Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Vegas, baby!

Pattern: There was none!
Size: Michelle-sized
Fabric: Heavy silk crepe-backed satin from Beckford Silk

A true fact about me and sewing: I'm not very good at is winging it. Sure, I can change the odd detail here and there but going pattern-less makes me want to quake in a corner. So, when a friend at work asked if I could make her a dress to wear to a very important event she was attending, and this dress was to be a copy of one she already owned, I had my equivalent of 'holding a tarantula to cure arachnophobia' moment. I had a deadline and a person I didn't want to disappoint so I just had to get on with it!

This girl could look good in a sack, but better in satin
Another of my fears reared its ugly head when it came to fabric. The original dress is 100% viscose, but has a wonderful shine to it that I've never encountered on viscose before. It took quite a while and a number of samples to find a fabric with the same drape, weight, and shine. The final candidate was a silk crepe-backed satin at £31/metre!!! I would never usually dream of working with something so expensive, mostly for fear of ruining it. I had visions of it slipping around all over the place and me making a royal mess of it. Actually, it has been very kind to me. It's a good, stable fabric with no slippage, and even quite forgiving of pin holes, although I tried my best to keep those to the seam allowances.

Inside out so I can brag about how neat it is
The process was multi-staged, but it was good for me to take my time for once! I basically (with the lovely Elena's advice and hand-holding) traced around the dress up to the point of the dart, added that in, then angled the rest of the dress from the top of the dart. If that makes any sense, which I don't think it does. For the back split I used the pattern piece from New Look 6912 as a base; and the facing I made once the neckline was finalised for the dress.

I broke all my own rules and made a muslin for this out of some cheap n nasty. There was no way I wouldn't have done, but I'm so glad I did all the same. I tried this on my lovely model, and we identified a few areas for change - the darts needed moving up, the sides taking in a little, the neckline bringing in a bit to stop it falling off her shoulders, and the sleeves lengthening slightly. I made these changes on the muslin by literally sticking on extra bits of fabric where required. I then used these fabric pieces for my pattern pieces when cutting out the real fabric.

I finally invested in an invisible zipper foot and check it OUT!!
I wanted this dress to be perfectly finished (where possible - I shall never be perfect!) so I even bought green overlocker thread - check it ouuuuuuut! One final try-on of the actual dress before I finished the seams resulted in a small adjustment to bring in the bust by half a cm each side, and the fit was set!

Inside out back view for more brag
You may laugh because it's a fairly simple dress in design, but this was a proper scary experience for me! But also a great one. I found that by taking things one step at a time, I can achieve a lot more than I think I'm capable of. Of course, I didn't do it alone. Help from good friends and blogland were invaluable. But I'm pretty chuffed with the end result, and I hope my friend is too.

The dress went to Vegas to the Boxing Hall of Fame! In my head it took on a life of its own and I found myself wondering how the dress was getting along on its travels. The dress had fun by the looks of things.

The dress met Michael Jackson's Dad!

The dress met two of George Foreman's sons. Both called George. How the dress laughed.

Most recently the dress went to a second event where it got a bit boozy and is now experiencing a hangover that even dry-cleaning can't solve. Don't you hate those? Hopefully a good soak in the tub will sort it right out.

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