drape drape!

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For the big spring fundraiser, we held a fashion show featuring Erdem (whose designs I love – so many amazing florals!). I had a lot going on and almost wore a simple black dress, but decided to make something at the very last minute. It was either going to be a myrtle or the v-neck dress from the first Drape Drape book and I’m SO happy I took the second route!

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You’ll notice the bodice is totally different than the illustration. That’s because it turned out big (?!) and was mostly obscene. I just subbed a hastily drawn bodice based on the Renfrew, which I then took in a lot. It’s fine.

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you can really tell here that I put it on the dress form backwards… it’s so snug on the form I didn’t want to risk popping stitches to fix my mistake!

But, oh this skirt! It’s amazing! I love the way it looks on, so elegant and graceful. The skirt is much fuller at the hem than I thought it would be, which makes it extra comfortable. Perfect for running around working an event.

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My favorite part, though, was the process of putting it together. I can’t even say how much fun I had! Despite the complex look it was quite straightforward and satisfying to make – just match notches following the diagram and that’s that. It took less than an hour to put the skirt together, and if I hadn’t had to redo the bodice it would have been a 3-hour dress, maybe 4 if you count tracing. You could make this the night before an event and in complete honesty say, “oh, this? I just whipped this up last night,” as if it were nothing.

I’m really looking forward to more drape drape projects!

next up... morris!
next up… morris!

Another gown

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Well, another Opera Ball has come and gone, and while I swore last year that I would not be making another gown, somehow I did. And I actually kind of enjoyed it, and I actually kind of like the finished dress. I attribute most of my success this year to using an actual gown pattern, instead of haphazardly lengthening a short dress pattern. Getting the proportions of a gown right is more difficult than just extending a skirt, and letting the experts figure it out is definitely the way to start.

Image from Pattern Review

I used Butterick 5710, a blatant copy of that most famous bridesmaid’s dress, made out of navy peachskin from JoAnn. The fabric was actually perfect for this dress – not too shiny, substantial but not stiff, and inexpensive. I raised the neckline by 1.5″, but otherwise made the dress straight from the envelope, omitting my usual petite adjustment because the pattern doesn’t provide guidance for where to shorten or lengthen in the bodice. That was a mistake. Because the dress is close fitting in the back, it will fit the curve at the small of your back no matter what. This means that if the bodice is too long you will end up with a big hunchback over the shoulders. I was able to do a quick fix by pulling the shoulder seam up an inch pull the shoulders up by an inch, but if I make this again I will try to figure out the adjustment under the bust.

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With the side view you can see a little of the hunchback problem… I don’t think it was quite so noticeable in real life. I hope not, anyway. These relatively minor issues aside, it was a fantastic gown for opera ball and I loved wearing it! It was great to have my shoulders covered, the cut is flattering but actually there is quite a bit of ease everywhere, and I LOVED having a train. It felt so special and swishy, but it didn’t get in my way at all as we were running all over City Hall. I didn’t even have to lift up my dress when going up stairs!

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The last important feature is the drape. I have only recently come around to cowls and draping, and while this one is a little on the big side it did make the dress feel special. I love the layered v-neck underneath, and because of the two layers this drape did double duty as a handy phone pocket. All told this gown is very much a success, and it makes me want to make another for next year!

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A Floaty Cocktail Dress

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It’s been a while since I wore this dress, but it just takes so long to get photos done! I was planning on just rewearing a dress to our spring event because all I want to sew lately is comfy basics. But then Fabric Mart had all those J. Crew silk/cottons on sale, and I saw this teal/black poly taffeta for $1/yard and just added a few yards to the cart thinking that in my line of work I’ll probably use it someday. Then our event chairs announced the theme of the event was going to be mid-century vintage, the taffeta and a large-scale floral J. Crew chiffon ended up next to each other in my shameful fabric overflow pile, Gertie’s lovely cocktail dress popped into my mind, and this it just happened. When everything aligns like that you have to go with it!

Butterick 5882, image from Pattern Review

I bought this pattern during a JoAnn $1 sale because I thought it was beautiful, but it’s not a style I saw myself in at all. Honestly, I never planned to make it. This dress just had to be, though, and I actually do like wearing it. The fabric, which was surprisingly easy to sew and looks pretty good for the price, just swishes and floats around you. It’s awfully fun to wear! The dress came together fairly quickly, and I really enjoyed making the pleated bra part. I’m always drawn to wearing simple shapes, but I am finding that I just love the puzzle of a more complicated pattern.

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This dress was just a joy. So often sewing can be full of minor struggles, but once in a while you get that dream project where fabric, pattern, style, fit, everything just happens as it should. I was so happy to wear this dress, and I got a lot of compliments at the event from our super-stylish board members.

As pretty as this dress is, though, it does have a problem. Full circle skirt + weightless fabric + a puff of wind from a lobby door opening = me flashing the lobby of the Fairmont Hotel. My skirt was up over my ears on all sides. Luckily it was before the night started, I was just greeting a couple of our volunteers (they got a real kick out of it), and I favor the most modest of undies. I don’t really know what to do moving forward, though. I thought about trying to weigh the skirt down a bit, but I don’t want to lose the swishiness or drape of the light skirt. It might just be a strictly indoor dress, and one that I may wear a more fitted half slip under… just in case!

Photo May 18, 12 11 29 PM