altered rush hour dress

It’s been a while since I last attended a wedding, and S hasn’t been to one since she was a baby, so we had some preparation ahead of us when we received two wedding invitations for September.

While my closet is a good mix of dressy (after 25 years in Manhattan my business and cocktail game is pretty strong) and casual, the really dressy dress part was seriously lacking anything outside of black and white or a full-length strapless gown, none of which were quite right for weddings. So it seemed I’d better get busy making something more appropriate for the occasion.

Liesl's altered Rush Hour Dress for a wedding

And which of our patterns would be more appropriate for a wedding than our new Rush Hour Dress? The pattern itself is a simple sheath, very practical and easy to fit because of the seams. But what could I do to make it more festive?

First off, I could choose fun fabric! I hit up my stash for this one and chose Robert Kaufman’s Essex Yarn Dye Metallic in the color Water for the dress itself. For the lining, super silky, soft cotton/silk Radiance, also from Robert Kaufman, which is so nice to wear against your skin and saved me from the scratchiness of the metallic threads.

Then, the style itself. Since the Rush Hour lines are so simple and clean, it just needed a little drama.

Liesl's altered Rush Hour Dress for a wedding

My inspiration was this Max Mara dress, which includes a pleated detail that I thought would lend itself nicely to the Rush Hour pattern. The original dress looks like it’s a high quality wool suiting that’s very fluid, and although my dress fabric is more structured and more prone to creasing due to the cotton and metallic threads, I thought it was very appropriate for less drapey pleats. Pleats or ruching across the front can be both a style choice and a way to mask a little extra weight–which I knew I’d need since the reception dinner included six courses and a coordinating wine for each course!

To make the style less corporate and more festive, I also altered the neckline and armholes to be a little more revealing. Here is the back.

Liesl's altered Rush Hour Dress for a wedding

By the way, have you ever had a bad zipper? I sewed the first one into this dress three different times, and each time it stuck for no apparent reason. In the end I had to replace it, and the new zipper was just fine. So strange. I was quite relieved to dispose of the offending item once I had ripped it out for the final time. If I had had a little more time on this dress, I would have spent it steaming the pleats into place a bit, but at this point I was just happy I had a dress to wear. The fall patterns are getting the best of my time these days!

Anyway, in a few days I’ll show you how to do the pleated panel for yourself, and sometime very soon after that I’ll show you a few V-neckline tricks that can be applied to any pattern.

By the way, we had a great time at the wedding, and S wore her very first high heels! (I didn’t make her dress; she wasn’t home long enough this summer for me to do that.)

Liesl's altered Rush Hour Dress for a wedding

Oh, and S did my hair. Pretty good, right? I teased her that when I took it out I removed 21 hair pins, but it stayed put through some really wild dancing, so I’d call it a success.

Liesl's altered Rush Hour Dress for a wedding

Next wedding in just one week! (No, I’m not sewing another dress….)




  1. Emily

    Love the detail you added to this dress! I always love the look of ruching, it’s so flattering. Looking forward to your post with more detail on it!

    1. Thanks, Emily! It was fun to make. And to wear.

  2. I saw the pictures of you both a few days back on FB and I was thinking about how gorgeous your dress is( You both looked amazing!) Love the pleats and the back neck alteration, great fabric choice too.

    1. Thanks on all counts!

  3. Erica

    Like mama, like daughter. S is good with her hands! I can’t wait to see your pleat tutorial — what a fabulous alteration to the Rush Hour pattern!

  4. Lynn Cosgrove

    Wow … you both look amazing. I love S’s high heels – stunning young lady x

  5. Cindy Cooksey

    You both looked dynamite!

  6. Susan Terrill

    You both look beautiful. I cannot believe how S has changed. I wonder who made her lovely dress. I think few of us would look so fantastic in your dress and your hair is wonderful and enticing. This dress remind me of another one of yours.
    Can’t wait for the next wedding.

  7. Lucinda

    love the mother/daughter shot (and just can’t get over how much older S is looking – our kids keep growing up, don’t they?!). Your dress is stunning and I love the addition of the pleating. Kudos to S on her hair styling skillz . . . your hair looks amazing!

    1. She’s almost my height now–less than 1″ difference between us! And clearly she inherited the hairstyling skills from someone else.

  8. TrishKnits

    I love the changes you made to the dress. The ruching is beautiful. I’m looking forward to reading about how you executed it. Both you and S look fabulous – great shoes too!

  9. Ginger

    Love your dress! It’s perfect for weddings.

  10. Tracy Mueller

    I have never commented on a post before, but I just had to after I saw your picture and read your story. You look elegant, and S looks like she’s on top of the world! How fun! And S’s shoes?????? Please give details, because they are outrageously stylish! Enjoy your next wedding! And please post those pictures too!


    1. Aren’t her shoes darling? We found them on sale last spring and she fell in love. Thanks for the comment, too!

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