M5972: Anniversaire Amour Dress

*Dec-2018 Edit: After spending an afternoon at the Specialty Pleaters workshop in Melbourne, I’d like to atone for some of my comments in this post – which are based on opinion, not fact, and represent a far lesser state of knowledge about the pleating process, and the impact of bias fabric on hem lines. With regards to the hem of this dress – this was not an issue associated with the pleating process – making the comments I’ve made here unfair and defamatory. If you’re interested in finding out more about pleating – please read this post. Thanks!

And here she is – my inspired rendition of Eva Franco’s Lemon Amour Dress! 

Her maiden voyage was my birthday dinner with Mr poppykettle to celebrate my last birthday in my 20s. It was a lovely evening!


Just as lovely was the enjoyment I got from sewing this dress – so simplistic and satisfying to sew, so enjoyable to wear! Having focused on more challenging and time-consuming projects over winter, ‘refreshing’ would be the perfect word for describing the making of this garment. Taking some time out to do some non-sewing things has been really great.

It wasn’t all roses though… but we’ll get to that a bit later on.


The dress itself is a bit of a franken-pattern – I used the bodice from McCall’s 5972 and drafted my own full circle skirt which I had pleated with a sunray pleat at Specialty Pleaters. The bodice is lined in self-fabric and I was planning to incorporated a shortish a-line skirt hiding underneath the pleated skirt so that when walking, certain body parts don’t gobble up the skirt (we all know what I’m talking about!!!). But I didn’t end up needing it – the pleats give a lot of structure to a rather flimsy fabric.

The main fabrics are a nude (blush?) and deep violet-blue delustred polyester (as it’s perfect for pleating) from Franke StuartThe lace? That’s from Stitches to Style. It’s hand-made – which made things a wee bit difficult because it’s not symmetrical, but that doesn’t bother me nearly as much as I thought it might. Did I feel horridly guilty whilst sewing this incredible creation on to my polyester fabric? You bet I did. No matter though because I absolutely, absolutely adore this lace. I used silk thread to attach it to the bodice, and because the backing is a mesh with a bit of stretch, I was able to manipulate it so I didn’t need to worry about darts distorting the embroidery or the backing. I’ve done it in such a way that the lace can be salvaged and applied to another creation if it should so take my fancy in the future. 

Ah… yes – the twirling capabilities of a full circle skirt!

So…. the bad news I hinted at, and a few words on my learnings from the pleating process. With sunray pleats, apparently you hem after it’s been baked, and not before, due to hem bulk not allowing the pleat to bake in. I completely freaked out when they called me to say this (I’d already posted in my half circles hemmed) but the lady said my hem was so tiny that it should be ok. Yay for tiny hems!

What they didn’t tell me was that there was no promises that my half circles would be pleated on grain. If you know otherwise – please inform me, but I would have thought aligning a perfectly cut half circle (and I spent several hours checking and rechecking and checking again to make sure those two circles were perfectly cut) so that the pleating is done uniformly would have been a non-issue. I’m totally impressed I’m not screaming down the house about this – but this hiccup meant I didn’t finish the dress in time to wear it to a best friends wedding on the 8th, because I had to re-hem the ba$tard. Having (presumably…?) lousy workmanship like that shove my pre-planned sewing schedule out of alignment seriously shat me off. Oh yeah, and I also initially sewed the bodice lining on backwards, and only realised after I’d clipped and understitched – oops! Then of course my invisible zip broke… gah!

Exhibit A: Lousy off-grain pleating.
Would you wear a dress with a hem this uneven?? Didn’t think so.

Ummm, Specialty Pleaters – could you have possibly tried any LESS to get this on grain? Also, turns out my waist measurement was smaller than their mold (I’m totally taking this as a compliment) so there was anywhere between 1 and 4cm of fabric down from the waistline before the pleat actually kicked in, because again – the fabric had not been properly aligned in the mould prior to heat treatment (forgot to get a picture of this before cutting it down, but the image will be forever ingrained in my memory). This to my mind is why the pleats do not hang properly and kind of go skewiff at the sides, but I see this in the original Eva Franco dress too (see this in the 4th picture), so maybe I’m just making a big fuss about it all? If you happen to be better informed on this issue – I’d love to hear your opinion.

I’m probably going to try the pleating process once more – there’s another pleater in Melbourne (I called him and wrote him off because he wouldn’t discuss pricing unless I came into the shop front – talk about old school!! He’s italian though, so maybe he takes more pride in his work….) and I have my heart set on another pleated skirt-dress for summer, so we’ll just see what happens with that.

The most important thing is I felt like absolute royalty wearing this to my birthday dinner :)

And I have some super exciting news – I’ve registered for ‘Camp Couture’ with Susan Khalje in September next year!!! I’ll be doing the French Jacket Class and the Couture Sewing Class, and I don’t think I’ve ever wanted an entire year to pass so fast! Anyone want to join me? Or if you’re a local, even come fabric shopping with me whilst I’m there? Baltimore and New York – HERE I COME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



  1. what a stunning dress! The pleats look gorgeous, too bad they got them so uneven! I hope you have better luck with the other pleater. Regardless, you did a fantastic job with this dress. By the way, happy belated birthday! :)

  2. absolutely wonderful! i love the lace and the colors. the pleating is fantastic. i'm sorry the hem was so wonky. i've never used a pleater, nor do i even know of one in my state so i'm impressed with your experience. happy birthday! that's a lovely birthday dress. :)

  3. Royalty – absolutely! You look amazing in that dress, definitely worth all your efforts. Oh, Happy Birthday. Hubby and I are planning East coast trip to US Sept/Oct. Would love to do her course – you lucky thing – have fun and would love to hear of your adventure.

  4. What a gorgeous dress! It is really lovely and looks fun to wear. I love a twirly dress. It makes sense to me that 1. the pleater would recommend hemming the skirt after the pleating process because 2. the hem would be uneven after the pleating process. A half circle skirt has straight grain at the horizontal edges when it is cut out. But when it is hanging from a waist, it hangs on the bias. From slight bias to full 45 degree bias at the center front. I don't know if you have sewn garments cut on the bias. They are a challenge because they flow and hang unevenly. For any dress or skirt cut on the bias, it is recommended that it hang for several days for the bias to stretch out, and then the bottom edge of the garment be leveled while on the body (since bias going over butt and hip curves will be shorter than the bias fabric skimming a flat tummy. And then it is hemmed. All reasons I avoid sewing bias cut garments if I can.

  5. Stunning, it looks so gorgeous on you and your sewing is immaculate as usual!I'm really interested in the pleating – the skirt looks so stunning and I never realised you could get fabric pleated like that, so please keep us up to date on what the other pleater is like.

  6. daaaaaaamn woman! Had to push my jaw back in place to stop my brains falling out -again! Love, love, love. Also, your description of pleating problems-totally hilarious XD 'takes a bit more pride' etc XDXD – and not at all snipey-I'm a total 'get my money's worth-school'-addict and it's awesome that you're speaking up about your experience-it'll be useful for anyone else looking to use the same product/ technique. Will be interesting to see how the 2nd guy goes. Also-fabric shopping in the US? argmegerds-totally envy-am I the only one that hasn't been? Totally running away screaming dramatically. XD

  7. That dress is gorgeous! When you are wearing it, can't notice the uneven hem so don't worry about it :) Still, you pay for a service, you expect it to be done well :)

  8. DDDDDDUUUUUDE! I am in awe. Total, complete awe. What an absolutely incredible dress- that lace, whoa. I didn't even know you could get fabric pleated – sorry about your troubles by the final product is truly spectacular.

  9. Happy birthday! Beautiful beautiful dress! I am very impressed with your patience and the amount of work you've put into it. In three weeks' time, I am attending the Couture Sewing Camp with Susan in Baltimore and if I like it, I'll sign up for one next year.

  10. This is so beautiful. Absolutely stunning. The blue lace just pushes it over the top. It is always nice when you feel really good when you wear something you made – and you should be happy because you look like royalty in it. Sounds like there were some headaches along the way, but it also seems like the best projects always have a few headaches. But, in the end it was totally worth it I think, your finished dress is absolutely lovely.

  11. Happy birthday! What a stunning dress – you look absolutely lovely. I'd love to hear how the two pleating companies compare, it's really interesting learning about the pleating process.

  12. You look absolutely gorgeous! The colour of the lace is divine! Such an adventurous project…thanks for all the detail about pleating and suppliers. I'm happy that it turned out for you in the end. Happy Birthday!

  13. Insanely beautiful dress! you look gorgeous in it! I am so jealous about the Sewing Camp too. I hope it's amazing. Can't wait to hear all about it!

  14. Oh my gosh Melanie – this dress is truly truly a stunner! You truly make an incredibly beautiful garment – I'm always stunned by your fit and finishes and construction details! I'm so glad you got to wear this out to a special occasion and twirl around in it. Also – very jealous of your Couture classes! How exciting! I wish I was in the area, I'd totally hang out fabric shopping and picking your brain while your soaking up the Khalje goodness!

  15. HOLY COW! LOVE this! It's absolutely beautiful!! I hope you felt like a birthday princess! :DAnd yay! Have SO much fun with Susan Khalje! And let me know if you need any travel tips or anything– I'm in NYC and my sister is in Baltimore.

  16. I really love the pleats and think they were worth the hassle. They're gorgeous. And, Camp Couture?! I've been dying to take those classes. I live in the Bay Area, so I wouldn't even have had to book a hotel room had I signed up for a class this past year. I did notice that they're all in Baltimore next year though. Hmmm… It would be awfully fun to take a class – better yet both classes! Is there a discount for signing up for two?

  17. Soooo preeeety! Can't wait to see how the next pleater turns out. I want to give it a go. And happy birthday!! AND OMG I AM SO JEALOUS OF YOUR TRIP NEXT YEAR!! YES THIS IS ME SHOUTING WITH EXCITED JEALOUSY! I seriously considered it earlier this year and then decided it was too extravagant. I love that you're actually doing it!!

  18. No, no discount, but I've heard the classes are nothing short of amazing, so I don't mind. You should do it! I know she mixes them up between both locations, so there'll be another non-Baltimore one soon, I'd imagine.

  19. Holy guacamole!!! This dress is just beyond words… Delicious. And I had no idea that you could get fabric pleated like that! I can't tell you how many times I've trawled fabric shops looking for pleated fabric when all I had to do was send it off for custom pleating – oh wow. Hope you have better luck with the Italian (yes we Italians do take serious pride in our work! ;)

  20. Thank you Suzy – I definitely will be. I've had quite a few people with know-how contact me with info on the process so it's been very enlightening. More info to come, promise!

  21. i love it, the design is so flattering on you, and the pleated skirt gives the longer skirt length a lot of design interest. the length is brilliant on you and i love the pop of blue from the lace overlay.

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