Saturday, 18 November 2017

Busy busy busy!

My sister got married at the weekend so there has been a LOT of planning and, for me, a lot of sewing.  Of course.  I wouldn't have missed an opportunity like that!

There was the hen party - I can recommend Bratislava, it's a great mix of Austro-Hungarian empire and Communist brutalism.  I had a lot of fun making little Japanese knot bags and scrabble-tile necklaces for the hens.

The bags were all reversible - unfortunately I didn't re-arrange them in the same order so I can't actually tell you what the fabric pairs are!

Next up was an alteration to the wedding dress - the actual wedding dress.  We are a fortunate bunch with blessings in the ample frontage department! So although it is my sister's size it was a bit unbalanced in the bodice for bust reasons.  My solution was to put in a laced back - and I can wholly recommend Bridal Covered Buttons, their kit was perfect.  They're made to order and are super quality with really good instructions. I had a complete fluke on choosing the right colour match for the kit, which was a relief, and didn't bother with the modesty panel as the closure gap was close enough to not need it once it was properly done up.

It went from this:
To this:

For the daytime I made myself a circle skirt out of blue micro-fibre silk - it's not real silk but it has lovely drape though it is super-slippery to sew.  I originally planned to make Vogue V8980 which is lovely, but the practice piece I made was utterly wrong on me - the pleating made it very bunchy at the front and I've got enough going on up front thankyouverymuch. So I ditched it and decided to go for a simple circle instead.  The hem ended up a little uneven because it's so slippery, but I've added some horsehair braid to give it a bit of flip and I think it did nicely - and who was looking at me anyway?!  All attention should be on the beautiful woman in the white frock!

The wedding included an evening masked ball.  So, OF COURSE, I decided to make a ball gown.  I naturally set myself something of a challenge, and wanted to make something close to Vintage Vogue 4042.  A pattern from 1950, with a gorgeous collar.  I could do the bodice and skirt easily, but the collar - how on earth to get that beautiful shape?  Look at it, isn't it BEAUTIFUL!  I spent a lot of time googling Every. Single. Variation of collar design I could think of with absolutely no solution.  I knew I had to track down a copy of the pattern to get the shape of the collar pieces, and for a vintage pattern that is 67 years old I had limited hope of any success.

After weeks, literally, of stalking eBay I struck lucky when someone listed the pattern for £4.50 - a STEAL, considering it's on Etsy for something like $90 *shocked face*.  It wasn't my size, or anywhere near it, but at least I had it.

So, I bought 5m of a gorgeous dark gold slub silk - I think it's called dupion these days - and got busy.

The silk cuts like butter and sews like a dream, it's not at all slippery because of the slubs, and it's really easy to handle - and trust me, I've wrangled 4.5m in this so I know what I'm talking about!

Changes I made to the pattern:

  • I used my own bodice block with a v-neck rather than the wide bardo-ish style neck of the pattern.
  • Added elbow length sleeves
  • Drafted a turn-back cuff - using the method in this blog by sew2pro - slightly inspired by the cuffs on Modes Royale 959, another early 1950s pattern
  • Used shoulder princess seams rather than the armscye ones in the original

So.  That collar.  Interesting shape, no idea at first how to make it look like the one on the pattern picture. Or how to redraft it.

Most fortunately, in general the shoulder to centre-front distance seems to be the same despite me being a lot of sizes bigger than the pattern.  I made a mock-up and laid it against the neckline and it matched up very neatly.  The pieces themselves go together in a most peculiar way, I practised and got it wrong a few ties before I understood how it worked, and once I did it was a thing of absolute beauty.

The fabric, while gorgeous, has got quite a tendency to fray so I have used French seams on most of it apart from the princess seams in the bodice.  I'll probably need to keep an eye on them for fray, but it should be ok.

I'm still in shock that I've actually made a ball gown.  I suppose a dress is a dress is a dress, but perceptually a silk ball gown seems so much more advanced than a little cotton summer frock - is it?

I wore it with some AWESOME Irregular Choice shoes, a beaded waspie corset and some elbow length gloves. I'm not wearing a hat, it's my mask pushed back on my head!

Apart from all that I also made about 60m of bunting, and the wedding cake, and a bit of mini-bunting for the top of the cake!

It was a wonderful wonderful weekend, worth every stitch!


  1. Gorgeous dress- and so clever of you! Glad all went well :)

    1. Thanks M! It was an absurd amount of work but worth it, we had such a great time that everyone's thinking of doing it all again next year - minus the wedding bits!

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