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.

 

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.

 

 

Simplicity 8250

I had every intention of going full steam ahead on the blue taffeta dress. Then I didn’t. I couldn’t deny the draw of an easy skirt pattern and I already had the fabric for it!

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I combined the curved waistband of view B with the oversized pockets on view A. Also on the model and directions they have you sew straight to the top of the waistband but if you look closely in the original 1950s drawings you can see a line of topstitching that goes around the waistband curve and connects to the center front stitching. I decided I liked how that looked better.

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The fabric is a yard dyed cotton flannel with a grey and black herringbone pattern. I like the weight of the fabric but if I were to do it again I would chose something thinner for the waistband facing as this has way too much bulk around the center front and zipper.

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This was my first time doing a lapped zipper. I’m not sure i’m sold on it. I may rip it out and do a centered or hand picked application. Again there was way to much bulk around the waistband and it doesn’t want to lay flat.

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My favorite part is the pockets. Rather then being in the seam its a separate pieces topstitched on to the skirt.  I really love how they turned out. I took some pictures with my hands in my pockets and its not the most flattering but who cares!

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Unfortunately I didn’t think to take a picture until after wearing it for a few hours so its a little wrinkly. The length is longer then the dresses I have been sewing but its nice and warm for the cooler months especially with a petticoat underneath.dsc_0090

All in all this was a fairly easy project depending on how much I wear it this winter I may make a version in a cotton for warmer weather. I would also love to make the bolero that comes with this pattern but I think that would be a little less wearable so its going to have to wait.

 

 

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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A slightly different palette

Sorry its been quiet the last few weeks. Not much going on in the sewing room. I did finish the lilac shirt for Tony but he’s being camera shy so no pictures. I decided to pull out some of my fabric from the guild sale.

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This fell in love with the soft hand and color palette of this fabric, I just don’t have anything like it in my wardrobe. I only had 3 yards so at first I was thinking a button up for my self, but after just finishing one I wasn’t looking forward to doing another so soon. The I got it stuck in my head that it would make a great Butterick 5209

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I mean sure I was 7/8 of a yard short and the pattern matching would take extra but it definitely would work…right? Spoiler alert, it did!

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I did have to cut 2″ off the skirt to get everything to fit but with the extra length in the bodice I think its fine. I tossed and turned about how to cut this out with my limited fabric. First i folded it in half and tried to baste it together along the lines so that  wouldn’t shift. I gave up on that after about 30 minutes and just decided to cut it in a single thickness. My thought was if I cut everything out once and it took more then 1/2 of the fabric then I could just line the bodice in a different fabric instead  and then I would only have the skirt to cut fit in. Turns out everything fit so the bodice is still self lined. Another happy coincidence was that when I went to cut the second half it was already perfectly on the same repeat as the first so I was able to cut a mirror image out of everything that kept the same color pattern running all the way across. YAY!

Since I have made this dress before here i’m not going to  go into much construction detail. I did feel like the last one I made was too big so I sized down. That was a mistake, I ended up having to let out the side seems and it still feels a little tight around the waist. I guess I can’t eat too big of a meal while wearing this. I will say that my favorite part of this pattern is how the back and sleeves are constructed. I just think its so smart and interesting.

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The fabric had two imperfections, some black ink spots. I put one on the inside underneath my tag. The other is on left neck. Just couldn’t cut around it, but for a $6 dress I’m willing to over look it, perhaps a brooch could cover it up?

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All and all i’m pretty happy with how this dress turned out. Im planing on taking it with me to San Francisco in a few weeks when I kick off working with a new client. Today i’m going to dress it down with some flats and wear it to visit a new ice cream parlor in Denver…..they have ice cream flights, like a flight of wine but with icecream. Of course Tony and I should each get our own flight, we have to try 10 flavors or else the trip would just be a waste!

The fit game, level 2

This dress may seem very similar to all my other dresses but its special to me because I really stepped up my fitting. I started with Butterick 5813 ( the full skirt version, as if you even needed to ask) and some cheerful cotton.

 

I noticed on a few of my last dresses that the extra length I have been adding to the bodice seems to be fitting in the front but causing some pooling in the back. I asked around on the sewing forum and several people suggested a sway back adjustment.  I had a unique situation in that I still needed some length in the back just not as much as I needed in the front. I took some measurements and decided the front needed 1″ added and the back needed 3/8″. I added the length to the front bodice just like I normally would. When I got to the back I added 1″ on the side seam ( so that it would still match up to the front) and the then graded the extension down to 3/8″ on the center back seam. I sort of had the make this up as I went along because I couldn’t find any tutorials for sway back adjustments that also included a lengthening at the same time. The results are prefect.

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In addition to the fit alterations I also used a different sleeve. I just thought this fabric looked to summery for a longer sleeve. I used the pattern piece for McCalls 6966 dress But it was a little big for the armhole so I made the executive decision to add a gathered detail on the top.

My favorite part about this pattern are the style lines in the bodice front. The midriff front has 6 pieces. Unfortunately the polka dots hide these details. Don’t worry I am already planning another rendition of this dress in a solid color and the original sleeves for fall/ winter that will hopefully show off the bodice details a little better.

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In an effort to save fabric and $$$ I only lined the bodice instead of the whole dress. It has some sewn in facing on the collar so that it gives the appearance the the inside is all fashion fabric when the collar turns out.

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On a whim I used some hem lace because I liked how it looked with the polka dots.

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Now that I have gotten so much better at fitting myself. Its time to try my luck at fitting someone else. Thats right,  next week will be my own “made to measure” challenge.