All this month the Simple Sew Bloggers will be making party dresses to celebrate The Dressmaker’s Ball coming soon on 12th May…
How to teach yourself patience, resilience and improvisation – aka the Mirrorball Dress
Dear ladies and gents,
It’s such a pleasure to be here. You’ll find a tad more about me in the bio, but the bottom line is I’m new and really excited! I’m in amazing company on the Simple Sew blog and my biggest hope is quite honestly to be able to keep up…
As the days quickly tick away and the Dressmakers Ball draws closer and closer I’ve marvelled at what everyone has been making for the occasion (by the way, did you know the tickets are still on sale for a couple of days? Go grab one!). The brief from Gabby was really simple: make it stunning, make it yours. There you have it, go and be awesome!
No pressure, people – none at all. First thing first I settled on a pattern… I’m not a ballgown lady, and I was looking for something sleek, shapely and with a little flair. It took me all of 45 seconds to settle for the Lucille Dress, with it’s pleated bodice and high waist fitted my bill perfectly.
Then I had to decide on fabric, and here is where things started to get marvellously wrong.
- Chapter two – Resilience
First, I had settled on a green and black mounted lace full skirted idea, working from a lovely emerald green cotton and a large pois black lace I had spotted on FC fabrics. I had made an incredibly tight schedule, planning on the arrival of the fabric on weekend xx so that I had yyy hours to work on it after toiling. Of course between impromptu visits from relatives over Easter, long working hours, and generally life being life – I was late. Also, I realised I was picking oopsy daisies when putting my fabric order through so it was now not coming in time. What I did then is look into my stash which, in all honesty, is not a place brimming with fancy prom-suitable fabrics. However, guess what? The root of the word “creativity” is to create, which reads on the dictionary: ”to cause to come into being, as something unique that would not naturally evolve or that is not made by ordinary processes.” Therefore, trying very much to think outside the box and to keep the morale up, I dug deep and unearthed a long-forgotten piece of upholstery fabric donated to me by one of my favourite aunties.
It’s a large print heavy brocade, in ivory and silver. I have never managed to make anything with it. The ivory side is a bit flat and the shiny silver side definitely overwhelming. I sat there, surrounded by discarded fabric, contemplating this sparkly piece. I almost immediately put it on the side thinking that never on earth I could wear a dress that would make me look sheathed in mirror-like fabric. Or…
WHY NOT? I was lucky enough to have just a little less than the recommended amount, but sacrificing the full skirt and cutting on one layer was going to solve that problem for me (sorry pattern matching lovers, you will see close to none here).
Please, everybody welcome the Mirrorball Dress!
- Chapter one – patience
This dress required two toiles. The first one was cut in the wrong size. A sizeable amount of 100% italian swearing occurred. I stomped, I puffed like an old kettle and went to fix myself some chocolate.
The next day I started over with a size 12, very quickly this time as I knew what I was doing. There were a number of fitting issues, mainly determined by very long waist. The length proportions were wrong. I had the choice of lengthening the bodice, but the midriff yoke, being already quite high, would have looked strange. Also, the new size was definitely big at the waist (however fitting nicely at the back and at the hips) so I widened the darts to take in width, and lengthened them a whopping 2 inches to reshape the volume of the skirt, accommodating my interminable waist. I have also pinched the shoulders in a bit to remove some gaping at the neckline and shaved about a cm out of the underarm to make the upper bodice piece fit snuggly. Last adjustment I made to the skirt, basically lowering the hip curve, by pinning the excess out where needed.
In this most flattering picture you can see the excess pinched out at the darts, shoulders and hip. I was ready to cut!
- Chapter 3 – Improvising!
This, my dears, is the time that sees me crying and banging my head on the desk. After having meticulously arranged the pattern on one layer, avoiding awkward placement of the flower bursts, and trying to establish some sort of balance in the print, I realised I didn’t flip one of the pleated bodice pieces, meaning I had one ivory bosom and one silvery one.
I seriously wanted to cry. I was about to press send on a miserable text to Gabby explaining I was too much of an idiot to be part of the network, and if she could please forgive me for screwing it up. Then something kicked back in my head and I decided that there was still time to give up (insert insightful moral here).
THANK GOODNESS this is brocade, meaning both sides are usually pretty. I took all my pieces and started looking at ways to getting some color blocking going. I started flipping pieces around to see what was working and after quickly talking myself out of having half backside in ivory and half in silver, I decided to flip the yoke. To give it some balance I wanted some ivory in the back too, so I scavenged the leftover fabric to cut a back yoke that matched the front. Et voilà, Mesdames et Messieurs, find below a few self-indulgent shots of the finished results.
All in all, I’m really very pleased with the results. I have learnt to be a bit more patient with myself, had some fitting practice and turned a series of unfortunate events in a really fun dress.
The above is a picture taken in artificial light, where I believe this dress truly shines (pun very much intended!). Imagine what could happen under strobe lights! I so very much hope we are going to have some!!
I am, all considered, very pleased with the finished result. Now I just have to muster the confidence to wear this in public. I’m sure that a pair of matching shoes will help!
Giorgia blogs at https://onestitchforwardblog.wordpress.com/
Dressmakers Ball info:
Friday 12th May 2017 at The City Rooms, Leicester.