At long last, the sneak peek I gave a while back of this gorgeous fabric is revealed! Now, I don’t know that I’ve done complete justice to this Anna Sui silk I found for $3/yard – yeah, you read it right, three clams per yard – but I’m perty darned smitten with this dress. Despite my love of sewing, proper fit, etc, I’m not a huge fashionista or designer-obsessed, anyway. I just know a good deal when I see it. And who could overlook that print? I love everything about it.
I ended up using an old pattern I’ve had kicking around since, ahem, the 90s (copyright 1998, to be exact – I think I bought it with the intention of coercing my mom into sewing me a new dress). I was originally going to use a pattern from a semi-recent BurdaStyle mag, but had very limited yardage.
The cut of this dress is more simple, and I think it suits the complicated print better anyway. Although, I do have some lovely fabric in mind for the little number above with the ruched bodice!
Of course, I spoke too soon when I mentioned in the sneak peek that the muslin sewed up to a perfect fit. Yet another lesson learned: if you’re going to go through the trouble of making a muslin, and you should, finish it to the very last step. I was being lazy, and didn’t sew on the straps (which also serve as bias binding in the armpit). It required lots of hand stitching, which I could have basted, but mainly I hate turning tiny little loops. So in my fittings, I simply pinned the dress to my bra straps. And this is what I got:
See that gaping in the back? Not pretty. It also hung quite a bit lower in the front than the back, and the final issue was that it simply wasn’t snug enough for my liking. I’m pretty curvy, and find that if something’s going to look good on me, it needs to accentuate my waist more than this did.
Oh, but what to do?! Having to unpick a nicely handpicked zipper and deal with French seams and a lining? Not my cuppa.
I was a kinda freaking out, but not really. Mostly I was resigned to the endless alterations ahead, when I teased my mom about needing her assistance. Especially with the hem. It can be impossible to evenly mark a wonky hem without a hand or a dressmaker’s dummy. R is amazing when it comes to domestics, but this definitely would have had him scratching his head. So I left my mom a silly message about leaving the key under the mat, and I’d see her when I got out of work. And the amazingly crazy and spontaneous woman that she is, she was parked outside my place that very afternoon. Did I mention it’s a 2.5 hr drive?! Each way?! After hugs and near tears on my part, we assessed the situation, ate dinner & got to work.
Smart cookie, mom suggested I simply carry the back seam up into the bodice, instead of dealing with side seams & zip. It still took a bit of finagling….the bodice is self-lined & hand slip-stitched. And I actually did the understitching, which I have finally learned is a necessary step in getting everything to lay correctly.
I really, really should have kept the scrap I ended up trimming off the back so the pattern can be adjusted. It was about an inch on either side at the top of the back bodice, so two inches total, then graded down the small of my back and working into the current French seam right around the fullest part of my bum. The alteration, though probably not technically correct, worked out really well and no one is the wiser. Well, hopefully I am…muslins all the way, and use a smaller pattern size. Or finally make a sloper (I’m discovering that I’m always taking in the same areas).
Since Thursday, the weather hasn’t been conducive to a proper photo shoot, but here are some detail shots of the final product. As you can (sort of) see, mom marked the hem beautifully, and I hand-rolled it.
From experience, mom recommended I add a few reinforcement tacks at the four stress points where the straps meet the bodice. Again, where would I be?
Here is a great tutorial on making certain you get the details, such as findings, on par with the rest of your garment. These tiny, yet important, bits can really induce pride when the garment is complete. At least for me :)
I’ll be rocking this dress every chance I get. It’s too fun to be left on a sad little hanger.
Edited 6.13.11 – I was mulling over why my serged rolled hem didn’t look quite right (it was only the second I’d ever made after purchasing the plate for my machine) on the walk home today. And it came to me: I didn’t disengage the knife on the serger. I was so psyched to wear this out, that I just breezed through the final task. So technically, that’s a narrow, 3-thread, serged hem on the lining.