Hi, all! I’m back– after only one day! What?! What’s next? Regular scrubbing ‘o’ the shower?! Well, maybe I shouldn’t get ahead of myself…
So, have you guys been enjoying the lace projects over at the Mood Sewing Network this month? I sure have! It’s fun to see everyone’s take on the same theme. :) Now, it’s probably pretty apparent to most people that I’m not much of a lace girl, so my goal with this challenge was to make a garment that I would actually wear and love. I decided to avoid anything overtly floral or feminine, and with this in mind dug through a gazillion bolts of fancy lace (inadvertently missing an entire section of what I guess is “not fancy” lace, whoops!). I settled on this gold mesh-like poly lace:
Pretty sweet, right? I decided to pair it with a black cotton sateen. Dude. There is TONS of black cotton sateen at Mood, so I was having a hard time deciding which to choose when Michael pulled out the perfect bolt. I had no idea that humble, inexpensive cotton sateen could feel so luxe! It’s medium-weight and has an amazing sheen and body… I could hardly bring myself to cover it with the lace! But I did.. and here’s how it turned out!
I used the Belladone pattern from Deer & Doe (which I’m now MADLY in love with). The pattern suggests using a soft, drapey fabric, but I thought it would be fun to see the pleats in a more structured fabric. I think it worked out pretty well!
This pattern is my new favorite– I absolutely love it! It’s very straightforward to put together. I made a size 38 with no alterations whatsoever, and it fits really well. My advice for anyone making this pattern is to reinforce the diagonal lines of the upper back bodice pieces and to handle them as little as possible. The pattern instructions suggest reinforcing light fabric with bias tape, but rayon seam binding might be a good choice, too. If your pieces stretch out at all, you’re going to end up with some gross gaping at mid-back… never a good look. Also, just to be clear, the pocket yoke pieces need to be cut out of fashion fabric rather than lining because they form part of your skirt (this may be common knowledge to you guys, but I’ve never made anything with diagonal pockets before so it took me by surprise). One last thing… there’s no closure at the neck (you just pull the dress over your head). It’s a pretty snug neckline, so I can just slip it on comfortably, but if you’re coming from the salon with a fresh new beehive, you may have to do some real wiggling to get this on over your head without harming the ‘hive.
Let’s see… what else can I tell you about the construction? Since the lace is pretty stretchy, I basted each piece to the sateen underlining by hand and pulled the lace just the teensiest bit taut as I stitched it. I basted the layers together up the middle of each dart (like I always do when I underline fabric). The lace was tough to press without melting, so it’s a little baggy in places and I really had to work to get the darts to lay flat. I decided not to line it A) because the dress was already pretty heavy and B) because I’m in love with the sateen and wanted to feel it against my skin. I just serged the seams, which worked really well… until I caught a wee bit of the bodice in the serger and cut a hole right at the, um, apex, of the bust… sigh… I had to tons of hand stitching to repair that screw-up. It’s not invisible now, but it’s not immediately apparent. Don’t worry– it wouldn’t be a Ginger project if I didn’t have some sort of massive, complicating issue on an otherwise straightforward project. I also managed to slice my left index finger with my shears– be careful with those things! I didn’t realize they could snip through a dadgum FINGER! Luckily I figured out how to PhotoShop the bandage out of the photos!
The neckline and armscyes are finished with handmade bias binding. Cotton sateen is pretty heavy for bias tape, so if you want to use something like that (I didn’t have anything else), you have to really grade the seam allowances to reduce as much bulk as possible. I made the waistband out of just the sateen to emphasize my virtually non-existent waist.
The only thing I’m unhappy with is the hem. I stitched a machine hem, thinking that it would make the dress a bit more casual, but I don’t think the stretchy lace played well with the feed dogs so there’s some twisting and such around the hem. I’ll probably rip it out and do a blind hem by hand.
Overall I’m pleased! The color is a bit more drab than what I usually wear, so I was nervous as I was constructing the dress that I was going to hate it. But luckily I really like it! I can’t rave enough about the magical sateen– it just makes the dress feel so fancy and fun! I love the way the skirt hangs in a full-bodied fabric– I felt like a Parisian princess when I slipped the dress on (and not like someone who’d spent the better part of the afternoon cleaning up after a sick dog!). Maybe I cheated a little by not choosing a really lacy lace, but I’m still going to count this as a successful lace project. :) And the pattern is just so fun– I love where the shoulder seams fall, the length is perfect, the pleat looks super cute, and the cutout is an awesome surprise when you turn around.
Alright, so I’m pretty sure this marks the beginning of a serious love affair with Deer & Doe. I’m already planning out three more versions of this dress, and I’m trying my hardest to ignore their new patterns, but… you know how good I am at not buying patterns.
What’s next for all of y’all? Any fun spring dresses on the docket? And how do you feel about lace? Love it? Hate it? Are back cutouts heading out of style anytime soon (I hope not!)?