|Without the neckline pieces, it's a fairly plain dress|
When I was planning this dress, I wasn't sure initially what to use for the two contrast tabs. I had rifled through endless remnants in the 'craft cottons' bin of my local fabric shop without finding anything suitable and then, apparently out of nowhere, one of the sales staff produced this length of a perfect ombre print - thanks Zoe!
|So much to choose from|
The colour ranges from a very pale beige to a deep chocolate brown, so I was spoilt for choice when it came to selecting just two shades. In the end, I cut out two of the lower tab and three of the upper, and experimented with all the possible combinations - along with two different sets of buttons.
|Also so much to choose from|
Unfortunately, the only conclusion I could reach from all this was that I really need to replace my workroom curtains!* So, as ever, I took the whole thing over to Mum's. Her immediate assessment was that the maximum contrast was needed, i.e. the lightest top and the darker bottom tabs.
I forgot to photograph the initial stages of constructing the right bodice front, but it involved sewing the upper tab and its backing piece together along the inner curved edge and the wider straight edge, and turning the result right side out. This was repeated with the lower tab, but with the upper tab sandwiched between the two pieces.
|The completed tabs|
I had cut the backing pieces from unused sections of the ombre, which meant that the colours were quite different. So I had to be careful to ensure that the backing wouldn't show at all on the front.
|The wrong side - with the right side of the upper tab just visible|
Then the tabs section was sewn between the bodice piece and its facing. This all involved manipulating a lot of curves, and I was grateful that I'd taken the time to work out all the notches and markings properly when I'd drafted the pattern.
|A lot of curve-wrangling was involved . . .|
I then had a completed right front.
|. . . but it was worth it|
This was attached to the back along the shoulder seam, and the seam allowance snipped at the edge of the facing (it wasn't in the instructions, but I reinforced that section of the seam). This meant that part of the seam could be pressed open, while the section with the tabs was laid to the back.
|Bodice pieces sewn together|
The back and left front facings were sewn together, and attached to the bodice.
Finally, the raw edge of the back facing was turned under, and slip-stitched over the right front tabs and facing.
|Everything sewn in place|
The end result looks very neat.
|Bodice construction complete apart from the sleeves|
I added to the complexity by deciding to sew this dress on Tilda. My treadling skills are still not entirely up to all the stopping and starting required on tight curves, so it was quite a slow process. There has also been far more tacking/basting than I usually do. But I love using that machine - there's something oddly satisfying (to me, at least) about supplying your own motive power! And, yet again, it comes down to why I sew. I'm not on piece work, and I'm not having to provide clothing and do mending for a large family on top of a whole stack of other domestic tasks. So the fact that sewing on a treadle takes longer than on an electric machine isn't an issue. If anything, it stops me from completing things quickly and moving straight on to something new. I'm not saying that my 'modern' (i.e. 1986!) machine will never be used again, just that it's nice to have options for how I sew.
* - The curtains came with the house when we moved in. Over 14 years ago now. I thought then that they would do temporarily, but I wanted to replace them. I bought fabric in 2012. It doesn't do to rush these things (although, now I come to think of it, curtains would be a perfect treadle machine project)!