Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Another Wedding!

Every so often I have a really big project, that towards the end keeps me up nights sewing, since I have kids home all day, and more kids home every evening, and I can only take away so much of their "Mama time" before they start noticing and complaining.

This time, someone hired me to make her a dress to wear to a family wedding, and before I knew it, I was making dresses for her two daughters (13 and 6) as well.

Again I was up too late at the end, but I did finish in time for them to take the dresses with them when they left!

The first item was a 2 piece dress for the mother. Luckily, she and I are similar enough in size that while of course I fitted the muslin directly on her, I could just try it on myself for small changes, like adjusting the "modesty panel."

This was the pattern:

She provided me with eggplant satin for this. She wanted the view with shoulders, not sheer, with added sleeves and an ivory triangle inset at the neckline, plus the matching skirt, of course.

She's a little thinner than I am in waist and hips so the top doesn't pull at the belly on her the way it does on me:

(Hmm, need to wash that mirror!) The safety pins were temporary. I was wearing it to mark the modesty panel location. I sewed it in on one side, plus halfway on the other, then added a small sew-in snap at that top corner so that she could open it enough to get it on over her head.

To add sleeves, I had these two other patterns (I was using them for the daughter anyway):


Initially, I thought she wanted the sleeves from the McCall pattern (because her daughter did) and that's how I did the muslin. At that point she asked for the sleeves from the Simplicity jacket instead.

To add sleeves, I had redrawn the bodice pieces of Simplicity 2953 to match the shoulder and armhole (armscye) of McCall's M5527, and just used the sleeve straight. Not wanting to re-trace my new bodice pattern pieces after fitting the muslin now that she wanted a different sleeve, I instead traced the McCall's sleeve, using that sleeve cap but merging it with the Simplicity 5561 sleeve for the sides, length, and width. That way it fit the flounce from the Simplicity pattern perfectly.

I also, based on how the muslin fit her, darted an inch out of the upper back of the top pattern, tapering to nothing by mid back, and then split the pattern at center back from the bottom up to just below that mid-back point, so that it would spread out a bit to compensate and make the pattern piece flat again. I did this based on my muslin, which had been too loose in the upper back and needed a bit more room through the waist and upper hip. Then I cut out the fabric with my "new" pattern piece.

For the skirt, she wanted to wear it at high hip rather than at her waist, so I cut off fabric from the top of the skirt until it more or less matched her measurement at her high hip, leaving the basic line of the skirt alone. I then used a bigger size for the waistband piece because it happened to fit. (Otherwise I would have measured and added appropriately.)

The finished outfit, which on her gives a very flattering hourglass effect:
(The tie sash is made from an eggplant chiffon, and the color matches exactly in real life. The flash made it show up as a different color!)

For her older daughter, she requested the more flare-y dress from Simplicity 5561 in ivory satin, but with a higher neckline, no boning, and straps to support it. She also wanted the McCall's M5527 jacket, in ivory with contrast ruffled collar and sleeve ruffles from the eggplant.

I did a muslin for just the top of the dress, to make sure I had raised the neck enough. I did discover from this that she needed more room in the hips, but I really should have paid more attention to how much more room she needed. The pattern was intended to make a tight fitting dress, and she really didn't want it that tight! After a final fitting, where I had raised the point at which the hip flare starts but had not added to that flare, I wound up taking a much smaller seam allowance at the side seams from the waist point down. (I had only basted the side seams for this fitting -- all the other seams were sewn already at that point, because I was apparently overconfident in my adjustments).

Anyway, to raise the neckline, I found a different pattern (one that's out of print, unfortunately) with straps and a shaped top and re-drew the top of the front and front side pattern pieces to follow the basic lines of this other pattern, only about three inches up from the original placement. I used those straps and shortened them. I bound the neckline with strips cut on the bias, but wasn't exactly sure how to do the corners of the front, (and at that point I was utterly exhausted, as it was easily 4am) so that part could be prettier. She wasn't going to take the jacket off in public anyway, as this family does hold to Orthodox Jewish standards of modesty.


Dress with jacket over it:

Her younger daughter's dress was easy, and was my favorite of the three. Probably that was due to my familiarity with the pattern (I had made this pattern several times for my own daughters) and the fact that I didn't have to adjust anything! I had her try on two of my daughter's dresses, one a 6 and the other an 8, and the verdict was make her a straight 7.
And it Just Worked (tm).

The pattern:
The finished dress, a long-sleeved view with sleeve flounce, plus close-up of sash and flower detail:

The sash isn't part of the pattern, although the flowers are. I simply cut a piece of chiffon the entire width of the fabric, sewed it into a tube (the ends both closed, a space for turning it left open), turned it, and edge-stitched it along the side with the seam, which closed my turning opening. I then sewed it onto the dress along the bodice seam on the front, and vertically along the two side seams. I left the top unattached, but then sewed the flowers on completely through the sash, bodice front and bodice lining.

I also made the two daughters some petticoat type slips to wear under their dresses. My sewing machine hated sewing the netting, (not onto the fabric, but when it was just netting to put in the gathering stitches) so instead of gathering all of it, I wound up pleating it on instead. Tedious, but overall easier than fighting with the gathering threads breaking every 5 inches.

Oh, and I hemmed everything with the rolled hem stitch on my serger. Quick and easy. (Except the jacket itself, which was hand-hemmed. The jacket sleeve ruffles were rolled hems, though.)

Overall, a satisfying project.


Piper said...

wow! Great work! I'm so glad you showed this project on your blog. I can't get into NMSL friends anymore and I missed seeing your last creations.
Everything looks so pretty!

Natalija said...

Wonderful work! I can not find to sew for me and my daughters, so sewing for someone else seems very ovewhelming! I am glad you found the time to do this. I am sure they are very happy with this.

LC said...

Very nice! I love those flowers. I won't make them, as I do NOT have the patience, and would nit-pick them (the theoretical ones I might make) not being exactly lined up, or even, or some such, but yours are great! each is perfect, but they are still unique (maybe just orientation?).

(but I am so not a dark-contrast-on-light-background person)

miriamp said...

They probably are unique, or almost... it's a more or less straight piece, curved in on the ends, folded in half, wrong sides together, gathered and then rolled in on itself. The gathering part comes out a tiny bit different every time, and the rolling part too. if you gather less and roll more you wind up with more of a rosebud effect, which is also quite pretty.