I would not normally type myself as an "elegant" dresser but decided to "up the stakes" a little bit and try to achieve ELEGANCE in my garment using the following techiques:
3. By upgrading my sewing and finishing techniques.
The last two will be achieved with the help of several CRAFTSY online classes on "Fitting" and "Pattern Alterations" I have recently taken (can't recommend them enough!) I was anxious to try some of the techniques I had learned.
I wrote a previous blog post with my thoughts on this pattern and my fear of ever getting it to fit me. I really liked some things about the pattern, mainly the sweetheart neckline and decided to give a try to making the pattern as is (only bigger, longer, and with sleeves)I started by trying to alter the bodice of the dress to fit me. I made muslins, MANY muslins, until I finally was able to fit my bodice (somewhat). Here is the pile of different patterns and muslins I made (I didn't use actual muslin but a cotton twill that was nearer the weight of my fashion fabric)
Once I had a top that would fit, I needed to find out where my exact waistline was. To do this I put a piece of elastic around my waist and marked with pins the bottom of the elastic line.
I finally had a bodice pattern that fit at my TRUE waistline. Here is the difference between the largest size Salme pattern and the final draft that fits me----oh my, a lifetime of too many cookies!
Even with the waistline at the right place, I still did not like the way the fullish skirt looked on me!!!
I worked on getting a good fit additionally by much tweeking of the dart and seam placements, and by making adjustments (recently learned in my Craftsy course) for forward-thrusting shoulders, rounded back and asymmetry in my figure.
I'm finally learning to fit my aging body!I am really pleased with the resulting fit and feel of my dress. It feels like it is just skimming my body, with no points that feel too tight or look too loose!
THE SEWING PROCESSBecause I was new to working with both brocade and lace, I had to do some experimenting with handling them both.
The brocade needed to be treated almost like wool, using a substantial press cloth, and reacted to both moist heat and pressure (time to use my clapper) I found a microtex sharp needle worked best, going between the fine threads without cutting them.
I used 2 layers of lace, a figured one on top and the above tulle-like mesh on the bottom for added strength. It also had this finished rolled hem that I was able to use on the bottom of my sleeves and skirt.
The article by Susan Khalje in Threads title "Amazing Lace" was invaluable to me. She suggests several methods of finishing lace seams and the one that worked best for me was the "self-bound" seam. You start with a 1" seam allowances ( I had four layers of lace fabric).Cut all but the outside layer of the seam allowance to 3/8". Then wrap this layer around the others and sew. Kind of like a "Hong Kong" seam but you don't need an extra fabric strip.
Further techniques I used to upgrade the "elegance" factor were finished seam allowances (several different methods for brocade and lace edges) and a FULL LINING for the dress, both for comfort and appearance.
I carried out the "lacey" theme in my choice hem tape and did lots of hand finishing which I would have previously done by machine!
SO WHERE IS THE FUNKY PART?
you are probably asking! Well, it's there, though not as obvious as usual. I didn't mention but the event I will be wearing this to takes place on HALLOWEEN, so I added some SPOOKY touches.
If you look carefully at the figured lace, it has figures of bats on a background of cobwebs
The lacey ruffle at the bottom is actually part of a Halloween underskirt:
and of course my fingernails!
Here are the finished pictures, both with and without the "FUNKY" underskirt: