Saturday, March 31, 2012

How good is good enough?

So, how what quality does your work have to be in order for you to consider it, "good." I am pretty rigorous on myself, and it doesn't always serve me well. I can get bogged down in the tiniest details, to the point that I have at least one WIP that's been stalled out for over 15 years (a very nineties boxy top that would actually look great right now, must pull it out). So, how is the Marilyn Monroe day look coming along (and yes, I totally see Michelle Williams wearing this as she channels Marilyn putting on a show. I love a good narrative for my dresses.) I thought about going all Oona on this dress, and adding some sort of color and contrast, but that skill is a gift, and one I don't have. I did think about using some sort of bold orange, but where, how, and in what quantity?? These questions torment me.
I think the overall impression of the front is good. The dress originally had bust darts, but the fabric made them do a rather extreme and super pointy bullet-bra effect (does anyone else remember the cast member of the VERY FIRST Real World who put dixie cups under her bra for a night of clubbing? Sort of looked liked that). I took out the darts and gathered the excess instead.
This is lesser of two evils kind of deal. The bust darts perhaps had more panache, because the gathers give a certain droopiness. My first instinct is to hike up the bodice front even tighter, but maybe that's actually the opposite of the problem? It I lengthened the bodice front the underbust seam would fall more naturally below the bust and perhaps allow the gathers to "fill-out" a bit more naturally? I've already added twill tape on the front neckline, but maybe I should do it on the back too? Is that a thing? There is a little too much gaping to be acceptable.
I added bust pads a la Gertie, and maybe a second round WITH a slightly lowered underbust would do the trick? Anyhoo, this dress needs to be shortened, and I think once I've cut out and inserted a lining I'll like it.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Bigger Girl Blues, or, The Pattern Never Lies

About three or four years ago I made a black silk duponi version of Vogue 9668 to wear to a Halloween Party;
The end-result was an instant favorite, and one of those dresses that makes you feel sexy and gorgeous and stylish every time you put it on. I've never made the pattern again, even though I loved it so much. A few weeks ago I decided I'd use my vintage slubby dotted rayon to make a more summery, hopefully daytime-ish version. Because I am a wise seamstress, I muslined it first... and the bodice didn't meet in the back. By more than two inches. Long story short, I had to grade the pattern up by two sizes, in other words I've gained two inches around my stomach, hips and thighs in less then three years. I also seem to have lost about half-an-inch vertically, i.e., my waist is higher (is such a thing possible?).
I do not like this change. And there has been change; when I asked my boyfriend if I'd put on weight he did the ol' anxious evasive eye-roll to the sky, waited about two seconds, and answered, "Nooooooooo?" I come from a family of very-thin people, and fake-thin people. My sister is legitimately thin, whereas I - in my grandmother's immortal words - am, "too hippy for those pants, dear." I'm one of those people who could go fat, very very easily. Fat likes me, it wants to hang around and stick to my bones. I know it would be nice to be all body-accepting of myself... but I can't accept that. I don't particularly want to diet, but I am going to modify my lifestyle to prevent any further unwanted expansion.
The slubby rayon is very hard to control, so I interlined the bodice with muslin, and then did the same for the first eight inches of the skirt. I'm not sure if this was a good idea or not, but it certainly makes it easier to control. This fabric has an odd characteristic - the points of all the darts are super sharp and "sticky-out." This is Ok on the skirt, but looks quite odd on the bust. I'm thinking of turning the bust darts into gathers to deal with that. And finally here is the fantastic acid green, framed with black, lace from Mood that I stopped myself from buying. Oh, the regrets!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Wallis Simpson / Michael Kors Vogue dress

I bought this fabric - a gold / green silk with embroidered flowers- from a fancy store in Mid-town Manhattan (probably Parons) about ten or eleven years ago. It was the summer just after 9/11, and a whole bunch of my fancy NYC cousins were gearing up to get married. I futzed around with it and a very poorly drafted Vintage Butterwick Pattern, till my then boyfriend pointed out that the whole effect was incredibly frumpy.
Now, a decade later, I finally sewed the dress up into the Michael Kors pattern that was very popular for a nano-second. I did it in stages (as I tend to do). Stage 1 was the hopeful excitement phase that got me through sewing the skirt (great fit with no adjustments), the back bodice (matches perfectly), the little bow (cute), and up till the point were I had to baste the bodice 'wing' in place. It was horrifyingly frumpy and unflattering, and I hated it, thought I looked just like Wallis Simpson on a bad day, and hid away the dress for Stage 2.
Stage 2 is deciding to do something spontaneous and creative, like draft a new bodice front from scratch. This phase is purely hypothetical for me, because it only ever ends in inaction or disaster. I've never successfully made it through Stage 2. Which leads to Stage 3, which is just finish the f****** dress already.
Now that I've done it I think it is quite cute. I got many compliments last night when I wore it out, and while not a favorite, it will get some use.
I have an innate ability to go to fancy fabric stores and pick the frumpiest bolts to sew from. After two hours in Mood, this funny brown / slate blue tweed is my favored selection for the Starlet Suit. Save me from myself.