Just as lovely was the enjoyment I got from sewing this dress - so simplistic and satisfying to sew, so enjoyable to wear! Having focused on more challenging and time-consuming projects over winter, 'refreshing' would be the perfect word for describing the making of this garment. Taking some time out to do some non-sewing things has been really great.
It wasn't all roses though... but we'll get to that a bit later on.
The dress itself is a bit of a franken-pattern - I used the bodice from McCall's 5972 and drafted my own full circle skirt which I had pleated with a sunray pleat at Specialty Pleaters. The bodice is lined in self-fabric and I was planning to incorporated a shortish a-line skirt hiding underneath the pleated skirt so that when walking, certain body parts don't gobble up the skirt (we all know what I'm talking about!!!). But I didn't end up needing it - the pleats give a lot of structure to a rather flimsy fabric.
The main fabrics are a nude (blush?) and deep violet-blue delustred polyester (as it's perfect for pleating) from Franke Stuart. The lace? That's from Stitches to Style. It's hand-made - which made things a wee bit difficult because it's not symmetrical, but that doesn't bother me nearly as much as I thought it might. Did I feel horridly guilty whilst sewing this incredible creation on to my polyester fabric? You bet I did. No matter though because I absolutely, absolutely adore this lace. I used silk thread to attach it to the bodice, and because the backing is a mesh with a bit of stretch, I was able to manipulate it so I didn't need to worry about darts distorting the embroidery or the backing. I've done it in such a way that the lace can be salvaged and applied to another creation if it should so take my fancy in the future.
Ah... yes - the twirling capabilities of a full circle skirt!
So.... the bad news I hinted at, and a few words on my learnings from the pleating process. With sunray pleats, apparently you hem after it's been baked, and not before, due to hem bulk not allowing the pleat to bake in. I completely freaked out when they called me to say this (I'd already posted in my half circles hemmed) but the lady said my hem was so tiny that it should be ok. Yay for tiny hems!
What they didn't tell me was that there was no promises that my half circles would be pleated on grain. If you know otherwise - please inform me, but I would have thought aligning a perfectly cut half circle (and I spent several hours checking and rechecking and checking again to make sure those two circles were perfectly cut) so that the pleating is done uniformly would have been a non-issue. I'm totally impressed I'm not screaming down the house about this - but this hiccup meant I didn't finish the dress in time to wear it to a best friends wedding on the 8th, because I had to re-hem the ba$tard. Having (presumably...?) lousy workmanship like that shove my pre-planned sewing schedule out of alignment seriously shat me off. Oh yeah, and I also initially sewed the bodice lining on backwards, and only realised after I'd clipped and understitched - oops! Then of course my invisible zip broke... gah!
|Exhibit A: Lousy off-grain pleating.|
Would you wear a dress with a hem this uneven?? Didn't think so.
Ummm, Specialty Pleaters - could you have possibly tried any LESS to get this on grain? Also, turns out my waist measurement was smaller than their mold (I'm totally taking this as a compliment) so there was anywhere between 1 and 4cm of fabric down from the waistline before the pleat actually kicked in, because again - the fabric had not been properly aligned in the mould prior to heat treatment (forgot to get a picture of this before cutting it down, but the image will be forever ingrained in my memory). This to my mind is why the pleats do not hang properly and kind of go skewiff at the sides, but I see this in the original Eva Franco dress too (see this in the 4th picture), so maybe I'm just making a big fuss about it all? If you happen to be better informed on this issue - I'd love to hear your opinion.
I'm probably going to try the pleating process once more - there's another pleater in Melbourne (I called him and wrote him off because he wouldn't discuss pricing unless I came into the shop front - talk about old school!! He's italian though, so maybe he takes more pride in his work....) and I have my heart set on another pleated skirt-dress for summer, so we'll just see what happens with that.
The most important thing is I felt like absolute royalty wearing this to my birthday dinner :)
And I have some super exciting news - I've registered for 'Camp Couture' with Susan Khalje in September next year!!! I'll be doing the French Jacket Class and the Couture Sewing Class, and I don't think I've ever wanted an entire year to pass so fast! Anyone want to join me? Or if you're a local, even come fabric shopping with me whilst I'm there? Baltimore and New York - HERE I COME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!