An artist who lives in my town (who also happens to be nationally recognized, award winning, and has great genes; art lovers check this out) has commissioned me to create two dresses for his models to wear. He sent me some inspirational photos and described the looks he wanted. The goal for me was to get the look right, but also create a garment that can fit many body types and be versatile enough to be used in future paintings.
I knew instantly that dress number one would evolve from Butterick 5224, which was in-stash.
I would lengthen the lower panels and have the front criss cross and close like a bathrobe. Unfortunately, the gathering along with the liner in the skirt created way too much bulk at the front when it overlapped. Take-two had me going conventional with a back seam. I left the back open where a zipper would have been and attached ties so the dress is adjustable. Moving the opening to the back allowed me to add a long tie at the center front which can be wrapped around a number of ways.
I wanted alot of fabric folds coming from the shoulder seam, so I added 6 inches on each bodice piece at the bustline and gathered the entire sleeve taught to the neckline. I left the bodice unlined. I personally like to see a little nipplage in my paintings. Classic.
Dress number 2 is waiting for Simplicity patterns to go on sale Thursday at JoAnn. There is a costume pattern that will be juuuuuuust right.
The Ultimate Snoop
Ok, so if you know anything about mE, you know I'm a sucker for formal wear. While trying on dresses at David's Bridal for my sister's wedding, of course I was checking out the construction and detailing. I found myself wondering how they were going to do the alterations for my sister's gown (ohhh, I bet they open it at the waist!). Then I found myself looking at their alterations price list. Then I found myself wondering if they were hiring seamstresses.
Yup, that's right folks. The only two problems were 1) I have no experience, and 2) I have never even looked at an industrial machine, and anyone who's ever watched Project Runway knows how that goes... So two days before my interview I tracked down a sewing machine dealer who happened to have an industrial machine for sale and was nice enough to sit down with me for half an hour and school me in the art. And schooled I was. I went into the interview and knew the machine inside and out. Unfortunately my lack of experience made the endeavor an epic FAIL, but they offered me a job at the store anyway (just far, far away from the scissors). I wonder if they'll let me try on dresses during lunch?
About 6 months ago we adopted an adorable puppy. Since then, she has destroyed thousands of dollars in ipod, phone, and computer cables, not to mention clothes, shoes, fabric, woodburners, furniture and just about anything else she can get her grubby little paws on. The cable connecting my printer and my computer was one of the more recent casualties, rendering my photo memory card temporarily useless.
And if you only knew what goodies are locked on that photo card!!
After the Christmas rush, when the kiddies were tucked away nicely at school again, I kinda taught myself to drape (!). Yup, I just threw some muslin on the form and pinched away. (Imagine photos here). It started with a great article in Threads (photo) that illustrated a pretty straightforward way to pinch out a top. I'm still tweaking the bodice, which has been revised about 5 times. I decided to drape the skirt directly in my fabric. Ooops I lied, I have a stored photo of the fabric here:
Some things I've discovered in this process.
1- It's really hard to drape on a duct tape dressform (if you're like me and left your duct tape form unpadded and uncovered). You can't pin to the form itself, and the fabric is slippery against the surface of the tape and shifts crazily. I had a real problem keeping fabric edges parallel to the floor, and I'd finish pinching out darts and seams on the back just to turn it around and realize the center front line had been drinking heavily.
2- The thing I had most trouble with was the armhole, mostly because it's not clearly defined on my form. I winged it with my french curve a few times before I stopped being lazy and looked up some sleeve fitting techniques. I'm hoping this is my last revision.
3- It's a good thing sharpies come in so many colors. (photo). I used sharpies to mark my seam lines and could keep track of which line was current because I used a different color sharpie for each revised fitting.
4- At regular intervals throughout the process I really had to resist throwing in the towel (and still do). This is tedious stuff. And let's face it folks, we all know that no matter what kind of look we want, we can find a pattern to fit it- or at least come close enough that we can work with it. Why was I going through all this trouble to drape a sleeveless, ballet neckline, princess seamed bodice when I knew for a fact I could just dig into my pattern stash and find exactly what I wanted? I don't know. But now that I've invested all this time and effort and about 20 yards of muslin I'm hooked.
So hopefully my completion of this gown will coincide with a trip to Best Buy, and I'll be able to share my first draped project with you! Don't hold your breath though, because I've been in bed for three days with the flu. I'm thinking end of month, so I can get busy on something scandalous for valentine's day ;)