Sunday, February 18, 2007

Part 2, Constructing the Vintage Dress from a Vintage Pattern

I Love this dress, in the finished version. But, it was a bit of doing, getting here.
the look on my face is ridiculous, but it is one of the best of the dress. So hard to get a good pic with detail of black.

Picture 030

The Pattern: Eva Dress Pattern E50-1356

Eva Dress patterns are not re-issues of Vintage Patterns like the Big-4, but are actual Vintage Patterns that didn't have a copyright. So the EvaDress people have copied the patterns line-for-line, copied the directions, and then packaged them for sale.

The watchwords when setting up to make up a Vintage Pattern? Measure, read the directions, and MUSLIN. Older patterns are not consistent in sizing with todays patterns. Depending on the original source, the draft may be excellent, or may contain serious flaws.

The Pattern, the Muslin, the Fix:
I can't tell what the source is for this original pattern, but it contains drafting errors.
Before I cut the muslin I did my typical full hip pattern alteration, adding 1" to the front and 1" to the back up through the hip.

I was so concerned about the way the bodice was standing away from the body that I almost missed the fullness of the front of the skirt. Didn't help that my muslin was no longer than a shirt. Blessedly, I decided to put it back on before cutting my wool, and started wondering why it looked more as if it had full pleats in the front than a darted fitted silhouette.
When I went back to the paper pattern and measured, I realized that the front measured +3" wider than the back at the hipline. I couldn't afford to lose 3" of diameter in the hip, so I took out the full hip alteration from the front, added to the back to balance the pattern to the front, then added 1/2" to side seams both front and back just to give some margin for error. (I ended up taking in that extra in the side seam in the dress fitting during construction).
I also rechecked, with a fine tooth comb, the rest of the pattern.
By changing the grain line on the bodice piece I took care of all of that wonky ill fit in the bodice top. I also had to true up the grain lines on the gussets.
I did change slightly the seam line across the bodice at the underarm - This caused construction problems which I failed to think all the way through, that effected the underarm gussets.
I struggled mightily with the gussets, and it wasn't until one of those middle of the night musings until I realized why.
Lesson - when you muslin, and you've made alterations, muslin the whole thing to see if changing A affects C... I should have put the gussets in the muslin, but I didn't think I needed to.

The Fabric
For the dress I used a gorgeous wool and cashmere blend satin weave fabric that I purchased from Winstons on their going-out-of business sale. For the contrast I used silk charmeuse.
Underlining: black silk organza.
Seam finish: inspired by the vintage dress I reviewed last week, I decided to straight stitch 1/4" from the edge, then pink the edges. It's a beautiful finish that doesn't create any bulk.
Along the edge of the bodice turn/back facing and to enclose the bodice seam I did a hong kong finish using bias strips of the organza. Inside of bodice
The gussets underarm gusset Eva dress gave me more problems than they should have, but that was self inflicted, as previously mentioned. If I hadn't taken 1/2" out of that bodice seam the lengths would have matched and then the only challenge I would have had to deal with was getting the gusset in across that bodice seam that is already 8 layers thick.

Other couture techniques: Handpicked zipper. I considered an invisible zipper for about a minute and a half. I'm really glad I decided to handpick this one. It's a thing of beauty, and truly the stitches are nearly invisible.
Lingerie strap snap holders at the shoulders. This is more to hold the nearly off-the-shoulder dress in the right place than to hold the straps anywhere.

one other note: after all the fitting, this bodice fits so well that I didn't need to put the elastic strap inside to hold it close to the chest.

All-in-all, I love this dress. It's destined to become one of my favorites.
Not a beginner project, but well worth the effort


Tany said...

I can't wait to see this dress on you! It looks very promising! I love the way you handled all the details!

cmarie12 said...

Yeap me too...can't wait to see you in the actual sounds amazing! And thanks for the construction shots...I love seeing these even if I have a hard time providing them myself! *smile*

toya said...

wow,,, you look great in your dress, thanks for taking the time to write about the all procedure, I enjoyed reading it.

Linda said...

What a stunning dress, it is gorgeous on you. I love all your details too. To me, that is part of what makes sewing so fun. Now go make dinner reservations at some stunning restaurant to show of the stunning dress!

Elizabeth said...

It's a thrill to see all the inside details! Great work. You look stunning in it!

Mary Beth said...

Beautiful dress and fits very nicely on you. I loved the couture construction notations. This dress is definitely a winner!

Wendy & Karen said...

Beautiful pictures (the first picture is my favorite) and beautiful dress. Well done!

AR said...

Great! I love the pic in the mirror. :)

Summerset said...

Fantastic! The muslin was so worth it - the fit is very flattering!

Tany said...

GORGEOUS!! One of a kind!

Mary, Mary... said...

I, too, look much better in 50s patterns with curves. You have created a truly stellar dress--I never thought muslin was all that important until now--and I always swatch for my knitting. Well done!

knittinbrit_in_wi said...

The dress looks beautiful, I can see why it's one of your favorites.

I'm in awe of your seamstress skills. It reminds me why I should stick to knitting.

Jennifer said...

It's gorgeous! You are beautiful in it. Wow, what a lot of work to make your vision a reality.

Crystal said...

It's wonderful, and looks so lovely on you! I already commented on your review at PR, but I just had to say again, thanks for the detailed review, and you look amazing. Someday, I WILL make this dress! I can only hope mine turns out even half as well as yours!

Jae said...

I'm with knittinbrit. I'm going to just stick to my knitting. ;)

You make it sound so easy, even though you said it was challenging. It is beautiful! So inspite of the difficulty, it was definitely worth it.

May said...

Fantastic! You look absolutely divine. Congratulations. :)

Lorraine said...

Marji- You are an inspiration.

Els said...

Great fit and beautiful dress.