Posted in sewing

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.

Posted in sewing

Burda Ballgown Update 11-2011-124

My silk lining came in! Whew. Having silk vs poly was well worth the wait and the extra money for express shipping from Fashion Fabrics Club. They must use Pony Express because without rush, my orders have easily taken two weeks to reach me. I cut out and sewed the lining Thursday night and Friday morning before work. It’s still not attached to the dress.

So, I mentioned that I worked on the dress all Memorial Day Weekend. Why so much time? Well, I forgot to tell you the entire thing is underlined. I handbasted silk organza and cotton batiste to the silk tafetta for structure.

The back skirt has the godet cut on, so I needed 60 inch wide fabric. Hence the cotton batiste. The silk organza is just 45 inches wide so I used that everywhere else.

The Captain’s Ball is in one week. But, Sunday I was at Seersucker Social in DC with Trena.

There were 850 people registered! The event sold out.

I don’t want to scoop her post. But, her dress is SO FUN. I looked like I was going to work in the office. Meh. I made the knit tee below. Post to follow.

It was 90 degrees and the photo below is after a 9 mile bike ride through the rolling hills of Washington DC. Shiiiiiney.

Last night,Trena stayed over in Baltimore so we can bike Tour dem Parks (26 miles!) in the morning.


Here she is with Linus on her lap. He *loved* her.

So very limited sewing time this weekend. It’s been a bikey weekend.


My two bikes in the living room. Yes, two. And, I suspect I’ll have a third by the end of the year. I want a mixte, bad.

Hopefully I can eek out the hemming and zipper insertion after work this week.

Oh, thanks to BrocadeGodess, I’ve readjusted my starburst pleats and they now point the correct way.

Next week is going to be crazy busy. My big two year project is kicking off:

I’m going to try and post my red/white/blue themed clothing board.  But, it may have to wait until after the 40 ships leave town!

Have a great weekend!

Posted in sewing

Note to Self: Don’t Sew Patterns Not Actually Modeled

Dear Burda,

Can you PLEASE show clothes on a real person? Because maybe then I wouldn’t sew a dress before realizing the straps don’t actually sit straight on my shoulders! That they actually sit kind off on the side / edge of the shoulders. The edge of my already very narrow, bra straps slide off, I don’t wear spaghetti straps because of said narrow shoulders.


Sigh. Allow me to start at the beginning.

Remember when I said I wasn’t going to be scrambling to sew ‘one off’ clothing items this year? Yeah. About that….

Here’s how I spent my Memorial Day Weekend (obviously not cleaning my floor. dang.): Starting construction on a formal out of silver silk tafetta. It’s being made from stash purchased at PR Weekend in Philly when I thought I needed a dress for a wedding. During this summer’s Navy Week, there will be a Captain’s Ball. I planned to wear a RTW dress from January. But, I learned  last week that this military ball dress code was ‘black tie’ and specifically dresses to-the-floor.

Against my better judgement, I decided not to muslin. I made a slight FBA and swayback adjustment. Yet, the fit is all kinds of wonky. Essentially, on me (and it could be operator error) the straps rest on the edge of my (narrow) shoulders. There is over 1.5 inches hanging off the side of my shoulder (with a .5 inch seam allowance). It’s not a traditional ‘straight’ sleeveless. It is of course IMPOSSIBLE to tell if it’s me or the pattern since the editorial just shows the dress being held up to the actress. It’s also so wide at the centerfront (because the straps go way off instead of up and down) that you can see the top cup of every single bra I own. And, that’s even with me raising the neckline by one inch before starting!
I ended up taking up the shoulders by one inch so they would actually stay up (they were just flopping to the side). Oh kind of like they are in the photo. And, I took in the upper back by 1/2 inch. It’s *ok* now. Not great. But, I almost am over it!

Why no muslin? I didn’t have time with just two weeks before the ball. The dress is cut out single layer (because of the attached godet) and required 60 inch wide fabric. I don’t have 60 inch wide muslin and there is no fabric I wanted to sacrifice.  Plus, I know how Burda fits me. Allegedly.

My mom wanted to know why I couldn’t wear one of my other two floor length gowns. Well, this dress was four years and 12 pounds ago. Also, before I knew how to make a FBA. Quite frankly, it was before I knew I *needed* one.

I wore it three times. The last time I wore it two years ago, it was so tight with the boning at the ribcage that I had trouble sitting down. And I thought I’d have a wardrobe malfunction at center front.  For real. My cup was running over. So, its been taken out of circulation and it’s waiting for someone who it will appreciate the work I put in to it!

And, Butterick 6410 isn’t my most flattering. Gah. I hate polyester. Totally my fault. I may have only worn it the one time. Plus, Liz wants to wear it (and I never took it back from her) and it looks better on her :-/.

So, now I’m waiting. Waiting for my lining to arrive! I placed a rush order with Fashion Fabrics club on Tuesday for some grey silk lining. The price was right. They called today to upgrade me to express shipping. I WISH it was coming tomorrow! But, I’ll just have to keep sewing after work next week to have it ready for the 14th.