Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Everyone's got to start somewhere...

My first dressmaking tale is one of two tragic projects that never quite lived up to their potential, later joined in a union of new dress bliss.  Let's begin....

A little over a year ago, I saw a new line of patterns emerge in Butterick's retro line - Patterns by Gertie.  B5882 immediately earned a place in my heart; I was enamored of the pleated, boned bust and multi-piece circle skirt.  It would be mine.  Oh, yes.

I decided to make this for my 40th birthday and proceeded to buy the obscene amount of fabric required (in progress shot below).  Much swearing later and ripping of stitches later.....

The instructions, like most of the Big 4, were a tad difficult to follow (to say the least).  I used plastic cable ties for the boning and twill tape for the casing, as this is what I used in the past in Renaissance gowns.  FAR superior to the store bought boning in its own casing.  Yuck.

The dress was fully lined, weighed a ton, and I was very pleased with myself.  Then I put it on.

Meh.  The bustline hits in the exact wrong place.  Rather than being cut beneath the bust like this dress (which I own), it cuts it in half, then the pleated insert takes up the rest.  Which, if you have any sort of bust at all, just perches on top of what should be lovely cleavage.  In my opinion, highly unflattering.  I also think the bias cut trim that creates the straps needs to be wider.  Not a total fail, but not a success by any means.  And so the dress was banished to the land of Don't Really Want to Wear Again.

I took the remaining fabric and whipped up a quick gathered skirt that I wore a few times, then grew bored.  It, too, was banished.

Then I saw a dress from the always fabulous Dolly Clackett (the link goes to her make-up), and inspiration struck.  Could these two sad, lonely projects be saved?

I used B5748 a few times before - I'm particularly smitten with the scooped back.  At a straight up pattern 10, I knew the gathered skirt had plenty of fabric.  I pulled the dress and boring skirt from exile and went to work.

Skirt and pattern.

Never-quite-reached-potential dress.

Then, I had to removed the bodice (this pic shows the zipper I smugly thought I could salvage, but was WRONG, so that had to be ripped out too).

Next, I had to deconstruct the gathered skirt.  In my infinite patience and mild mannered way, this meant taking my shears to the skirt and cutting off the waistband, then hem, and either side of the zipper. I left the lining in the skirt that came from the dress, but did not line the new bodice because the fabric didn't need it.

New bodice action shot.

As the new bodice wasn't lined, I needed to remove the excess fabric at the armscye and the neckline (the pattern is drafted to account for the now non-existent seam allowance).  I staystiched these areas at 5/8", then trimmed it down to almost the stitching line.  Then I used bias tape to finish the edges.  I used a normal zipper but inserted it using the method for an invisible zip, because in weird way it's my favorite method.

Don't judge me.  Or do.  It's fine.

Oh, that's right.  This is also a side-closing dress.  I despise side zippers, even in ready-to-wear (forever now known as RTW).  Sooooooo, I just moved the zip to the center back.  This was actually a cinch, because it already has a center back seam, which accounts for the seam allowance needed to install a zip, so there's no funky drafting involved (normally I would just add 5/8" to the center back to achieve this).

The whole project took about 4 hours from start to finish.  B5748 is one of my favorite bodice patterns, and I've paired it with several different skirt variations.  But the bias cut, 5 paneled skirt from B5882 is my favorite version.  Fully lined, it almost can get away without a petticoat.


Super sassy.

An ending fit for a fairy tale.  Happy new dress that will see loads of wear.  Paired with fantastic shoes from Miss L Fire (purchased on a screaming good sale).

So that's it, kids!  Post #1 is in the bag.  Now, it's time to have a slice of amazing chicken and pesto pizza and a tall, cold drink to combat our current heat wave.  But I'll leave you with an outtake for the road.

(yep, I'm in the middle of twirling...)


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