Friday, October 2, 2015

Experiments in Sewing - The Paper Gown

Shortly after wearing my daughter's dress to last year's Charity Ball, I began the hunt for a gown that I could sew for the 2015 event.  I found this treasure: Burdastyle Hourglass Lace Gown (11/2014 #121).  I'm not sure what I was thinking when I picked it out in February. It has long sleeves?  It's fitted? Maybe it was on sale.
Does it seem a little too "bombshell" for me?

I finally got the nerve to print out the PDF (64 pages!), but my tracing paper was nearly gone.  While looking for an online source, I came across Swedish Tracing Paper, and I was apparently taken in by the clever marketing: 
  • "Drapably soft, yet strong enough to sew on!" 
  • "Sew the paper pattern and try it on before cutting out your expensive fabric."  
I would have made a toile, anyway, but my muslin stash was also out of stock.  Hmmm, this kills two birds, with one stone.

Well, not really.  You must trace your pattern twice, and the paper is not at all drapable.  It is really a stiff interfacing.  Although it is technically sewable, it tears easily, especially when ripping out stitches.  Admittedly, it is easy to fix a tear by ironing on fusible interfacing.

Adding to my distaste of the tracing paper, the instructions for this pattern were terrible.  I still haven't figured out how the author intended to have the bust cups inserted with lining (I planned to line it by hand, anyway).  I inserted the yokes backwards, and sewed the front pieces incorrectly.  I found the naming conventions difficult to reconcile (what is the difference between "front center" and front middle")? 

After putting the paper gown together, complete with an invisible zipper, I asked my husband's help in zipping it up.  
"It won't zip up all the way." He seemed to struggle with it.
"It zipped up for me just fine.  Is it caught in the paper?  Don't tear the paper!"
More struggling, then he pulled so hard the zipper pull flew right off the top of the zipper.  "I didn't know a zipper could do that." He answered, dumbfounded.  
No photos of me wearing it.

So after unpicking the zipper and sewing in a second, we tried it again. It may be the fact that it is made with paper, instead of a nicely draping fabric (or even a poorly draping fabric), but I couldn't get it off quickly enough after seeing it in the mirror.

I'm not sure why I hated it.  Was it because the yokes were so wide set that I knew the shoulders and sleeves would slip off and annoy me?  Maybe because I could see right through the paper and hated what I saw underneath?  Maybe I expected it to look as good on 5'5" me as it did on a 6' model? Or perhaps I felt as though I had draped myself in Austrian blinds.
Maybe because I felt like I was wearing this.

It is still on the dress form in the dining room, because I hate to give up on it just yet. I could easily extend or shift the yokes toward the center, but I am not sure I want to, so I am searching for an alternative.  I have such a hard time sewing for myself.  I am not sure why!

The good news is that a Joann Fabrics is opening close to home today, so I am off to buy some muslin and see what sort of inspiration I can find.