Wednesday, October 1, 2014

A Ruffled Petticoat


I purchased a black tea length petticoat a few years ago for this dress.  It has come in handy, let me tell you!  But for this gown, I wanted something extra to help fill out the back half of the skirt and all of those pleats.  An added bonus would be to keep all of that itchy nylon netting away from my skin!


To accomplish this, I added a cotton petticoat to the corselette.


I cut two of the front skirt pattern pieces to use as a petticoat.  To create a center back opening, I made a simple fabric placket that could be stitched to the zipper opening of the corselette.


Basically, the corselette/petticoat you see here goes on first, the purchased petticoat sits on top of that, which is finally topped with the dress!


The waistline of the petticoat was finished with rayon seam binding and then hand stitched to the corselette.


The upper edge of the corselette was finished with the cherry print fabric just in case the top edge ever becomes visible along the neckline.


But first, that neckline had to be evened out.


A contrasting color of basting stitches helped keep track of the new upper edge line, which was trimmed.


The bias binding was then stitched on by hand.


Which makes it really easy to control.



And I love handwork!


The ruffles for the petticoat were made from netting.


The netting is 72” wide, so I just used that as my width.  Each ruffle was cut twice as deep as needed, plus one or two inches for a seam allowance and to account for folding all that bulk over on itself.


The netting was folded in half, basted together, and gathered using that basting stitch (I prefer a folded bottom edge to a raw edge – it looks nicer and poofs more than a single layer).


The gathered ruffle was stitched to the cotton petticoat, facing toward the waistline.  I chalked the stitching line to make it easy to see.


Since this is an underlayer, marking things up is not a problem.


The ruffle then was folded into its proper position, facing downward toward the hemline.  Normally, that would be it.  But since these ruffles were a bit narrow, they did not want to stay down.  To remedy this, I top-stitched right next to the stitching line.


I was hoping to add one more large ruffle from the bottom of the zipper opening to the hemline, but ran out of time.  In the end, I think the silhouette worked just fine without.  


And considering the actual dress was unwearable three days before the event, it was a concession I was willing to make.  Shortcuts had to be made somewhere!


Horsehair braid was added to the hemline of the cotton petticoat for an extra bit of oomph.


Here is the completed look.  It does not fit my dress form since I have squishy bits to displace, and the form is quite solid.  So here I am in my underwear.


Best of all, the two pieces (corselette and petticoat) are easily separated since they are hand-stitched together.  This means that I can use them again, together or separate, as the need arises.


Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Underpinnings

After a whole lot of last-minute sewing, the dress was finished just in time to be worn to the Gala event yesterday evening!  (There a few sneak peeks over on Instagram and Facebook.)  But to be honest, I do not have the energy to go through all of the photos right now, so those will come later . . .


Before all of the steps disappear from my memory, I want to work through more of my process here on the blog.


I knew that a foundation layer was going to be needed with an off-the-shoulder dress that dips in the front and back.  A corselette was the perfect solution. 


I used Vogue 7698 as a starting point.  Since I previous used it for my Emerald Green Ceil Chapman Gown, I knew it would go together easily.


First up was a muslin.


I tried a couple of different things with the bust cups, only to go back to the original, although I did end up adding a bit more coverage to the upper edge and lowered the center back.  I also lengthened the lower edge to match back to the dropped-waist and pointed bodice pieces of the dress.


The underlining is plain old quilting cotton that is leftover from various projects.  I ran out of black, so I pulled out some blue.  I knew there was a reason I kept all of those small scraps of cotton stashed away!


I traced the stitching lines with my fabulous waxed tracing paper onto the quilting cotton and then used those pieces to cut out and thread trace the stitching lines onto the black coutil.  They are treated as a single layer from this point on.


This is the first project that I have used this technique, and I was a bit concerned that I would miss having those raw edges to help match everything up.  Well, there was no need to worry.  It is quite easy to feel the thread tracing and match it to the next bit of thread tracing.  And just think how much more accurate this would be when working with a fabric that frays easily!


Before hand-picking the zipper, I basted one in to check the fit.


I have to say I love all the hand sewing this requires!


The most annoying part of the process comes later on, when the basting has to be ripped out from underneath the final machine stitched seam.  That is not so much fun.


I splurged on pre-cut spiral steel boning – no time or energy to fight with a pair of wire cutters for this project!


After the boning channels were stitched into place, I catch-stitched the trimmed seam allowances into place.  Some of the side seams had to be clipped at the waistline to make everything lay flat.


Instead of attaching the waist-stay after the lining was in place, I placed it between the coutil and the lining.  I figured this would be more comfortable (especially with the wider grosgrain) and would keep it from digging in at the waist. 


But I needed access to the ends of the ribbon.


My trusty bound buttonholes came to the rescue.


The waist-stay was stitched to the seams of the corselette and fed through the buttonhole openings on the lining.  The lining was then hand stitched in place along the bottom and zipper edges.


Then, of course, the stay needed a few hook & eyes as a closure.


I often get lazy and just use a larger skirt hook & eye, but they can dig in a bit.  So I went the more labor intensive route and used four small ones.


I was not careful about measuring the stay, so I ended up making it too small the first time around.  Whoops!  Thankfully, I had left enough of the ribbon folded under to extend the stay.


So guess what I was doing Friday evening?  Ripping out and re-stitching lots of little hook & eyes which have a tendency to fly out of my hand.  Then, of course, I had to find the things among all that black fabric.


A pair of bra cups was added, and the top edge basted together (eventually it was bound with my dress fabric).  And that is the corselette!


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Chalk Marks and Cotton Underlining


I am totally in love with waxed tracing paper!  Okay, I’ll shut up about it now.  But I think I have found my new "can't live without" sewing notion.  Will it eclipse rayon seam binding as my all time favorite?  Probably not, but now my Hug Snug has a best friend to play with in the sewing room.


For this predominantly black dress, I used both yellow and white sheets of the tracing paper.  Both of them disappeared under the steam of an iron while I was pressing my seams open later in the process.


I imagine that might not work with the darker colors.


But until the steam, the marks are super visible!


After cutting and marking the underlining, it was time to pull out the delicious silk/wool blend.


It was the moment of truth – would I have enough of the cherry print? 


Normally, I start pinning and cutting things from one end of the fabric, and go my merry way.  This time I was paranoid about running out of irreplaceable gorgeousness, so I laid everything out with a few pins here and there and worked my way through, hoping the fabric would not run out before my pattern pieces did.


And yes, everything fit!  I may even be able to squeeze a small project out of the remnants . . .


Next up was a whole lot of thread tracing.


This is probably not the best technique for anyone who hates hand sewing.  But I truly love it, so this part of the process was a lot of fun.  Which is a good thing . . . there were a whole lot of massive pieces to deal with this time around.


Not to mention many, many more hand sewing opportunities!