20 June 2012

The ball dress, part 2

And now for the big reveal! The pink ball dress was finally finished at 4pm on Monday - the ball started at 8pm. I am always manage to finish things just before the deadline; I have a feeling that when sewing, I stretch out the project to last right up until when I have decided it needs to be finished by (or in this case, when the ball decides it must be finished!). I want to say that I do this because I love the process of making something, but I think it might have become a hangover from being a student: sewing projects have become infected by the dreaded procrastination! Any way, here's me procrastinating about showing you the dress! Here it is--







As you can see from the photos, the dress has one long side slit, a hand-picked zip, a cowl back and a belt embellished with matching cording and a couple of home-made beaded tassels. Those tassels! My, did they take a while. I also made a slip to go underneath for that bit of extra warmth and on the advice of my housemate, who ran to the defence of slips when I accused them (too rashly) of being mumsie, "They smooth everything out!"
I chose to make a dress for three reasons: 1. no-one else would have it; 2. it would fit better than something I bought; 3. it would be far cheaper than buying a dress. 1. is an indisputable fact. 2. is a matter of opinion and 3. needs to be proven. So here is a quick costing:

Fabric
Sand washed silk............£10/m.   2m = £20
Silk organza...................£9/m.  0.5m = £4.50
Charmeuse....................£7/m.  0.5m = £3.50

Components
Zip......................................................£2.50
Hook and eye......................................Stash (for argument's sake, let's say 5p)
Knitted fusible interfacing.....£5/m. 0.2 = £1
Thin cording..........................................£3
Fat cording...........................................Stash (again, let's say £2
Silk thread............................................£3
Beads..................................................£4.50
Elastic..................................................£1


Total                                                 = £44.05

£44.05 is admittedly not cheap. However, because I was using such a fine fabric I decided that I should go the whole hog and try to use couture and hand sewing techniques where appropriate. So what I got was something I couldn't buy from a shop, something with the little extras hidden to all but me. Normally I would turn to my overlocker or the trusty zig-zag stitch on my machine, but I didn't want the overlocker stitches showing through after pressing (only silk thread irons without leaving an imprint on the fabric). I did french seams on the bodice sides, shoulders and the left side of the skirt. I have to admit to being a bit confused when I first tried the french seams, but after a couple of practices I realised they're quite simple. I used the tutorial over at Coletterie to make my french seams.

The front bodice is underlined to the waist with silk organza. Partial underlining on one piece, from my experiments, works! 



I used some knitted interfacing (it drapes better than woven interfacing) on the back in a strip under the cowl to give it some support--


Apologies for the poor line drawings! 

The belt was an addition to the original plan because the front looked a little plain and the bias-cut cowl back seemed to droop a little at the waist. Looking at the dress now, the belt, I think, is one of the nicest features. I used Coletterie's tutorial for making covered cording, which I used to make the swirly bow motif and also to tie the belt.

I have learnt so many new things from this dress. I've learnt how to draft a cowl back. I've learnt how to use underlining. I tried a new method for finishing necks and armholes--




Using bias tape folded together, you can turn your seam and encase the raw edges, so no stitching shows on the outside of your garment. Above you can see my slipstitching through the organza. I saw this technique over at Amanda's Adventure's in Sewing

I learnt how to make covered cording. I learnt how to peyote stitch beads. I did my first hand picked zip strengthened with silk organza (which is in many respects easier than using a machine as there is less trouble in lining up each side of the tape). 





I'll stop here because I could go on forever about this dress. There are so many bits to explain!


Alix xxx

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