Request Gown is Complete!

Well, peeps, I am really happy to write that the Request Gown is finished and happily delivered.  Oy!  What a learning and stretching process this was.  At many times during the last hours of work on it I thought, “If this was for me, I’d have wadded it a long time ago.”  But I couldn’t.  I had to figure it out, problem solve and make it work for this morning, when it was due!  Which is a good thing, because it pushed me outside my comfort zone and into areas that were really very s-c-c-a-a-r-r-y!  And I learned that I really love/hate the challenge of making something work.  Love it because it’s new and interesting; hate it because it makes me work and cry and realize the craters in the surface of my sewing skills.  DSCN0568

The dress is actually a lot darker than the photo – a French navy – which is so close to black that it photographed like black:  impossibly.  The fabric is a heavy poly crepe, but one of those super nice ones with excellent weight and drape. The front and back are mirror versions:  draped with pleating pulled into a circular inset at the left waist and draped/pleated fabric on the right shoulder.  It has a side zip on the right side which was simple to insert as the seam is a plain seam.  (whew!) DSCN0571There is also a thigh-high slit over the front of the left leg, and this is where my grief began.  I needed to have 7 button/loops at the top, and didn’t want a seam running down the side of the skirt from the bottom of the inset only.  It would have been ideal to do it like that and later on when the hemline went all AWOL because of the drape/grainline I really wished I’d cut it as two pieces.  But I decided to treat it as an extra-long welt with the loops at the top.  Here’s my process, for those who are interested, beginning with the marking of the slit line.slit bastingI stitched with a 1.2 stitch length, 1/8″ on either side of the markings, up the side that would hold the button loops until about 2.5″ from the top of the slit. facing slit

Basted my bias loops together into one piece.  I like working with little fiddly loops, by the way. The first time I ever did a dress with loops I was about 14, and I was hooked.  Smile

button loops

Pin basted them into place.

basted loops

Lay the facing over the loops, stitched up to the top of the slit.

slit reinforcingI opened up the facing to see all the little tail ends of the loops, and trimmed them to less than 1/8″ because I needed to stitch down the other side of the welt and didn’t want the ends to be caught in the seam.loop ends

This is what they look like from the right side.


Once the other side of the welt was stitched – again 1/8″ away from the marking – I slashed the welt open very very carefully.


And understitched both sides.


Finished.  slit weltJust a note:  after the penultimate fitting, it was decided the slit needed to be 1 inch higher, so I had to unpick and redo the top of the welt/slit with the loops.  Needless to say, the second go at the loops was perfection.  The little piece of beige by the top button in the pic is the dress form.slit

The slit made hemming a bit of challenge.  After weeping and wailing in frustration because it just WOULD NOT hang straight, a lot of finicky eye-balling and learning a lot about the combined effects of grain/drape/fabric weight, I managed to get it perfect.  It’s not hanging properly on Vintage because she leans forward (!?). 

The sleeves are split and closed with self-covered buttons and bias loop closures.  They looked like this prior to being set.completely sleeveThis is what they looked like once they were in.  On a person, they fall apart and are held together at the centre by the button/loops.  Vintage just doesn’t handle modeling very well. *sigh*  But I’m sure you get the point.gown back

The dress turned out beautifully, despite my wanting to take scissors to it at numerous stages.  As I made very clear before I took any of these Request Garments on, I am a far cry from a professional dressmaker, but I’m pleased with the dress, and so is the Requestor.  Learning like this is hard slogging!

Still drowning

I’d like to apologize in advance for making any readers who are strong swimmers cringe.  I’m desperately wishing I’d had swimming lessons at this point.IMG_4064

This is muslin number 3 for the Request Gown.  I cannot thank those of you who left comments on my last drowning post regarding this horrendous challenging project enough.  You were all very encouraging to one learning to swim, and I’m grateful.  I have never in my life had to create such an incredibly customized Franken pattern.  You may recall in my first muslin we were considering very full gathered sleeves, but, in all honesty – and maybe it’s the old sheets – everything looked like Little House on the Prairie or one of those long-sleeved flannel nighties I used to wear as a small child.  So the consensus was long tapered sleeves.  Split down the centre.  With loop/button closure every 6 inches or so.sideI did do the circle and draping in a mirror front and back, and we decided we’d see if a zipper on the right side of the dress where there’s no detailing would be better.  Certainly it is from an insertion point of view – less mess and patience required to match things up perfectly while inserting an invisible zipper (which is always a bit of challenge for me anyways).  Here’s the back view, and you can see that I still need to add more width through the shoulders.  I decided to leave everything above the waist on the bias as much as possible.  I dunno….  I don’t know enough about draping/drafting to make an informed decision on that one, but I think leaving it on the bias will give it a more fluid look.back The bodice is on the straight grain in the picture below, but will be on the bias, too, since more draping is required across the bust.  I just don’t know how the heck I’m going to get all the draping into the desired 1-inch wide shoulder seam.  This dress is pushing my comfort zone.  I have realized that I’m operating in an information void, which is frustrating me.  If I knew what I was doing, or what I needed to do, it would problem-solve much faster and easier.  And the front slit will still be as muslined with 5 buttons with loop closures at the top.  I guess it will have to be faced so I have a seam in which to sew the loops.front

I am in over my head

I’m doing some sewing on request, and one of the garments is a full-length gown.  Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it?  But the details are causing me grief!  I am not a pattern maker!  I don’t know anything about where to even begin drafting something.  You’ve all seen how I graft pieces from one pattern onto another to get something totally different (or a mish-mash) before, but this dress is really making me think.  I mean pulling-my-hair-out think.boatneck

Let’s start with the simple stuff (for me).  First, a boat neck.  I eyeballed this one and just cut what I think is going to be a decent neckline and then trued it up.  I’ve basted along the stitching line in the pic above.  Second, the cuffs need to be close-fitting and 5 inches deep with a loop & button closure.  Ok.  I stole the cuff from Burda 12-2010-111, since I am incapable of drafting one from scratch.  It’s going to work perfectly once I get the cuffs on the right way.  *eye roll*  And I just slashed and spread and shortened the sleeve on Vogue 7762 (below) to get the gathered cap and extra fullness to gather into the cuff.Burda 12-2010-111

I must confess for the dress itself I was stumped.  Where to begin?  I don’t know how to add pleats! Vogue 7762 max maraAnd a circular insert at the waist! HELP!  After agonizing over where to start I found this little image via the wonderful world of Google images (what the heck would we do without Google?  How did we survive before?)  I mulled it over for about 13 hours and decided I’d freehand draft the insert and then lay it over the front of Vogue 7762 and see what happened.  I’ve only done the front with the insert and draping (below), although I may add it to the back as well, like the Max Mara dress on the left.  My little idea turned out OK, I think.  Laying the insert pattern over the pleats eliminated a lot of the draping in the Vogue design, so I may slash the muslin and add more, but I’ll see what’s wanted after the first fitting next week.  As it stands, the back is a simple sheath with two shaping darts and a CB zipper.  It may look nicer with the draping and insert continuing around to the back, but that means the zip will go through the insert. Hmmm…

waist insert

So far, I’m feeling pretty good relieved about my attempts to pull this out of (almost) nowhere.  The last part that I’m still thinking about is the thigh-high slit. At this point I’ve just drawn a  potential seam line that will extend into the slit, although I’m not sure it will look so good with all the other design stuff happening.  I don’t really want to put the slit on the other side of the dress because the best way I can think of to face it properly is to have it extend out of a seam, and I don’t want a princess seam up the left side of the dress.  The fashion fabric is a gorgeous drapey mid-weight poly crepe in dark navy, and I don’t think I should just do a slash-and-face-it sort of idea along the lines of a faced placket.  The top of the slit is going to take a lot of stress and I’d hate for it to rip. gown muslin

So, the first muslin of this gown is done, and it fits ol’ Judy horribly.  But it just might work….