Saturday, August 25, 2007

Sewing update at last! Or bis repetita... placent

Hello, everyone!
Yep, you read it right! Here's a sewing update at last... even if it's several months late!

The Becky Dress

A couple of months ago, I made Newlook 6429 again. Now, I don't usually use the same pattern twice - there are so many out there I would like to try. The more patterns I use, the more tricks I get to learn, and since my sewing time has been sparse over the last year, I like to make the most of it and experiment as much as possible.

Newlook 6429 was an exception because I am very fond of the long-sleeved version I made for Easter. (I've been wearing that one a whole lot - I even decided to wear it on July 4 - you know the special day it was for us here ;))
Besides, I needed a "quick fix" one weekend in late June - I had been working all weekend and had only managed to save a few free hours on the Sunday night, but I was determined to make something up. That pattern was already cut and tweaked and everything: it seemed a good option, and I indeed managed to cut and sew the whole dress in a couple of hours.

This is my first attempt at taking a picture of myself with the camera's self-timer, which is why my head and toes are cut off: I couldn't make the camera to stand lengthwise.

The fabric is a navy polyester peached matte jersey, and it's very comfortable despite being poly. This is another fabric I got with Becky's birthday gift certificate last May. Hence the name: the Becky Dress :)

As you can see, I made a sleeveless version this time, and cut it shorter. It's definitely the shortest garment in my whole wardrobe, but I knew Seb would like it that way as I'd only been making below-the-knee dresses this year and he suggested I made one shorter ;)
Other than that, I did the same alterations as last time: apart from my usual fitting alterations, I raised the neckline (a bit higher even than last time), and elasticized it. The armholes are bound with bias tape.

Summer has been so non-existent in Paris this year that I hadn't had a chance to wear the dress yet - I hadn't even hemmed it.
Today however was a sunny day, so I did a rolled hem and put it on straight away. The hem looks a bit funny on one side, but I hope a good ironing session will fix that.

Stay tuned for a few more sewing projects: four garments completed over the last three months still need to be photographed and reviewed!

Hope you're all having a nice weekend! Seb is coming back from Sweden this night and I can't wait :)

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Dupioni Evening Wedding Gown

Here is at last the final result of the evening gown I mentioned to you repeatedly (although not ad nauseam, I hope!) on this blog. (check out the Formal Gown tag for all entries about it).

You may remember I wasn't 100% happy with the original result - it was too majestic for my small frame. In the end, I left the overskirt panels out; on my mother's suggestion, I kept the white panel, instead of replacing it with blue dupioni. Maman thought the contrasting white was very original and made the dress unique. To even out the blue and the white, though, I added a blue and white flowery trim that matched the jewellery and emphasized the basque waist.

As you now know, I decided to also make a simpler, less "glamorous" one for the actual ceremony (which shall be featured in a later post). This one, on the other hand, seemed perfect for the late afternoon/evening reception. It did look more of an evening dress to me.

With my brother Jean-François, 28

The evening reception was hosted by my parents in their countryside house in the Pas de Calais, 3 hours from Paris (near Montreuil, for those of you who know Les Misérables!). This was exactly what Seb and I had been dreaming for a year - an outdoor reception, in my beloved, beloved native countryside. It is also 5 minutes from my grandma's, and that had been another reason for hosting the reception there. It would have allowed her to be part of the party. As you know, this was not to be - but she was in our hearts.

Sisters - Catherine, 30, Isabelle, 26, Hélène, 25

The weather was incredible. Like many other countries in Western Europe, we've had a rotten, rainy summer in France so far, but guess what - the two single days of perfect weather we had in the entire summer happened to be last Saturday and Sunday. You don't even get such perfect, cloudless skies every year in Northern France. It was almost too sunny for pictures!

Here is the gown, half-zipped on my dressform (my dressform's back is larger than mine, which is a huge PITA, so I can't put close-fitting garments onto it).

This was a picture taken to check the bolero's fit (it was still a bit large so I adjusted it further after the picture); it shows the back of the dress well.
As you can see, I made a bolero jacket from the white taffeta to go with the dress; in the end, though, I only got to wear it to walk from my flat to the church in the morning, and later in the evening when it got chilly.

A few facts:
  • Base pattern: New Look 3618 (with alterations). Highly recommended, but with modifications to the fit and construction. A muslin was absolutely necessary. The empire lines and basque waist are gorgeous, this is a great pattern.
  • Main fabric: dupioni silk in Windswept Blue, by the Silk Baron. Absolutely, wholeheartedly recommended. (Thank you, Summerset, for mentioning him on your blog some months ago!)
  • Secondary fabric: white taffeta, a gift from Becky. I could have used white dupioni, but liked the contrast of the smooth, smooth fabric against the more textured blue dupioni
  • Lining and underlining: cotton and poly-cotton German batiste.
A few figures:
  • Dupioni Fabric = 33 euros (with shipping)
  • 100% cotton Batiste Lining and poly-cotton underlining = 10 euros (w/ shipping)
  • Pattern = 7 euros (purchased locally)
  • White taffeta = part of Becky's birthday gift (she gave me a GC to an online fabric store)
  • Total cost = 50 euros
  • Actual value = priceless. How do you price a unique, custom-made, made-to-measure dress, born from your own dreams and which you spent a hundred hours on, trying to put as much love for your grandma into it as your heart may hold and your hands may express? (I wrote and sewed a message for my grandma into the lining of the dress.)
I must confess that I am proud of this dress. There are a lot of couture details - lots of hand-sewing; a lining and an underlining; boning; an inner waist stay; a tiny invisible slipstitched hem. I learned *so much* through this dress - about the handling of silk, the making of a formal garment. I would never have managed it without Susan Khalje's Bridal Couture, without the first SewStylish issue (Get Red Carpet Ready), and above all, without your continued encouragement.

Special thanks to some very wonderful, talented and exacting seamstresses out there (you know who you are), whose blogs are an unending source of wonder and motivation. There were times when I grew a little weary and considered taking shortcuts - but the ever-renewed inspiration offered by your own scrupulous work always put me back on the right track and helped me to strive for nothing but excellency in every step of the process.
I do hope my Mamie would have been proud.


Take care, everyone. Love to you! Thanks to all of you who accompanied me in this process.