Sunday, February 23, 2014

The P Word

Mommy: "What kind of dress do you want for your birthday?"
Wub: "I want the top to come to right here. (Makes a motion high across her chest.) With no sleeves and no collar and a great big, really, really fluffy skirt! And pink."

So basically she wanted the dress she wore two years ago for Easter.
I love this dress. We bought it at Target and paid full price for it. Which for me is saying a lot about the depth of my love for it. 

Did I want to make the exact same dress? Eh...not so much. So I was perusing Ebay for some lace to make it just a bit different when I came across this beauty.
 I asked Wub how she felt about a pink and black dress and was granted permission to make it in those colors. 
I used Violette Field Threads Chloe Dress pattern. I've had my eye on this one for a couple of years and I finally felt my skill set had grown enough to tackle it without tears.* I used the size 7 and it was a spot on perfect fit. 

I modified the pattern by shortening the bodice by 3.5 inches, leaving off the sash and adding tulle ties to the side instead. Autie and Jen from ICandy Handmade have a fantastic tutorial on adding tulle ombre to a bodice. I've wanted to try it ever since I first saw it. I wasn't 100% convinced the black satin wouldn't overpower the pink tulle. I was very happy that it worked exactly the way I saw it in my head.
 The instructions for sewing were pretty sparse and I definitely felt there were some places that essential information was missing. There are no instructions for grading seams before turning the bodice. A novice sewist would probably have some issues getting things to turn out as nice as s/he might like. 
Other bits of the pattern were brilliant including the instructions for sewing the side seams of the bodice. This is the first time I haven't struggled with that part. The advice on using upholstery thread and a heavy duty needle to sew the layers of tulle, net and chiffon was definitely needed. 

For the tulle overskirt I cut the tulle about 7 inches shorter than the net an the chiffon (For Wub's dress the skirt is about 26 inches long so I cut the tulle at 19 inches) and serged the lace along one edge. I then used a double needle and sewed a satin ribbon over the serge line to hide the ugly.

 I also used about a a yard and a half less in length than the pattern called for. The pattern called for 2.75 yards cut in half lengthwise making each layer 5.5 yards each. I ordered the lace before I bought the pattern and only ordered four yards of lace. To be honest I'm not sure I could have got  three layers of 5.5 yards of fluffy, slippery fabric to gather around the waist. I felt like I had the fabric gathered as tight as it would go and there were still places that I had to pinch and pin to make it fit around. 

I also serged all the layers of tulle, net and chiffon together before attempting to gather them. It was a gut instinct and I was definitely glad I did. 
I used Nancy Zieman's method of gathering. The technique starts at 17:56 on the video. If you hate to gather this may change your mind. Or at least make it less stressful. I used upholstery weight thread and didn't have the slightest fear the threads would break. 
I attached the top layers using upholstery weight thread, a heavy duty topstitching needle and a fairly long stitch length. Worked a treat.
I wasn't sure whether the dress would need a lining so I tried it on Wub once the overskirt was sewn. Too sheer so I made a pale pink underskirt from some of the lining fabric I bought for a dollar a yard. I cut the underskirt 30 inches by 3 yards. I seamed it into a tube the folded up 1 inch and ironed it. I folded up a further 4 inches to form a deep hem and the used a black scallop stitch in two wide rows to hem it. 
 I know it won't really show, But I know it's there and that's enough for me. I sewed this onto the bodice facing which left a ring of ugly edge sandwiched between the skirts.

 I first attempted to serge these layers together but the serger said "No, thank you." and spit a needle at me. I ended up using upholstery thready and a wide zigzag stitch to tame this.

Then I sewed on seven, perfectly pink, perfectly sparkly buttons that I bought from the dollar bins at JoAnn's. 

*This is where the tears come in. I am recovering from yet another bout with bronchitis. I just finished up a round of antibiotics and steroids. The combination of illness, steroid crabbiness and extremely fussy sewing has not been so much fun. If  I hadn't been so happy with the end result of each step I might have just given up and bought her a dress. Fortunately I have been ecstatic with the results so all the trouble has been worth it.
  I woke up this morning achey, coughing and with a vaguely sore throat.  I powered through it, got all the machine sewing finished and sat down to hand sew the buttons. I do not enjoy hand sewing and I always save the buttons for last. Halfway through the buttons Wub came up to show me the painting she had just finished.
Wub: "Mommy look at my painting!"
Mommy: "Wub, be careful with the paint please."
Wub: "Do you like it?"
Then very wide eyes.
Mommy: "Did you just get paint on your dress?"
Bright yellow paint all over the front hem. Tears, frustration and me going to take a nap. 
Fortunately the paint came out. Later Wub and I had a talk about being cautious and why mommy was so upset in the first place. 

The dress is amazing. I don't usually use the P word in conjunction with Wub. There are so many better things to be than a Princess. An artist, a super hero, a doctor, a scholar for me these are better aspirations. I have to admit though, Wub is going to look like a princess in the dress. 

A punk rock princess.



7 comments:

Like a feather Belgique said...

It´s so so lovely! I love that dress!

Diane said...

Absolutely gorgeous, and well worth the effort, in spite of being sick!

Kristi. W. said...

`Thank you so much. It was one of the most complex things I've ever made and I was so pleased with how it turned out.

treeceelouise said...

You did a fantastic job! Love the scalloped hem & the pretty pink buttons make it sing! Your ombre turned out wonderfully, looks amazing in the black and pink, can't wait to see you do it in the yellow.

LaToya Rogers said...

This is beautiful! What is the lace called? I would like to find something similar in shades of purple.

Kristi. W. said...

LaToya,
I bought it on Ebay from this store http://stores.ebay.com/storyoflace/. She has loads of gorgeous lace.

April said...

Great work! It turned out fabulous...and you are better than me...I refuse to sew when I'm sick. lol

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