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 8086 as seperates

I didn’t think I was going to have any more time for sewing this year but I did manage to eke out one more dress on Tuesday before my clients came to Denver for the “Ingredients Gala” . The Gala was the kick-off event for what will be my all consuming job for the next 6 weeks.

I used the last of my fabric from the Denver Sewing Guild sale to make Simplicity 8086

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I made quite a few changes to the pattern to suit my needs. When I first picked this pattern up I assumed like most people it was separates ( a dress and and and over shirt). Well a quick perusal of the directions reveled that the over shirt is in fact attached along the neck and armholes. So the first modification was to break them apart.  I had 4yds of fabric and I was able to do the over-shirt, entire bodice and bodice lining in fashion fabric as well as the longer skirt from View A.  I love the rich tones of this fabric and I think the style lines of the dress work well with fabric pattern.

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I thought I would share a little mini tutorial on the order of assembly on the dress in case anyone wanted to make them separates like I did. When doing this a sewed some on Monday night and then I couldn’t sleep because I was thinking spatially how to solve the problem and then when I woke up on Tuesday and ripped most of it apart and tried it this way.

  1. Sew the front bodice to the midriff (repeat for lining).
  2. Attach the upper back pieces at the shoulder seam (repeat for lining)
  3. Lay the out side and lining with right sides together and sew along the neck and armholes. Turn and press
  4. Sandwich the upper back between the lower back outside and lining with the outsides right sides together and the linings right side together.Press down
  5. Finally, open out the bodice and stitch to attach the side seams in one continuous line.

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Now the bodice should be complete with all the seams hidden accept the center back where the zipper will go and along the bottom where the skirt is attached.

When I got the bodice to this point I tried it on the dress form. There was a lot of excess fabric in the arm hole and it stuck out weirdly. My guess is because it only had 1 dart coming from the waist and nothing in the side seam. To solve this I cheated a dart coming from the armpit to the bust apex to help it lay a bit better.

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For the overlay I didn’t quite have enough fabric to line it so I pulled out some teal linen for it. For extra credit I made it reversible as well!

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My favorite part of this dress is the back. I think the shape is unique and I like how it is wide set so when you have the overlay on it looks as if there are no straps at all.

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There is not much to say about the insides. I had stitched the lining over the waist seem for a very clean look. Also I accidentally bought a 22″ zipper instead of a 16″ so the zipper goes way further down then it should.

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I am quite happy that I decided to make this into separates because it gives me so many more options when wearing it.  On Thursday I paired it with a fortuitous Goodwill find  deep teal cashmere cardigan that looks like it was made for this dress. It helped me keep a little warmer and totally changes the look of the silhouette.

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My only complaint is that I wished I had lengthened the midriff another inch or so. It sits a little high on me and I think it would look better if more was showing under the overlay.

 

Vogue 8789 – Mauve Sari

The last few weeks have been jam packed full of work. I spent one week in LA doing market research. It was so interesting to be behind the two way mirror and watch what everyone was saying. This is truly something I never would have got to experience or be a part of if I had stayed at my old job.  As exciting as it was after 5  13 hr days in a row I was ready to come back home and see Uzzi and Tony. Then last week I spent tasting 100s of pasta and sauces that are currently on the market so I can pull all the best attributes of each for our project. I never want to see another noodle again!

Needless to say there hasn’t been much time for sewing. I did manage to squeeze one dress in, a Vogue 8789.

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I have a feeling this might be the last dress of the year. The timeline with this client is so condensed the next few weeks are going to be a whirlwind. I have another 6 more trips to take before Christmas and a few other side sewing projects that I will tell you about later. Now onto the dress.

I fell down the pintrest rabbit hole a few weeks ago and was fascinated by the use of indian saris in the 50s that were refashioned into dresses.  I’m not sure if this classifies as cultural appropriation but none the less a few hours later and 7 vintage saris were on there way to me from India.

For my first sari dress I used a mauve cotton with gold woven design. I don’t think it screams indian but maybe I’m just fooling myself.

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The bodice is cut out of the Pallu. Then the skirt is just a large gathered rectangle. I just left the salvage edge on the skirt since 1) I didn’t feel like hemming that much fabric and 2) I didn’t want to lose any of the pretty gold boarder.

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I am quite happy with how these buttons look on each shoulder. They are also fully functional incase I have a giant hairdo to fit through the top!

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The fabric was quite thin so I ended up fully lining the dress in a black batiste from my stash. For the skirt lining I cut a 1/4 circle skirt to keep some of the bulk out of the waist. I attached the facings to the bodice lining so none of the black would accidentally peak out.

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I think my favorite part of the dress is one you cant even see. That gold boarder from the hem was on both salvage edges so I made an extra ruffle and attached it to the lining to give the skirt a little extra volume. You don’t even need a petticoat with this dress now! I covered the top edge of the ruffle with some satin ribbon I had in my notions box. Now thats a detail you certainly never see in contemporary clothes.

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The dress isn’t finished just yet. Since this was my first time sewing a vogue pattern the fit isn’t exactly how I expected. I need to take it in a bit at the waist and perhaps reshape the neck opening a bit in the front so it sits a little flatter.

I’ll have to think of what to do with the rest of saris. Im just not a fan of the gathered waist on my figure. Perhaps I can do a pleated skirt next.

 

 

McCall’s 7351

I had originally earmarked this fabric for another cozy fall shirt but at the last minute I changed my mind and decided to do another McCall’s 7351 since I wear my denim one so much.

I didn’t have quite enough fabric but I persevered.  I made extra sure to match the horizontal lines across the bodice unfortunately the placket doesn’t line up on the skirt. I also tried to match the vertical lines from the bodice onto the skirt in the center front and back. Considering I had less fabric then the pattern called for I consider it a success that I was able to pattern match at all! I put the pockets and the yolk on the bias to help save on fabric.


I like the style lines of this pattern and the curve of the hem. It gives a slightly different look then my other shirtwaist standby McCalls 6696. It could stand to be just a tad longer but if I wear it with tights it should be fine.

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Simplicity 1018

I decided to take a week off from the blue formal dress and  fortify myself for the next step in the underpinnings. Simplicity 1018 looked simple enough. Though not a retro pattern I can’t help but get 80’s vibes from this dress. Think Keri Russell in the Americans.

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Despite having 3 yards of 60″ wide knit fabric I still didn’t have enough for view B (The midi length). I compromised and cut it 7 inches longer the then short skirt which turned out to be plenty long enough. I had to do a lot of fit adjustments (a lot more than I normally do) but since it is a princess seam it is easy enough. I placed the dress on my form inside out and just hand basted  in contrast thread along all 6 seams where it needed to be taken in.

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I am quite happy with how the neckline is finished. I can see using this finishing if I was ever to make a knit shirt as it looks very professional.

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The finished dress is kind of a dud. Tony said it made me look like a fundamentalist which is definitely a look I am not going for. The sleeves are a little baggy and loose around the cuff and the color washes me out. The overall silhouette ends up very boxy and unflattering.  I may wear it around the house but it’s not going out.  Good thing  I only spent a day on it or I would be more upset.

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Simplicity just released their fall collection this morning and I was able to snap up the one pattern I wanted on the last day of a $0.99 sale at hobby lobby. So that makes it a good day!

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I have a grey brushed cotton herringbone fabric in my collection that I was thinking about making another blazer out of but now I think it wants to be this skirt. I do like the mustard of the bolero in the cover art so I am wavering on whether I should just copy that as well or go with an evergreen colour.

It looks like I might start back up on some work here shortly.  I have two trips planned before thanksgiving. It has been scaraly easy to fill my days, I don’t know how I had time to do anything when I was gainfully employed.

Fall time fun

The weather is starting to cool down hear in colorado and my fabric stash is looking quite autumnal these days.  That only means one thing. Time to make some season appropriate clothes! I was inspired by evergreens for this dress. Though yesterday we took a drive down Guanella Pass and now all the aspen groves are making me think bright yellow would be more apropos.

Its beautiful but I do still miss the multicolored fall colors from back east.

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I used Butterick 5813, I stayed a little more true to pattern then the last time. I love the “new look” silhouette  this dress has and all the little details.

These 3/4 sleeves have 3 elbow darts that give it a very vintage feel.

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The top is self lined so I was able to do away with the facings on the collar. The cotton I used seems fairly heavy so I think it will help to keep warmer in the cooler months. I did use some black batiste in the arms since they were a little tight and I didn’t want bulk at the joints.

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bah, I know it needs a good steam iron and a lint roller

I hand picked the zipper this time for a more vintage feel. It turned out OK, I don’t think I would do it for a center back zipper but I like it just fine for side seam.  From trying on the bodice mid sew I was worried the dress would be a little tight and I just didn’t want to fight with an invisible zip if it was. Turns out the dress isn’t tight at all but I am glad that I got to try a new-to-me technique none the less.

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Perhaps my favorite detail of all is one that I added out of shear laziness. I didn’t feel like making the trek down to my local sewing store to pick up thread so I just used what I had in my stash. It wasn’t the best match but all the seams are hidden and was close enough for a blind hem. Then I came to the collar and  I realized that I would have to top stitch it and then the thread would stand out. So since I knew the thread didn’t match I decided to use a decorative stitch from my Bernina so that the visible thread looked intentional rather then a mistake. I am chuffed to bits with the result.

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My only regrets with this dress is that it pulls a little across the upper bust if I raise my hand at all. I will have to do some research to see how you fix that for future sews.

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