Sunday, 24 January 2016

Yellow is the new black

Yellow is the new black, and don’t try to convince me otherwise! I have such a crush on yellow, that I want to sew a yellow capsule wardrobe! Well, I may change my mind in spring, but at the moment yellow seem to be ruling my life. Now, that I have made it pretty clear, I call tell you the story of my velvet party dress.

To make this dress, the pattern calls for two-way stretch knits, sequin mesh or stretch velvet. Having previously sewed  a velvet dress for a work event, I knew I wanted to sew more with velvet, and the Vogue 1427 was perfect for this.  A perfect occasion to make a new dress was just around the corner: a corporate Christmas party.

I bought  this neon yellow velvet fabric and this cupro lining from the Joel & Son Fabrics online store. If  you are not familiar with this website, please go and have a look. It’s a real paradise for people who sew: they sell high-end fabric, keeping yourself from falling in love with it is impossible. Whenever I browse their website, I tend to lay my eye on fabrics with the highest price tag, but for once, the fabric I chose for this project was priced reasonably, and additionally, I only needed 1.5 metres for both fashion fabric and lining, which was plenty. My experience with their customer support was amazing: not only did they answer all my fabric related questions  very quickly, but, on top of that, I received my order within 2 working days.

This is my second time sewing with a Big 4 pattern. I am constantly put off by the incredible amount of ease, but also by the fact that they add seam allowances to their patterns. It’s not a big secret that most of the time I use BurdaStyle patterns, which exclude seam allowances. Even thinking about removing seam allowances, removing ease and adapting a Big 4 pattern to my measurements gives me headache. Despite all of the above, I decided to give it a go, because patterns for stretch fabric are more forgiving in terms of fit and require fewer alterations.

The V1427 pattern is a princess seam dress with pleated upper front. I checked the measurements of my previous princess seam dresses, and noticed that my Vogue size fell somewhere between a size 10 and 12 for the skirt and an 8 for the top. When looking closely at the pattern, I was dazzled by tons of markings: big and small circles, pleat lines with directional arrows, squares, notches, waistlines, centre front and back lines. For such a complex pattern it was essential to transfer the most important markings to the fabric, but also understand the logical order of assembling the pattern. When I worked with the fashion fabric, I transferred the most important markings using the coloured cotton basting thread, to keep it easy to understand which one was which.
It took me two evenings to solve the pattern puzzle. After putting the muslin together, the hem looked asymmetrical and it did not exactly resemble the dress on the pattern envelope. But when I re-read the instructions from the beginning to the end, everything became clearer: to create pleats on the upper part,  I had to stitch the lining to the fashion fabric in a certain way, so that the stitching line created a fold. I’ll try clarify what I did. The lining piece of the pattern is much shorter than the external fabric. By stitching the former to the latter, it moves up, therefore creating a fold.

Once I figured out the construction during the prototyping phase, sewing the real dress together was less scary! Creating folds, pleats and adding the boning was pretty straightforward. To keep the upper left part, the sleeveless part, close to the body without gaping, the instructions suggested adding a piece of elastic, to connect the centre front to the back centre, but when I did it, I was not completely satisfied with the stability level. Instead of elastic I applied a piece of the widest horsehair braid I could get in my haberdashery storage, approximately 5cm wide, and the end result was much more satisfying! Usually, we use horsehair braid to hem skirts, thus creating more structure, like I used on this skirt, a couple of years ago. This time, the horsehair braid kept my strapless side of the neckline from collapsing.

The only outcry came unexpectedly, last minute, when I was  attaching the zipper. Handbasted, it looked great! You can see it on the picture below. But when machine sewed, it went all over the place creating unwanted wrinkles and caused the back panels  to become uneven. I asked the online community via Instagram for help, and it arrived within minutes! Carmen from CarmencitaB, suggested interfacing the zipper area, which I had completely forgotten to do. Five minutes later, and you can see the difference!

It's still not 100% perfect, but well . . .

To make my outfit stand out, I adorned my head with a vintage hat, bought in Chicago a few years back. I decided to replace the original black netting (since it contained at least 1000 and one holes). I purchased a metre of  yellow veiling from a cute craft shop in Cork, Vibes & Scribes, to make a new one. 

I wore the dress to a Christmas party, and I have to say, that out of about 2000 people there I was the only one wearing yellow! Isn’t it cool? Black blends with everything around, bring in some colour! Are you into any particular colour at the moment? Have you made your party dress?

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