Monday, 26 March 2012

Purple lace dress

So I know I haven't posted anything just about all month. That does not mean I haven't been sewing. I have. I've made two gorgeous dresses and am almost done a third. I just haven't written about them ... 

The first one I am going to post about took a very long time to complete: 2 and a half weeks. But, it was pretty complicated so I feel justified! I am so pleased with the finished product. It is ALMOST perfect. Almost. And for me, that's good enough! Especially as I haven't really been sewing all that long. At all. Being almost perfect is a pretty big feat to me. 

I decided to make this dress after finding a beautiful brown lace dress at Winners. I have a love obsession with lace. Obsession. I will put lace on anything. It's soft, and romantic, and beautifully detailed and I love it. I looked at the brown lace dress and thought, I could make you. Did that stop me from buying it? No. But now it just means that I have TWO lace dresses! It's wonderful! The one I made is a little more formal, and it's purple not brown, but I love them both equally.

It was such an awesome dress that I dragged the ever awesome boyfriend out to Citadel Hill (an awesome fort-type thing downtown) to photograph it. The weather was unseasonably warm for March, over 20 degrees! But by the time we got around to the pictures it had started to cool down a bit so I was a little chilly.

I couldn't be happier with this dress. I honestly don't think I could. Well, maybe a little if it were perfect ... but I won't tell the dress that.

This last one is a little grainy, but it was starting to get pretty dark by this point and we only had my iPhone to take the pictures with. I like it though because you get a better sense of the purple satin lining. It's a bit shiny, and that doesn't really come through in the day time pictures. At night though it lights up!

Ok, so onto the itty gritty details. I used a Vogue Easy 8766 Pattern, option F with the full circle skirt. While it is called an "easy" pattern, for a newbie like me it was a little more difficult that it claims. For one, I have never sewn in darts before, and this pattern called for 12! Six of which were not only to one layer of fabric, but two together! I was terrified, but they worked! So now I'm proud. 

To make the top part of the dress, the purple satin lining and the white lace were cut separately, but then matching pieces were sewn together using a basting stitch. As it was pieced together, they were sewn more securely in place. The pattern didn't call to take out the basting stitches, but I did. I figured I didn't want a few loose threads to poke free somewhere and look bizarre. Better safe than sorry. 

The other six darts are in the sleeves.Three small ones in each. These were a bit easier because they were so small and with only a single layer of fabric. 

Sewing the sleeves on though was an entirely different story. Talk about complicated! I kept sewing it on backwards so that the extra fabric from the darts were on the right side. So I'd take it out, be extra careful, and somehow manage to do it again. Don't ask, I have no clue. The third time it worked though. While the dart seam and the shoulder seam don't line up perfectly, I figured after having sewn these things on three times, I wasn't going to go for a fourth. So I stitched those suckers down again and said oh well.

While the top section has the lace and lining attached, the skirt does not. They are separable. The lining is a bit shorter than the lace, and they have different hems. The purple is just a basic rolled hem ( I learned a new term!). But the fabric was kind of slippery and it made it a bit wonky in parts.

But, it's only wonky on the wrong side, for the most part. Mostly it looks pretty damn good from the right side, so it's all good in my books!

Now hemming the lace portion of the skirt was a whole other matter. I decided after looking at the brown dress from Winners, and a few others online, that I needed to make a detailed hem. I wanted to cut around all the flowers instead of being cut straight. But, because that wasn't how I had cut my fabric (is that even possible with a circle skirt?), I ended up cutting out two strips of lace, both 85 inches long. I had measured half the circumference, added a few extra inches for 'just in case', and then proceeded to cut out along the flowers. It took forever. Absolutely forever. But it turned out really nice.

The other time consuming task was ... the zipper. Again. I hate zippers. They never work out well do they? They always have to bite back a little. The first time I sewed the zipper in, I hadn't realized that I had accidentally folded over the lace so it created this weird bubbly fold that did not look good. So that had to go. I redid the zipper. The bottom part is a little screwed up, the fabric edges are ridiculously uneven.

You can kind of see, if you look closely, how the zipper veers off to one side. The random hanging threads have since been cut off, so no worries on that front. I was so sick of zipper malfunctions however, that I said screw it. It's pretty low down so you can't really tell unless you look for it.

See, looks pretty good from afar.

So there is the most time consuming, confusing dress yet. The best part of it? I found a look alike online when I was searching for cute lace hemming ideas. 100$ at topshop. Ha! My fabric was discount fabric, cost about 15$ for the whole thing, plus a bit of thread and a zipper. Voila! I just saved myself about 80$. Alright!

It's got the same neckline, same overall shape, same circle skirt, same lace hem. Just no sleeves. But I could have easily not put them on. Although after all that trouble... they are staying on.

So with no further comments, I shall leave you with an adorable picture of my cat 'helping' me with the ironing/pressing part of the dress making.

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