silk

For my high school graduation, I made my dress from Vogue S-4727, a vintage pattern from 1956. It may look familiar – I posted my wearable muslin for this dress here back in March!

I used turquoise silk dupioni, which wasn’t as challenging to sew with as I expected! The pattern itself was far more challenging than working with the fabric was. I underlined parts of it with silk organza to reinforce the seams, and it had underarm gussets and a very awkward zipper insertion. I spent a lot of time hand basting!

I ended up putting in an invisible zipper, which I would usually avoid, but the lapped one on my wearable muslin didn’t look very good because of the way the zipper curves into the godet. Because I don’t trust invisible zippers, I put in a waist stay to support it. I hemmed the skirt by hand with horsehair braid, which I love!  I wore it with two crinolines (a bigger, itchier one with a subtler, softer one underneath), both of which were vintage from my aunt. She wore one of them to her high school graduation in 1960!

My shoes are vintage that I bought at a thrift store. I love them! They’re all leather, made in Italy, and have a really gorgeous cutout detail on them. I borrowed the purse from my mom, and the pearl earrings and necklace once belonged to my grandma. I did my own makeup, although I didn’t do much. I did a bit of a cat-eye and wore some super subtle false eyelashes and my favourite lipstick.

My hairdresser did my hair and nails – hair is one thing that I can’t do myself! I loved my hairdo, so it was worth it to get it done (although it was quite a challenge to get my dress over my head without wrecking it!).

It was such a fun day, and I was so happy with my dress! For more construction details and photos, check out my blog post!

If you want to read about other steps in sewing this dress, I wrote posts on choosing a pattern, my two muslins, and my wearable muslin.

Thanks for reading!

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A soon-to-be-married old friend contacted me a few months back and asked if I would be into in restyling her mother’s wedding gown from the 70′s for her to wear for her upcoming wedding this summer! I was initially a bit wary of cutting into something so special but decided to go for it and I am so glad I did! The original dress was made by a dressmaker in Baguio City, Philippines, and is made of pineapple fibre organdy and beautiful cotton lace with beads and sequins. I was a little nervous with the mention of pineapple fibre as it was totally foreign to me, but it was very easy to work with. The dress was beautiful but a bit dated in a not-totally-flattering way, so we discussed changing it up a little to suit her better. Before:

She gave me a few ideas of styles she liked (boat/bateau neckline, illusion lace) and let me play around to figure out the right way to restyle the dress. I suggested a low cut lace back and she was all over it. The main body of the dress fit fairly well and didn’t need to be taken in much, but I slimmed it down a bit overall.
The main change was of course the neckline and bodice. After much consideration, I carefully cut out the lace (taken from the sleeves and veil) and pieced it in place. I pinned it atop the original neckline and traced the area to be cut away. From there I added a small seam allowance to be turned in and hand-stitched the edges of the new neck and back lines.
Then the fun part! Putting the new neckline and the strategically shaped lace together as one! Much hand stitching later (to create a seamless transition between the appliqued lace and the dress fabric I used very tiny stitches) we had an illusion neckline! The bateau neck is slightly higher at the back to kind of ‘hug’ the back of her neck. The bride is quite petite (more so than my dress form, and the low back will hit in a tasteful but lovely spot.
After:

I am so happy with how this turned out and very inspired to push my limits further!

After the lace was cut for the wedding dress, we realized we had some left over and decided to make a second dress, for her to wear to the reception, which would incorporate the extra lace. I happened to have some lovely cream silk shantung in my collection, so from that I cut a very simple retro 60′s sheath, with bateau neck and V-back. The leftover lace was shaped into an obi belt which fastens with hooks and eyes at centre back.

Overall a very rewarding and great project! Bride and mother-of-the-bride are very pleased with the result! Feels great to be trusted with such a beautiful heirloom item. I preserved large seam allowances in the “new” wedding dress for future alteration possibilty, just in case she wants to hand it down again one day…

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Back in October I posted on here an introduction to a big sewing project I was taking on: reproducing a version of Charles James’ Tree Gown:

Charles James: The Exhibition - Threads

My excuse for tackling this, apart from the challenge of it, was to wear at the 2014 Toronto Garrison Ball.  Which was actually last weekend – yes, the dress was finished beforehand ;o)

This project was made possible/feasible by the generous loan of a pattern taken of the dress’ foundation made by a former curator of the Chicago History Museum for their Charles James exhibition in 2011.

I documented the process at each step along the way and blogged about it, but didn’t post all of those here because I thought they’d get tedious.

But now it’s FINISHED and I’ve caught up with my blogging (that lagged when it got to the stress-sewing point) so I’m sharing here again!

Here’s a brief(ish) retrospective on the process:

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And finally I ended up with this:

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A CHARLES JAMES GOWN OF MY VERY OWN!!!!

I cannot tell you how RELIEVED I was that it actually turned out well, lol.  I was nervous about it right to the very end.

If you’d like to follow the process in more detail (there is some fun stuff in there) here’s a link to all the Tree posts.

You can go here if you just want to see more of the finished dress – and the “superhero” evening cape I made to wear with it!

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Let me preface this by saying that this is my first post to date! I’ve been sewing for a couple of years and this was actually the first dress I ever sewed.
When I got engaged, I jokingly considered “just making my own dress” as a way to ease the financial burden that a wedding can cause. However, the more I thought about it, the more intrigued I was by the idea. When I finally decided, it seemed like the world was against me. But, that really only fueled the fire. I had sewn shirts and skirts so I knew a dress couldn’t be any more difficult…and it really wasn’t. Except for the fact that I bought real silk which meant I couldn’t get even a drop of water on it.
I was mostly inspired by Madeleine Vionnet and her 1930′s bias cut gowns. I loved the soft and feminine look of the gowns and the non-corset bodice. The flouncy bottom of her dresses also drew me to that style. I flirted with the idea of learning to bias sew but quickly laughed that off.
The more and more I sewed my dress the more I wanted lace on it. At the same time, my mom was offering for me to wear her dress from 1980 (not to mention she’s a half foot shorter than me and about 3 dress sizes smaller). So instead I decided to use the lace from her gown and incorporate it in my own.
I also decided to make a detachable train which I am so glad that I did. It felt so nice dancing around without a train dragging me down.

Here are some more photos of the dress. I used the delicate lace to draft sleeves and finished it with a small scalloped edge. The front and back bodice incorporated both the delicate lace and the wider lace. I trimmed the bottom of my dress in the wider lace and the front opening and bottom of my train.

Here is when the train came off:

Also I used vogue v2931 and took in the panels on the train, took off the bow and straps, and took in the top of the sloth as well. I also separated the train to make it detachable.

PennyandMary and DIYbride posted about it if you’re interested.

Thanks and I hope you enjoy!

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