Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Cream Puff Dress--Done!

Hi folks, I'm so excited!

The Cream Puff Dress on the Wedding Day
This photo is from the actual wedding day!
The Cream Puff Dress
I finished the Cream Puff Dress, and it looks amazing!  (If I must say so myself.  I suppose I shouldn't toot my own horn, but I just can't contain myself here.)












Here are the steps that went into this project:

1.  Pattern Drafting

2.  Pattern Printing and Assembling

3.  Pattern Testing/Fitting by Making the Bodice Lining

4.  Fabric Cutting

I decided to underline/flat line the dress, for two reasons: 

  • I wanted to give the fabric slightly more substance, so the garment wouldn't feel flimsy,
  • and I wanted to enhance the creamy ivory color--I wouldn't use the term sheer by any means to describe this fabric, but it seemed like when I put my hand directly underneath it, the color of my skin kind of influenced how I perceived the color of the fabric. 

I cut a very small piece of the silk from the selvedge, and ironed a piece of fusible interlining to it, but didn't like the results.  It was a little too stiff, and a little too "gummy"--maybe I didn't have the right weight of interlining.

I tried the same experiment with a new swatch, using some scraps of cotton batiste I had on hand.  This worked perfectly.

So I cut out each pattern piece in both the silk and the cotton batiste, and sewed them as if they were one layer. 

You're supposed to baste the two fabrics together in a line running up the middle first, but I didn't want to do this, because I've read that needle punctures can destroy silk.  I didn't want to take any chances.  So I simply pinned them together in the seam allowances. 

I had to remove the pins before sewing the seams, though, because of the curved areas; the fabric needed to shift while sewing in order to match the curves, especially when sewing a curved area to a straight area.

5.  Sewing! 

The actual sewing was the easiest part of this project.  One of the benefits of creating your own pattern is that you know exactly how it goes together, and you can control the difficulty level. 

So, my pattern for the Cream Puff Dress involved only five seams, sewing in the bodice lining, inserting the back lacing, and hemming it up.  Easy peasy, more or less!

The hard part is creating the pattern (but even that wasn't so challenging, just exacting), and cutting the fabric.  What's interesting though, is that for the first time ever I figured out how to get into a type of zen mode so that the tasks I would normally consider frustrating were actually enjoyable.  I discovered that if you do it with love, nothing is stressful.

Also, I discovered that pressing is even more fun than the actual sewing machine sewing.  Once you've sewn a seam, every other seam is the same--you're just feeding the fabric through.  But pressing--that's where the garment takes shape.  And, that's where you get to see the beautiful results of all your hard work.

6.  Sewing in the Bodice Lining

This step was fairly easy, too.  I made a fortuitous last-minute decision. 

As I was rummaging through my bag of notions, I came across some white double fold bias tape for seam binding.  Although I had intended to simply sew the lining to the dress the same way you would sew a regular seam, and then turn it right side out, I decided to use the bias tape to enclose the layers at the top. 

Then, when I turned the garment right side out, I flipped the bias tape over and pulled it downwards into the inside of the dress, so that the 1-inch seam measured correctly from the top, but now the lining is lower than the outer fabric.  This way the lining is not visible from the outside.  I pinned the lining down to the seam allowances to keep it from shifting.  I only actually sewed it in at the back seam, but not until after inserting the back laces.

7.  Inserting the Laces

I created two strips of laces for the back closure.  Each strip consists of 2 layers of fusible interfacing and 1 layer of silk,  11 inches by 1 inch.  The silk is underneath, then one layer of fusible with the glue towards the silk, on top of which I pinned 11 one-inch lengths of ribbon spaced 1 inch apart, along the middle of the strip.  On top of this is the second layer of fusible, with the glue towards the ribbon.  I pressed, sealing all the layers together.

I attached each panel of laces to the seam allowance of the back seam.  Keeping the silk layer towards the body, I wrapped the half of the strip around towards the back of the seam allowance, fully encasing it.  To keep it stable, I will stitch down the edge of the seam allowance to the lining layer on the inside, while inserting boning.  This will keep the fabric from bunching up when I tie the laces.

Update:  There was just one problem, which will cause me to take out the lacing panels and re-sew them.  Although I removed an inch from the back closure by folding the seam allowance back a full inch, instead of a half inch, at the top of both sides, then tapered down to the half inch at the top of the back seam, the dress would not lace tightly enough.  This is partly because of how far the ribbon laces protrude from the side. 

I will need to make the gap probably a full two inches at the top, and make the ribbons much tighter against the edge.

Oh well, this is one more evening's worth of work....

Otherwise, it's looking great!

Till next time, --Ayana

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