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A very special party dress

I was calling this "The Dress" but then I realized that I called the party dress I made last year "The Dress" as well so that won't do. I haven't thought of a name yet, but I can tell you that this dress took a  loooong time to make.

Obligatory Auto Awesome:

Looking at these pictures I'm not quite sure I'm that happy with this dress (boo!).

Fabric is Liberty Silk Crepe (I didn't know this existed!!) from Truro fabrics - they don't have this exact fabric in stock anymore, but they have some other options - see here. The dress is my own pattern, and it took just under 3 meters of fabric.

The top is made from my sloper - the back is a normal one, I just made a V-neck out of it, the front I made one-shouldered and then added a gathered strap. The back can be lower, but I'm happy with how it turned out nonetheless.

This is full of couture techniques (and some non-couture ones too!). I underlined with silk organza - the delicious Italian one that MacCulloch and Wallis stocks (here). I added a China silk lining to the bodice, which I stitched and understitched by hand.

I watched-and-rewatched-and-rewatched the Susan Khaljie Craftsy class for this make - it's a great class. Truth be told, by the time I decided what I wanted, her new cocktail dress class would have been perfect (including perfect pattern), but the pattern wouldn't have arrived on time, so I skipped it for now.

I have to give a shout out to the China silk supplier I found in Zurich  - it is the best quality habotai I have EVER seen. The shop is called Keck (link), and the stuff is pretty very stupidly steep at 35 francs/meter, but I swear it is worth it for those special makes! It's not the flimsy stuff that I was used to with China silk -  it's the real deal, I didn't even know you could buy such good quality habotai.  By the way, the term for China silk here is "Seidefutter" - Futter meaning lining, and Seide means silk - obviously, the only possible silk item to be used for lining out there! Much like Romania, silk materials are just "seide", rather than "seide something" like charmeuse or whatever. A bit annoying, but you get used to it.

I also found, in the same shop, an interesting Gutterman silk thread - not the shiny-made-of-multiple-strands kind I used to find in the UK, but one that seems to be made of one strand of silk, and glides beautifully. I stocked up several spools because it's perfect for tailor tacks and basting, and will probably go back often for more. It's also pretty cheap at around 3 francs / spool.

But I digress. The skirt is cut on the bias, and I used the Vogue 1351 skirt pattern as a starting point. I wanted a high-low hem, so a lining wouldn't have worked - instead I underlined in the same China silk that I used to line the bodice. I didn't use silk organza to underline the skirt because I wanted to dress to keep flowing, and organza would have made it too stiff. I finished with a hand rolled hem, as per instructions in Susan Khaljie's Couture Sewing Techniques , which is a wonderful book, well worth reading.

I also added a bit of interest to the low part of the skirt:

I'm not sure it's very visible in these photos, but the hem in front has a pleated overlay that adds a bit of visual interest. I achieved this by cutting the front, then making the overlay and attaching it by hand. This is what it looks like from the wrong side:

The pleat detail is mirrored in the belt, which is wide and made of 3 identical pleats:

The belt has in a fake bow at the back, and it closes with snaps:

The dress closes with a side zipper, and has, on the opposite side, some boning to mirror the draping that results from the zipper. It's not metal boning (it would have been too stiff!), but some very flexible plastic one - the type you would never use in a corset or bustier. The boning is attached to the lining rather than the dress - I'm not sure that's the right way, but it does what it's intended to:

I also added bra holders, in three places. A bit of advice: for the shoulder seam, the holder needs to be on the side close to the neckline - the one I made first is on the side close to the shoulder joint and doesn't work.

I think I need to work on my fell stitch, and also need to be more careful with the lining - the inside doesn't look as nice as it could have!

I did get my grandma's seal of approval though :)

I'm ending this with a few full shots of the dress on the dummy:


Back - in this picture the bias draping doesn't look right, as if I messed up the grain - any ideas?

Front - the hem is even, but the dress was tilted in this photo

PS I just went back through my posts last year and realized I never posted about last year's party dress! Here's a picture - some silk my mom brought back from Thailand, made from the Laurel pattern for friends' wedding:


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