For the past few weeks I have been immersed (well, in any free time I’ve been able to find) in following Susan Khalje’s The Couture Dress class on Craftsy and making Vogue 8648.
I’ve added pressure on myself by also joining the “Little White Dress” contest on PatternReview.com – so I have just about 2 weeks left to get this baby done. Here’s the process and what I’ve done so far:
The first step was cutting out the muslin, but doing so without regard to the seam allowance lines on the pattern and instead leaving a good 1-2″ beyond that. Next was tracing the actual pattern to the muslin using the stitching lines, not the cutting lines.
With this process, the pattern seam allowances don’t matter any more. What you focus on is the stitching line and then, when the time comes, adjust from there. As many others who have taken this class have noted, it’s quite a paradigm shift – and it’s actually quite freeing.
Before I traced my pattern pieces, for the first time ever, I tried a FBA – what a difference! I was able to cut a 14 bodice with a FBA that fits really well vs. a 16 bodice and no FBA. Once the pieces were traced to the muslin, I machine sewed over the lines to make the sewing lines distinct. I could have been a bit more precise in this process, but doing so many pieces, I got a bit restless and did not do this perfectly on every one. I realize now that really is a detail to pay attention to. Next time, more precision!Once the muslin stitching lines were marked (along with all the other marks that were transferred), the muslin was hand basted together for fit. I could tell right off that the bodice needed to be lengthened by about 1″ (an adjustment I usually make on all patterns, but didn’t do upfront on this one).
I needed to enlist some help to see how this would actually look on me. A bit of a challenge, as I only had my husband and daughter and neither were interested, but I was finally able to persuade my husband to pin up the back. That was entertaining – as I instructed him how to pin, he kept telling me “my fingers don’t move that way!” so I told him “just pretend it’s an engineering project and you’ve got to close up an opening.” Careful what you ask for. What was I supposed to get from this? Well, I figured “good enough.” While I couldn’t tell which issues were from his pinning and which were from fit, I figured any fitting adjustments that would be needed wouldn’t be radical and I’d have enough ease in my fashion fabric pieces that I could manage them. I moved on.
Next step was cutting out the silk organza underlining pieces (also with very generous allowances around the stitching lines) and tracing the lines and markings from the muslin. The silk organza pieces were then pinned to the fashion fabric, cut out and then hand basted together on the stitching line.
As explained here, I had to go back to the store to buy silk organza and find some silk lining fabric. I couldn’t find the right color silk for lining so I decided to change my fashion fabric. The ivory tropical wool I had planned to use is beautiful, but it’s also quite plain and I think with the style of this dress, in white, a fabric with some texture would be more interesting.
I looked through about everything in the store and settled on a Ralph Lauren Silk/Linen blend that was actually from the upholstery section.It has an interesting texture so I changed my plan and am using it instead. Then, as I was laying out my fabric, with careful attention to the grain lines, I realized I didn’t have enough silk organza for the sleeves (and I didn’t want to cut up my press cloth), so I’m now making View A, the sleeveless version (more incentive to keep going to the gym – gotta get those arms in shape!).After the fashion fabric and underlining pieces were basted together, I hand basted the entire garment together.
Now, that took some time, but was not a horrible process. I started watching Scandal on Netflix, so that kept me entertained.
Next came the fashion fabric fitting. I’ve just had my 2nd fitting – thanks to my friend Ruthe who I met through ASG (and turns out to live barely 2 minutes away from me!) She’s kindly helping me with my fitting. After the first one I had to make a couple of adjustments in the back – both the bodice and the skirt. Ruth marked those for me and I re-sewed according to the new marks. Apparently I scored on the bodice, but my alterations on the skirt were a bit off so I need to take in part and let part out.
This weekend I need to get those alterations finished so I can move on. I’m feeling the pressure as the contest ends in a mere 2 weeks and there is A LOT left to this process. I need to sew my final seams on the machine, do the lining and all the finishing. I’m afraid the devil is in the details on this one so it may be more time-consuming than expected.
So, that’s it for my progress report. Much more to do and I’m eager to get this done. Besides deadlines to meet, I’d like to move on to some other projects. But more on that later.
Meanwhile, Happy Sewing!