Monday, November 10, 2014

Brocade Corset Dress

Anyone who sews knows that sometimes sewing projects crash and burn. Sometimes your grand ideas lie in a rumpled pile of fabric in the corner of the sewing room in spite of the best laid plans. But once in a while something truly wonderful happens. The sewing gods smile upon you and the angels start to sing and the pieces fit together like magic and viola! You have created something that not only exceeds your expectations,  but you somehow manage to knock your own socks off. This week, I did just that.

Miss C is my middle stepdaughter and she asked me to make her a dress for her school dance. I admit that when she picked her pattern,  I was a little nervous. She chose a costume pattern we’ve had lying around for a few years now. The two piece get up included a strapless corset bodice and a short gathered skirt with a fluffy underskirt.

She chose a lovely blue, pink and gold brocade fabric for her dress and an off-white tulle with gold glitter for the underskirt. Actually, we bought plain off white for three yards of tulle and only one and a half of the glitter since the glitter one was four times the price. For a lining, we used some high quality satin I bought on clearance years ago for a renaissance dress I made my youngest stepdaughter over four years ago for her birthday (We went to Ren Faire to celebrate). Yes, we’re bargain shoppers. Just wait until you see the total price on this one...

Who knew boning was so easy? 
The bodice required boning to hold the shape and keep it up. (You know that everything strapless secretly wants to live life as a belt!) I'd never put boning in a garment before and I was a little intimidated by it. As it turns out, boning is pretty easy once you get the hang of it. I purchased sew-in boning and read through the instructions and just attached it right to the fabric, sans-interlining. Miss C likes the top stitched look anyway. Then I lined and pressed the bodice and I was really happy with the results.

Now I'm much too lazy (and I have hand pain issues) to hand sew 12 hooks and eyes, so I bought bra extenders,  cut them in half and stitched them into the closure. Easy peasy. They also and some stability to the only part of the bodice without boning.

The skirt is a simple gathered skirt with a back zip and one hook and eye on the waistband. Miss C thought it was a bit short so making the underskirt a bit longer to show out the bottom was important. She still wore bloomers from a stage production underneath so she could dance like a crazy woman.

For the underskirt I used the same pattern as the skirt, but I used elastic and created a casing style waist with an extra two inches allowance between the elastic and where the tulle attached. This gives the tulle enough length to stick out of the bottom without adding too much bulk up top.

I'm not going to pretend that there weren't moments where I negotiated with my machine about thread tension,  because a few seams we less than congenital,  but this project went together much smoother than I ever dreamed it would.

I love the pattern for the bodice, but in agreement with Miss C, I think that for a non-costume application, the skirt is a bit short.

Remember that bit on bargain shopping? I left the fabric store for a grand total of…
drum roll please...


The fabric was 40% off and we used some coupons, but still, that’s a great price for a semi-formal dress.

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