Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Dream Dress is complete!

I am so sorry I did not update earlier. I have been getting threats of "Don't make me come down there!" if I don't get these uploaded soon. I have a gazillion photos to share! I pretty much ate, slept and breathed teal taffeta all week.

Oh, and to answer a few questions, yes, I do sew professionally. I did, however, tell my clients that I was not doing any jobs this week so I could fully devote my time to India's dress.

I have an Etsy shop that I will be stocking soon as well. Then I will add a link to this blog. I do take custom orders though.

And, yes, I do sew bridal gowns. I should find some old photos of some I made and upload them. I know I at least have my own pics of my wedding gown, but they are not digital. So I will scan them and show at some point.

Ok, back to construction and engineering....

The skirt was rebuilt twice. The petticoat was an experiment and was redone as well. I am not thrilled how the wrap turned out. But India loves the dress. It is what SHE dreamed of. And she had a beautiful, wonderful, glorious prom night.

Since I was "making this up out of whole cloth" to use one of the H.R.H.'s favorite expressions, I had to take a lot of thinking time between some of the steps. Several people asked how I was going to attach the skirt and how I was going to work the closure of the dress. Both of these were challenges. I decided to add a panel behind the lacing, and stitch it permanently to the inside of the dress. This way, the waistline was continued so that the skirt could be attached.

I then followed the line of the waist to the point, and cut the excess off.
When sewing the skirt, I had to allow for the fact that the waist was higher and curved in the front, above the natural waist, then curving downward to a point at the center back, below the waist. So I actually cut the front longer, traced the curve of the skirt, and gathered it and attached it. Then I cut the back, seperately. I decided the best way to get India into the dress, would be an invisible zipper hidden in one of the back pleats. Oh, I used a really neat white pen to trace directly onto the fabric. I love this little fabric pen. It washes out, but I just used a damp cloth and it did the trick.

Big admission here! Ok, deep breath....and in the interest of honesty....
I was terrified of putting in an invisible zipper. Yeah, I know. Many people put them in every day with no stress or terror, but not me. So I talked to one of my favorite girls down at Fabrics on Mill Street (link is on the side bar, since I can't get the link to work in the post), Taylor, and she told me that I could do it. Ok, I did it. And surprise, surprise, it was Eazy Peazy!

I then traced the shape of the bodice onto the back skirt piece and started pleating by hand.

I stitched each side down, and the gathered the rest.

Originally, I had envisioned the skirt as more of an a-line with pleats. However, India's vision was of a very full, twirly skirt. That is not how she drew the design, but that is what she told me. So, I made it fuller and gathered.

Yeah, I wanted it my way, but it is HER Dream Dress, not mine. I already got to make my prom dresses, back in the 80s. So, good mama that I am, I made it her way.
The zipper hid nicely in the pleat, and the back closed up magically!

I then sewed up the side seams of the skirt, after the skirt front and skirt back were attached. This is kind of backwards, but had to be done because of the shape of the back. I am not a fan of serging, though I own two sergers. I will generally do any kind of seam finish other that serging if I can. I chose to just press under each raw edge and finish with a small hem.

After finishing the skirt, I had to figure how to make an attached petticoat without adding bulk around the waist area. This was important because India is sway-backed, and I wanted the back to lay as flat as possible. My mom had given me a flesh colored half slip that I decided to cut apart and use as the base or the petticoat. The tricot knit was kind of a pain to sew on, but then I remembered to change my machine needle to a knit ball point needle. It went much better after that! I measured off the tulle to the length I wanted and started gathering.

27 yards of gathering later, and more than a few mutterings of "this girl better appreciate this!" I finally stitched the tulle into place on the tricot. I then, laid the whole fluffy mess on the cutting board and drew out the shape of the waistline. I had heard of a cool tool that I had been wanting. I finally found it, again, at Fabrics on Mill Street. It is a tape measure that has wire in it so you can bend it and it holds the shape.

Neato! And it worked great! I cut it out, and stitched it to the waist band, only gathering slightly.
However, the late hour, and the lack of sleep were not a good combination. I ended up sewing the gathered tulle to the INSIDE of the slip, not the outside! So the itchy tulle was up against the skin. India very sweetly asked me to fix it. I thought of a few choice words in my head, but they stayed there, instead of coming out of my mouth. It was my mistake, not hers. Thankfully, I had not stitched the lining down at the waist yet. I am notorious for my use of a seam ripper, and had just broken another one earlier in the week. So, I sprung for a tougher model and was able to use it quite a bit on this project.

After this was ripped out, and restitched in the right direction, I had just finish work on the dress.

Oh, and I should point out that it was now 3:30pm on Saturday. India's boyfriend, date, and Prince Charming, Kevin, was due to arrive at 5:30. No problem....plenty of time...right?
I attached a hook and eye at the top of the zipper at the "V" and one at the top of the lacing panel. I added the rhinestones in the sweetheart neckline in front.

And now, another admission....... Yeah, this is a tough one for me. Ok, I know...I know. I SHOULD have done a beautiful, deep, handsewn hem on this dress which has so much of my blood, sweat, and tears. But I also know my daughter. She is a wild, energetic and not completely graceful dancer! Yeah, she takes after her mama! So in the interest of safety, and my hope of not having to replace the hem any time soon, I cut the dress off and did a machine rolled hem. Yeah, cheating, I know. But it is done and very danceable, as in hopefully as "trip proof" as I could get it.

After all this, I quickly, as in it was 5:05pm at this point, laid out the matching teal minkee fabric and cut a rectangle of teal taffeta and sewed up a very simple wrap to cover her shoulders. I LOVE minkee. Really. But that stuff, on taffeta, is a bad combo. It slid all over the place, grew, stretched out, and was generally nasty. I got it done, but let's just say that when the dress gets entered in to the fair, the wrap will not be going with it. It looks like I sewed it in my sleep, or while driving down the freeway.

So, here are a few pics of the almost finished dress.

These do not show the rhinestones, but you get the idea. I will upload the actual modeled pics in a bit.
Here are some of the new, fun, notions I talked about.

I am going to take a short break and then upload the pics of India in the dress, and her cute date picking her up.

Whew...that was long. If you stuck with it, leave me a comment and let me know what you think. Thank you so much.



Barbara said...

Great job on the 'dream dress.' I know India was gorgeous. Your recount of the construction was great. Thanks for taking me on the journey! I cannot wait to see the dress on India!

Mathematical Mama said...

BEAUTIFUL!!! You are very talented! I can't wait to see the pictures of India with the dress on. I bet she looks stunning :-)

April said...

It's stunning, Sivje. I will be calling YOUUUU when I get asked to do the same thing someday! I'll need moral support!

julie said...

Wow ! I'm sooo impressed.

Can't wait to see Indi's pictures :)

Mummy_chelle said...

Absolutely fabulous! And I wanted teal when I went to my prom but it was horribly out of fashion - burgundy was 'in'. So that's what I got LOL!

SewPaula said...

Beautiful dress and cute couple! You did a wonderful job! I love the lace-up back and the full skirt -- reminds me of the hoop-skirted dresses of my own high school years.

What a great mom you are! She will never forget how you really listened to her to create the dress of her dreams.

Anonymous said...

Don't shoot me, but after consulting my husband neither of us found this to be a modest dress. I know that girls today wear much more immodest things but we can't let today's clothes be our standard; we need to let modesty stand on its own. There dress was beautifully sewn but most of the back is gone, there is no sleeve and she is showing a bunch of chest and cleavage. I would love for someone to tell me how this is modest. I just don't think that little girls, and they still are little girls, can walk around in something that men can look down. We also need to consider that these young guys are themselves trying to fight temptations and we need, as women, to do what we can to help them. Other than that, your daughter is a beautiful girl!