Friday, August 12, 2011

Bit off More than I can Sew?

We're not going to talk about my jumpsuit again today since I'm having a little bit of trouble with the invisible properties of my invisible zipper. Instead, lets talk about my next project, which is going to be a project.

Back in May, I started thinking about what I wanted to wear to my dear friend Magenta's wedding at the end of September. Magenta is a photographer, has a great sense of style, and is enormously creative. So, it seems only right that I make a dress to wear on her special day.  Here's the pattern I picked.

Vogue Bellville Sassoon (V1162)
I bought this pattern quite a while ago, knowing it was well above my skill level at the time. My skills have come a long way since then, and I'm sewing with a lot of confidence these days. But I'm still not entirely convinced that I'm equal to the challenge. Or the fabric I picked, for that matter. After lots of swatching, I ordered a beautiful red crepe back satin (100% silk) for the dress, matching silk georgette for the sleeves and ruffle around the neck, and organza facings. We are not going to discuss how much I spent on fabric; it was a real splurge. 

Here's a preview of the things I'm already thinking about:
  • the front of the dress, with all it's tucks, could present some challenges if I need to add length above the waist
  • the elaborate sleeves - they are almost entirely hand stitched
  • the neckline is piped; something I've never done before
  • the hem is faced; again, a new to me step
  • the pattern calls for bra cups to be inserted between dress and lining, but gives NO further instructions or guidance and I have no idea what I'm supposed to do/look for in a bra cup and hoping I can skip it entirely (that's bad, right? already planning on skipping a structural element before I've even begun?)
  • silk crepe back satin is going to be damaged by pins, water, needles, basting stitches.... there is going to be little room for error with this fabric. I have no idea how to mark dots, pleats, etc since anything that would leave a mark will ruin the fabric, I think. Suggestions?
  • I still haven't decided what to line it with - bemberger? organza? (if washed, the hand would be softer) Again, suggestions?
  • Oh, oh yeah. And there's a deadline: Friday, September 29 is the day I need to be wearing this dress. And I already know that I am losing 2 weeks of valuable sewing time to a vacation and a business trip.
So, um, what do you do for fun? Apparently, I like to torture myself with complicated sewing projects. Actually, the two things that are most worrying me about this dress are the time constraints and working with the fabric. I'm going to have to be slow and careful at every step and test, test, test on scraps. I plan to bring the hand sewing away with me on vacation the last week of August. So, I hope to be at a point where I am ready to sew the elaborate flowered sleeves by then.

Anyway, I will be muslin-ing this pattern, so stay tuned. I'm secretly hoping that if I leave out the bra cups, which I think are only there for padding/filling out the bust, that my actual bust may fit into this dress without alterations. (I know, I know, but a girl's gotta dream.) At any rate, I hope fitting won't be too challenging. I'm telling myself that the princess seams on the back should help.

I hope you have a great weekend - I'm headed out of town so there won't be much sewing. 


Lindsay T said...

You can do it if you don't rush and resign yourself to loads of hand sewing. Look up Susan Khalje's Threads article on how to sew an LBD. Make sure you have all the right tools for sewing silk, like needles and silk thread for basting. Feel free to email me with questions, as this is similar to the silk dress I made in Susan's class.

Clio said...

THANK YOU, Lindsay! I had actually already revisited your post about a hand picked zipper. Hand stitching may actually be my saving grace with this dress since I find it easier to hand stitch for 20 minutes every day vs booting up my craft lounge for such a short interval. Fingers crossed!

Jodie said...

I would also say to handpick the zipper, it will be easier and there are no second chances with a satin weave. I would use white silk thread to mark things - it won't mark or stain your fabric (using tailor's tacks or thread tracing). Use a fine sewing needle in your sewing machine and maybe be prepared to replace it throughout the project (I really like the Schmetz Microtech needles). Stay positive, muslin! and have a fall back position/dress. Remember sewing is supposed to be fun and if it's too stressful to do something this complicated on this deadline, stop and slow down. So much of our work/life involves busyness and deadlines, it's important to have some breathing room in other parts of your life. That being said, I think it's do-able. Good luck!

Sherry said...

Gorgeous dress! Those sleeves look like such fun - are you doing the 'petals' in organza?

Is it underlined? This will be handy when you come to do the hem if you want it to be invisible! Silk crepe backed satin has slight stretch, so you might need to stabilise areas like the zip or neckline.

I am sure you will be fine, take your time, and get as much done sooner rather than later!

Kimbersew said...

Holy tamole! That is one gorgeous dress!! and I have all the confidence in the world that you are capable of each and every step involved. Muslining will take care of fit issues. Don't let bra cups scare you- the thin ones are just to add another layer between you and the world. They can always be added to the inside of the dress last (yes, against your skin) by hand-tacking them in a few places. Or skip 'em altogether if you're comfortable with the fit at that point. Don't let yourself get overwhelmed. Reward yourself every step. Remember to breathe, eat, and sleep like a normal person. And yes look how much you have learned already!! Piping is easy! And, for that matter, you can skip it entirely. Practicing on scraps is brilliant. Look how brilliant you are.
And all that said, You are not this project. And you will continue to learn and build upon your skills. Rock it!

Anonymous said...

I would plan on a couple of sessions with an experienced instructor to help you along the way...

Anonymous said...

This is funny. I wrote a lengthy comment on marking, but then my anti-procrastination web blocker kicked in, disappearing my comment. I can't rewrite it, but here are my suggestions. You can look up the methods:


Method 1

Pouncing (Pierce holes in the adjusted pattern and transfer the marking by swiping a pad with powder.)

Method 2

Freezer Paper (Transfer the pattern to the paper, lightly iron it to the fabric and cut it out).

Method 3

Hera marker (Pin the pattern to the fabric and trace the lines.)

In all cases, I would thread trace with silk thread after transferring the pattern, mark the CF, etc.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Laury that working with an experienced teacher for at least a couple of sessions would be a good idea. That's a very ambitious dress. Good for you for selecting it, but as you reognize, it's going to involve a lot of new skills.

Piping is not that hard, although working with a silk bias strip will be more challenging than a cotton fabric.

You might want to find a cheaper fabric that sort of responds the same way as the silk crepe to use for practice. Maybe you should make the muslin in it.


Method 4

Transfer the pattern to a piece of smooth tissue paper, pin the fabric on top and tailor tack the markings and cut away the paper.

Method 5

Lay the pattern on the fabric, after having punched key points with an awl.

Using a sharp dressmaker's pencil or a little bit of crumbled tailor's chalk (rub it over the holes) mark those points on the fabric. Remove the paper, and with a piece of chalk a ruler, a French and a hip curve, draw the lines directly on the fabric. Thread trace over the lines.

With crepe, some people might stay stitch the curves before cutting out the fabric.

Sheila said...

I will sit on the side lines cheering you on because you can do it... chanting yes... you can... That dress is going to be stunning.