Usually I tend to sew garments that I know will get a lot of wear, things that can be part of my everyday wardrobe. But when my friend Sarah told me she was having a MadMen-themed cocktail party for her b-day, it was just the perfect excuse to sew up a party dress, even though I knew it would end up in the back of the closet for a while once the party was had...
Pattern is dress 107 from an old Burda issue (November 2007, one of the first issues I ever purchased). I love that it has a retro 50's vibe while still being quite modern.
Although pretty simple in shape, the bodice has interesting lines, thanks to a center front seam and bust darts originating from the center seam as opposed to the side seams. It creates a "cross" effect that I haven't seen often.
The skirt has wide inverted pleats and hidden pockets in the side seams. I love that the center pleat in the front, as well as the two in the back, match up with the CF and back darts seamlines of the bodice. I'm especially proud that I managed to match up those seams perfectly on my first go. I know if I hadn't, I'd have to unstitch and do it again, perfectionism and all...
I made a muslin for the bodice. My long fitting process of trials and errors with this dress proved again very useful, as I already had a pretty good idea of what adjustments were going to be needed:
-Lengthen the bodice about 3cm
-Added shoulder darts to avoid gaping at the armhole
-Made a forward shoulders adjustment
-Took 1cm in at the side seams at the waist, tapering to nothing at the armhole - I also took that same amount in on the skirt part at the waist, tapering to zero at the hips.
-took in about 1.5 cm at the CB neckline to remove neckline gaping.
After getting a pretty good fit with the muslin, I made further adjustments to the final bodice:
The neckline is really high on the pattern, and on top of being a bit on the chock-y side, it also created all sorts of pulling lines at the shoulders. This was resolved by lowering the neckline by 1,5 cm all around.
Another design adjustment I made was to extend the shoulders about 2cm, in order to cover up the "boniest" part of my shoulders. I find that little adjustements like that make a world of difference visually.
I also had to lower the bust darts about 1cm. I'm not sure why this didn't show on the muslin, but thankfully, this was easier to accomplish on the final bodice than I feared.
The pattern only includes neckline and armhole facings, but that didn't feel quite right, so I added a full lining in Bemberg fabric - my first time using that stuff, and I have to say, I love it, it feels so soft and smooth against the skin, and it's not static-y at all
In the end I'm really happy with the fit of this dress. All together, I probably spent about 15 hours on it (including muslin), over 2 week-ends and a couple of week nights, which isn't so bad.
The fabric is a dark red silk dupioni purchased at Fabricana. It's probably the most expensive fabric I have ever bought, but it was totally worth it. I originally hesitated purchasing a midnight blue silk, which would have looked really good too, although more subdued. But when I saw this color, I knew it was it. This fabric frayed like crazy, especially on edges cut on the crosswise grain, so I finished all the edges with a zigzag sticth. I also made the crinoline out of tulle to get the extra "puffy" effect in the skirt.
I wore the dress to my friend's party and it was a big hit. I was also able to wear it to my work christmas party, which was on the same week. Because I'm quite sensitive to cold, I got this little jacket from H&M to wear over top. I think it works pretty well together.
The jewelry is a mix of thrift store finds, things I've had for years, and the necklace I purchased recently in a store that opened up close to my work and makes one or two of a kind jewelry and clothing. This was also the occasion to test out the famous "sock bun" that has been seen quite a lot lately. I used one of those mesh donut thingies and it works really well.
I'm really happy with the dress and the overall outfit, and even though it's not something I'll wear every week, I'm glad I spent the time and effort making it. Just knowing that I have a fancy shiny dress in the back of my closet makes me feel happy :)