The procrastination project continues! Earlier this week I wrote about the process of making the lining and sleeves. That post can be read here. I didn’t mention this last time, but I “vlogged” (I hate that word) about making this dress on youtube. For the five days I worked on it I took short clips about my goals and how it progressed. I edited them into two videos and if you are interested in seeing those they can be found here!
Starting where the last post left off, I went ahead and gathered the tops of the sleeves and sewed them onto the bodice lining. I didn’t figure out a way to make these more opaque with the materials I had on hand, so I left them the way they were. Luckily as the project has gotten closer to completion the sheerness has grown on me!
With the sleeves finished I switched to working on the skirt overlay. I started by cutting out a big rectangle, which was a little more than four yards wide and fifty sevenish inches long. I turned the bottom edge over by a half inch and basted it down by hand.I pinned that edge up to create a two and a half inch wide hem.And sewed it down with a cross stitch. I haven’t hemmed anything this way in a while because it is a little more time consuming than a whip stitch, and takes a lot more thread which makes it more prone to tangling. But this project reminded me how nice it looks from the outside of the fabric, you can hardly even see the stitches!The top eight inches of each edge got rolled over twice and stitched down with a whip stitch. I did this on the lining layer as well. It gets left open when I sew up the back seam and gives me a way to get the dress on and off.
I used my machine to gather the top down to twenty seven inches.Then I attached it to the bias tape I made earlier. I cut a fifty seven inch long piece of bias tape and sewed the center twenty seven inches over the raw edge of the skirt. I whip stitched both ends (which were fifteen inches long each) shut so I could tie them into a bow at the back of the skirt.I did up the back seam with a half inch wide french seam. Which doesn’t sound hard, and it wouldn’t be with more fabrics, but this material is incredibly difficult to work with. It acts almost like a very tightly woven silk chiffon. Even my finest needle which was changed right before working on this caused tons of pulls when sewing a simple seam. Luckily they mostly ironed out, but it was really annoying!And here the skirt is, looking all nice and pretty on my dress form! At this point the skirt was complete so I moved on to the bodice.The bodice will have a draped gathered overlay on it, which is something I have very limited experience with, so I was a bit nervous. I took my remaining fabric and cut it into three rectangle, which got sewn together. Then I gathered the lower edge down to the width of the waist of the bodice.I pinned the wrong side of the gathered rectangles to the right side of the bodice. Then I sewed across the bottom.Then I started on the tricky part, pulling, gathering, and manipulating the fabric into a visually pleasing overlay. It looks great, right? The image below just has things roughly pinned in an attempt to get the fabric evenly distributed over the neckline. The next step was gathering pieces by hand and basting them to the neckline. And of course, trimming away a ton of material so I could ease the overlay across the shoulder and around the armholes.After a bit (okay, a lot) of work I had something much more attractive.
I left the fabric around the zipper opening loose, since it will be stitched down in a specific way to cover the zipper. I have to wait until the zipper is attached before doing this, so it stayed open for quite a while.I tried it on to make sure it fit okay and didn’t create a “snowman effect” which happened with the gathered bodice for my christmas costume. It sort of did but I was able to mostly fix it by pulling it down in certain areas to create more tension and smooth it out.
Unfortunately since this bodice doesn’t have boning in it or anything to help keep its shape, the whole tension thing didn’t really work. It just pulled up the layer of suiting which made it rest a half inch higher on my waist. I’m really annoyed about this. It was coming along so well and actually looked pretty flattering! And this sort of ruined that. It wasn’t a mistake I could really fix since I had already trimmed the overlay fabric down, and even if I hadn’t, ripping stitching out of this material would be impossible.
I had no choice but to move on. So I did. I sewed the overlay down around the neckline, sleeves, and shoulders. Then I covered the neckline with more home made bias tape and stitched it down by hand.To help with the length problem just a little I decided to cover the raw edge at the waist with one inch wide bias tape, then top stitch the skirt layers onto the bias tape. This doesn’t make the bodice longer, but it does prevent me from losing the half inch seam allowance.Then it was time for beading. I decided to stitch a row of gold sequins across the bottom of the bias tape at the neckline, then another row extending down from every other sequin to create gradient type of effect. In the center of each sequin there is a red seed bead. This took three or four hours to do, which was wayy longer than I had expected. It’s a little more subtle than I had wanted, but I think it adds a lot to the bodice so it was worth the time it took to do it!
I chose to take a close up of the first section I did, which was a bad idea. The rest of it looks much cleaner, I promise.Here it is on the dress form. I decided to make beaded tassels for one of the additional waist ties. I’ve never done this before and didn’t research how to do it, so it ended up taking hours and the end result isn’t that great. But I like how they look with the finished dress!
The one on the right was my second attempt. It took half the amount of time, used fewer beads, and looks way cleaner. So I think if I made these again it would be much faster and yield better results.
…Which made my dress too small to fit over the shoulders of my dress form. So here is how it looks hanging up!I sewed the zipper in (I did an awful job because I was feeling lazy and knew it wouldn’t be visible. I’m a bit ashamed of that) and top stitched the skirt overlay on.
The bodice overlay got tacked around the zipper and it was done! I’m very happy with this dress. It might not be the best thing i’ve made when it comes to quality of stitch work, but I think it’s really pretty and I know i’ll enjoy wearing it!
The weather where I live has been overcast all week, so I haven’t had enough sunlight to take worn photos. But that will probably change in a few days so I’ll have some worn photos to post soon!Here are some close ups for now.
I’ve also made a headpiece (well, two headpieces, not sure which i’ll use) out of wooden skewers, sequins, beads, and dried flowers which are all mounted on plastic headbands. I think this will pair really nicely with the dress and give a similar appearance to the spiky brush strokes that were used to create the appearance of a halo in some renaissance portraiture.
So that’s it for today! Thank you for reading!