Friday, 23 May 2014

Someone else's dream dress. Project formal is underway

In our town, graduating from high school is very big deal. The graduation dinner requires a formal outfit, a large proportion of town turns out to watch the grand entrances, and the local paper sells out in about 5 minutes after publishing all the photos of the school leavers all-dressed-up. I had great enjoyment making a fabulous evening gown for daughter the first, and now have the opportunity for another exciting sewing adventure.
Daughter the second has been thinking about her dress for quite some time. Just recently, her hinting reached a level suggesting some anxiety - not what a young woman completing year 12 needs, so I thought I'd better get my act together, despite having 6 months in hand to complete this creation.
I have quite clear instructions.
This is the inspiration dress, with the greatest appeal being the lace applique placement and the transluscent overlayer

I think it is a Mariana Hardwick dress, but my daughter is not sure of the source of the photo. However, the formal dress will have a coloured underlayer (icy blue/grey silk twill) and an ombre black to grey silk chiffon overlayer.

The gown is to have a strapless sweetheart neckline and the skirt is to be less full, and floor length. I am thinking a circle skirt, as I have been asked to minimise seams (fortunately this is not too tricky in floor length for a petite person), but will have to try this out in a mock up prior to approval.

Here is the fabric we bought at Global Fabrics in Auckland last December (she is a girl who likes to plan ahead). The silk twill is more blue than it appears on my computer screen.

Here is the lace I am to dye for the dress. It is several  generous ancient remnants from my  wedding dress, which I find rather pleasing for sentimental reasons - that is, if it doesn't disintegrate with age when I try dyeing it!


I've started with a toile of the inner corselet.

I wanted to make a different understructure from that in my older daughter's dress, and after looking at quite a few dress inners kindly displayed on sewing blogs have decided to make an understructure with built in bust cups and underwires, rather than the more simple princess line corselet suggested by Claire Shaeffer's couture sewing book that I used last time. I feel that the more structured corselet will be more suited to the figure of daughter the second in addition to providing me with a different technical challenge

Poppykettle's posts about Marfy and Burda Style corselets

technical drawing of poppykettle's 03-2010 corset bodice pattern from
Frabjous Couture post about Balmain Strapless dress insides

Frabjous Couture post about Christian Dior strapless dress inside

I've started with the bustier from the January Burda 01-2014-113, which fortunately starts at a size 34, so I don't have to scale it down.

technical drawing from
I have moved the opening to the centre back,  and found that it was easy to adjust the fitting - about 1cm off each side of the 3 centre front seams  and a smidgeon added to the two back/side back side seams below the waist. It is now fits very nicely through the waist, upper hips and back, in calico.


Unfortunately, although the upper line of the bodice is very pleasing, and not too low, I do not care for the shaping at the bust, which is mysteriously flattening and also pointy. I plan to swap out the lower bust piece for a 2 part bra pattern, and possibly dart the upper piece -then I will have to decide about the boning placement. Most of the pictures I have seen include boning over the bust, but I am not sure that I will be able to make this undetectable from the outside of the dress. I wonder if the underwires might provide enough structure. Any tips? I will be grateful for advice. I'll use polyester boning, not having easy access to spiral steel boning. Fortunately the recipient of the gown, although curvy, is also slender and very fit, so doesn't really need a lot of structure other that what is designed to keep the gown from slipping off!

Having been fitted into toile, my daughter's frock anxiety seems to have diminished considerably. Hopefully I can get a few more work clothes done before she needs me to work on it again!


liza jane said...

Oh, I can't wait. I know it will be spectacular.

fabric epiphanies said...

I can feel the stress and anticipation from here, mostly because I am going through much the same thing. Courteney had a strapless dress for her year 12 ball last year and despite boning, she spent much of the night hitching it up because it seemed to grow as the night progressed. This year she has decided on straps phew! That does take the pressure off a bit. However, her boyfriend has ordered a waistcoat and I
have until the beginning of August.

Paola said...

I love the inspiration photo and colours chosen. Your daughter has good taste! Looking forward to seeing this dress take shape over the coming months.

Uta said...

How lovely that you're getting to use remnants of your wedding dress. Was it sewn by you? If so, you know you will have to show a picture, don't you? ;-)

Emmie said...

I don't know about the original, but I think if you put tea length dress in eBay this pic comes up a lot, I think in China!

Sew, Jean Margaret said...

Wow, this certainly looks like a big project. Your daughters are very lucky to have such a talented and willing Mum. I will look forward to seeing your progress with this beautiful dress.

Kyle said...

Ooooo! This is going to be stunning!!!

katherine h said...

I am the equivalent of an armchair traveler for bustier / corset sewing at the moment, so I will be following with interest!

barbara said...

i have a large heavy bust and i know the problem well. i ended up sewing in an underwire bra. don't do it ;)

gertie did a post re: adding underwires to a cupped bustier. she also used fleece interfacing, which i think makes a huge difference. it looked like the finished product would be very supportive. maybe you should check it out.

Anonymous said...

Oh this looks glorious. I love that you will be using lace from your own wedding dress too.

velosewer said...

Oh gosh. Take a deep breath and keep sewing. I know this dress is going to be stunning and fab. That's what you specialise in!

poppykettle said...

Oooh, exciting stuff! A wonderful project to work on, that's for sure - I have seen that image so many times before, it's a gorgeous dress where ever it comes from! And so lovely you can work in your lace (fingers crossed on that one) too. After working on that dress you linked to (thanks!) I realised that for my wedding dress I wanted something more 'bra' like for the support undergarment, and ended up making a Marfy pattern (2630) which turned out absolutely amazingly. Obviously you can't see it in the final dress photos, but I'm halfway through a construction post on it at the moment. If your daughter is a similar size to me, I'd be happy to trace it out and post it to you? There's a link to it here:

Rosy said...

This will be awesome! I am anxious waiting for more progress on this beautiful project. Your daughter must be very proud of you!

Sue said...

Wow! This dress is going to be great. Having two boys the most arduous part was hiring a suit and getting the ties, etc to match to the girls. I am going to live vicariously through you on this one (and the previous gorgeous dress).

Sue said...

Wow! This dress is going to be great. Having two boys the most arduous part was hiring a suit and getting the ties, etc to match to the girls. I am going to live vicariously through you on this one (and the previous gorgeous dress).

Gail said...

Elegance choice. I enjoyed making formal outfits for both my daughters.