Happy New Year to you all!
Did you have a good Christmas? If it was anything like mine, it will have been crazy busy but fun both at the same time.
As usual I was more than a little optimistic about what I could do in the run up to the festivities and, on top of all the handmade gifts I had planned, I decided it would be a good idea to make a ball gown for Mr H-L’s annual ‘do’ on 18th December.
Time ran away from me (as it has the annoyingly reliable habit of doing every year) and, before I knew it, there were just TWO days left in which to conjure up this dress or – horror of horrors – wear one that I’d worn previously!
Sleeves rolled up, I got stuck in and laid everything out on the dining table rather than in my sewing room – this close to Christmas I didn’t fancy being locked away from the world for 48 hours.
Minerva Crafts supplied all the materials required, including the most gorgeous shot taffeta in a fabulous shade of turquoise which shimmered beautifully in the light and rustled noisily as I sashayed around in it!
Luckily, the Belville Sasoon for Vogue pattern (V2931) had provision for shortening the torso as well as the hemline. At only 5’2″ I am short in the body and was able to adjust the pattern pieces by 2″ accordingly.
As the skirt featured a fish tail, it had to be shortened at thigh length too, in order to keep the flare falling from the right height – I reduced this by 4″ which meant no further reduction at the hemline was necessary.
Once the adjustments were applied to all the relevant pattern pieces, I started the somewhat mammoth task of cutting out.
There were 78 separate pieces to cut out.
It took THREE HOURS!!!
At first glance, the dress may appear to have quite a simple silhouette to it but don’t be fooled – there is plenty of construction hidden within the innocent looking exterior and I was in my element!
Time seemed to stand still as I immersed myself totally in the heaven that is sewing a dress like this.
The bow is a separate entity and is different to any I have made previously (and there have been many!), stiffened with dress net and shaped with hand stitching.
Formed bra cups are essential in this type of dress as it is not possible to wear a bra and, together with the boning, felt secure enough on my (not insubstantial) bust to dance the night away without a second thought.
My recently purchased invisible zipper foot proved a good buy, even if I have managed forty years without one – anything that makes life easier is always a good investment.
The invisible zip went in a treat.
By midnight on Day One, the shell was finished.
I don’t normally like to use flash, but at midnight there is no other option. The benefit was that it shows how the fabric shimmers in the light – it really is stunning!
The anti-static lining was constructed in pretty much the same way as the dress, minus the bow detail and neck strap.
The two are then pinned wrong sides together and basted in place.
Onto the foundation which consists of a boned layer and a lining. I used cotton covered polyester boning.
Checking the fit is critical as this stage as it is so closely contoured to the body.
Once satisfied that the fit was exact, I attached the hook and eye tape to the back opening edges of the foundation corset.
The foundation was sewn, right sides together, to the dress and understitched where possible around the top edge.
French tacks were made to loosely connect the foundation to the lining – such a useful technique that I use a lot in linings.
Just the lining to sew by hand to the zipper tape….
Four poppers secure the halterneck strap and a hook and eye finishes the dress above the zipper.
I was in rather a rush as we had to leave in an hour, so narrow-hemmed the bottom quickly on the machine. Ideally, I would like to have had the time to sew it properly by hand.
In reality, no one noticed:)
I wore the designer shoes that I bought for our wedding.
After a three hour drive to the hotel, I could finally relax and get ready for the party. Here’s the dress laid out on our bed whilst I took a dip in the jacuzzi with a G&T!
Unfortunately, if you trust your husband to take a decent photograph of you wearing it – this is the best you’re likely to end up with!!!!
As you can see, it fits like a second skin – thank goodness for all that scaffolding within!!