10 skirt block, trace off the initial draft for the skirt. This is the foundation shape or silhouette that you can make design changes from

2.) From here, change the shape of the skirt to a more flattering A-line style by using the cut and spread method and adjust the waist/length to suit.

3.) Repeat the same for the back pieces

4.) Once the front and back pattern pieces have been drafted, sew up a toile in calico to test for the cut make and fit…