This is the prettiest dress I have ever made! But it's not for me...
It was a dream of mine to be working with lace, but I don't wear lace. Other people do though, for weddings and such, and my friend Isabelle was desperate. Originally, the idea was to make a copy of my red Christmas dress, but the ponte knit available was in sad winter colors, so I suggested stretch lace. Then I got to the fabric store and changed my mind because the stretchy stuff looked and felt negligee-like so I bought real lace (I think it's Alençon but I'm not versed in lace terminology) and polyester crepe.
I knew when I picked this lace that it meant more work I would have to redraft the bodice for a woven and zipper insertion and the sleeves for non-stretch lace. And I only had a couple of days (in reality, it took 3)... so I cheated, big time.
The pattern is an adaptation from Burda's peplum pattern lengthened in front, hey it already had sleeves and it's for woven, my friends measurements (I had already made a muslin for stretch) and the skirt and collar line are from the red Christmas dress.
I bought a generous amount of fabric to be on the safe side, cut it and then I serged, yes you heard me right, I serged the lace to the crêpe underlining... If you are a Couture freak, you should stop reading right here.
|Coverstitching close up curtesy of Style.com|
I felt sacrilegious, about to commit a capital sewing sin. I pictured Couture gurus banishing me from the blogosphere : "you don't do that to fine lace" Whiz! Bam! Gone!
Yet, I thought, if Vuitton can coverstitch it's entire Spring 2012 collection, I can serge my lace if I want to! So with this defiant swagger and a clock ticking, I started to serge.
Other sewing sins include : no lining, an invisible zipper, no hand sewn overlapping of the lace, no matching motifs, except at the skirt and sleeve hems when cutting, no waist stay, hardly any hand sewing... and yet, I think it looks pretty awesome.
I must admit to having had a few heart failures in the process, but fortunately, lace is pretty forgiving in hiding the few mistakes I made. Like when I messed up the French seams in the sleeves (Would you believe I still do that? Duh! Can you say I am not unpicking serged lace?)
|Serged faux-felled seam|
If I gave any advice on working with lace, not that I am an expert or anything, I'd say stay calm, take a break, have some tea, take your time, hand baste where you normally wouldn't, sew very slow with a fine needle, take a nap, rest, breath, go for a walk, stand back, think, breath some more, handle carefully, don't rush. Using my largest sewing foot worked best for me. It helped a lot that it was clear plastic.
The machine will eat your lace no matter what you try to do. I worked around that by keeping some parchment paper strips near the machine and sandwiched seams that were lace on lace, sewing very slow sometimes turning the hand wheel myself. Keep in mind that the paper is hard to remove, do it delicately and very slowly, folding the paper before tearing it and holding it down with your thumbnail.
The hairiest moment was when the dress was almost finished, the sleeves beautifully set and I had to serge the seam allowance for a neater finish. I have never ever been this nervous sewing anything (I did contemplate binding it, but it was bulky, any suggestions?).
|Finishing touches, slip stitched facings.|
|Barely visible invisible zipper|
I'm quite proud of it because it fits her perfectly and she looks like a million bucks in it. Her husband finds her beautiful.
Sadly, she'll have to dress it down as she runs the risk of looking better than the bride, which may cause a diplomatic incident, so I suggested a matching belt, cardigan, shoes, bag in the color of her choice.
I'm dying to see the pictures.