Costume College has been and gone, some time ago now, but I’m going to go out on a limb and not apologise for the radio silence during August.

When I’m advised to be super-consistent on our blogs or social media, I always think back to my teen years… I’d be so excited when a musician would suddenly be BACK with the NEW ALBUM after dropping off the face of the earth for months (or even years). I don’t think I would have been half as excited if they’d been emailing me every single week or month ALL THE TIME.

It’s like my wise neighbour in the woods used to say… “Let the wind blow between you” [and your followers].

Valerie was talking about the secret of a happy marriage, actually, but the advice applies here too. I think it’s ok to give people a chance to miss you. So take a break! We do not need to be permanently switched on, producing either projects or content… that’s a shortcut to burnout. So ner. I hope you missed me. 😛


July was an extraordinary month, with my team’s first big Facebook Live promotion for Foundations Revealed (go team!) followed by the hundred yard dash to finish this dress in time for the famed Saturday night Gala at Costume College.

I worked on it until the final morning that I had my sewing room, a few hours before I left Mansfield…


Working on the Dior style gown in my sewing room (c) Cathy Hay


I worked on it in the bar at the Premier Inn at Gatwick Airport…


Working on the Dior style gown in the airport hotel (c) Cathy Hay


I worked on it in my hotel room at the Costume College hotel, finishing about two hours before we walked the Red Carpet.


Working on the Dior style gown in the Costume College hotel (c) Cathy Hay


“All the work while crying”? It genuinely wasn’t. The construction of this style makes that final home straight a breeze. All the engineering to create a wearable dress is done first, creating a stable skeleton…


Skeleton of the Dior style gown, 1 (c) Cathy Hay

Skeleton of the Dior style gown, 2 (c) Cathy Hay


…and all I was doing for those last few days was covering the finished skeleton in pretty fabric and sewing it down. Easy. I could have walked down the Red Carpet with all that taffeta pinned on, and it would have been a perfectly stable gown (if slightly stabby). But in the end, it was done. (*cough*. Mostly.)



Full construction details can be found on my Instagram, where I posted every day with an update on exactly what I was doing.

Constance MacKenzie and I cut quite a dash as the young Queen and Princess Margaret, as inspired by blockbuster Netflix series The Crown…


Constance MacKenzie and Cathy Hay as Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Margaret at Costume College 2018


…but I have to give Constance the maker’s credit for the Royal Orders with which she so kindly presented me (George V, George VI, and I laughed out loud at Elizabeth II, for which she used a picture of herself.)


Royal Orders by Constance MacKenzie (c) Cathy Hay


However, it seems that despite all my best intentions to be Princess Margaret, I was not cosplaying the Queen’s late sister at all… but Princess Tiana from Princess and the Frog.


Princess Margaret... or Princess Tiana? (c) Dames a la Mode


Total coincidence. But the local Woodland Hills children confirmed it when they insisted on a picture with the Disney princess, so it must be true!


Being photographed in my Dior style gown with local children who thought I was a Disney princess. (c) Cathy Hay


I had so much fun making this dress, and it was remarkably comfortable to wear. The foundational corselette was made in breathable cotton bobbinet. It was hooked tightly at the back but not drawn any tighter than that (as a corset would be), so it felt like I was in my pyjamas compared to any Gala gown I’ve made in the past. Being strapless, my shoulders did not feel restricted, which is so often a pain point for me, and I genuinely felt like an ultra-femmey 1950s Enchantment Under The Sea dance princess. I could have worn this dress for days! So if you’re considering this style, I highly recommend having a go. I wouldn’t mind making another myself!

But first, I’ll rest. And you have permission to rest too.


Image credits: thank you all!
Lauren Stowell of American Duchess (top of page)
Joni Steinmann of Rainbow Curve Corsetry (Red Carpet video)
Taylor Shelby of Dames a la Mode (Instagram portrait)