Burda Magazine 11-2011-124: Captain’s Ball Gown

Even after my hectic week, I still managed to get my Captain’s Ball dress sewn. I didn’t take photos at the ball and was hoping our photographer would come through. Here are some from my house just before I left. I swear our photog is psychic. I give up waiting and the photos appear in my inbox, LOL.

How do I feel about it? I would never sew this dress again. It came out fine. Even beautiful. But, for me, the draft was fraught with pain-in-my-ass. The main problem was the bodice length. The straps didn’t situate well on me and required lots of futzing to get them to work. I don’t know if I cut off grain or it’s a design flaw. It’s possible this could have been alleviated with a muslin, but if I had muslined, I never would have bothered to finish this dress.

Also, I kind of felt like I was wearing a second-wedding wedding dress, LOL. I do LOVE that I was in silver. There was a lot of navy blue and black that night.

Initial Alterations: 1/2 FBA and 1.0 inch swayback adjustment.

  • I took about 1.5 inches of length out of each shoulder
  • 1.5 inches in width taken out of the straps
  • 1/2 inch scooped out from armscye
  • Raised the center front by 1 inch
  • Took in upper center back by 1/2 inch (to help keep straps up)
  • Shortened hem by 1.5 inches (so I could, you know, walk)

All this to get the dress to stay on my shoulders. This NEVER happens to me and Burda! Now that the tech is out of the way, let’s talk about the dress.

The fabric is silver silk taffeta underlined in silk organza in the front and bodice and cotton batiste for the back skirt and godet. This served two purposes. It provided the dress with stability, especially given the weight of the godet and helped minimize wrinkling.

You can see in this photo that the silk has little plaid patterns on it. They are so subtle I didn’t need to match. And, if they did need to match, it wouldn’t have mattered because I didn’t have enough material!

The dress uses starburst pleats for interset. Sadly, not interesting enough for me! By the time I pulled all the extra length out of the top shoulders, the starbust effect was all but gone from the bodice. That, and there wasn’t a lot of room / shaping in the bust so my boobage is kind of just squished and there. Because of the underlining, everything was so thick that the seamline was also not very attractive. I called Trena via Skype and she suggested adding something to the seam line like a belt or pin. I remembered this pin that came with a coat I once owned. Brilliant. Everyone needs a friend who sews. Everyone.

The godet is a beautiful element. But, I do not think any this did much for my backside. The weight of the godet pulls the dress down at center back. And, I have a huge butt. My dress could have been more fitted at back waist. Below, you can see what I mean about the weight of the godet….

If you decide to make this dress, note that the underside of the godet will show. And, since I underlined my dress with white cotton batiste and it would be dragging on the ground (getting dirty) I knew I had to line to the hem of the godet. The original just has a knee length lining. So, to line the dress, I sewed the bottom hems together (right sides together) for a clean finish. I turned it out through a lining opening in the godet.

The dress was VERY popular at the Captain’s Ball! But, I think that’s because everyone knew I was going to be sewing to the wire. It was more of the ‘I can’t beleive you made a formal’ vs ‘that dress is amazing’.

Here you can see the lining / underside of the godet showing

And, I spent so much time focused on whether or not I’d have a dress, that I didn’t think through my accessories. It made me realize I don’t own a formal bag (I always borrow). My shoes are just something I wear in the summer (I figured they wouldn’t be seen) and I pulled out my Princess Diana ring and necklace with my every day CZ studs. LOL. For real. I put no thought in to it.

My friend Liz brought a little hair clip for me so I could rock a Billy Holliday look the rest of the night.

Overall, I am glad I got it done. I’m proud I made it myself. I’m *really* happy the fabric was $5 a yard and already in the stash and the lining was $40. My dress looked expensive. That makes this $65 silk formal with crazy structure that I couldn’t buy off the rack. And, in the end we made it work.

Don’t I have the most attractive friends? We are the United Colors of Benetton of our office.

Pattern Review: Butterick 6410 Evening Gown

So, last night was the black tie event. The Vegan rented a tux, I wore an evening dress and I have some thoughts. 1st, men have it easy. When the invitation says ‘black tie’, they just throw on a tuxedo. Yes, they may argue with you at 11:30 p.m. on the way home that they could have saved $165 and just worn a black suit ‘if you would have just stitched some braid down the side of  my pants’. And, you do the prudent thing and ignore that comment. You must also swallow a big fat ‘I told you so’ when they arrive at your door and say, ‘I should have bought a tuxedo’ when in fact that is precisely what you suggested three weeks ago.

Which brings me to my dress. Which I love. But, as Elise in my office said, ‘that’s a hard fabric to wear’. Why? It’s got enough sheen that it shows every bump. It’s so drapey that every fold is amplified. Plus, it wrinkles when the wind blows. I finally took it to a boutique in town and steamed it myself because the skirt was still wrinkly after an hour of ironing.

After I put it on, I refused to sit down until the Vegan came over so he could take my picture because  I knew it would wrinkle as soon as my left cheek touched upholstery. Maybe if I used a stretch or sharp needle I would not have the vertical seam puckers that just would *not* press out. Not *all* seams, but enough that I’m irritated.  That being said, in real life, these things don’t show as much. But, I couldn’t get one picture that I was happy with because it photographs *so shiny*. Also, as Trena and I have discussed, non-sewing friends and men make terrible photographers. Because, they will not take the 50 photos you need to find the two good ones. One and done.

This is the best of the photos. So, I notice a tendency not to believe me when I tell you the problems with a dress. So, below, is a totally unflattering photo to prove all the problems in photographing this dress. And, Mom, please don’t call to tell me ‘that dress isn’t doing you any favors’. I *swear* it doesn’t look this bad IRL:

Ack!! Ack!! Folds above the waist, puckers down the front. Stretching across the thighs. Bleh. What’s my point? I think this dress is best served by a firmer woven on anyone that isn’t a nubile 17 year old girl. I used a poly stretch satin.  I’ll defnitely wear it again because I love it. But, it takes TERRIBLE photos. And, in case you forgot the pattern I worked with, it’s this discontinued Butterick 6410 from about 1999. As for alterations, I pretty much cut a straight 14, reduced some of the hip curve and lengthened the bodice for a lazy FBA.

So, there you have it. Today, I’d like to straighten the sewing room up some. I have two UFOs I’d like to work on a bit. Hopefully one or both can go to Philly with me next weekend for PR Weekend.