achievement unlocked: beaded Miz Mozelle dress

There are two reasons that I haven’t been posting much: 1) I haven’t been sewing much. Several of the projects I have tackled thus far in 2017 have been really time-consuming–the cross stitching on the pockets of my corduroy Gingers, & the beading detail on the dress I’m showing today. & 2) Something went wonky with Flickr’s editing software & they are really taking their sweet time sorting out a replacement. I barely know how to use computers, full stop, so brightening up photos, pumping up the color, & blurring out obvious evidence of double chins using Aviary is pretty much the extent of my photo editing skills. But those tools have not been available, so I’ve been procrastinating. But now I say, fuck it. Let us all bask in the majesty of this raw, unedited footage!


The garment I am showing today is another Miz Mozelle from Jamie Christina. I think this is my fourth iteration of this pattern, but honestly, the only one that is ever really going to be worn. My bacon print Miz Mozelle was one of the first dresses I ever sewed, before I knew about things like full bust adjustments. The waistline just comes up way too high because the bodice is too small to accommodate my bust properly. I had the same problem with my Miz Mozelle sailor shirt, & the neckline finish on that shirt was such a disaster, I really don’t know what happened. By the time I made my black jersey Miz Mozelle tee, I knew what the fit issue was, but I didn’t alter the pattern because I was making it in a knit (it’s actually specifically a knit pattern) & I wondered if the stretch & drape would resolve the issue. Surprise! It didn’t. & I managed to cut the peplum at an awkward length that somehow feels too long & too short at the same time.

I didn’t do an actual FBA for this dress. Instead, I put on the back dress & waved my arms around & measured the difference between the spot the waistline came to rest & my actual waistline. It came out to 4″! So I added 4″ to the front bodice, grading to 2″ at the side seams, & nothing in the back.


I also swapped out the elastic waistband for shirring (I’m still contemplating more shirring, maybe all the way up to the lower bust? Feel free to weigh in), I added side-slant pockets to the skirt, I eliminated the keyhole & collar, & I ditched the sleeves. I tried the bodice on before I finished the armscyes to see if they needed to be scooped out a little, & I wound up shaving off about 1/4″. I finished the armscyes & neckline with self-made bias tape, & I think it’s one of my best applications yet. It looks so neat & tidy! Several years of lazy bias tape application has taught me that you just really can’t skimp on the pressing if you want that kind of finish to look nice.


Neckline & armscyes.


Close-up of shirring.



But obviously the main focal point of this dress is the skirt. I altered the shape just a hair to use a border print, & then I spent weeks beading it. I really don’t know exactly how many beads I used, but I estimate around 4000. I also don’t know how long it took me to sew them in place, but probably around 25-ish hours? Which is like 25 times the time I spent on the actual dress construction. I think I listened to every single episode of “Lore” while I beaded (but only during the day, because I’m too chicken to listen to that podcast after dark). & I only spilled my dish of beads once! Actually, Ramona spilled it. She knocked it over while she was throwing her giant stuffed crocodile around. (She considers him to be her brother.) (She also has an imaginary sister. It’s truly shocking how much she & her imaginary sister fight. I thought avoiding sibling scuffles was the one guaranteed benefit of having an only child, but alas.)


In a perfect world, the skirt would be maybe 1″ shorter? I knew adding length to the bodice might make the skirt a little longer than I wanted, but I decided to just try it & see, & then I couldn’t hem it shorter because of the border print. Oh well!


This photo shows where I had to piece the skirt together to keep the border print continuous. The skirt has a surprisingly wide sweep. I really used every scrap of fabric I had.

So yeah, all that beading definitely seems like a metric shit-ton of effort to put into a pretty basic dress. I mean, it doesn’t even have darts. It’s made out of quilting cotton. But I’ve been really intrigued by textile embellishments lately, & this seemed like a low-stakes way to experiment with beading, which I’d never done before. The verdict: I love it! I want to bead everything now! I checked out every book my local library has about bead embroidery (…all five of them), & bought a Craftsy class on the topic using a Michael’s coupon. I spend an embarrassing amount of time dicking around online, drooling over beaded, embroidered fabrics that cost like $150 a yard. Think of the money I could save by embellishing fabrics myself! I mean, yes, it’s time-consuming, but I like a good mix of ambitious, time-consuming projects & instant gratification basics. It will be interesting to see if I’m getting in on the ground floor of a hot new trend in the sewing world, or if I’m just a weirdo outlier.

Published by Ciara

Ciara Xyerra wrote zines for the better part of two decades. She has a brilliant & adorable preschooler named Ramona & sews as much as she possibly can. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas with her boyfriend. She enjoys catching up on "The New Yorker", meatball subs, keeping it cranky, intersectional post-third wave feminism, dinosaurs, & monsters. If you have nothing nice to say, she recommends that you come sit here by her, so you can say not-nice things together.

15 thoughts on “achievement unlocked: beaded Miz Mozelle dress

  1. I really love the idea of adding decorative details like this to simple dresses. It’s really a beautiful dress you can show off without having to go to a fancy event. Great job!

    1. Exactly! Because it’s such a simple dress, I feel totally comfortable wearing it to, like, volunteer at the preschool or whatever. I’ve only had a chance to wear it once so far because we’ve had a weird cold snap (it’s very odd to be running to heat in Kansas in MAY), but the only person who saw it went pretty nuts for it. Mostly because of the cat print, if we’re being real.

  2. Looks great! I’ve gone the beading route on a few RTW tops but then had to hand wash as I didn’t want the beads to come off. I’ve yet to bead or embroider one of my makes other than quilts which are always beaded or embroidered sometimes both. I’ve just finished a top that would look great with both embroidery & beads as it has a center front area that would look awesome done up. Keep up the great work

  3. I’m impressed by the effort to put into embellishing fabrics! I’m always super late on trends but I went to the shops for the first time in ages the other day and saw lots of embroidered jeans. So I’m sure there’s some beading around too.

    With the photo editing, if you have a Mac, you can use Photos to do simple editing. Click edit then adjust, and you can muck around with brightness, colour saturation, levels, even colour correction which is cool. I’m sure they’d have a blur tool as well.

    1. Yes, I’ve definitely been seeing an uptick in embroidered garments in RTW. It will be interesting to see how much of that trickles down into our little world of garment sewers! Specifically, I want to learn tambour embroidery, & there are ZERO resources out there about it. None of the books I took out of the library even mentions it. I wonder if I am pursuing a technique that will remain obscure, or if I’m going to wake up in three years to tambour embroidery being the new bramaking, you know?

      I do have a Mac, but I’ve never been able to get Photos to actually save my edits. I’ll fuss with a photo for ages, trying to get the color & light just right, & I’ll save it, & then when I post it online, it’s back to the unedited image. Like I said, I know fuck-all about technology. I don’t doubt that I’m engaging in some user error. I guess I’ll carve out some time to mess with it a little more & see if I can crack the code.

  4. I love this! It looks great on you and I love the shirring.

    I used to use Picmonkey for editing – I think they are back up again now? These days I just use the editing that comes with Pictures in Windows 10, which is utter trash like the rest of windows 10 and makes me swear a lot but is good enough for cropping and adjusting contrast etc.

    I also am really into the idea of embellishing at the moment! I did that one dress with an embroidered pocket and I have another pocket cut out to embroider but I have gotten distracted by knitting since the weather turned colder so I haven’t started it yet. The concept is perfect for me because:
    – I have a long commute where I can’t sew (well… I COULD. And I do do a lot of hems on the train and I have genuinely considered hand sewing a whole skirt or something on the train) but embroidery is easy to do, so it’s not actually taking any functional craft time away
    – I have really missed embroidery, it was my first real craft (I just blogged saying it was knitting but actually it was cross stitch, I’m sorry cross stitch, my first love…) and it’s a good way to enjoy the process and also make useful things I can see and use on a daily basis
    – I now have a mostly-full handmade wardrobe. I need more winter basics, but otherwise I’m pretty good. I want to keep making because it’s an important part of my life but I also don’t want to get sucked into churning out clothes that I then send to the op shop. I don’t think that’s much better than shopping at KMart and then sending that to the op shop… I want to take time to make nice things for myself! Embellishing helps me slow down the craft churn to a useful level without needing to make fully couture items that I’m not interested in making or wearing rn.
    – I tend to like basic, clean shapes, but then they’re so so boring. Embellishing makes them seem exciting and interesting again.

    It’s probably also a ‘conspicuous consumption’ thing too – like, I have the time and money and privilege to make things for myself, look how fancy I am. My thoughts on this are not quite developed…

    aaaaand yet again I have basically written a blog post in the comments of someone else’s blog. Ooops! 😛

    1. Yes, I feel exactly the same way! Like, I don’t think I’m really going to participate in Me-Made May this year because at this point, I am NEVER not wearing something I’ve made. There are still plenty of things I’d like to make, but I don’t have any major holes in my wardrobe. So I’d really like to sew my slowing down a little & get elaborate with some of the things I make. My style is definitely pretty casual, so I don’t need a closet full of beaded gowns or anything, but I love the way embellishments can dress up an otherwise basic garment, & there’s no reason I can’t take the time to try my hand at it.

      I’ve been pretty ruthless with my me-mades in the last year. A lot of items have been donated or put aside for a future yard sale. It’s really just part of the process of understanding what I really wear, now that I’ve been sewing for about four years. I’m also getting antsy to replace some really simple garments (mostly t-shirts) that just weren’t made very well the first time around, because I was (& am!) still learning.

      1. Yes, same! And same about MMM – I wear me made literally every day and usually it’s the same five outfits over and over so… not really worth documenting I don’t think? Plus it’s now dark here in the mornings and evenings (ugggh).

        I definitely need to spend some time making some more basics like tshirts and maybe some warm lounge pants? Those are the only RTW I still have (plus some thin sweaters that just haven’t worn out to need replacing yet) because I find it hard to find knit fabric here, but I have some in the stash now so I need to fix that. But I can do that as the RTW ones start to give out, they’re fine for now, no reason to replace them.

        I don’t think I have anything I made that’s older than, say, two years. I just didn’t really know what I wanted to wear before then, and my skills were ok-not-great and my style shifted since I started sewing anyway. I now really only have things that I wear often. I think I’m better at anticipating what will get worn, and only making that, which gives me the luxury of spending more time on the things I make. It feels pretty good!

  5. This is super cute. I would shir it all the way up to just under the bodice if it were me. I love that look and it complements the sweetness of the fabric.
    I love beaded fabric too. Carrie had this beaded kimono style dressing gown in one season of SATC and I bought a cheap floral dressing gown from an op-shop and beaded it. Didn’t keep it, which I am annoyed about. I really have had a bad habit of ditching things in the past. I am reformed now.

  6. That looks fantastic! I really love how the embellishments go with the fabric.

    I like the idea of using a bunch of different craft skills to make something totally unique. I have a bunch of ideas about how to embroider onto sewing projects, or make my own iron-ons to add to them, but so far nothing has left the drawing board. :p

    1. Yes, I am all about the embellishments lately! The kind of funny thing about this dress is that people are much more drawn to the print than the beading. I think they just see all the beads & assume it’s store-bought. & I always feel weird being like, “I made it,” because it seems kind of braggy, & also opens me up to every sewer’s most dreaded question: “Oh, wow, can you sew XYZ for me?”

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