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Thursday, April 14, 2011

New dress!

Last night my almost 16-yr-old and I were down in the sewing room taking measurements and getting inspired to start some new clothes for her.  We were looking through one of our favorite catalogs and found all these GREAT things for me to make....hmmmmm.

So this morning before I start on one of them, I thought I'd document one of my projects from start to finish.
This is how it inevitably starts...
 we find a pattern that is "mostly" like we want it and then make LOTS of adjustments because we are picky.  And by we I mean both of us. are picky. about almost everything. high maintenance.

So for this one, we are going for a vintage-y look.  But it has to be hip and modern, not "old lady, 'I found this in my grandma's closet'" look.
these are the fabric picks.  Light floral with natural muslin under layer.  She wants it billowy and light and "flowy" I think was the word she used.

We are still discussing some sort of lace at the neck and hem, maybe unfinished edges.  We'll see what develops.  I'll have to have a few dreams first and then I can decide.  No kidding, this stuff comes to me in my sleep.  I just sketched out a design the other day that woke me up in the middle of the night.  I'm not a very good sketcher, but I think I got the basics down.  You may see it on here one day.

So, when you are making as many adjustments as I am and/or customizing a size, you pretty much have to make your own pattern.  I start with their pattern pieces just for the basic shape, but end up with my own.

If you are making your own pattern, it's a really, REALLY good idea to make a prototype before you cut the REAL fabric.  It is an extra step, I know.  It's really like making the dress twice.  SO, I have decided to make my prototypes out of fabrics I've had in my cabinet for awhile and will probably never use for anything else.  So the prototype will be mismatched, depending on what I have on hand.  In this case...

she may actually like the prototype as well as the "real" dress.  The big print is the front, small print is back.  When she gets home I'll try it on her and make adjustments.

ok, so almost an entire week later...
I'm not sure why I am always so confident that it is going to be perfect the first time around, or the second, or the third (you get my point).

I totally forgot to take pictures to document all the "fails"...there were several.

The top of the dress went pretty well after the first prototype, I got the second one right.  But the bottom was a different story.  When I got it put together (Tuesday, I think) and it was hanging there I was just discouraged.  It didn't look like her or me.  It was very blah, no style, yuk.  I hoped she hated it so I could make it into something more fun, but at the same time I was tired of fooling with it.  I knew I had to finish it this week or it would sit in my sewing room for years half-done and I would eventually cut the fabrics up and use as prototypes on another project, or a quilt.  She came home, tried it on, hated it (she was very sensitive about it so I didn't cry), and we started brainstorming about how to make it right.  I thought I knew what I was going to do, but I slept on it (not literally, sleeping on the dress, just dreaming of it...wink, wink).

In my sleep I evidently came up with something completely different.  'Cause I woke up very excited with a new picture in my head which involved totally dismantling the bottom of the dress, tea-dyeing lace, and reassembling into....
THIS!  we love it!  She will never wear it with this belt and boots, but I would.  She will probably wear it with a sweet, thin belt and strappy sandals...also fun :)

this is the front lace inset.  All seams are raw edge (sewn wrong sides together instead of right sides together).  I just stitched a line 1/4" from raw edges to limit fraying.  It will fray some, especially at first washing, but that will actually make it look better. 
this is the back view...oops, forgot to turn the boots around
to make it "flowy" like she requested without the bulky gathering at the waist (first attempt failure), I stitched 10 panels of alternating fabric (dress floral and lining muslin) in angled strips.  Not too angled, I think the bottom of the strip is 2" wider than the top.  You could get a fuller skirt by angling the strips maybe an inch wider at bottom without it looking like triangles sewn together, I think, but not much more than that.  Of course, now I have used all the skirt lining fabric on the actual skirt so I have to go find a slip of some sort today that is NOT silky nor makes "that funny noise when you scratch it with your fingernail" (what?!?).  I'm just saying, these are the instructions I was given.
front neckline detail.

shoulder rouching, bodice lining strap

back neck detail.  we love the crocheted ties!  I also used the crocheted lace for the straps of the bodice lining, which is really just a cami top with rouching at the center (we don't like the uni-boob look, and this helps)...


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    i agree with my mom; you are wonder-woman.