I used my newly padded dress model, Grace, for the first time and, let me just say, "Wow, wow, wow!" What a huge difference a proper dress model makes!
No more winging it. No more "I'll just make one size bigger and hope for the best." No more "It was cheap fabric anyway so it's OK if it fails." No more "maybe no one will notice that it doesn't fit right." Check this out:
This is Grace trying on the bodice. It's supposed to be a sleeveless halter top look. So I can see, in an instant, that I needed to add some bust darts on the side with he way it's poking out. And that was just the start of how instrumental Grace was, now that she's all padded out.
When all was said and done, my dress turned out perfectly. I was practically dancing when I realized it was going to be a success. I can't tell you how long it's been since I had a party dress turn out perfectly.
I used Butterick 4919 shown here. It's a vintage reprint of a 1953 pattern and is a mock halter top. The top is actually fastened to the skirt and a hidden band goes around your back then the wraps swing around the front. I used royal blue fabric with tiny gold dots all over it. I've had the piece in my stash for about 15 years.
It was super easy to do - I finished it in a weekend. I also wanted to use this dress to try out two techniques that I've never done before that I'm expecting to incorporate into the wedding dress I'm making. I'd rather screw up on a party dress than on the real deal.
The first technique was to add a waist stay. You basically sew a sturdy ribbon on the seam of the waist. It adds stability which is great because full skirts, like the kind in vintage dresses, can be HEAVY and the waist stay keeps the skirt from pulling on the seam and also lessens wear on the zipper.
I used a very well writen tutorial by the Sewaholic found here. A waist stay can be tied, but she suggested sewing a bra hook to one end and and a loop on the other, which I chose to do, like so:
The second technique was to use horsehair to make the hem. Horsehair hems always intimidated me but this was incredibly easy. I used Gertie's directions, found here and it took all of 10 minutes, if that. Holy man! What a difference the horsehair makes. Three years I worked in a fabric store - I knew every notion, every piece of fabric, every button. I've been sewing for 18 years. And I never discovered horsehair until now.
Let me tell you - for full circle skirts, you will never get the smooth hem that you get with horsehair. I think I've found my new drug.
You can take the waist stay and the horsehair hem and file them both under "what the heck took me so long!".
I also decided it would be wise to add a lingerie stay on each sleeve - these are another brilliant discovery and it should insult every woman out there that clothing manufacturers skip these so often:
I tried it on one last time and I almost cried at how perfect a fit it was. It totally gave me the guts to wear shoes that do NOT match - my Dorthy Wizard of Oz shoes, also vintage. (I'm an accountant, it's hard for me to not be matchy-matchy, as Michael Kors always says).
Anyway, the end result was this:
And of course I had to do the "double check your deoderant" pose, like the model on the pattern envelope.
The Conductor was kind enough to delay dinner so I could take pictures before the dress got wrinkled. Here's how the conversation went:
Me.: Can you get a shot of the lingerie stay?
Him: Ok. What's a lingerie stay?
Me: Get the horsehair hem
Him: Ok. What's horsehair hem?
Me: Oh, and also get the crinoline in the shot. And my shoes.
Him: Ok. What's a crinoline.
He's awesome in his boy-ness, isn't he? He reminds me of the man that walked into the fabric store I worked at and came up to me and said, "Uh...yea....uh...do you guys have any, um...cloth...here?"
And he was totally serious....
|Horsehair hem, my first self-made crinoline, and my Dorothy shoes.|
After taking pictures of things he knew nothing about, The Conductor took me to Chez Jacques for French food and lousy service. Despite the fact that they were booked for New Year's they had their B-Team working. The hostess was obvsiously new and seated us right by the kitchen door.
And I thought, "Little girl, when a lady sails in on a cloud after making a beautiful frock like the kind *I* am wearing that fits perfectly, that got high praise from her finace, and that looks totally awesome with her vintage pantent leather red shoes, you do NOT seat her by the kitchen".
I asked to be moved. Ugh. Later, a charming looking lesbian couple walked in and got stuck with that table since it was the only one open. They both eyed me and my dress as I went to the ladies room. I briefly wondered if they'd each get mad at the other for staring at me and my dress. And then I realized I didn't care - - they were STARING AT MY DRESS.
When I walked into the restroom, two girls were jabbering in the ladies room and one of them said "....and then I told her that Estelle wasn't going to - - oh my gosh I just love your dress it's so cute where did you get it oh wow Tracy look at her dress it's so pretty..." Wow!!!
And then I got to stare at this handsome fellow during dinner (which was cold and which I had to send back and which the waitress barely apologized for).
After, we went to the movies to see The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and ended up missing midnight because the movie didn't end until 12:30. But that's ok because all over the theater people were looking at my dress. Granted, they may have been thinking, "wow, that girl sure is overdressed for the movies". But I didn't care. I felt like a million bucks.
So here's one last shot of the Conductor and I, doing our cheesy 1953 couple pose to go with my 1953 party frock. Look how nice it poufs out with the crinoline underneath!
Happy New Year!