Sunday, 25 November 2012

Formal dress

I have decided that I will never be happy with photographs of this dress, so am posting now rather than waiting to see if any better ones drift in. This dissatisfaction may have something to do with the competition from Grandparental paparazzi, but who wants to have their mother fussing with the position of their skirt on the way to their formal?
My daughter and I were both pleased with the dress, and we had a lovely evening.

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You are probably bored with construction details, but to recap, this dress is heavily adapted from several patterns, to approximate a design sketch from my daughter.

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 It has a considerable understructure including a closely fitted corselet and very puffy tulle/organdy underskirt with 10m of bridal tulle gathered in 5 layers to the petticoat skirt. The outer dress is made from silk-satin, matte side out, with a lattice smocked bodice finished with a silk organza ruffle and a 7 gore bell skirt with a very slight sweep at the back. The outer bodice is attached to the understructure by whip stitch at the upper bodice (below the ruffle, at the lower folds of each smocked fold), and also by stab stitches vertically with the stitches hidden in the inner folds of the smocking.

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 None of these photographs demonstrate the fullness of the skirt quite as I would have liked.

The dress is beaded at the hem, and there are two rows of horsehair braid retrofitted to the inner hem to assist the skirt to hold its shape.

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The skirt of the dress  moves beautifully with walking and dancing, but you will have to take my word for it ;)

I had a little trouble with the fastening of the dress. The lattice smocking fought with the invisible zip at the piping junction, so I added a loop and bead as reinforcement here to remove the strain from the zip and to keep the teeth hidden at this point.

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The second layer of silk organza ruffle was retrofitted because my daughter felt a bit bare with the original single layer of ruffle at the front.

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In addition to the understructure, I added boning to the side seams of the outer dress to support the strong curve from the fitted bodice to the full skirt.

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I made my daughter a small bag to use with the dress.

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 It is lined with some recycled sari silk that was a scarf of mine that she loved when she was about 4 years old, and kept borrowing for dress ups.

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 Unfortunately this silk demonstrated its age and fragility by being torn through by the magnetic clasp during the evening, which teaches me not to use old fabric for practical purposes, no matter how sentimental I am feeling when I make something.

This was a very enjoyable project, but I am glad I have nearly 2 years until I need to make a formal dress for my younger daughter. 

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There is something slightly confronting about having a daughter who has finished school. Whilst looking at all the beautiful  graduates I was reminded of how many wrinkles I haveearned, and  how much chocolate cake I have eaten ;) since leaving school myself , so it was very pleasant to read all the lovely comments you left on my last post. Thank you!


54 comments:

Sharon said...

Absolutely stunning, a beautiful work of art and their was only 1 of them for her special night, she looks gorgeous.

Elise Lin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Elise Lin said...

What a gorgeous dress! You did an incredible job. I love the lattice smocking and the beads as well.(Sorry I saw I made a typo in my previous comment)

BeaJay said...

Beautiful. Your daughter looks gorgeous. You have done a magnificent job.

Karin said...

Your daughter looks stunning! It's an amazing piece of construction.

Dilliander said...

Wow! An absolutely beautiful dress, your daughter looks gorgeous. You did a spectacular job!

velosewer said...

This is a beautiful dress and it would have been a great dress to work on.
It was interesting to read that she felt she needed more fabric on top.
Yesterday I saw a stack of young ones heading to stereo sonic and they made me feel I was wearing way too much fabric.
Your daughter looks lovely. Congratulations.

Carol said...

Oh my, she is lovely in this dress. You have done a magnificent job and I am in awe of your skill/\.

Alison said...

Absolutely gorgeous and she looks beautiful. You've done a great job. I especially love the silk organza ruffle/s at the top.

Sue said...

Great job! The dress is fabulous and your daughter looks beautiful in it. My eldest just graduated from Uni so I am going through a lot of the same feelings.

Bernice said...

What an amazing achievement. You must be feeling quite chuffed with yourself. I've enjoyed every step of this journey that you shared. Projects of this calibre are so satisfying. I would be thrilled to bits.

Your daughter looks beautiful. Despite it's weakness, the bag lining was a lovely touch.

Jenn said...

What a beautiful dress. So many special touches. The smocking looks great.

Little Hunting Creek said...

What an amazing dress! She looks so beautiful. I love all of the details. They should give Nobel Prizes for Moms -you would win.

Paola said...

Gorgeous gorgeous dress. Your girl looks lovely! Your daughters are lucky girls! And your dress is super special too!

Malady said...

That is just spectacular - and the little bag is a perfect touch. I had a little tear for you on the silk scarf... sentimentality gets me every time :)

patti said...

Stunning dress--and a stunning daughter too!

Marie said...

Wow, just stunning. I can only imagine the time you have invested into this dress. Your daughter looks very grown up.

Hen said...

Finally! This is such a beautiful dress. You can see all the work that went into it, and it was worth it! I like the shape of the skirt so much, very elegant.

I feel with you about the graduation being confronting. My mother (not that I want to compare her to you age-wise!) is going through the next phase, her children getting married and having children on their own, all while she is moving house and encountering boxes of clothes she made for us or for herself decades ago. Stay strong. You are hot!

Margy said...

Awesome! What a gorgeous dress and beautiful daughter...and awesome Mom, too...!

fabric epiphanies said...

The dress and your daughter are gorgeous. What an achievement.

fabric epiphanies said...

The dress and your daughter are gorgeous. What an achievement.

little betty said...

Wow! What an acheivement!

Allison said...

Wow! The dress is just gorgoeus and so is your daughter. How wonderful to have a mom who can make such a work of art. Everything about it is quite lovely and you must be very proud, both of your incredible craftmanship in producing such an exquisite garment for this special occasion and also of your beautiful daughter who is entering a new phase in her life.

Allison said...

Wow! The dress is just gorgoeus and so is your daughter. How wonderful to have a mom who can make such a work of art. Everything about it is quite lovely and you must be very proud, both of your incredible craftmanship in producing such an exquisite garment for this special occasion and also of your beautiful daughter who is entering a new phase in her life.

katherine h said...

How beautiful to work on the dress that your daughter graduates in...very symbolic. She looks gorgeous.

SewRuthie said...

Lovely dress! An astonishing amount of work has gone into that and it looks beautiful.

shams said...

Wow, stunning and spectacular, Karen. Your daughter looks lovely. And congrats on having one through school!

Suzy said...

Beautiful! The smocking looks gorgeous and your daughter seems really happy with it!

Megan said...

This is absolutely amazing! And your daughter looks so so gorgeous, I hope she had a great night at formal :) Congratulations on finishing this massive project and having it turn out so incredibly well!

KayY said...

Bravo! The dress is a tour de force, and she looks radiant in it.

Uta said...

Stunning! I can only imagine your feelings on a day like this. The dress will be one more memory to cherish. I'm sure you were the best dressed family at the graduation!

liza jane said...

Oh my goodness, it is just beautiful! It really is a work of art. I can't believe how complicated the smocking looks. You really should be proud of your work. It's fantastic! Now you have two years to prep for the next one! ;)

Juliane said...

Fabulous. Absolutely fabulous.

pdiddly said...

I agree with everyone - the dress and your daughter are stunning

Joyce in NC said...

Your daughter and the dress are both lovely! You did a great job on her dress.

Sigrid said...

Fabulous dress, your beautiful daughter looks so well in this dress.

Cherrypix said...

I love this dress...so uniquely beautiful! The smocking? is such a great detail. Also love the beaded hem. Truly stunning creations.....the dress and your daughter :-)

mpressivethreadzstudio said...

You created a beautiful dress and gave your daughter wonderful memories!

She will always remember how you brought her ideas to life.

Janine said...

this is the most stunning dress I have ever seen on a sewing blog. Your daughter looks so beautiful and you must be so proud. My eldest daughter has just finished Year 12 as well - it is such an emotional time especially as she has decided she will be in Japan and Peru for 10 months next year .

Gail said...

She looks so beautiful. I love the pleating on the bodice.

Carolyn said...

What an absolutely beautiful dress, and an absolutely beautiful daughter!! She looks so lovely, and you must feel deservedly proud of your careful work that went into making this stunning gown. Congratulations!

Vicki said...

Wow, this dress is so beautiful. Lucky daughter!! The details are gorgeous. I can't imagine anyone else's dress being better.

Ann said...

I agree with everyone. A stunning dress on a beautiful daughter.

MareeAlison said...

A beautiful dress and a very beautiful daughter. I think I catch a likeness to her mother at some angles too. Well done. You must be very proud.

Scruffybadger said...

You are so skilful, this is a work of art, and looks absolutely wonderful on your daughter....so clever!

Ruth said...

This is a staggeringly beautiful dress on an equally lovely daughter. You did wonderful work and it looks like it was greatly appreciated.

The Slapdash Sewist said...

What a knockout dress! All of the details are so careful and wonderful. I am particularly charmed by the button at loop at the waistline juncture of the invisible zip. What a great solution to this perennial problem. I'm going to keep it in mind for the future.

a little sewing said...

Gobsmacking gorgeous work, Karen- just amazing. It is so simple and elegant but rich in design. And your daughter is beautiful. Wow. You must feel so pleased!

BetsyV said...

gorgeous, Karen, what a work of art and love!

Carolyn (cmarie12) said...

This is stunning! You did an amazing job on your daughter's dress and she looks thrilled to e wearing it!

theperfectnose said...

This is awesome. Everything I wanted to say has already been said so just rock on already!

Meigan said...

Gorgeous! Absolutely Gorgeous! That bodice...amazing. Your daughter must be so happy to have such a talented mom :)

tigergirl said...

Stunning! (But well outside my patience zone)

Gabrielle Corbett said...

Sorry I'm so late here, but I wanted to add my admiration to everyone else's - it's an absolutely stunning dress, and I am so impressed that it matches your and your daughter's original (complex!) vision, and that it also looks so beautiful on her! Well done and what a lucky daughter!