Monday, December 15, 2014

New Sewing Project

The pink grapefruit dress has served me well since May, but the time has come to switch to a new dress.  My body shape has changed over the past year as I continue to exercise and dance, and the pink grapefruit dress is now a bit loose through the bodice and too long.  So an order was made to Chrisanne, and this lovely box arrived on my doorstep.

The plan looks like this:

My artwork is not the greatest, but I am thrilled about this dress.  I am basing it heavily on a dress by Chrisanne that I was able to examine at Blackpool, and I love that it looks more like an evening gown than a fairy-tale-esque princess dress.  It also is has much more decoration than any dress I've made before, including several appliques sewn to the bodice and streamers of fabric sewn to the skirt.  This dress project therefore will have four major phases.

1. Testing the pattern: making and adjusting test bodices to ensure proper fit.
2. Assembling the bodice: cutting the pieces, sewing the bodice and leotard together, adding the zipper, and attaching straps.
3. Assembling the skirt: cutting the pieces, building a two-layer underskirt, edging the underskirt with crinoline, inserting godets for the skirt itself, edging the godets.
4. Decorating the dress: making and sewing on appliques, making and attaching the streamers, stoning the dress, making the floats, and making a pair of earrings. 

 This was the status at about November 20.  It's a lot of work, but let's not waste time worrying about how much time is not available before the last competition of the year.  Onward to the testing!

I buy my sewing patterns online, so the first step is taping the pages together for the pattern pieces I need.  This is also when I can find the final measurements of the pattern itself, which is what I use to determine what size to cut out.  The goal is to produce a dress with zero to slightly negative ease, so I pretty much ignore the measurements on the back of the pattern envelope.

Then I trace the pattern pieces I need in the sizes I want; here I've traced the bodice pieces down to the high hip, since I am mostly concerned with having a snug fit around the bust.  I also add cutting lines to separate the top part of the bodice from the lower part, since the final dress will have that feature to include gathering over the bust.

Then I cut out all eight pieces . . .

The yellow fabric I'm using here is a jersey knit that I once accidentally brought about seven yards too many of, and so I now use up the excess for testing.  This isn't ideal, as it doesn't have quite the stretch properties of lycra, but it will let me see if things are gapingly too big or too short, which are the goals here.

Pieces are cut and sewn to produce this.

Clearly there is a problem with the sizing, as this bodice is far too big.  This is exactly why I made a test bodice; every dress pattern I've tried to adapt for a dance costume has been huge around the chest despite using the size the pattern claimed would end up my bust measurement.  So I figure out how much to adjust down the sizing, trace more papers, cut more yellow pieces, sew them together, and get this:

Ah, much better.  It is maybe still a touch too loose around the chest, but further adjustments can be made in sewing the real bodice.  At this point, I trace the pattern pieces for the actual bodice and leotard.  I then needed to stop and get my apartment cleaned up.

I had gone through a lot of tissue paper at that point.

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