Friends, the dogs are pooped and so am I. But there's no rest for the weary. With just 36 hours to go before Cathy debuts her new cocktail dress at what we all hope will be a glamorous New York party and not just a bunch of actors drinking heavily, I need to finish this project.
I have learned so much making this dress I can't tell you. I had never sewn lace before, I had never worked with taffeta before, I had never lined a bodice before (next time, boning!). You know I love a challenge and this was a doozie.
Let's cut to the chase. After drafting my own slip pattern, adapting a vintage Seventies princess-seamed dress pattern, I cut my fashion fabric (heavy taffeta) and stitched it together. Here's an early shot -- taffeta never looks good under bright light, so keep that in mind.
I cut a bodice lining, using the same pattern pieces, out of polished black cotton. With the dress open and flat, I stitched the bodice lining to the dress along the top, clipped seam allowances where necessary and folded over (and in) as one would any facing. I understitched a bit as well, to keep the lining inside the dress.
I followed instructions from a Vogue evening gown pattern I have and stayed the top of the bodice seam with selvage I'd cut from the bodice fabric. A useful technique I think.
I inserted my zipper (it looks better pressed) and I will add a hook and eye up top. The invisible zipper is stitched atop both taffeta and lining; in a perfect world, the lining would be hand stitched to the inside of the zipper or something like that. Whatever, it works.
Next, I spilled roughly 1/8 cup water on the side panel of the dress. No, not a spill exactly -- a leak.
Friends, my Black & Decker iron never leaks -- it's wonderful -- UNLESS you try to use it before it reaches the selected temperature setting (it bings when it's ready). Then it makes a mess. And it made a mess all over my dress, though thankfully only on one side panel.
NOTE: WATER IS TO TAFFETA WHAT EIGHTIES PATTERNS ARE TO FASHION. A DISASTER.
My taffeta can handle a bit of steam while I lightly press it just fine, but a puddle of boiling water will leave an indelible mark. I recommend not having water in your iron if you're working with taffeta. It's a fragile fabric and very unforgiving.
I'm fortunate on a number of fronts: a) the taffeta is very dark, b) the stain is on a side panel and Cathy gesticulates a lot, c) the taffeta slip will be worn under a black lace redingote. I'm not sure this stain even reads on your monitors:
Oh, btw, to cut most of my taffeta, it was enough to run my shears through it -- cuts like butta!
Here's a teaser of what the final dress will look like:
Styled and all, it will look less like something Joey Heatherton wore in a Serta Perfect Sleeper ad and more like vintage Jean Louis. There's still a lot to do, not the least of which is hemming separately both lace and taffeta skirts.
Now I need your help, oh, Wise Ones:
Straps -- thick or thin? The thick (left side) is a piece of satin ribbon, though I could make these out of my taffeta; the thin (right side) is velvet ribbon that will also tie the front of the redingote. Is the thin velvet too bra-like?
Patient readers, we're out of time. Regardless of how this turns out, I've learned a lot and it hasn't been a nightmare, not really. I try to enjoy the process and not get too caught up in the results. Cathy will work her magic regardless and pull this outfit off. I hope.
I'm a native New Yorker and self-taught sewing fanatic! I started sewing in 2009 and today make all my own clothes using mostly vintage patterns and vintage sewing machines. Welcome to the warm and whimsical world of Male Pattern Boldness, where the conversation is sewing, style, fashion, fabric, and more!