Confessions and Associations

Right, I’m going to ‘fess up.  To serveral things.

No1.  I started writing this post and when I looked at my draft (in word) it ran to five pages before I’d added any photos, so I’m gonna spare you all and break it up a bit!

No2.  I’m still scared of self portraits which is why this post ended up being so long before it was chopped up; lots of projects all photographed in one go.  So the hair and makeup is gonna be pretty consistent for a while!

No3.  I’m uncharacteristically disorganised at the moment so haven’t participated in Sew Grateful week.  I’ll probably do an all encompassing post later, ‘K?

V2903

The oldest finished item ought to be the first in my catch up, it’s only fair don’t you think?

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Oops, shoulda got the iron out!

Five months after I finished it, I give you V2903.  I loved making this dress and I got a ton of compliments on it at Brother-in-Law’s wedding in early September.  The only thing I’d change would be to use a fabric in a natural fibre.  It was HOT that day and we were all melting in suits and dresses which were derived from man made fibres.  If I could have financed this dress in a natural fibre I would definitely have been more comfortable!  Having a massive petticoat on didn’t help with the temperature control either but definitely adds to the dress.  Once we got to the evening, the petticoat was removed; here’s the dress with and without ‘poof’.

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And here are some of our photos from the day.  Doesn’t boy look ridiculously gorgeous in his little tails, waistcoat and cravat?  Husband brushed up well too!

DSC00247Husband, Boy and Brother-in-Law

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There are a ton of emotions tied up in this dress.  Happiness in that it was a much anticipated and enjoyed wedding.  Happiness in that four days earlier I’d found out I was pregnant and seen our baby the day before the wedding for the first time.  There is so much ope associated with this dress, but also a tinge of sadness because that hope and happiness I felt was only to continue for a month as I lost our baby at the beginning of October.  It’s amazing how one garment can evoke such strong feelings; particularly as it’s only been worn the once.  Realistically I probably wont wear it again because of the (not entirely rational) associations that are tied up with it, but at the same time I won’t be getting rid of it.  Not at the moment anyway…

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I enjoyed making the dress.  Whilst at times I felt under pressure due to having a very fixed deadline and absolutely no plan B, I learnt a lot whilst making it.  My knowledge of underlining and the effect it can have on the body and drape of a fabric exploded (Thank You Evie!!).  I tried new construction techniques and made my first Vogue pattern (really not that scary, just read the instructions carefully!).  I also dyed fabric for the first time which was a lot of fun and turned my hands blue for a day or two!

If I was to make it again, I’d take some of the ease around the waist out as I no realised that I like to accentuate that there is some shape there and this dress doesn’t make the most of that.  I’m glad I lobbed a good lump off the length too; to me it reads vintage inspired rather than wanna-be vintage!

All in, I love this dress; I love most of the memories and I love the colour.  It’s very definitely an event dress rather than a day to day one and I’m pleased I took the time to make it.

V2903 – Progress at last!

Dining Room Sewing! (At the point of doing this post, it was tidier when I started…)

Today, I moved all my sewing gear downstairs.  My machine, the serger, the iron and my little ironing board.  All of it got trucked downstairs and onto our dining room table.

My sewing table upstairs

Whilst I adore my little sewing room, when I want to put in some serious hours on a reasonably big project, there just isn’t quite the room I need on my table upstairs.

Downstairs, I’m all set up and there’s space to pin on the flat without ending up on the floor!  There’s also enough space for the table to take the weight of the dress.

I set them all up and then set to the serger with a screwdriver to install the new upper blade.  Man was that little screw tight!  It nearly turned into a job for Husband…  But I got there.  Everything was plugged in, cables were neat-ish and not too hazardous for a marauding toddler.

As you’ve probably guessed, panic has passed and progress is being made.  This morning I finished basting the underlinings to the fabric.  I only had to re-do one panel when I realised I had two identical side fronts and not the required mirror images!  Gotta love basting stitches for being so easy to remove…

Seam One!

And here’s the first seam.  This was done just gone 10am this morning and then carefully pressed.  Yup, that’s Boy’s work bench in the back ground!

I’ve been very very carefully putting the seam allowances through the serger with it’s lovely sharp new knife.  I did not want to inadvertently slice holes in anything as there is no way you could hide it on this fabric.  It’d mean a whole new panel.

Pretty pleat!

Here’s the front of the dress all completed, and pleats carefully pressed in and basted across the bottom.  I edge-stitched along the inside pleat to help those stay where they should.  I’m hoping a ton of steam and pressure will be enough for the outside ones!

Edge stitched inside pleat

And so far I’m one third of the way through the back with the invisible zipper all installed.  Just got to add the side panels, serge the seam allowances and then construct two more sets of pleats.

Invisible zipper! (It’s not wonky at the top, I just didn’t straighten the pull when I took the photo on the ironing board…)

Do you want me to photograph how I do the pleats?  I’m not sure that it’s to the letter of the instructions but it’s getting the finish that I want.  Holler in the comments if you do!

So I hope to finish the back tonight and add the facings.  Hopefully I’ll also get to basting the side seams and trying it on for fit and maybe even finishing the side seams…  I feel so much happier that I’ve made some progress; I’ve gone from feeling that I’m stood at the base of Everest to feeling quite calm and that this is all achievable.

Thank you so much for your encouragement and kind words over the last few weeks – both sewing related and about my family.  It means a huge amount and has given me strength when I sometimes felt that I may falter.

Dad’s CT scan came back clear and there were no cancer markers in his blood.  They think the growth was a fibrosis, but the culture has grown ‘unusually quickly’.  But as my Dad said – he’d much rather it was growing quickly in a petri dish than in him.  At the moment the medical bods aren’t planning anything agressive going forwards, but will be monitoring him closely.  They’ve yet to have their meeting and give a formal report, but that’s what we know so far…

Here’s to going forwards!

Vogue 2903 – Fabric

So, back to Vogue 2903!  As of Saturday just gone I’ve got three weeks…  Eek!

On the Wednesday after we’d returned from holiday I had a day off where I was by myself. Much as I love Husband and Boy, it’s nice to have some alone time where I can get things done and think clearly.  As this was all prior to the bombshell weekend, thinking revolved around fabric for V2903.

I knew that I agreed with you all that teal was the colour to go for, so armed with my swatch I went off notion shopping.  I’d intended on getting lining, underlining, thread and zipper, and then ordering the dress fabric.

In the end I ended up buying the fabric for the dress from a home-dec fabric store!  The sample above is the best representation of the colour…

This is what I chose.  It’s a teal dupion style fabric with a slight sheen/sparkle and a slubby texture.  It’s actually several shades darker in real life, but the bright sunshine has kinda bleached out the photo!  Like the taffeta I was originally looking at, it’s entirely man made (polyester) but has more weight than the taffeta.  It also drapes better, presses pretty well and basically I love it!  I hope you don’t mind me going off piste a little?

I also aquired some lightweight calico and dress net to underline with.

And some lining.  Both the lining and dress net were described on the bolt as ‘petrol blue’ but I love the tonal aspect as there’s wasn’t a perfect match to the dress fabric.

Gah, the flash has bleached the colour on the dress fabric AGAIN!  It’s three different colours in three different photos!

On the way home I also bought some fabric dye.  Looking in my bag of fabric on the way back to the car the natural calico fabric was just too jarring against my teals and petrol blues.  OK, it’s only an underlining and the dress will be lined so no-one’s really going to see it.  But I’d know.  And the more I thought about it, the more it was bugging me!

So, after pre-washing the calico I took my first foray into dying fabric.

Just as a note:  When they say wear gloves, wear them!  I stuck my hands in for about 30 seconds and the blue has only just (10 days later) come off my cuticles.  For several days it looked like I may have a slight circulation problem with my hands!

I also finished off my flat pattern adjustments.  Please be aware these are just to fit my body – the pattern its self is really well drafted and goes together well (it did at the toile stage, but I’m ahead of myself…).  Here’s what I changed:

Full Bust Adjustment
Sleeve width adjustment
Shortened the bodice by 2″
Took 8″ off the drafted length of the skirt

After the toile I also added more of a curve under the bust and at the waist.  I’m also going to use the narrower yoke, rather than the wider one.  I thought I’d prefer the wider yoke but I was wrong!  Heh, another good argument for the toile – you can check that you like the style decisions that you’ve made!

Tonight is fabric cutting and basting the dress fabric to the underlinings so that the dress fabric is on the outside, then the dyed calico and the dress net uppermost.

V2903 – Musings and Modifications

First up, thank you for your thoughts on the colour for this dress!  I think the Teal is going to be a clear winner!  Which makes me happy as on reflection its my favourite too!

I think it’s only fair to say that this blog is going to be a bit V2903 heavy for the next month or so.  This is a ‘project’ dress and I want to do the best I can with it.  I hope you guys are going to be OK with me talking about it incessantly and live through the process with me?  I am probably (make that definitely!) going to be asking for advice and help saving my sanity as we go along too!

So, on to the modifications and musings!

V2903 – Illustrations and Line Drawings

The dress is tea length, which looks gorgeous on tall willowy people.  I’m neither tall (5’4″) or willowy!  I have a suspicion that the tea length will drown me so I am highly likely to chop the skirt off around knee length.  I’ll probably toile the thing as per the pattern though just to see.  You can bet I’ll be asking your opinions on this aspect – sometimes you need someone a little more detached to make a more objective judgement!

I’m also going to remove quite a bit of ease.  Comparing  the body measurements with the garment measurements printed on the pattern shows that there’s 2 1/2″ ease at the bust and 3 1/2″ at the waist!  That seems like quite a lot to me.  I know I prefer much less ease in the bust so I’ll be taking this down to about 1″ and about 1 1/2″ at the waist.  I’m adding a little more to the waist as I really want the lines to be smooth there (and it’s also my biggest area of paranoia).

The only other modification is that I’m going to use the deeper yoke with the shorter sleeves.  Which isn’t really a modification, just messing with the pattern variations!  Then it’s just the usual fitting alterations (full bust adjustment, broad back and upper arms).

Stuck with me so far?  Ready for the musings?!

The fashion fabric is going to be poly taffeta (silk is so far out of my budget, sigh).  I intend to underline it to give it a bit more body and add some strength to the seams.  Originally I intended to stop there.

Then I started having a chat with Evie who blogs at pendlestitches.  She made V2903 for her wedding dress!  She underlined hers with lawn and dress net, with the lawn closest to the duchess satin so the net didn’t leave any marks when pressing.  She also lined it!

As a result I’ve been doing lots of research on underlining.  The first 10 minutes of chapter 6 of the Couture Dress class on Craftsy has loads of useful information.  Tasia and Gertie have both posted about the use of underlining too.

I’ve realised that I need to think about what I want the final dress to look like to make sure I make the right choices for the underlinings.  Ready for a list?

Smooth appearance on panels and seams
Strong smooth seams
Crisp edges at neck, yoke and sleeve hems
Strong, smooth as I can get it, zipper insertion
Invisible seam allowances and hems
Full skirt with some structure of its own (I will be wearing a petticoat/crinoline as well)
Crisp pleats

This has led me to think that underlining with a light weight cotton (lawn, batiste, muslin, calico) in all areas of the dress, and then adding a layer of dress net to the bodice and skirt pieces only.  I’d love to use this technique where the underlining also finishes the seams.  The princess seams will be just too curvy.  Sigh.

On the subject of curvy curvyness; my FBA is going to add bigger curves to the the already curved princess seams in the bodice.  Do you think adding some bias organza strips when sewing the seam is a good idea?  There’ll be a lot of notching and clipping in that area and I don’t want the seam to be weak.  I wouldn’t cut into the organza as there should be enough flexibility in the bias for it to be able to follow the curve without any help.  Do you think this would add some strength, or am I just making my life difficult for little to no gain?

Using the dress net will make a lining somewhat essential.  There isn’t a lining pattern included so I’ll have to draft that from the pattern.  I really want to hide the ‘guts’ of the dress though so would prefer the lining doesn’t hang free inside the skirt.

Should I bag the lining to the hem (like in a lined jacket, where the lining bags down a little) or should I just use french tacks to secure it at each non-pleated seam point (4 points)?

There’s a lot of pleats in the skirt and I can imagine that when they’re all flat, there’s a fair bit of yardage, so an exact replica in lining scares me a bit due to the amount of sewing that would go into attaching the lining at the hem.  But then  I’m also not sure that a french tacked lining would work great either!  I can’t really find an answer to this anywhere, so if anyone has any resource suggestions I’d be ever so grateful!

I’ll be leaving you all in peace for a short while as we’re going on holiday in the next day or so for a week or so (heh, Husband is busy with work, so whilst we’ve booked ten days, we may have to come back after a week!).  Once I’m back it’ll be toile time as I hope to get the pattern traced and the flat pattern adjustments done before we go.  I think you’ll like the toile – it’s going to be made out of a blue stripy duvet cover!