Sunday, 23 September 2012

The 'Tarantella' dress

The tarantella dress is finished. Actually, it was finished a few weeks ago, I just haven't had a chance to post about it before now.

After my careful cutting out, I thought that it would be quite easy to sew the dress pieces together, but unfortunately I was wrong. Because the cotton was so fine, and all the pieces were flared, the raw edges stretched very easily. Each seam had to be extensively pinned, matching the stripes as I pinned it.

When I drafted the pattern I changed the dress from front to back opening. I used an invisible zip, as I wanted the back pieces to have a smooth join.

Dress back

I edged the sleeves and the neckline with a band of the wide stripe part of the fabric, ending just before the first narrow green stripe. Initially this caused a few problems, because even with interfacing applied to the bands, the vertical stripes of the main part of the garment showed through. Adding a second layer of interfacing made the bands too rigid, but adding a lining of fine muslin instead made the bands sufficiently opaque while still flexible.

Stripe edging on the sleeves and neckline

Like most dresses, the neckline at the back was curved, but obviously this wouldn't work with the straight bands I wanted to add. I altered the neckline so that there was a horizontal band front and back. The almost vertical bands on the front were then shaped by the slope of the shoulders to form a wider angle at the back. All the joins in the neckline band were carefully mitred to ensure that the black edges to the stripes matched up. Finally, a lining was added, and several evenings were spent hand sewing the extensive hem.

Neckline band going over the shoulder

The dress got its first wearing when Mr Tulip and I were invited to a friend's 60th birthday party at 'New Hall' in Cambridge. The dress code was 'summery', and the dress fitted the bill perfectly.

Outside New Hall

In the gardens, showing off the matched stripes on the skirt!

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