Friday, 4 October 2013

The Garden Party Dress

The warm, golden sunlight in these pictures will probably alert you to the fact that these pictures were taken months ago. Oh well, best get blogging about this dress before winter finally gets here!

The impetus for this dress came about when an acquaintance handed me the invite to her wedding. Dress code - 'formal'...which always brings to my mind some sort of Disney princess dress (like this) - you know, floofy skirt, lots of sequins and tulle, the works. The type of dress that I would wear to a Manowar show, but felt a bit uncomfortable wearing to a mid-summer, outdoor wedding reception. Thus began the hunt for a 'grown-up' dress pattern. 
A quick online search lead me to Butterick B5281, a reissue of a 1946 pattern. Those illustrated babes looked so elegant and sassy, so a few clicks later and I was on my way to replicating that sassy elegance. Unfortunately, elegance is a foreign country to me, as evidenced by the above photo of me hanging on to 2 wine glasses. Oh well, I'll go for sassy then.

On to the technical bits. For the bodice, I decided to trace a size 10 at the bust, graduating up to a size 12 at the waist seam and skirt. The other change I made to it was to hack about 5 inches off the skirt, because I have short stumpy legs. Since it was rather more complicated than my usual patterns, I decided to make a toile first, in the same fabric that would later be used for the lining (a pink polycotton sheet for the bodice, and a navy blue acetate for the skirt, both from the opshop). The dress fabric was two metres of slightly sheer ikat-looking fabric that I purchased last year at the Wimbledon car boot sale. It's most likely a wool/polyester mix - it has no label, but I have a skirt that feels exactly the same, and is about 70% wool/30% polyester.

Constructing the dress was suprisingly easy, although the shoulder-flap bit on the left threw me a little.The trickiest part was probably inserting the side zipper - my first! I took my time and yelled a few unnecessary words, but managed to fit it in without too many wrinkles. It's a lapped zipper, which I thought fitted the whole vintage pattern thing a lot better than an invisible zipper.

Although it wasn't too difficult to sew up, it did take a lot of time much so that I was sat at my machine at 10.30pm the night before the wedding, trying to finish fit the lining in. I cheated in the end, and set in the sleeve lining with big rough basting stitches. The skirt was roughly turned up and sewed with big machine basting stitches. No-one else could see it, and I've since managed to clean it all up. 

Dress - selfmade, necklace - vintage, brooch - vintage, tights - Sainsburys, shoes - from Hong Kong