Friday, June 24, 2016

"What you up to with Miss Ellen's portieres?"

Scarlett: You're gonna make me a new dress.  
Mammy: Not with Miss Ellen's portieres. Not while I got breath in my body.
Scarlett [grabbing the curtains and tears them down]: Great balls of fire! They're my portieres now. I'm going to Atlanta for that three hundred dollars and I've got to go looking like a queen. 
Mammy: Who's goin' to Atlanta wit' you? 
Scarlett: I'm going alone. 
Mammy: That's what you think. I'se goin' to Atlanta with you. With you and that new dress. 
Scarlett: Mammy, darling....
Mammy: No use to try to sweet talk me, Miss Scarlett. I'se known you since I put the first pair of diapers on you. I said I'm goin' to Atlanta with you and goin' I is.

Last year I travelled to Pennsylvania with my Mom to help empty out and sell a family condo.  In the basement, there was a bedspread, four curtain panels, and a valence made from this fabric that once belonged to my Grandmother.  I am not sure if she made the set herself, or if her sister did.  The fabric was too heavy and bulky to fit in a suitcase, but I expressed interest in the textile and it was eventually mailed to California.

My initial idea was to make a tea length circle skirt, but this was before I had actually looked at the yardage that was available.  The valence was quite discolored and very narrow.  The four curtains were in pretty good condition, although three of them had a few stains and/or imperfections that needed to be avoided.  And the bedspread was very worn at the corners, although the ruffle was in usable condition.  That meant that a circle skirt was out of the question.  

I started pulling out patterns because I wanted to do something with this fabric that would keep it from heading back into storage for another decade or more.  About the same time, while rifling through my closet, I came across this dress.  I really love the design, and had wanted to make the full skirted version ever since the pattern was released.

The four skirt panels fit perfectly on the four curtain panels while also managing to avoid all the flawed bits of fabric!  That left me with a bodice and collar to fit on the bedspread, and I felt like that just might work.

Then I had to deconstruct everything.  To be honest, I was not looking forward to this step.  I really try to avoid a seam ripper whenever possible!  

Turns out, the fabric is in great shape, but the thread did not fare so well over the years.  A tiny snip at one end of a seamline and the thing tore right apart.  I would have been rather upset if I had intended to use the bedroom set for its original purpose, but in this instance, it was a fantastic time saver!

And now I have a new dress, made entirely from stashed items.  It may not be as fancy as Scarlett's amazing creation made from some green velvet drapes, but I am very pleased with my results.

Now that is my idea of repurposing!!

Dress & Belt:  Made by me, Butterick 5747
Headband:  Made by me
Petticoat:  Made by me, Vogue 4203
Shoes:  Remix “Babydoll
Gloves:  Vintage
Necklace:  Made by me
Purse:  Harvey’s Seatbelt Bags

Thursday, June 9, 2016

A rose by any other name . . .

It has been a long journey . . . but my first self-drafted dress is complete, and I have the pictures to prove it!

I am pretty darn proud of this one!  It feels completely mine (with a bit of inspiration from Mr. Dior, of course).

I was even able to design and print the fabric with the help of My Fabric Designs.

finally put my dress form to good use and draped the bodice and skirt, made myself a corselette from cotton bobbinet, and put together the largest petticoat I have ever made!  I also managed to make a little hat to top off the look at the very last minute.  

That petticoat is so fluffy, in fact, that I just managed to fit in my car!

And while the dress might not be very practical in a lot of situations, I love it just the same.

I had quite a few lovely comments the day I wore this dress.

In fact, one gentleman called out "1956" as he was walking by.  Incredibly enough, this is the very year that the Rose de France dress was designed.  I guess I got it right!

Thankfully, the weather played nice, and outerwear was not needed.  But come to think of it, a coat with an oversized shawl collar, three-quarter sleeves, and a whole lot of fabric with this print used as a lining might have to happen at some point!

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is my dress!

Dress & Sash:  Made by me, self drafted
Petticoat:  Made by me
Corselette:  Made by me, Simplicity 1183
Hat:  Made by me
Necklace:  Grandmother’s, borrowed from Mom
Shoes:  Blue by Betsy Johnson "Stela"

[Disclosure:  My Fabric Designs provided me with a coupon code which was used to purchase a portion of this fabric, but the opinions posted here are my own.]

Monday, June 6, 2016

A Little Preview

I am finally getting around to going through all of the pictures of my finished dress!  

But it is going to take another day or so before I am done.

Until then, here is a preview of how everything turned out.  I have to say, I am very pleased!

[Disclosure:  My Fabric Designs provided me with a coupon code which was used to purchase a portion of this fabric, but the opinions posted here are my own.]

Friday, May 27, 2016

Finishing Touches

The end is in sight!

Of course, there are so many little details that go into finishing a dress.

A waist-stay is one of the final steps.

And, of course, the hemline has to be finished.

Once the petticoat was completely finished, my Mom came over to help me even out the hem.

I debated over adding horsehair to the hem - pleats can start to look strange when the hem flares out.  But with such a poofy petticoat, I thought the horsehair might work.

And it did!

[Disclosure:  My Fabric Designs provided me with a coupon code which was used to purchase a portion of this fabric, but the opinions posted here are my own.]

Saturday, May 21, 2016

The Sash

One of the most challenging parts of this project was the belted drape.  From the images I could find of my original inspiration, it is very hard to tell exactly what is going on.  Is the drape a continuation of the pleated portion that wraps around the waist?  Are they separate?  And where does the sash come in?  Does it all just get tied together?  Because that was going to get rather unwieldy.  

I made a breakthrough after coming across this other Dior dress.  It is not exactly the same treatment, but I came up with something that works!

Some dresses include a drape stitched in the waist seam, but that did not strike me as a great idea (there was enough bulk with the pleats of the skirt).

Instead, I decided to use a pleated belt made from self-fabric and attach the drape and sashes to that piece.

I purchased a roll of waistband interfacing years ago.  I was hoping that it would replace belting (which is becoming more and more difficult to find), but it is not nearly as stable as I had anticipated.  But it does work in this instance to add just a bit of a foundation to the belt.

That was catch-stitched to the fabric.  Those stitches do not show on the right side of the fabric with all of the pleats to disguise them.

The lower edge was then folded up and stitched in place, followed by the upper edge with the raw edge turned under.

To get an idea of proportion, I ripped up a piece of muslin.  In the end, the small pieces of fabric that were left over after cutting the dress pieces was more of a deciding factor for the finished size of the drape.

The raw edges were finished with rayon seam binding, the lower corner edges were mitered, and then catch-stitched in place.

The upper edge was pleated in a shape I liked, and that raw edge was also finished with seam binding.

That white strip is the un-printed portion of the fabric edge, so you can see I was making use of every bit of fabric I could!

With the remaining yardage, I cut two rectangular pieces and marked a 45 degree angle at one end.

Those piece were then attached to the belt.

The drape was attached to the other end of the belt and stitched in place.

A few snaps and hook & eyes later, and my draped overlay was complete!

[Disclosure:  My Fabric Designs provided me with a coupon code which was used to purchase a portion of this fabric, but the opinions posted here are my own.]

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Putting It Together

And now it starts to look like an actual dress!

Joining the bodice to the skirt is always exciting.

I love getting an idea of what the final dress is going to look like, but from here on out, there is a lot of fabric to drag around the sewing room.

I did a fair amount of grading to the waist seam.

Most of the raw edges were pinked and catch-stitched to the underlining.

I decided to go for a lapped zipper application, which was hand-picked.

The underbodice was hand stitched to the bodice side seam allowance.  I trimmed the layers and catch-stitched them to the underlining of the bodice as well to keep them from moving around.

The back bodice pieces were cut out in the cotton lining fabric and hand stitched in place, covering the raw edges of the underbodice.  I added a couple of bones to the back bodice lining as well.

The gussets were omitted from the lining, so the upper portion of that side seam is simply folded under and not stitched to anything.

This eliminates some bulk and keeps the mobility through the arms.

And after a lot of hand stitching . . .

most of the raw edges were covered.

[Disclosure:  My Fabric Designs provided me with a coupon code which was used to purchase a portion of this fabric, but the opinions posted here are my own.]