Lots of late nights for this one…not a comment about degree of difficulty as much as busy time of year and short lead time. And there were a few challenges.
Ok. The pattern. My daughter had an idea in her head and enough confidence in me to believe I could create exactly what she wanted. Now this is very flattering but talk about pressure! You see, I couldn’t find a pattern for a bralette top and I really am an absolute novice at drafting and grading. But I gave it a shot. This is what we started with for the top.
Using version A as the template, I added 4 inches to the band under the bust. I also interfaced the band and added boning to reinforce the bodice. We omitted the halter neck and replaced it with shoe string shoulder straps. My daughter didn’t want buttons so we replaced these with press studs……big mistake because the press studs didn’t cut the mustard….they just didn’t hold so I had to do an eleventh hour safety pinning job as she was walking out the door.
For the skirt I used version P which I lengthened by 8 inches but otherwise it was a perfect fit and smooth sailing.
The other big challenge was the fabric. The selection was based purely on colour. She just had to have that fabric because she loved the colour. Yes the colour is beautiful but this particular satin didn’t have the body to support the A line skirt. I wanted to work with something much heavier. But as we all know, when you have a vision, nothing else will do. It had to be this particular flimsy satin despite my misgivings. So I improvised and lined the shirt with a medium weight cotton that worked quite well. The skirt hung beautifully.
She had a lovely night was thrilled with the dress and I will be pleased to move onto the next project tomorrow……..after a long sleep in.
This is the silk formal gown that I made for my daughter.
It was a little bit of an eleventh hour job….only because I had to wait until she was home, so I could fit her. I knew what she wanted and I knew the colour so I was all ready.
I bought the silk from Studio Fabrics here in Sydney and I have included the link because this shop is a ‘must visit’. I hadn’t actually realised it was there but I’m so glad I found it because it is just beautiful. The fabrics were to die for and displayed so………..well, luxuriously. It was an indulgent way to spend the lunch hour….spend being the operative word!
But the most impressive thing about this shop was the service. Now, I went in looking for ‘navy’ that was almost black. That was my mandate. It had to be dark dark navy or if I couldn’t get that, charcoal. But when I showed the girls in the shop a picture of the dress, and told them my daughter’s age, they insisted that I go for a lighter shade of navy….this is what they’re doing in Europe they said. Well, I’m a ‘heart’ person. I never go with my head. I always know exactly what I want. So I had my doubts. I wanted dark navy. But the girls were emphatic. No, they said. Dark navy is so yesterday for a young person. It’s been done to death by mothers of the bride. Hmm. What to do. I always trust myself. But this wasn’t actually for me. So I did something very unusual. I trusted them.
And they were right!
The most challenging part of this dress was cutting it out.It was impossible to stabilise the silk sufficiently to cut around the cardboard pattern. A rotary cutter would have done the trick but alas…….no cutting board big enough. In the end I outlined the pattern in chalk and then cut it out….a much better idea.
But even drawing in chalk on the silk was challenging….it slipped all over the place and I did wonder how well I was actually following the grain.
But overall we were pleased with it. I’ve made the dress before but for this version, i replaced the spaghetti straps with a very fine satin covered cording. I used 8 meters in all so it could be wrapped around the waist and under the bust, to stabilise and embellish the dress. I made loops on the sides and waist through which the cording passed.
The ball was thoroughly enjoyable, I am told and the dress worked a treat!
If you are anything like me, the most important man (or woman) in your life is your hairdresser. I would walk over hot coals for my hairdresser because I am so dependent on him! He is better than any psychiatrist because he makes me happy! Not because of anything he says but when my hair is bad I’m bad. It’s that simple. And it’s not easy hair to do. It takes ages and ages and I’m not very adventurous ……..don’t get his creative juices flowing.
So when he told me he had this gorgeous Audrey Hepburn fabric that he’d bought to make a cushion, but he couldn’t sew, I was happy to oblige. These are the cushions……….
Don’t you think they’re lovely? I was so pleased with them. It is a very heavy furnishing fabric and I have backed them with an oatmeal linen. And my hairdresser loved them. And………….gave me the rest of the fabric so I will add some to my Etsy shop. I’m just hoping the rest of the staff don’t bring in their mending for me! Have you ever noticed that when people know you can sew they automatically assume you love sewing on buttons and hemming trousers? We had a formal function at work a couple of weeks ago and one of the girls had bought a beautiful silk gown that had a tie around the waist. The tie was too big for her middle (enviable problem!!!) so I offered to fix it for her because she couldn’t sew. Well, she and I were sitting in the lunch room at work, pinning the tie for me to fix and one of the men came in. He took one look at the pin cushion and exclaimed “oh you can sew? I’ve just paid to have my tux altered! I could have got you to do it and saved the money!” Seriously? And this guy was practically a total stranger!
On another theme, Summer in Sydney. Yes. It’s back. In all it’s stinking hot glory. I thought you might enjoy these shots of Coogee Beach. We had set off for a walk at 9am but had to turn back because it was just too hot. But the beach was beautiful.
Going off on a completely different tangent, there is a place in north west NSW, near Tamworth, called Nundle. It is a country town and I had recently read a success story about a couple who bought the Nundle Woollen Mill in 2007 and totally transformed the business in 2013. It has become something of an award winning tourist attraction. Anyway, I was googling it and came across the following “important life lessons to learn from knitting”. I hope you get a giggle out of them…..
Have a good weekend!
or so I am told. And after googling ‘festival’ gear, I get it.
But I don’t think cream satin is truly ‘festival’ per se. I am thinking a print with a festival feel would be more on target. Still, cream satin is lovely. This is a very quick make that’s ideal for a daughter’s ‘I’ve got nothing to wear tomorrow night ‘ melt down. The pattern is simply the top half of the formal dress pattern.
To convert to a top I simply added a band that ties at the back.
I also crossed the front slightly to make it less revealing and easier to wear. The satin was lovely to work with….a slight stretch. But in the cold light of day I realised that it has snagged in several places from my over zealous hand sewing while watching the semi final of the Great British Sewing Bee. I have also put the iron straight through the fabric in a section that will never be seen.
Is ‘festival’ a look known to you all in the Northern Hemisphere?
The graduation and formal finally arrived. And my daughter was thrilled with the dress so it made the effort so worth it. I was painfully slow with this dress – it wasn’t difficult- I was just slow and I think that was because I was scared she wouldn’t like it. And also, working with silk is tricky. Again, not difficult, just tricky because every pin mark leaves a permanent hole in the fabric! So there isn’t really any margin of error. The fit has to be perfect.
I was reluctant to make this dress because in her inimitable fashion, she couldn’t choose a pattern….she had a picture!!!! Now I’m good. But I need rules, instructions, directions, etc etc etc. I’m not very good at ad- libbing. But she was determined. She wanted this dress and so paid out of her own money to have a pattern drafted.
And it was without a doubt the best pattern I have ever worked with. It was fabulous! What a pleasure it was to cut out around a cardboard pattern piece. And the markings were brilliant. Of course I had made a toile first to make sure the fit was right, but ultimately, the dress went without a hitch. The silk sewed like a dream.
I should add……ALL French seams…….even on the lining!!!!!!!!!! (even impressed myself)
AND……a lovely date who’s photo I did not include, given that I hadn’t asked him first.
Last day of school