Finishing the Formal Dress

I gave up on my blue taffeta dress quite some time ago. I had already decided to make something else for the event and it was just staring at me in my pile of failures. there were just so many things wrong:

  1. The original idea of a draped bodice was just beyond my capabilities.
  2. The icky polyester taffeta would be sooooo uncomfortable to wear.
  3. The design doesn’t have much mobility.
  4. Completely unpractical to travel across the country in a plane with the giant petticoat.

Pattern Review.com was running a UFO contest in January so I thought it might be worth just finishing it for the contest and maybe I could even recoup the material cost with the gift card winnings. Spoiler Alert:

UFO Contest 2017

 

I found out about the contest on January 29 and procrastinated a few days before starting. It had to be submitted by Feb 4th and I wasn’t sure I had time to do the dress justice.

I started with making the skirt. I want to do this before the bodice since I know that it will take up the most fabric and I wanted a properly full skirt.

To start I used the waist from a skirt pattern in Gertie’s Ultimate dress book.

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I placed it on the corner of the fabric and then used a tape measurer to mark a 30″ skirt around it. I cut one on a fold and two  on the salvage. I sewed the three panels together and pinned the box pleats in place, ironed them and basted it.

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Since the taffeta unravels like a beast I decided to finish the top edge with some black hem tape so I won’t have to worry about it as I handle it. Ialso finished the bottom with a blind hem.dsc_0067

Now onto the bodice. when we last left it looked like thisdsc_0047

Despite all my efforts I could not get it to work. I would drape it, pin it, sew it, put it back on the dress form and suddenly it would transform into a tortured mess. I think I did 3 tries before I abandoned it.  A quick pivot and I ended up with this:

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I had already drafted the bodice as I had intended the draped fabric to attach to it. I glammed up the neckline with some simple beading using grey glass pearls with smaller black iridescent beads flanking either side.

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I’m not sure I will ever wear it out…I’m not sure I’ll even keep it together, I mean this bodice is just too impractical. I may cut it up and turn the bottom into a skirt and salvage the beading for another project. Or perhaps draft another bodice with a little more coverage. I still don’t think I will call it quits on this dress until I run out of fabric and can’t do anymore! The skirt on OTOH is what retro dreams are made of. So much fabric and the perfect shape with the matching petticoat. I didn’t even bother putting horse hair in the hem like I had originally planned.  I will certainly be coming back to this skirt design perhaps in a more  casual fabric.

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Now it’s off to fabric mart to spend my winnings. One thing’s for sure, I am getting the Ginger Jeans pattern that I have had my eye on for months!

Simplicity 8051 AKA: the girly confection

I was one of the first people to sew up this pattern into my flamingo dress . I was too antsy to try out that unique triangle back cut out that I just couldn’t wait any longer for someone else to iron out the kinks and tell me the pitfalls.

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Well nearly a year later and 4 more people have reviewed it on pattern review but still no one has sewn up the View B. So once again I jumped off into untested waters.  I am mowing through sewing projects at a pretty steady clip so I decided I needed to take some action to slow down.  I selected a cotton broadcloth in buttercup yellow. Since its a solid I figured the dress could stand to have some interest.  Nows as good of time as any to learn hand embroidery!

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It didn’t take nearly as long as I thought it would. I did both straps over the course of 2 days. I used 8 skeins of embroidery floss for this project. 3 Greens and 3 yellows in light medium and dark tones and 2 pinks in light and medium tones. I mixed the threads  so that the embroidery would have more dimension. It looks very good in person but its a little difficult to capture on film.  I used very basic stitches: the Lazy Daisy, Chain Stitch and French Knots; the latter being my favorite. Once finished I was pretty happy with it so I decided to put some flowers onto the skirt as well.

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The dress is sooooo girly and light and I just want to twirl around in it all day. Perfect for the first fledgling days of spring ahead. The sweetheart neckline with a pseudo pleated shelf bust fits my shape a lot better than the last shelf bust attempt

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One area of difficulty was the construction of the bodice.  Normally you would construct the outside and then the lining as separate pieces and then attach them at the neckline. This allows you to be able to sandwich the zipper in between the outer and inner layer for a very clean look. This pattern was a little different in that  it starts at the top and has you sew each tier of both lining and outside at the same time with one line of stitching. Makes it super stable but it means you can’t do a clean zipper. It took me a bunch of brainpower to figure out how to construct it so that the lining  would be free. I think I way over complicated it but I got there in the end so that’s all that matters.

It’s a shame that this view gets bypassed for the triangle back because I think it’s very flattering. My only alterations were to lengthen the front midriff by 1″ and to add side seam pockets….and of course the embroidery.For my first time out the gate with this artform I am pretty proud with the results and can’t wait to try it again. Perhaps on the collar points of a 40s blouse I have on the docket.

 

Simplicity 2446 Blazer with Contrast

I asked Tony what I should sew next and he picked blazer so that’s what I did! I used the same Simplicity 2446 pattern as I did for my Chocolate Wool Blazer, this time I was inspired by view B and picked up a 1/4 yard of black velvet for the contrast collar and pocket flaps.

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I felt like my last blazer was a bit too long waisted ( I did add 1.5″ to just as standard practice) so this time around I removed the extensions and went back to the original pattern length. I did however keep the arm length adjustment from before. Unfortunately this blazer was not as enjoyable to sew, both the plaid and velvet were a fraying nightmare. Mostly I just wanted to be done with it….now that it is done I love it!

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I remembered to snap a picture of the insides this time before I turned it right side out. In an effort to not make another trip to Joann’s I made my own shoulder-pads this time out of batting and some remnant material. Also in the shot is the fleece that is used as the sleeve heading which gives the shoulder a nice roll.

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Even though the velvet in the collar is interface bottom and top it not as crips as I would like. I did a line of invisible hand stitching in the seams where the collar attaches to the blazer to keep it from looking baggy.

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For the front I sewed button holes in but I don’t think I will be buttoning this so I didn’t cut them open. For the front leather buttons I used small black buttons to secure them on the back side to make it look clean and professional.

 

For as much of a struggle as this was to make i’m still pretty pleased with the results…but I have decided to put off any more jacket/coat sewing for awhile. I just want to make a satisfying girly dress next.

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