Queen of the Night

I am overwhelmed by the wonderful compliments on this dress from all of you. You all know I wouldn’t have made it without you, right? I would have gone for the ‘prom’ dress and called it a day. Thank you again for making me work to my full potential.

And a shot of the back. This really was fitted within an inch of its life. I think the back left was cut slightly off grain. Understitching and pressing within an inch of it’s life still had it turning out a little bit. For the front, my sewing neighbor thinks it could have been more fitted around the waist. I sayI needed that extra inch so I could eat!

And now, I have to go to bed. I’m operating on four hours sleep. Thanks again y’all!

Ta Da!

Well, here we are. The roommate (on the left), my coworker Anna, and Mr. Hunkle. We started with a small cocktail party at my house before heading downtown. In an effort to skip coat check for 2000 people (and well, walking) one of my awesome neighbors dropped us curbside!

I have discovered champagne takes away the pain of 3.5 inch heels. And that you should eat before you start drinking it.

It was a fabulous time! We got back around midnight and stayed up until three eating and talking. My arm is a little strained right now from patting myself on the back all night. I loved, loved, loved my dress! No one else had anything like it.

And now, I am very very late for work. I think we are all very, very late for work!

Thank you all so much for your help and encouragement on this project!

Where’s my mother when I need her?

Welcome to the most blogged about project ever. In case you’ve lost track, I’m working on OOP Butterick 6408.

My mom might not be able to thread a sewing machine, but she looooves to sew by hand. I though, do not care for it. In my defense, I have tendonitis and it’s very hard for me to hold on to a needle. As evidenced by my stopping after completing three roses. I’m going to go pop some ibuprofen and wrap my little paw up in a heat pad and save the others for later this week.

I’m following the Schaeffer technique, but I did cut the flowers in half width wise. The first was was too ‘bud’ like for my purposes. Also, I like them to be flat on the bottom. I got the little gem stones in NYC during PR Weekend. I think it’s a cute way to add some sparkle. My other three stones are smaller and I’ll use those for the strap flowers. The flowers are about three inches in diameter. Any bigger and I’d feel like Dorothy Dandridge on the set of Carmen Jones.

Sooo, I’m thinking about how to actually attach them. I don’t want them flopping about. I think I need to interface / reinforce where they are going. Or, I guess I could make a few pins. But, I think the pins would definitely flop around.

And, if you came by my house today, you would think I’m that crazy woman with too many cats. I’m wearing red sweatpants, my mom’s 1980 long peach robe, black socks and my dress shoes. I needed the practice with the heel and I’d like to break them in.

The Kindness of Others

Everyone, the power of the internet and helpfulness of others never ceases to amaze me. I want and need to give a great big shout out to Summerset, Dawn and Nancy for the terrific advice. I’m happy to report the dress is fixed and fits better than ever!!

I worked on both hips and I did it two different ways. Both work wonderfully and I can’t recommend one over the other. By trying both, I learned two new methods and for that I’m grateful. The first is highlighted by Summerset in yesterday’s comments:

Remove the zipper from the waist down and redraw the hip curve. Then, baste the zipper in place along the new seamline and try it on to see if it looks better. Do not cut off any fabric until you are happy with the fit – you might have some large seam allowances, but you’ll regret it if you cut them off and need them. Once you’re happy with it and done adjusting (which might take a few tries!), trim off the excess, finish the edges, and put the zipper back in.

The second, my neighbor Lilya showed me.

1. Rip out the vertical seam
2. Rip out the horizontal seam by about 2 inches
3. Make a triangle ‘dart’ along the horizontal seams to remove excess fabric (visible in the photo on the left)
4. Interface vertical seams
5. Sew vertical seams back together

For both, I used Dawn’s advice for basting.

-use pins horizontally and vertically along the seamline.
-baste with two rows of staggered running stitches
-baste wtih one row of diagonal basting
-baste wtih large back stitches
-insert the zipper by hand.

But, I did use a regular zipper foot to reattach the zipper. It doesn’t get as close as the invisible I think, but it saved me from some of my beloved handwork.

My neighbor Lilya has an alterations business called ‘A Sewing Place’. I took the dress to her today for help marking my hem.

While there I made the repairs on her industrial machine. Umm, never was a ‘power’ person before. But, I may have to start sewing at her place all the time. I had to keep practicing on scraps before I could control how fast her Juki was!

To answer a few questions:

I used silk organza as my interfacing / interlining for the bodice. I did not interface my hip. Doh! I know to do that on pants with slant pockets, but it never occurred to me with this project. The organza provides support and also seriously cuts down on wrinkles. I won’t work with dupioni again without considering it.

The dress is fully lined with a rayon. But, I did not interline it. Dawn gave me some great advice about using cotton batiste vs. silk organza. Essentially the silk organza would make the skirt stand away from the body more, but would keep wrinkling at bay and the batiste would help the dress hug my body / drape better. I chose not to use either only because I didn’t have enough of either for the skirt and time was too short to order more. If I had it here, I would have used batiste. I think the more layers something has, the more elegant it looks.

I am using organza in the bottom of the hem to add a bit of weight and to prevent a wavy hem.

So here’s what’s left:

  1. Attach hook and eyes to foundation
  2. Trim one slightly long boning
  3. Understich the foundation and bodice
  4. Make new strap
  5. Hem the lining
  6. Make hood
  7. Make roses
  8. Make date rent a tux. His ‘olive’ colored suit won’t cut it. I polled the men at work and all, I mean ALL are renting or own tuxedos.

Alright, I’m off to cut fabric to make roses for the dress. I’m using Claire Schaeffer’s High Fashion Secrets from the World’s Best Designers as a guide (borrowed from Lilya).

Oh, and I am on the hunt for a gravity feed iron. I was using Lilya’s and was sold two seams in.

I can see the finish line

I’ve got a problem. It’s hard to see in these photos, but the left hip, where the seams join, bubbles out.

Now, there wasn’t a bubble after I put the zipper in, but there was after I attached the lining. The hip/zip almost has a C shape. It’s not a big deal when my arm is there, but it’s driving me insane. I’m really annoyed at myself. I have no idea why that happened. I think I might need to rip it out a little and reattach by hand. I’m not sure. I’ll post some photos tomorrow.

Here’s what’s left: hooks and eyes along the foundation, understitching the foundation, hemming, roses. The strap was also about one inch too short so I need to make that again and attach.

But now, I am off to bed. I need to be up by 5:00. There are bargains to be had.

The Shell

Here’s a sneak peek at the dress (minus the foundation so no inner support). I think once the foundation is in, those last few wrinkles will go away. Again, the dress is so much darker than this. Once it’s done, I’ll take some shots without the flash.

I got a lot done today, but was distracted by a last minute visit from a friend. The shell of the dress is done. I decided to use an invisible zipper even though I had been practicing with a regular zip. I just love the look of the invisible zipper.

The dress continues to hang so the bias will fall. I’m feeling very comfortable that I’ll get it done over Thanksgiving.

So here’s what’s next :

  • Darts in the lining
  • Construct lining
  • Complete foundation (add lining)
  • Attach foundation to dress
  • Insert lining
  • Add hooks and eyes to foundation
  • Add waist stay
  • Hem

Then, I’ll start on the hood.

The Foundation

Hmmmm. Note to self: The wood paneled Baltimore basement has the 90s era Calvin Klein ad feel. Will return to taking photos in the living room.

I’ve got everything cut with the interlining and fabric thread basted. Today’s goal is to make darts in the lining and fashion fabric (already line basted). But first, I thought I would show how the foundation garment comes together. It’s actually pretty simple. I’m not sure what I was so freaked out over. This pattern is great because the foundation (inner corset almost) is built in.

As I mentioned earlier, I made the foundation out of muslin interfaced with black silk organza. I pre-washed both. The foundation comes down to my natural waistline.

While you can make your own casing for boning, I chose to just buy pre-made twill casing from Greenberg and Hammer at $1 a yard.

I’m using a spiral steel boning that needs to be cut to the correct length with wire cutters. You can also purchase tips and apply them with pliers by crimping down. They are available pre-cut.

The boning fits easily into the casing. The casing is then stitched down along the placement lines. For this dress, the boning is applied along all the darts and center back seam. I chose to use my zipper foot to apply the boning/casing.

Really basic and easy. Thanks for the encouragement. And for those who don’t believe, don’t fear the boning!

Some scrimping

Folks. Don’t cut when you are tired.

I decided to cut out the skirt last night in order to get a little progress made on the dress. Isn’t it cool how the skirt is darker on one end because of how the light hits it??

The back skirt is a semi-circle. Theoretically it should be cut on the fold but my silk wasn’t wide enough. So I cut in a single layer and flipped the pattern to the wrong side to cut the other half of the fabric.


I cut the first half of the skirt at a 14 and the second at a 12. I forgot because I always cut a 12. That means the skirt was 1/2 inch smaller than it should be.

After cursing the day I decided to make a formal dress I debated what to do:

  1. Recut the skirt in the 14 and eliminate the hood from the design
  2. Add the 1/2 inch to the skirt front and have some uneven seams
  3. Fudge

I went option #3.

I’ll cut the hood from the just-a-hair-too-short, busted skirt portion. The hood calls for three yards of fabric as it is self-lined. To save more of the dupioni, I’ll line the hood in flannel backed satin rather than self fabric and re-cut the skirt in the correct size.

I’m well rested now with some coffee in me. I’m going to tweak the bodice muslin and add the real boning. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Finally, I did pick up some non-BWOF patterns this week at the Simplicity sale. 4074 and 3678 will be knits from PR Weekend, 3690 will be my ‘wardrobe’ pattern for the Timmel SWAP, and 3631 will likely wait until spring.

Muslin #3

ETA: Better directions on the BWOF swayback adjustment, where to find it and stupid typos

I want to say I have it, but I realize I might be tired and ready to cut in to my silk! Here’s the third muslin for Butterick 6408.

I made a minor sway back adjustment (1 inch) using the BWOF method from the April 2004 edition . They have you slice at the waist almost to the end. Overlap the two and re-draw the straight of grain. Then, you have to add what you took out back to the hem.

I constructed the foundation using Summerset’s advice. I used plain old muslin and silk organza. With the hope that if this muslin fits, I can use this foundation in my actual garment.

Trena and I split several yards of spiral steel boning and boning caps from Greenberg and Hammer. Except we were so tired last night that I have the caps and she has the boning. We’ll both be at the post office tomorrow.

From the original, this is 1/2 inch larger in the upper bodice and 1/2 an inch smaller than version two. This is the best overall fit so far. But, compared to version two, I think it may still be too tight in the upper back bodice. I think I could use 1/4 to 1/2 inch more.

I don’t think I need to do another muslin. At this point I think the fit is good and needs only a slight tweaking. I’ll let it out another 1/4 inch tomorrow and take some photos.

But, considering I’ve dozed off when immobile for 10 mins, I admit I may be tired and need the voice of reason. So gentle readers, am I ready to cut?