So I thought making the dress would be a doddle. After all, I had made it twice before and loved it. It wasn’t hard. Quite a quick, easy sew apart from the topstitching, the fabric I was planning to use was right for it, so what could possibly go wrong? I was going to shorten it by 10cm and use a slightly different bodice, but so what?
The first problem I ran into was that the flared bodice I had substituted did not support making the large tuck, or flange, that hides where the skirt is gathered onto the bodice. I tried making it separately and inserting it into the seam like giant piping, but that didn’t work at all.
So I took it apart again, ditched the flange thinking I could add a sort of band over the top of the seam instead and kept going. And going. It wasn’t until I had completely finished the dress that I thought of taking some photos. They are soo much more revealing than the mirror. What looked in the mirror like a slightly puffy short cocktail dress, different to my usual style but not bad, looked MUCH worse in the photos. There were pinch lines above the bust, even though I have used the bodice before, know that it fits me well and that there was plenty of room for the bust.
Yikes. And the overall silhouette was very wrong. The bodice looks as if it is too small, with the obvious pinch lines above the bust, and then the dress continuous to flare out into that voluminous skirt. Double yikes! I’m not slim, but, to put it bluntly, I look fatter than I ought to.
So I told DH to ditch our plans for the next day, Sunday, as I would be communing with my seam ripper. I took the bodice off the skirt for the second time, after serging that wretched seam twice, because I didn’t catch everything on the first pass. Ugh. Miraculously the skirt part survived this well, the dupioni must be stronger than it looks. It has about 15% poly in it, as I was informed by the owner of the fabric shop and confirmed myself by burn test later. This must have been the very first time I was glad I had some poly to work with. The thick silk threads frayed terribly, but somehow the bit of poly must have held it all together. I only hope the fabric will still breathe when I need it, but the 85% silk content must be doing something.
I recut the bodice, using my faithful old pattern of a straight bodice without darts or closures. It comes from the most unpromising pattern, but it has served me well for many dresses, being exactly loose enough not to require a zipper, but fitted enough to look good on me.
Here is the shape of the Eva bodice, shortened by 5cm (what was I thinking).
And here is the shape of the straight bodice.
Not that much of a difference, but quite enough apparently. This bodice is 40cm long, but the flange will take out about 7-8cm. To make it, you attach the bodice to the skirt and then make a wide tuck into the bodice just above the seam and topstitch. I just love the look of the flange, it looks so much neater than the exposed gathers where the skirt is joined. It also echoes the skirt extension piece at the bottom.
All up the altered dress is about 8cm longer, which is not a lot, but it does improve the proportions. A lot of people don’t like the tea length, thinking it is frumpy, but it was a compromise. I would have preferred to make the dress longer, but I had told the South American rellies that the dress code was cocktail, so I felt compelled to stick to it. They couldn’t believe you would wear short dresses to a wedding, to them it seemed strange enough to ask for confirmation, so for me then to turn up in a maxi wouldn’t be the right thing to do.
Anyways, here is the finished dress. I like it much better now, the difference may be subtle but it no longer looks as if I have squashed myself into a bodice that is too small, which is never a good look. The fitted bodice with the flange looks so much sharper, while it will still be comfortable to wear. DH is not mad about the skirt, and I can see why, but close up it does look more interesting than a plain skirt would have been. Unfortunately I don’t have a stylist running around arranging the skirt so it looks perfect for the photo. In real life the fabric is so beautiful that it makes the outfit all by itself, just a pity that my sparkly silver shoes don’t come out well in the photo.
Saturday looks like a nice sunny day according to the forecast, we will have the wedding overlooking our beautiful Sydney harbour, and I am hoping that DS and his beloved, together with all our guests, will have a wonderful time.