Wednesday, May 22, 2013

It's a Nice Day for a White Wedding

My brother got married last weekend, and I finished my dress with time to spare (very little time to spare, but still a little). I didn't manage to get any pictures of the full outfit, so you'll have to settle for Azzurra as a model. The dress was McCall's 5269, view A. I originally was going to do view B, but changed my mind for no discernible reason. 

Sorry that the dress looks so wrinkly.  After I wore it, it got crumpled up in the laundry bag on the ride back.

The dress fabric is black glitter satin from the Casa Collection from JoAnn's, which is nearly as heavy as bridal satin.  (You might recall that I used the same fabric in blue for my Jareth coat.)  The pattern calls for crepe, silk, and and taffetta, which are much lighter.  Due to the heaviness, I decided to skip the lining.  Then I read the instructions and decided I needed to at least line the bodice and sleeves.  I chose a plain black cotton because I try to avoid close-fitting synthetics.

I cut out and constructed the dress (except the bottom hem and sleeves) in an afternoon.  Since the lining was made from the same pieces, and I was only lining the bodice and sleeves, it should have taken even less time, right?  Of course not.  I can't fathom why, but it took a whole afternoon just to cut out the lining, another to construct it, and yet another to attach it to the dress.

This dress has less ease than most patterns.  I didn't make a muslin (I so rarely do, and didn't have time for it), but it was stupid of me not to check the finished measurements.  For comparison, the plaid dress I just made, which is of a similar fit, from the same company, and I sewed in the same size, had an extra inch of ease in the bust.  Though the hip measurement was the same, the plaid dress had sections cut on the bias in the hips, so it stretched a little.

So anyway, this dress was quite tight.  (It also didn't help that I ate a whole pizza for lunch the day of the wedding.  I jokingly said to Mr Husband that my dress wouldn't fit after that, and then it almost didn't.)  It wasn't uncomfortably tight, except in the shoulders and arms.  I quite muscular, and it worked against me here.  I couldn't really raise my arms much above my waist.  If I had had the foresight to check the ease, I probably would have gone up a size.

Also, be wary if you have any chest at all or are self-conscious about decolletage.  This dress is a bit low-cut, and tight enough to push everything up and out.  Even I had cleavage.

Now, as for the difficulty, I am going to attribute the inexplicably lengthy construction to me freaking out over the deadline.  I imagine that if I didn't have a deadline, I could have knocked it off in a weekend.  While the yoke lines up to the dress oddly and that took a bit of fiddling, the main body of the dress was pretty easy.  It's just princess lines, so it's a matter of snipping your seams appropriately.  The pleats in the sleeves were a bit tricky, especially because satin is slippery.  It wasn't really hard, but it was time-consuming to get it just right.  In fact, it was so time-consuming that I ended up nixing lining the sleeves and hand-sewed the hem up.  (So for those of you playing along at home, I went from not lining, to bodice and sleeve lining, to just bodice lining.)  So I'm going to rate this as an average-level pattern.  If someone who hasn't attained that level wants to tackle this, I would suggest using a non-slippery cotton.

The wrap was just glitter organza (also from the Casa Collection) that I sewed together with French seams.  Since brooches have a tendency to damage fabrics, I attached two ribbon loops to feed the brooch through.  I just happened two have two tiny pieces of ribbon in my stash that were just long enough (why I had them, I don't know; normally I would have tossed such tiny pieces).  If I hadn't had those pieces already cut, I probably would have used a narrower ribbon.   It worked out okay with the brooch I chose, but it had a pretty long back.

If you choose to use this glitter organza, beware that it sheds its sparkles LIKE CRAZY.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

It's Not Easy Being Green

As Granny Weatherwax would say, "I ATEN'T DEAD".  I'm slowly finishing up my laundry list of stuff that needs to be done, and hopefully I will have some free time around the beginning of June.  (Or maybe not - one friend has invited me to go camping and another has organized a picnic.  I've never had such a full social calendar.)

Anyway, onto to pattern.  This is McCall's 5923, view A, which is long out of print.  It's an empire-waist dress, partially-bias cut, with princess seams and a back slit.  View A has a front band.

The fabric is, of course, from and is called Top o' the Morning by Allover Fabrics.  It's green and black plaid, with gold accents.  I acquired it during my last green and black binge.  It's heavier than most fabric of this sort, which was surprising to me.  It actually worked out well for this pattern, since the bias-cut pieces tend to stretch.  A lighter fabric could have been distorted.

The pattern has different cup sizes: A - B, C, and D.  I was a bit concerned about this, because I am actually a AA. I did some research, and it seems like the Big Four (at least) use a B cup as the standard size and that works out for me all right.  I think my broad back offsets the small cup and they end up evening each other out.

The cup sizes differ in the two front bodice pieces.  Though the pattern pieces aren't flat, you can can sort of see the difference between the D cup (top) and the A/B cup (bottom).

So I didn't alter the pattern for the cup size; I did the usual changes to lengthen the skirt and shorten the straps.

As for the difficulty, it's princess seams with no darts, so that greatly simplifies things.  The bodice is lined, and needs to be tacked down by hand because the bottom doesn't line up nicely, but that's pretty easy.  The weird fabric yoga you have to do for the straps so the seams don't show is weird, but that's the nature of the beast for anything of this sort.  So this would probably be good for an advanced beginner.

 And finally, let's go out with Kermit: