What we have here is the biggest project I’ve undertaken since that unending coat project (eh hem, spoiler: happily, it’s now ended).
A small confession that will be surprising to no readers of this blog: I’m a bit embarrassed by my fabric stash, and I wish it were smaller. When I first started sewing I would buy ALL THE THINGS I LOVED, especially if they were on sale. But I didn’t sew at the rate I bought (shockingly, it’s harder to make a garment than click ‘add to cart’), and so here we are in a house with precisely three closets, one of which is filled with my fabric + a vacuum cleaner. Coupled with the very healthy theme running through the sewing community right how about making this hobby more sustainable (see here, and here, to start), I was feeling a bit weighed down by my stash.
The thing is: this dress would not have happened if not for the stash. I loved this sequin tree-motif tambour mesh so much, and I’ve tried to picture as different garments since I bought it three years ago. What we have here is a dress I made for a black tie event for my husband’s job, and I love it. It’s also my entry for the True Bias and Closet Case Patterns Sew Frosting challenge, and I’m nominating it for the couture sewing category.
First, the fabric, since it’s really the star.
I procured this sequin beauty from Gorgeous Fabrics, allll the way back in 2015.
That’s before she closed up shop and then reopened, and before my husband and I bought a house, and before I gestated and then had a baby, and also before that baby took his first steps. Seriously all of those things have happened since I bought this fabric. Her description said it came from a famous house in the Rue de Chambord, which I think is a winking reference to Chanel, but I’ve looked through photos of all their couture and all their ready-to-wear shows for the five years leading up to my purchase date to try to get inspiration for using it and I never saw it. This wool satin suiting (which is amaaaazing) was also purchased there, ALSO in 2015. I thought I was going to make a lady tux immediately. I did not. (don’t worry, though because I bought FIVE YARDS at the time, so there’s still hope).
The entire dress is underlined in black silk organza, also purchased from Gorgeous Fabrics, but last year when she was closing and things were on sale. It’s fully lined in black silk charmeuse, but I consider that a workroom staple so buy it when I see it for a reasonable price and am not sure of its provenance.
Then, the pattern. Or, patterns. This is a bastard of Vogue 1546 and Butterick 5466 ).
First, the Vogue.
I really, really loved this top both on the model and in line drawing.
On short people, like myself, I maybe don’t love it quite as much. I’m missing approximately 20 feet of back length that the model has that really makes this top stand out.
But whatever. I made a few changes:
– Converted halter ties to a halter neck that clasps at the back. It’s curved, and I decided on the curve by getting out a piece of tinfoil, rolling it up into a thin, long moldable line, and shaping it from the shoulder seam of the front pattern piece in muslin around my neck, and to the center back. I then made it the width of the top of the front halter piece. Make sense?
– Reduced the length of the front bodice by 1” between the shoulder and bust point. When I muslined the dress, that’s where the length wanted to be folded out, and I’m noticing that I might be particularly short there.
– Raised the back piece by half an inch to accommodate a bra. Raised the center back a corresponding half inch because I’d already ordered a specially-cut 4″ zipper from Pacific Trimming.
– Pinched about half an inch in length out from the side back area where the bottom of the bodice meets the skirt. I’m not sure if it’s because that part is on the bias, or if it’s truly just too long for non-model-sized humans, but there was an annoying fold of fabric there that I didn’t quite eliminate. I noticed it on other people who have made the pattern as well, and I *think* I see it even on our Vogue model but could be kidding myself.
Next, the skirt.
As you might notice, this skirt bears almost no resemblance to B5466.
That’s a consequence of some style tampering and some problem solving.
First, I cut 5466 out and muslined it on its own. I made fit adjustments (sway back adjustment, smoothing out hip curve for my non-existent hips. Yes, even after child bearing.) And then I made a second, long muslin that I attached to the bodice. To mimic the low-back cut out from the original Vogue, I scooped out the top of the back skirt a bit.
Then I panicked for a little while about how I was going to sew darts over sequins. I read this Threads article, which wisely advises you to eliminate as many seams as possible. So I thought, and I thought, and then I just decided to close the darts. This you do by slashing the pattern piece from dart points all the way down to the bottom hem and taping the dart legs together. This happily gave me a much wider hem, which I needed anyway for mundane activities like walking.
This is getting long-winded and we haven’t even got to the couture sewing techniques, so imma make this a two-installment post. (thereby doubling my post count for the ENTIRE YEAR in one week. Thanks new parenthood).
this is fantastic and tres chic. worth all the struggles to have such a gorgeous dress.