Monday, 17 December 2012

Vegas Night dress, the details

By Wednesday night all I had done was make up the bodice lining, which also functioned as a final toile to check the fit. I still had a lot to do, especially as I had work Christmas lunch and a class party/rehearsal to go to before Saturday. Fortunately I had some spare leave to take.

One thing I hadn’t done by then was draft the neckline properly. The dress was always going to have a back zip opening; I just made the toile front opening so that I could get it on and off easily. I decided that I wanted a wide neckline and a crossover front, so drew a rough outline on the toile, and drafted a proper bodice front and facings from this.

The neckline sketched out on the toile

When I cut out the bodice front pieces out I matched the pattern roughly, but didn’t worry about an exact match.

Cutting out

With hindsight I wonder if more of a mismatch would have been better, as the crossover is a bit lost.

The disappearing crossover front

I made up the bodice, tacked the overlapping fronts together, and sewed a wide stripe of black satin on for waistband. The lining waistband was made differently, by sewing seven shaped pieces together. This was because I wanted to bone the lining, and sewing boning channels onto flat-pressed seams would give a smoother look than sewing them over darts. However for the satin I was happy to just put darts in.

This was the point when the dress began to come together.

Raw edges and tailor tacks still in, but starting to look like a dress

I didn’t bother to draft a pattern for the skirt. Rather than a smooth skirt made from shaped pieces, like the red dress, I wanted to make the skirt as wide as possible, with deep pleats to fit it to the waistband, like the mint green dress. I decided on the length, added a bit extra for luck, and cut out four rectangular panels using the full width of the fabric. Then I laid these on top of one another and carefully folded the whole lot in half, top to bottom.

To calculate the width of each panel at the top, I measured the bottom of the black satin waistband, and divided by four, to get the width of each panel. Then I multiplied this figure by three, to allow for the pleats. Finally I added three centimetres for seam allowances, and divided the total by two. This was the measurement from the fold line at the top of the panels to the cutting line. I drew a line from this point to the bottom of the folded panel, and cut out through all eight layers of fabric.

The skirt was pleated to the bodice with inverted pleats at the centre front and back and the side seams.

Side pleats and a lined sleeve

On the back there were also inverted pleats at the bottom of the waistband dart. On the front the final pair of inverted pleats matched the bodice pleats for the bust.

Matching pleats on bodice and skirt

By this stage time was really getting short, so now we reach the ‘almost’ finished bit. There are a few things I need to go back and redo. The bodice lining is very roughly tacked in. Even worse the hem is, whisper it, machine sewed. Oh the shame of it! I deliberately made the skirt rather too long, so that I can re-hem it. The fabric is almost plain white on the wrong side, and as I have a bit of it left over I want to do a proper faced hem, so that if the underside of the skirt shows mid-swish (and with a full skirt and a net petticoat, there’s a lot of swishing) it will look pretty.

That’s a lot of hand sewing though; the hem is over four metres long. Fortunately I can sew and watch TV at the same time, and because I’ve been so busy recently I’ve got most of series two of “The Hour” to watch. I’ve had a sneak preview of some of the outfits on this blog, and can’t wait to get started.

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