Thursday, 4 May 2017

Simply couture

Do you ever wonder…can I really make this on my own? After attending such an intensive workshop, I wondered if I could still use my new couture skills without Susan Khalje’s being there. This month’s Minerva Crafts project has shown me that I can.
When I initially ordered this lovely guipure lace, I ordered extra for another project but I wasn’t sure what the project would be. This strapless cocktail dress was my project of choice.
The bodice uses the foundation bodice from my February cocktail dress (Vogue 1174).
Double checking the lace for this dress.
The skirt is the one I used in my March project (Simplicity1460).
This guipure lace is woven with a lovely curved border and I again used scalloped border on the skirt hem.
Work in progress view from the front
Work in progress lace from the back

For this project, I cut into the lace across the top of the bodice for more wow.
Bodice lace work in progress
Getting the dimensions right is all in the prep work for this little cocktail number.
Overlaying the lace to finish the centre back seam evenly
Once I had placed the lace onto the dress, I was a bit disappointed that the flowers pointed down however the flower base points were balanced well across the bodice so I took advantage of this and cut into the lace for a more striking bodice edge.
Stepping out with the finished dress

Couture tools
These Prym tools really keep my sewing more accurate and looking more refined that I’ve done in the past. Prym’s red dot tools are ergonomically designed and the Prym Love range are just as well designed and very easy to find when you’re in the ‘throes of sewing up a storm’.
Using all the tools for a better finish
Prep work and Netflix
On both the front bodice and front skirt, I thread-basted the centre front seam. This made aligning the lace work more accurate and helped balance the lace features of this dress.
From my experience you need at least two boxes of pins to secure this type of lace onto your base fabric.
The back of this dress has the full lace across the bodice.
There’s a lot of lace hand sewing to reduce the shadowing that happens when you layer lace over satin. Believe me when I say there’s loads of applique stitching that took a good day to complete. It was during this time that Netflix became my BFF.


Foundation bodice
After making my February cocktail dress I decided to add a nicer looking foundation piece. One side of this foundation bodice is calico with 5cm seam allowances for the boning. The side you can see uses the lining fabric so the inside is a lovely as the outside of the dress.
The internal bodice reading for a different dress
It turns out that as awesome as this foundation piece is, the dress was fitted to me without the foundation piece so after diligently hand sewing this to the dress, I couldn’t close the zipper so I had to take out the foundation bodice. No great loss. I can still use this for a future dress, but I’ll build the dress around the foundation bodice.
Getting help
Now this is the part I needed an expert to check how well the dress fit on me. I went to Bobbin & Ink and the lovely Juliet checked the dress fit and we discovered I needed to add a bit of room at the zipper waist.
When I rechecked my toile pattern pieces, I had the adjusted seam line drawn in a lighter colour, hence this adjustment was the same as I had done in February.
hand finishing the zipper

Fit basics
If I was taller then I would wear clothes that have more flow and drape. However, I just don’t have the height or shape to wear lots of drape and feel confident. I always admire others who can wear clothes with lots of drape but at the end of the day, they don’t work for me.
The fit of the bodice is quite firm so while there’s no boning in the seam, the four layers of fabric keep this dress in place. It doesn’t slip and slide and the dress is very heavy.

I will add the boning to the seams later this month because I don’t think I could wear this with confidence without boning.
Conclusion
Couture sewing takes time and I’m really enjoying it. I prefer not to hand stitch but when the results are this good, I’d be kicking myself to not use my couture sewing skills more often.

The final results are so satisfying. Taking the to make special outfits will make it easier to agree to more formal functions in the future because I now have some really lovely outfits that I’ve made with the help of Minerva Crafts fabric and notion range.

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