Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Anatomy of a New Dress - Pt. 3

"Or the Construction of the Band..."
In the middle of making this dress, I just got the feeling that I've made this dress before.  And in all actuality I have, if you consider this:

and this:

and finally the Birthday Gala Dress.
I'm a little disappointed because I thought I was going somewhere new on this journey when actually I'm just treading the same path.  So is there something new here I'm suppose to learn?  Or do I have this silhouette stuck in my head?  Or even worse still have I no creative imagination left to elevate the level of my TNT dress pattern to?  Believe me, those few questions gave me great pause yesterday and even caused me to stop sewing for a minute.  I put the pieces down and watched television, played Boggle with my niece and nephew and bought some stuff from QVC.

After pondering on this, I realized that there really are only so many dress silhouettes and interpreting a silhouette season after season in different fabrications with distinct embellishments is not a bad thing.  It's just not the journey I thought I was making. *sigh* So I left the pieces for the night and headed upstairs.

Today, I decided to just go with the flow.  It's not a new silhouette.  It is the same journey but maybe there is something to learn here...and there was...the thing I learned was to dig deep when your original idea isn't working, to ramble around in the creative ideas stored in the back of your mind, and find something else when your garment is just.not.quite.there!

Which brings me to the purpose of this post because my dress is not finished yet. However, the center band deserves it's own post because of the detailed construction process, and as you can see from the three examples above this detailed waistband is predominant in all of these dresses. As you know, my original idea was to cut the center band on the bias to give the dress some added drama and to emphasize my non-existent waistline in a flattering way.

The band pattern pieces were cut 5.5" deep with 5/8" seam allowances on either side.  I realized that the bias bands will have some give so I needed to stabilize them.  My choices were to use a fusible interfacing or a silk organza underlining.  I went with the silk organza thinking the fusible interfacing might shorten or make the band too rigid to match the bodice and skirt pieces.

I hand basted the silk organza to the front and back bands.  Then I added a line of machine basting in the center of the band to avoid poufing. This stitching was removed later.  The bands were then stitched together and the piping added to the top and bottom of the band. After that I sewed the dress bodice and the dress skirt to the band.

The invisible zipper was next.  I used Somerset's tip of marking the invisible zipper where you want it to meet the seams in the back and basted the zipper in.  Since the match worked and believe me I was holding my breathe while inserting the zipper, I decided to try the dress on at this point...something I never do...but boy am I glad that I did.

Because the band was too big!  
It puckered in the middle of the dress front.  It puddled in the dress back.  It looked horrid for all of the work that I've put into this dress.  As I was standing in the mirror I thought, "just add a tuck to the center."  When I added the tuck, it lifted everything up and the dress had the look I wanted.  So I take the dress off and head back to the sewing cave.  I take the perfect invisible zipper out, sew in the tuck and this is what I ended up with:

As you can see I sewed the tuck into the back of the band instead of the front...and I love how it added dimension to the band.  Okay, I'm now so far away from the dress that inspired me that's it's not funny!  But, this dress is me, even if I have made this silhouette several times before.

One last thing...the reinserted invisible zipper is not my best.  There is a lot of bulk in the center back seam and even though I've trimmed the seam and hammered it down with my clapper, I had to sew away from the coils by the bulkest part to get the zipper to slide up and down.  However, the piping matches!!!  

Here's the dress on a hanger as it is now:

It still needs a lining, piping added to the neckline and the sleeves sewn in. Hopefully, I will finish this up next weekend...though I'm thinking maybe I should sew a few skirts, just to prove to myself that I can sew something up quickly instead of everything being a journey... always, more later!


  1. OH..this is going to be beautiful.. And it is perfectly ok..if it isn't the match for what you had in your mind ,in the beginning. And if you have made it before..that's ok too.Your right..its for you.. And the style is very becoming to you.
    I love the piping you are putting in it.Gorgeous.. Can't wait to see it finished.
    I think when we sew alot... we tend to question ourselves.. Just remember.. your items are beautiful and look fantastic on you ..and that's what's important..
    ps If you make some skirts..that will be fun to see too.. I just totally enjoy reading your blog.. thankyou for sharing.. Happy sewing.

  2. Oooh, it is looking so good so far! And, I totally know how the "sewing journey" goes - you have a fabulous idea, perfect fabric, etc. You start project. Midway through it just isn't working. You go into existential crisis mode for a day or more. You have brilliant idea and either end up with something quite different and fabulous or a total mess. I am going through that process right now with my skating costumes. A lot more of an effort during the process, but usually more rewarding at the end. In any case, can't wait to see your finished dress - it is going to be lovely!

  3. WOW! So pretty!!! I look forward to seeing the final garment.

  4. Your dress is coming along beautifully! And so what that you have used this same "silhouette" before. Each dress looks unique, because the fabric is different, the details are different. Have you ever scanned through a designer's collection quickly? Very often (it seems to me) they use use the same base pattern and switch up the details. And how often I think I "need" a pattern, only to realize that I have a very close facsimile that just needs to have the details tweaked. I think that you do amazing things with that one silhouette that obviously works well on you.

  5. I know you didn't really plan it that way, but that tuck on the bias checked fabric makes a really nice detail. I often make things and realise I already have a similar silhouette in my wardrobe, but at least you didn't go out and buy a new pattern!

  6. There's something to be said for discovering a silhouette that you love and that flatters you beautifully, andI think you're onto a winner here! Each of your dresses looks unique and individually lovely. Bravo!
    The newest version is so cute and summery, now I want for summer to come back here too, even though we've just had it :)

  7. The effect of the tuck on the pattern is amazing. I think the piping really adds to it as well.

  8. I think this is lovely. I think if a silhouette works for you, it doesn't matter how many times you make it. What matters is that each and every dress you make has something of you in it, something that makes it stand out. I bet you that not one person has ever commented that you've made the same dress again. I love the tuck in the band and I'm looking forward to seeing the finished garment and how you style it.

  9. This will become another flattering and attractive dress.

  10. I like the bias band. Nice touch with the piping.
    As for pounding with a clapper, try a hammer next time. You need to cover the garment area to be hammered with a piece of fabric, but it definitely does a better job of flattening than the clapper. I have a piece of granite my dh scored for me for free. He just went into a granite/marble store and got a small leftover. Anyway, it keeps counters from getting dented and works like a charm.

  11. Well, you made another beautiful dress. I really like the spring dress, with the yellow, white and floral. Your sister looks hot in that copper dress and your daughters are just beautiful, looks like a very happy celebration. Dance the night away!

  12. I like it--the color, the fabric, the piping, the waist band. I'm beginning drafting classes and the one thing that sticks out is you can take the same basic pattern, change the details, and end up with thousands of new looks. As one commenter said earlier, that's what designers do--change the fabric and a few details--voila, it becomes something new.

  13. I really love this dress. I couldn't picture it at first when you were "outlining" the project, but it's just yummy.

    Just out of curiosity, was the organza that you underlined with on the bias or straight, and do you think that had any impact? I love your solution, though.

    I think that yellow dress is one of my all time favorites...ok, at least in the Spring/Summer category. There are so many that are wonderful, but that one really sticks in my mind.

  14. I simply LOVE your fabric! And I also love how you take this to another level from simply sewing up another dress to analyzing the creative process. Plus, I totally applaud your stick-with-it on the invisible zipper. I would have bailed and used a regular zipper with all those seam layers.

  15. 1. Very very nice so far; I look forward to seeing the completed dress..

    2. Talk of making lemonade from lemons...

    3. Isn't the journey the point now, or at least a great deal of it, for you? You have all the clothes you need (you said), and want to expand your abilities. You are, you know.

    Fixing errors leads to as much knowledge as anything, sometimes more.

    It's cool to make a few quick skirts if that fixes your head, but will it expand your field of knowledge or depth of satisfaction? Just asking...

  16. This is going to be beautiful. Can't wait to see more pictures! Posts like this are so helpful to a baby seamstress like myself. Thanks for sharing.

  17. Carolyn, your dress is lovely and very cruise worthy.

  18. I always love a bias panel! That's going to be cute, and I like the piping. I feel you on "journey" sewing--it's educational, but not always fun.

  19. I like to see that I'm not the only one who fixes on the go with creative solutions. I sometimes do what you did with the bias band, but other times I will rip it out and redo the piece in question. What was your thinking? Did you consider ripping out the band and redoing it?


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