Note to self…

Next time you make a couture dress and have plans to wear it on a particular day make sure you have a back-up plan ready in case of bad weather!!

Melbourne Cup Day was today and the weather forecast said cold and rainy! For goodness sake, we’re in Perth, not Melbourne!! Yesterday was so cold and wet with thundery showers and I couldn’t see how I was going to wear my new dress with no sleeves. Tears fell as I had nothing else to wear and no suitable jackets or cardigans to give me extra warmth and I couldn’t just duck out and buy something as I was fasting so the only thing left to do was go door knocking and ask my lovely neighbours (who are all around my own age) if they had anything I could borrow. Hallelujah, Susan from two doors up had a cardigan with the right shade of green that I could get away with. Here’s how I left the house this morning:

Funny enough though, as I climbed into my car at 10:30 the sun came out and it was too hot to wear the cardigan in my car so I removed it. After 20 minutes (still driving at this point) I started to get a headache from the fascinator so that had to go too (I’ve never managed to wear headbands comfortably!). Anyway, enjoyed a lovely afternoon with a 3 course sit down meal, 2 fashion parades (one clothing and the other swimwear) and the whole time I was looking for design ideas that I could use in my year of sewing. Does anyone else do that? LOL I almost can’t stand how judgmental I’ve become now that fit is so important to me!. My horse didn’t come in but it was a fun afternoon.

On another note, I finished my Thurlow shorts and love the detail of them but am not happy with the fit of the rear view. The waist and hips are fine and I love the pockets, the fly and the belt loops and I even like the cuffs but I’m so sad that the fit isn’t perfect yet. Never mind, I’ll try again and alter the pattern after researching what the problem is and how to fix it. These shorts are made out of a navy blue bamboo fabric and the pockets are lined with Japanese cotton lawn. Here are the pics:

Gosh, I didn’t think that pants were going to be this hard to fit. Oh, who am I kidding? Of course I knew it would be challenging. Can you see how the fabric is bunching up in the middle of the rear view? Any suggestions?

The finished Couture Dress

Finally!

There’s not much to say about the dress at this point except that I’d like to point out that this was completed BEFORE I joined the RTW Fast Challenge so this garment doesn’t get to sit in the same closet space as the rest of the stuff. Oh, alright, it can share the closet space but it won’t tally with all the others that I’m sewing for the year. I’m so glad it’s finished and am really proud of the fact that I perservered even though there were moments of frustration. The hand stitching wasn’t as scary as I had imagined and the hand-picked zipper (who’d have thought people still did it by hand these days… AND got amazing results!! LOL) was a breeze to fit. I’m glad I redid it with matching pink thread rather than the cream i had initially used.

Anyway, here are the pics (I think if you click on them, they can be enlarged):

Tadaaaaa!

Rear view.

Even Charlotte, the nosey cat from next door, was interested in inspecting my new dress!

The silk lining…

The hand-picked zipper. Take not of the pattern matching too! :)

I’ll be wearing this dress to the Melbourne Cup (national horse race in Australia) lunch with friends early next month… I must start working on my tan! :)

A brighter day…

Well I must have woken on the right side of the bed today because I’m back in the swing of it all and have spent the bulk of the morning catch stitching my large seam allowances and I’ve actually been enjoying it again. The dress is starting to come together as you can see by the photo below – this is the inside-out view of my seams that look a tad messy but are actually amazing and feel so good when you look at the right side of the fabric! Notice that I’ve only done the left side at this stage but unfortunately I can’t stay and sew any more today because I need to go to work for a few hours but hopefully tonight I’ll be able to finish all the catch stitching.

Close up of the catch-stitching

Basting…

Hand stitching is something that I’ve never liked and today’s task was to hand baste the entire dress together for a fitting. OMG, what was I thinking? LOL OK, it wasn’t too bad and it gave me a chance to see the panels in position and make changes if need be. I found that the left front shoulder piece was too dark and that panel needed replacing and I also discovered that I’d cut the front midriff section upside down so the flowers were upside down. Not sure if anyone else would have noticed but I knew I’d done it wrong so i had to redo that piece too. Much happier now…

BEFORE:

At this stage I felt the left shoulder was too dark and didn’t look balanced.

AFTER:

Replacing that side panel (with shoulder) has made it look more balanced!

One of the things I am going to do is add piping in between the bodice/midriff and the midriff/skirt. I think it will make it more pleasing to the eye by making it obvious that these parts are all separate and I’m not trying to pattern match (unsuccessfully), if that makes sense.

Now to find someone who is capable and willing to pin the dress onto me so i can see the effects and make any final alterations…

Nope, no-one around. Will have to see how I feel tomorrow after my foot injection (the fourth and final ethanol injection!). Probably won’t be able to stand for a couple of days and these things just draw out the process even longer…

Slowly moving along…

It’s such a slow process but I’m taking so much care to get it right and I’m loving every process involved in creating my first couture dress. After pinning the silk organza onto the back of the floral linen, making sure that I matched patterns, I cut around the pieces and then basted the organza in place by hand stitching along the stitch lines. The matching of the flowers is so important to me in order to give my dress the best possibility of looking great, despite my fabric choice. There are 19 pieces to this dress and last night I finished the hand basting and now I’m ready to hand baste the dress together for a fitting (again!!). Wow! It’s an exciting project but I think it must be boring to my family and friends.

This is the back view of the fabric with the organza basted in place…

And here’s a close up view of the hand basting along the stitch lines.

Hand basting of organza onto the back of the linen print.

Spring has sprung!

Yes, it’s the first of September and spring has finally sprung Down Under and what a beautiful day to kick it off… blue skies and a pleasant 23°C (about 73°F) outside. One of the things I love doing is taking my sewing out into the sunshine and doing any hand stitching or unpicking with the sun’s glorious warmth on my back. Heaven, I tell you!

You may remember that my silk organza arrived earlier in the week and I made sure that I finished cleaning my house before allowing myself to start the next phase of my couture dress… that wasn’t easy! I ironed the organza and started pinning my unpicked muslin pieces onto it before using my tracing wheel and waxed carbon paper to transfer all the lines onto the organza.

Now I’m at the stage of pinning the organza pieces to the back of the floral linen fabric, trying hard to pattern match and still enjoying every process of making this dress up. Here’s the chosen fabric that is a linen blend meaning (hopefully) that it won’t be as crushable as pure linen and hopefully not “sag” like it does either. I don’t understand why people actually like 100% linen anyway because it’s a nightmare to iron and, yeah, ok, it breathes, but… so does cotton!

Yep, I know I am taking a gamble here because the flowers are quite large and this may not be suitable for the style of dress (each flower is about as big as my hand) but I loved the colours and figured that if I could match patterns and make the skirt look like one piece of fabric, i may still get away with it. We’ll see…

Completed muslin of the couture dress…

Yay, I’ve finally finished the muslin and my darling husband was kind enough to pin it closed at the back so that I could see the overall effect. What do you think?

There are still some minor adjustments that I’d like to do, but all in all I’m happy with the fit. It feels comfortable and I can move easily in it. You can see that I’ve had to let the seams out near the hips (and followed this through to the hemline). I also dropped the bustline down by 2cm and added another 2cm to the bottom of the bodice because I am 6′ tall. Really loving the process of putting it all together and wish so much that my silk organza had arrived!