Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Finally: Pictues of Vogue 8997

My bathroom remodeling project is taking all my spare time, and I haven't had even a few minutes (or the energy) to upload pictures.  Unfortunately, my husband took most of the pictures that evening, and he didn't style the gown very well.  I'm sure he was focused on the face.

Front View, in the gallery next to the concert hall
Back view.  The flash really lights up the taffeta.

I was more than a little disappointed to see young women wearing super short skirts, when the dress code clearly stated "full length skirt".  After chiding myself for spending so much time on a gown that she may not have needed, I calmed myself by thinking "She is wearing the nicest dress on that stage."  She may have been wearing the nicest dress in town (on a Tuesday evening).

My attempts to photograph her on stage were not successful.
The taffeta lined with cotton broadcloth moves beautifully.
Too bad you can't really see it.

Some details.

The sleeves: were underlined with black silk organza.  The lace was fairly substantial, and I toyed with only using lace, but felt that the organza would offer a some protection since this is a dress that will be worn many times.  I didn't want an elbow to come poking through. Also, the organza added just enough color.
Thread-traced sleeves (before adding gussets).
I finished the seams with silk organza bias cuts that were dyed with coffee.  It's a perfect shade to blend with her skin tone, and a tad darker than a tea-stain.  Adding vinegar helps set the stain/dye in silk.  The bias strips disappear when worn.  They're not even really noticeable against the white background below.

The skirt: Stephanie wanted a taffeta skirt, since she is accustomed to borrowing mine and really likes the scroop.  I suppose it's like wearing a bell around your neck: everyone hears you coming, and they turn to watch.  Or at least it's fun to imagine they are.  We considered silk taffeta, because I really like sewing with silk and Stephanie really likes wearing it.  However, we needed 7 yards for this skirt.  It's very full, and I did add eight inches to the length.  So, we are happy with the nylon/poly taffeta that I found On Sale.  The additional 8 inches were just tacked on to the bottom of the pattern.  The "lengthen/shorten here" line just was not the right place for eight inches.  Although it added a lot more fabric, for a full skirt like this one, it worked out perfectly, multiplying the flare.
The sketches are interesting, aren't they?
Skirt lining: My internet order for the skirt lining was cancelled by the retailer late in the sewing process, so I ended up lining it with a lightweight cotton broadcloth that I had in my stash.  I had to piece it in order to get enough, but who is going to know.  (Other than you and me?)  I just couldn't bring myself to sew the icky lining that the chains sell (no Bemberg available locally).  Although the broadcloth adds quite a bit of weight to the dress, it also adds some nice volume and it's got to be comfortable to sit on cotton.

It was so much fun to see Stephanie playing with the university symphony.  I was reminded of the times that I took my little girl to the performances.  Shortly before the concert started, a large group of giggling college kids came in, sitting in front of us. My mother frowned and said "Oh, I don't what that noisy bunch sitting here."  I smiled and said "Those are Stephanie's friends from the dorm."  What could be better than your own cheering section?

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Update on the Muslin (it did fit)

Many thanks to those of you who offered your help with my fitting woes.  It was great to know I had friends who wanted to help!

The good news is that I have been very busy sewing over the last week.  I did take the muslin to my daughter's dorm and it fit.  Yippee!  The princess seams needed a nip and tuck near the sleeves. My gusset hypothesis was incorrect -- the stranger shaped gusset resulted in a much nicer fit.  Note that I did my best to crop out as much of the dorm room background as possible!
Left side just didn't hang right.  Right side was
fine with a tuck at the top of the princess seam.

She scowled when I asked her to "play the violin".
"Seriously?  M-O-O-O-O-M, it fits!"
So the next seven days were spent madly cutting out the silk organza, the crepe de chine, the lace, hand basting and thread tracing, then piecing it together.  I had no idea how hard it is to successfully sew with a heavy corded lace.  Most seams had to be lapped and appliqued, which I would have enjoyed if time were on my side.   However, I had a lot going on over the last week, and I almost didn't make it.  Scheduled medical tests, unscheduled tornado warnings and a political rally all drained my time.  Luckily, my husband picked up the slack by doing the grocery shopping and more than his fair share of help around the house, and the dress is now "wearable" for this evening's concert.
The artificial light makes the taffeta look purple, but it's really black.
At 9 PM yesterday, I finished sewing the skirt lining to the zipper and declared it ready to go.  The crepe de chine bodice lining is not yet sewn in, and I would like to re-align the upper part of the zipper before I do that.  I was also a bit leery of trimming all the sleeve seams before we had even a single fitting of the dress.  

From my grandmother's sewing basket.
I did make sure there were bra carriers in place at the shoulder seams.  They will be easy to move when I put the lining in.

My husband thinks I'm crazy for re-doing the zipper, but after all the work that went into this, I consider it a bit of a masterpiece, and I do want the finished product to be perfect.  He thinks I'm quite mad, actually, after seeing me over the last week.  I got a lecture on project planning and deadlines.  Trust me, I know this pushed the limits of my capacity.

I really love the midriff details!

I draped four separate pieces of lace over the bodice and lapped at the center front, shoulders and side seams.  It took me several hours of trying different layouts before I had the nerve to cut into the lace.  It really wasn't that hard to align it all nicely, just time consuming since it had to be tacked down by hand.  I could have zig-zagged on the machine, but felt I had better control with hand-stitching.

The sleeves are underlined with black silk organza -- no crepe de chine -- so they're slightly transparent.  The lace was probably heavy enough to use without the organza, but I felt the visual transition from all black on the bodice, to mostly transparent on the sleeve was too stark.  The gussets are crepe de chine with lace, no organza, as I didn't want them too stiff.

More details and final pictures later!