First up, you aren’t going to see this dress on my just yet because I screwed up. I’m not sure how I managed it but I managed to make it too small around the waist. It’ll do up but it is TIGHT and I don’t feel comfortable modelling it. I’d toiled it and checked and tweaked and carefully transferred back to the pattern but there we go. I also constructed the dress in a day so was rushing which may have also contributed to my idiot mistake. I’d intended to wear it to a black tie event that evening but ended up wearing my Vintage Vogue 2903. It’s an incentive to keep loosing weight though!
Despite all of that though I love this dress. A lot of love went into this dress before I even put scissors to cloth. The pattern was a gift from Sonja at Gingermakes. She surprised me with it after I organised the Sew Very Merry Christmas Swap as a thank you! Then Fleur helped me out by doing some shopping at Mood for the charmeuse and lace for me and then posting it to me here in the UK. The blue silk was an absolute score from a charity shop which involved begging a tiny swatch, buying a pack of matches to do a quick burn test in the car park and then handing over £40 and running off with nearly 5m of pure silk!
I pre-washed all the fabric by hand which was straight forward. The blue silk though shed dye like you wouldn’t believe. Even after three rinses dye was still leaching into the water so I just called it a day at that point. The soap was out of the fabric and I just made a mental note that this was never to be washed as a finished item as I’d run the risk of dying the charmeuse a weird grey colour!
The pattern its self was a pleasure to work with, I loved the little touch on the PDF showing you which sides of the paper to cut off. I did my usual FBA (as I do on everything!) and tweaked the shape of the darts a little as this gives me a better shape. I also extended the width of the dress across the sweetheart seam as I wanted a little more coverage there.
I underlined the lace yoke with the charmeuse as I need to wear a bra and wanted to be able to hide the straps completely. And let me tell you, that charmeuse is gorgeous against the skin. It’s like water through your hands, I’m a little bit in love with the stuff! I simply basted the lace to the charmeuse in the seam allowance and then treated it as one piece of fabric. I used a size 60 sharp for the entire construction to damage the fabric as little as possible.
Construction wise the only fiddly bit is the V at the centre of the sweetheart. It took a little bit of time to get that done neatly and if I hadn’t been time crunched I’m sure I’d have found it less vexing. Oh, not adding a lining and being a little less of a perfectionist might have helped as well!
As I mentioned, the main change I made was to add a lining to the dress. I used a navy cotton for the bodice and attached a skirt made of dress lining. I attached it at the same time as attaching the yoke, which was the major contributing factor to the headache with the sweetheart seam line. As you can see though, if wore this dress without a lining and was back lit, not a lot would be left to the imagination!
Other little touches were reinforcing the side seams and darts with strips of bias organza to give the seam a little more strength as the silk is old and I wanted to give it all the help I could. I also finished the neck and armhole edges with bias silk charmeuse. I attached it by machine and then whip stitched it down by hand. The stitches are invisible from the right side as the lace hides them. It gives a really clean edge and also stops any potential lace scratchiness. Which to be honest wouldn’t be a problem as although synthetic, the lace drapes beautifully and is very soft.
And as for the fit. Well, there were nearly tears. It fits beautifully across the bust but the waist is just a tad tight. I should have realised when I had to add pleats for the skirt section to fit the bodice but I just assumed that the combination of silk and bias had just caused it to stretch a lot. The perils of rushing. By the time I tried it on, I’d already serged the waist seam and it was half an hour before I needed to be out of the door. So, whilst I can squeeze into this dress, it’s obvious that the waist is too small. It is far from a wadder though and I hope to be able to wear it soon.
Thank you Sonja and Fleur for making this dress possible in the first place. You (and the sewing community in general!) are awesome.