what I wore. Unless you're all tired of waiting to hear me talk about it by now? Because I am.
No? You still want to see the whole shebang? What I wore, what pattern(s) it was, what I did to it?
Well, okay, if you insist.
The dress started out with BWOF 2/2009 #104 as the basis. I made it last summer and I loved the front and back necklines. I wasn't, however, in love with the cut-on sleeves, which made it really difficult for me to wear a jacket with the dress. I decided that the dress needed some re-drafting so that I could add sleeves.
Instead of completely re-drafting the BWOF dress, I took a dress with a similar bodice structure (Burdastyle's downloadable Fatina pattern, still free) and morphed the two. Fatina had the bust dart and side seam structure I needed to add sleeves, and it was easy enough to transfer the BWOF necklines to the new pattern piece.
It still took a couple of muslins to get the fit where I wanted it, but I was only muslining the bodice - I knew that the skirt from the BWOF dress would fit, and if it didn't, it was simply going to be a matter of shifting the hip curve.
Originally I had a line of piping at the joining seam between bodice and skirt, but after thinking on it for a few days, I removed the invisible zipper and cut the seam out entirely, removing the piping and also raising the seamline of the dress to the bottom of my bra, which was where I'd intended it to begin with. Sometimes these patterns, they get minds of their own and you have to yank on the leash a little to make them behave. Once I got the seam redone and the zipper back in, I was much happier with the overall look of the bodice and I just had to smooth out the hip curve again.
It took a little while to figure out what kind of sleeve I wanted, but I eventually settled on a below-elbow length fitted sleeve from a vintage pattern. I liked the minimal ease in the sleeve cap, and the gathers on the inside of the elbow to make the sleeve fit better.
The BWOF dress as drafted is a bit of a wiggle dress, unless you leave a walking slit in the back. Well, obviously I needed to walk in the dress, but a slit was too basic, and I didn't decide I wanted something more elaborate until after I'd cut and then I would have needed to add back on to make a proper walking pleat. Instead, I stole an idea from the January issue of BWOF and cut a godet out of the last of my silk and sewed it into the opening.
After I pressed it, I felt kind of . . . meh. I hung the dress up and thought about it again for a few days, and took up the iron again. Some folding, some pressing, and what I ended up with was the godet folded and pleated inward, pressed and sewn flat across the top. It looked much more elegant than my original idea, and moved very nicely when I walked.
The finish work - sleeve hems and the skirt itself - was all hand-sewn. The fabric, a silk, cotton and lycra blend, was very forgiving of machine stitches, but I didn't want anything to show on this one, so I did it by hand. I'm remembering how much I like hand-sewing, so long as I have the right glasses on and good light nearby.
As for the jacket, after several unhappy muslins, I mentioned that I cut up a second hand jacket I'd picked up and made a pattern from that. This jacket, cut straight from the final fabric, turned out pretty well. There's no good picture of me wearing it, somehow, so you'll have to take my word that when I'm not turned oddly, as I am here, it fits me quite well and doesn't stick out the way it is in the photo. Go figure.
My favorite part of the jacket was the part I swore at the most in the making. After I got the fit comfortable on the jacket, I was faced with the fun of lining it. I had enough of the silk left to make the lining (this was before I cut the godet for the skirt), but as I was about to cut into it, I changed my mind.
Ever make a garment that fits perfectly well until you get the lining in, and then something goes just slightly wrong and the thing never fits right ever again? I had a sudden fear that I would get the lining in the jacket and it would cease to fit, and then I would have to rip it out, and somehow the seam ripper would go through the center front of the jacket and I'd have nothing to wear and . . . well, I got myself into a lather about it and decided that discretion was the better part of, if not valor, then at least the better part of appearing fully dressed in public.
I went for something I hate to do.
For every visible seam in the jacket, I did a Hong Kong finish. I hate Hong Kong finishes. I love how it looks - who doesn't? - but I hate to do it. Tiny fiddly annoying work, and that's before you decide to make your own seam binding. Which of course I had to do, since I still wanted to use the leftover dress silk, even if it wasn't going to be for a full lining.
I did the final hand work on both pieces - tacking down the facings on the dress, hemming the sleeves on the jacket - last Friday night after work, giving me time on Saturday morning for a leisurely breakfast, a run to the farmer's market and a quick shower before we headed off to the wedding.
Whew! I'm tired all over again just thinking about it. I hope you all enjoyed the back story on the dress, and more photos of me than you will probably see here for months to come - grinning like a fool is easy on your wedding day, but flattering work-in-progress photos? Not so easy.