Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Dressmaking 101

So I got a serger...then I had a project...

Sean and I are going to his cousin's wedding in Ohio in two weeks time. I learned as of late that it is going to be a formal wedding. I don't know them really well, so I don't know what qualifies as 'formal'. If you know me, I'm a tee-shirt and jeans kinda girl, a bikini and board shorts type of girl. Formal doesn't exist in my world...but Sean said that for his cousin's bar-mitzvah, his [cousin's] mom wore some sparkly dress that probably cost a thousand dollars. *THAT* type of formal...

I had long given away my old prom dress, which actually would not have been too dated. In a pinch, I pulled out a few dress patterns I had lying around, and Sean helped me pick out one. We settled on Simplicity 5235.

Pattern and fabric choices - plum/burgundy satin and cream brocade

Friday after work, I headed up to Hancock because I remembered them having the best affordable brocade selections. Of course when I go, there is none. Funny how that happens. The lady told me that they had clearanced them all. *doh*

I go back south to JoAnn's, and find a nice selection of brocades there. And lucky for me, it was all on sale! I took about an hour to figure out which satin and brocade combination I wanted. I wasn't too impressed by their nicer satins, not too many flattering colors to choose from. But finally, I figured that a dark plumish-burgundy would look good with a creme brocade that was not too detailed. So there it was...

I started working on the dress Friday night up til about 3am. The serger cut down a lot of steps, and proved extremely handy. I'm overjoyed at my late birthday/early christmas present from Sean :) But a serger cannot do it all (without the painstaking task of rethreading all the time...) so I used my old sewing machine as well. My workspace is pretty small and limited. I can't have both machines on my sewing table conveniently, so when I need to use one, I push the other out of the way and so on.

I had to cut the pattern to a size 12 Misses *gasp!* Yeah, well sewing patterns, if you didn't know already, are all weird when it comes to measurements...not exactly good for the ego. But anyways, I trust the measurements actually marked on the pattern pieces themselves rather than on the pattern envelope, and they pointed size 12 for me, and so it was...

I was pleasantly surprised that this dress was easier than I thought it would be. I was a bit apprehensive because it uses boning and netting, neither of which I have used before. And has button holes as well. Button holes..ugh, I could care less about button holes! The directions were sometimes confusing, but then they cleared up as I thought about things logically and from my experience.

Mostly constructed, a constant running back and forth to iron

The pattern called for a 3/8 inch ribbon for the back. I searched a few stores, and expected that I would not find a good match for my color of satin. It is too purple to be burgundy. I ended up having to make my own ribbon using a bias tape maker, an iron, and scrap fabric pieces. After all the work put into the dress already, I couldn't spare the detail of having mismatched ribbon to fabric.

Making my own ribbon

The netting proved to be a pain in the ass, though. I wasn't sure how it would sew and how it would be to work with. I had to create kind of like a ruffled skirt, to give the dress some body. The pieces of netting I had to work with were pretty long. And trying to pin netting to netting that is sewing into huge circles...yeah...pain in the ass. Not to mention that I didn't read the directions, so I ended up doing the netting as one of the last details. The directions say to sew the netting to the skirt lining, then sew the skirt lining+netting to top lining, then sew the lining to the dress itself. Well, I had aleady sewed the lining to the dress, so I had to be creative.

Netting pinned to skirt lining

A measure of a good sewer is someone who can fix mistakes or improvise. I'm no perfectionist, so I improvise. And no one would have even known had I not mentioned it. So I pinned the netting to the skirt lining and sewed it in place. Sounds easy, huh? Well, it was easy, but a pain because it seemed like my sewing machine was being attacked by netting.

I decided that the front of the dress looked too plain being a solid color, so I added a band of the contrasting fabric to go over the top to give it a bit more character. Little by little, boning, ribbon, hemming, etc...I was finally done...and I have impressed myself with this one!

Total project cost: under $50 (yay for sales!)

Total project time: about 30 hours

Looking better than the bride: priceless (Just kidding!!! haha!)

I've come a far way with my sewing skills in the past 4 years. Practice, practice, and more practice. I challenge myself every once in a while, and with each challenge, I learn more. This project could not have turned out any better...

A funny I have this fancy ass dress now...well, I've taught Sean how to be cheap. Being cheap gives us more room in our budget to do fun things, like travelling and wakeboarding. We live the life we do, and we love it.

In an effort to save money going to Ohio, we've decided to make a roadtrip out of it and camp along the way. Then we'll end up in Columbus for the fancy schmancy wedding, where we're staying at the local Motel 6 (for $37? a night) so that we can get somewhat cleaned up for the shindig. Everyone else..well, they're staying at the Westin for some ungodly amount of $115/night. See the savings rolling in already? I really wanted to do the camping thing in Columbus as well and borrow Sean's parents room to clean up. I'm sure they'd feel pity on us and let us borrow the bathroom ;) But Sean decided that we should have a base of our own, so we're splurging for the Motel 6. Yes, that's a splurge. Sean's parents want us to stay at the Westin, and we're no...there's a reason why we're driving..there's a reason why we're camping...we aren't going to blow $350 on hotel rooms for a long weekend. Besides, we have our own wedding to save for...I'm talking $9/night for my wedding guests. Now we're talking ;)

I'm looking forward to the roadtrip...we're leaving on Saturday the 9th, and will be back the 24th of Sept.


Anonymous April Smith said...

Wow! This dress is BEAUTIFUL, as are you in it! I know I'll be trying to hire you if I need a dress made! I'm glad to see your doing so well. :-)


(from ARG)

9:12 AM  

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