Wednesday, March 23, 2011

My New Frontier: A1960’s cocktail dress: Part Two- Sewing a Wearable Muslin

Hi Everyone! 
Long overdue, its time for PART 2 of my 1960's cocktail dress pattern project!
Part 1 was posted almost a month ago. 

In an effort to use my valuable sewing time to its fullest, I created something called a  “wearable muslin”.   

The 1st cut of my size 10 pattern, graded up from an circa 1960 "size 14", wiich is a modern-day 4-6
 I do this as often as possible when developing or testing a pattern that is fairly simple (for me) and hard to mess up. 

Why did I do this instead of just the plain ol’ muslin mock-up fit process? 
For this dress, I feel confident it can be sewn it up as a real, wearable garment the first time around.  It may not fit 100% perfect, but it will still be adorable and very pretty. 
Keep in mind, if this was a corset project, or a weird bodice pattern I’m Frankenstien-ing, then HELL YES, there will be a plain muslin fitting!!  …. maybe 2 or 3 before the good stuff is cut! 
While creating this wearable muslin, I utilized my time to experiment with different things.  In this case, I made up the dress in funky stripe cotton, with a bias-cut silk waistband and my own construction/finishing techniques. 
Gutsy?!  Maybe. 
Fabric purchased on clearance (1/2 price!) at Stone Mountian & Daugher Fabrics, in Berkeley, CA

OK, here’s what I did:
The bodice is a single layer of the striped cotton, but I omitted the facings for the neck & armhole area included in the original pattern.  Instead, I used single fold bias facing to finish the inside of these areas, and finished by hand:

The zipper was hand-basted to the inside of the side seam, and stitched into the garment by hand.  Don’t be intimidated by this, folks!  In fact, hand-sewing a zipper does not take long at all!  Plus, if you don’t have a lot of experience sewing a zipper in by machine, this can be WAY less frustrating, less damaging to the fabric, and looks like a million bucks every time… even if you are not a super-star hand sewer!

For the waistband, I kind of walked away from the original design/construction. 

The original pattern was just for a single layer waistband of fashion fabric only (front and back with side seams), without any finishing/lining/interlining inside.  Weird?  I thought so too.
To mix things up a little, I created new, revised waistband patterns with center front and center back seams.  Here’s how I did it:

REVISED WB PATTERNS: I cut the bias pieces out of  a scrap of black dupioni (fashion fabric) and the straight-grain pieces out of black cotton (flatlining). 
*Backing or flatlining the bias silk pieces with cotton cut on the straight grain will add stability and strength.
ORIGINAL WB PATTERNS: I cut Waistband pieces as per the original pattern, on the fold, out of black cotton.   These pieces became a lining, which I added in order to “clean finish” the inside. 
I also flatlined the skirt part of the dress with black cotton for added body, and to minimize any VPL in the future ;)
Now the dress is ready to try on and have a fitting!
A little wrinkled: All the seams are sewn up except the shoulders and hem. 
Stay tuned for Part Three:  “Analyzing the fit” where I will be looking at the (almost) finished garment with a critical eye, checking overall balance, dart placement, and making notes of any other little fit tweaks that need to be made.

-Kathleen, In Oakland

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