I’ve been busy over the last week or so trying to make an evening dress for a ball next Saturday, it’s caused me a few headaches!!…
Having gone shopping with one pattern in mind I came back with another, Butterick 6414, I’m doing view B, the full length, sleeveless version. I thought it looked pretty elegant but also easy to wear! I also remember in time that I had two lengths of fabric in my stash which would be perfect for it, I bought it when I went down to Sew Brum last November, my daughter is at uni in Birmingham so it was a good excuse for a get-together. When you go fabric shopping with a 20 year old you get persuaded to buy things you wouldn’t usually even glance at…me, sequins!!…I ended up with burgandy sequins and a co-ordinating taffeta in my bag, supposedly for a dress for Christmas…
…and six months later it was still in my stash waiting for it’s moment. This was the moment! I decided to make the dress in taffeta and the mock bolero in sequins.
I’ve not sewn sequins before, I used weights to hold the pattern pieces down for cutting out. I’ve not tried them before but it worked pretty well. As my daughter advised me though, the sequins get everywhere!! I cut out a size 12 on top and a 14 for my waist and bottom, which with recent patterns has worked well.
I decided to make a couple of alterations to the dress, the main one being to line it. The pattern has the raw edges between the sequins and the main dress, taffeta frays like anything so I decided to cut a second bodice and line it in the usual way instead. That bit worked pretty well. I pinned and then tacked the sequinned bolero to the bodice first and then machine stitched the lining on. I’ve still not decided if I’m meant to press sequins or not, so the seams are just finger pressed at the moment. I understitched the bodice as far as I could so the sequined top hangs nicely. I hand-stitched the hem on the sequins.
Then I made the skirt…it was a bit snug! Unfortunately the taffeta just seemed to accentuate my belly and my bum! I decided that some of the problem was static in the taffeta, it was clinging to every bump instead of hanging. I was not a very happy bunny when I went to bed that night, but I decided to sleep on it rather than do anything rash!
With my mind a bit fresher in the morning I made a skirt lining, which did help a bit, I then unpicked the centre back seam and stitched it again with only a 3/8th seam, gaining me 1/2″. It looked a bit better but still not enough.
I took the dress with me into Leeds with the idea that I would try on some slim-fast underwear, if that didn’t work then I would look at some different, more drapy skirt fabric. I’ve not tried ‘shapewear’ before…I didn’t realise there were so many different styles! In the end I found a body which was comfortable, smoothed things out and basically just made it easier for me to hold things in!
Now I’m happier with the dress I’m cracking on with it, I’ve hand-stitched the bodice lining down, hand-stitched the zip in. I’ve still to hem the dress and finish the split up the back. Years ago when I made ball gowns for my friends I found it easier to just do a machine narrow hem with taffeta, as whatever you do you can see it anyway, so I’ll probably do that.
I’m a little bit concerned about the centre back seam, if it frays will it get too weak! At the moment I’m thinking of whip stitching over the raw edge by hand. I’m also planning to put a line of sequins down the centre back, one disadvantage of taffeta is that if you move a seam, you can’t get rid of the original marks, so I’m going to make a feature of the original back seam with a couple of rows of sequins down each side!
One other alteration I may do is that I feel at the moment the sequinned bolero is just a bit too short, it sits just above my belly which seems to accentuate it. I know I should be proud of my mummy tummy, but at times like this I just wish it was a bit flatter!! I’m thinking of adding two or three inches to the length, I think I’ve worked out a way of the join not showing. I might pin it on and see how it affects the overall look. Of course Florence, my muse, looks perfectly slim in it, but then she hasn’t had two children and inherited the English pear shape 🙂
I need to finish the dress in the next couple of days as the ball is next Saturday and I’m away for three days next week on an embroidery retreat (exciting!).