Sunday, April 13, 2014

Hang or fold bias cut garments?

Hello.  It turns out I am going to sew two wedding dresses.  One for a civil ceremony at City Hall to be held in 3 weekends (!) and one for our ring ceremony in Maine.  The ring ceremony dress, the one that I've been blogging about off and on for the last few months is done.  Note, the dresses are the most fun thing about the planning.  With less than two months to go I'm realizing that I need to line up several essential services: caterer, rehearsal dinner venue, guest entertainment. 

Did I say that planning is my forte?  I lied.

Now I'm fretting about where and how to keep it until June.  Should I fold it (and then re-press it closer to the date), or hang it (I'm afraid of it getting growing longer and longer on the bias)?

And because I don't want to make this a completely pictureless post, here is the inspiration for the civil ceremony dress:

Drape Drape 1 No. 5

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Ready for prime time

Hi guys, this happened a lot faster than I thought it would.  Your comments along the way have been most wonderful!

It took 10 muslins to get the top right, which I made up out of an old bedspread (I'll spare you photos) and then this version in poly crepe satin.  I've got swatches of red and gold crepe satin on their way from Mood to pick from.  I decided to choose colors that I would probably want to wear again.  Oh, and I need to figure out what to do about a low back b.ra and get a manicure before I handle real silk (too many calluses from climbing means fabric pulls!) But that should be pretty easy.
This is what I look like if you look down at me (photo taker is much taller than I am.)
From the front. 

Please forgive my hair.  What a mess.  Good thing we don't get to see ourselves from the back very often, eh?

And from the side.  I'm pretty happy with my decision to ditch the train.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Getting there

It took about 8 drafts but I think I've come very close to approximating the drape on the top.  Now I need to drop the waist; draft and mock up a corselette; draft and mock up the skirt.

The waist drop and skirt don't worry me as much as the prospect of making up a corselette.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Getting closer to the right drape

This Threads tutorial has been handy:

How to create a draped cowl neckline

It worked great for the front, not so much for the back.  I am very close to getting the back to resemble that of the inspiration dress, thanks to this photo.  Drafting a triangle rather than slashing and spreading (as suggested by the Threads article) wasn't intuitive until I saw this picture.  Thanks, internet.

Someone pinned this image... while I couldn't find it on the website in the watermark, looks like it is worth a visit.  It shows you how to knock just about anything off through pictures.  If you can read Portuguese, you'll get even more from it.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Pretty/sexy/sweet/edgy/tacky is all in the eye of the beholder

My long time blog friend, Gail, posted an interesting comment on a previous post about wedding dresses.  She commented that one of my dresses looked very sexy, raising the question of whether brides should be sexy.  Good question, Gail!  What is a sexy bridal gown?

Interestingly, when I search Google Images for "sexy bridal gowns," the top hits are a variety.  Withholding judgment (for now), here they are.

Exhibit A.

Exhibit B.

Exhibit C.

Exhibit D.

Exhibit E.

Now, I'm not about to wear a dress like any of these for various reasons, but I imagine that most of you reading all have your opinions about these dresses.  For example, I don't think any of them are sexy.  I think dress C is rather sweet looking and a little bland (this appears to be a very common design for sale in the States right now), B is a yawn as well, E is arguably modes with its sleeves, and A and D are outright tacky.  I don't know why D is bothering with a veil, as her dress is split to her navel, has a front hemline that looks like it's shorter than the length of her arm (if she straightened it) and the bodice is see through.  But you know, there's no accounting for taste, eh?  Maybe she can get a second wear of it if she becomes a can-can dancer? 

All that trash talking aside, this opens questions about what is sexy, what is modest, what is classy, and what is tacky?  I guess part of this is cultural, and part of this is personal preference.  I have friends from Africa and Southeast Asia who are very modest about their upper arms and shoulders but have no issues baring their bellies or lower backs.  On the other hand, although I enjoy wearing sleeveless tops and dresses, you will never see my belly unless I am in athletic wear.  Or maybe it's more contextual than that.  I remember a few years ago I had the awkward conversation of "just because it's nice doesn't mean you can wear it to work," with an intern who showed up every day of her first week in club wear.  But I guess the thing about a wedding dress is it's all individual taste, right?

There are two sides to this argument.  One, if you can't wear what you want on your big day, well, when will you ever get to wear it?  Two, your "big" day is more than "your" day -- it belongs to all the people who helped you get there, whether it's your parents, friends, and your husband, so shouldn't they see you in something respectful?  Frankly I'm somewhere in between these two camps.  While you won't see me in a can-can dress with see-through bodice and navel exposure, that doesn't mean I'll knock you if you decide to wear it yourself.  Hell, props to you for having the nuts to wear that in front of your grandmother!

What are your thoughts?

Monday, January 6, 2014

Draft 0: Testing V1351

I bought Vogue 1351, thanks to Beth at SunnyGal Studio for the recommendation.  I also had a spurt of Crazy and bought Vogue 2880 in hopes that the corselet pattern will be handy.

Vogue 2880 has a corselet pattern that looks like it could stand on its own.
I've just finished a first test of 1351 to get an idea of how it fits right out of the package.  I sewed a size 6 and made a poor choice of fabric for the front drape.  The default design has a side zip, and front drape and skirt pieces cut on the bias.   The front lining and the back bodice/lining are cut on the straight grain.  The front lining is just as promised - keeps the cowl from rolling out and as drafted keeps you modest. 

I think that this dress is a great start to get to the inspiration dress...  I need to redraft the front so that it is lower and has a drape at the waist.  I also need to draft a drape for the back and redraft the back bodice so that it is low cut to match.  But so far, so good - at least I know that this fits out of the envelope!

Front of the 0th draft.  As drafted the bodice is quite fitted except for the cowl.

Side of the zeroth draft.  I think I might have a bit of a swayback, or perhaps excited about taking pictures?

Sunday, December 29, 2013

The contenders

Sorry, no photos of my latest projects.  I made a plum colored brocade shrug for my mum (sleeves need to be shortened) and an Amy Butler flannel tunic (believe it or not, it works) for my sister.  Both gift recipients are happy with their gifts.

After they so graciously accepted these gifts, I dragged the two of them out to watch me try on dresses.  I turns out that there is no escaping piles of lace, sequins, beads, or at the very least a pile of crinoline or a train.  Even the shortest train seems to envelop me.  I don't want lots of glitter, and I don't want lots of seams.

Dress #1
There is one dress that I tried on that is a possibility, but I don't want the little blingy thing on the waist, the buttons down the back, and wish that the top were a little more draped.  I learned, though, in trying on this dress that even a simple looking dress like this has a substantial structure inside.  It's like a strapless dress within a dress, and I am keeping that in mind because I think it makes a big difference in the way the dress looks.  More on that later.

Behold, Casablanca Bridal 2128 from the Fall 2013 collection.

Front of dress.
 I think that this is possible to piece together.  This is a bias cut skirt with a halter top similar to Cynthia Rowley's Simplicity 2281, minus the flutter sleeves.
Halter top, with keyhole back, spot on.

The tricky thing was to find the right kind of bias skirt draft.  I won't go into details, but if the bias skirt wasn't a circle skirt, it has an elastic waistband.  While there's nothing wrong with elastic waistbands, I want to be sure that the skirt waist matches my own waist.  I spent a few hours yesterday scouring Etsy for a narrow bias skirt with fitted waistband.  I came up with McCall 4258.  I have several bias cut dress patterns with trains so figure I can combine patterns to make a small train - I wanted to be sure, though that the waist would fit.

McCall 4258.  Bias cut skirts with fitted waistband and narrow fullness options.  Harder to find than I'd have thought.
Dress #2
I found this dress during an internet search trying to figure out whether I wanted crepe back satin, 4-ply satin, or charmeuse.  It's made by a now defunct company called Alix and Kelly.  If they were still in business, I'd very likely buy this dress On The Spot.  Because that is not an option, I will probably try my hand at a draft of this with a few tweaks.

Kate by Alix and Kelly.  I love the drape and look of this dress.  I would make it with a shorter hem to avoid dress puddle, though.
This skirt is seamed at the waist to the bodice.  Through my internet stalking, I saw that there is a seam at the waist.  The bias skirt is split at the back to add a godet (I'm not sold on that, though.)  The killer part of this dress to me is the draped, double cowl bodice.  Is there or isn't there a zipper?  I can't make this dress as a pullover style because I value structure too much and don't want to run the risk of (a) showing everyone that I'm naked under my dress by leaning over too far (b) have the top slide around because it's not anchored to anything, (c) not that this is ever happened, but I don't want to run the chance of being cock-eyed or pancaked.

Not to worry though, because through my research, I've discovered that it's possible to have a blousy top WITH A ZIPPER.  Win for everyone!

There is a zipper there!  And it's blousy!
Finding this photo opened my eyes to several possibilities.  I could have a side zip and maintain the blousiness but create the fitted inside structure that I need.

I will need to figure out how to create an interior structure to these drapy dresses... a quick Google search told me the right reference would be Susan Khalje's Bridal Couture.  Talk about precious.  It's out of print and nobody's willing to sell their copy for less than $75.  I realize that's cheaper than any one of my engineering textbooks from my college days, but I've decided to check it out from the library before taking the plunge and buying my own copy.