You all know by now that I love trying out new patterns and discovering mistakes and bad design features but this week a client left a simple pattern and challenging fabric. She actually can sew for herself and small children but this fabric was some sort of rayon blend charmeuse which tended to wander and stretch out of shape and it would have been a real struggle for her to finish it in time for her special event in Barcelona, Spain. She and her husband will be flying out for a convention and she wanted a cocktail type dress that could be packable and still look sexy when she wore it.
Let’s start with the pattern, Vogue 8961 and the Pattern Review notes: Back in the late 80’s and 90’s the bat-wing style was very popular but it also came along with huge shoulder pads and this dress would have been cut in one piece with a line drawn on the waist of paper pattern saying “attach elastic here”. Thankfully this pattern has a separate top and skirt joined with an elastic tunnel. Big deal you say? Well, it is a big deal for fitting as my client is very short waisted and I could sew the skirt seam higher up on the bodice rather than making lots of alterations beforehand.
My only reservation was the depth of the underarm seam and whether it would be flattering or look young enough for her. On the model it looked droopy and wrinkled so I did something about it after pinning it on her. The front and back bodice sections were altered: I followed the pinned line and traced and re-cut the top part and also dropped the back neckline 2 inches. The front V was low and the client wanted an equally deep V in the back but I explained this would cause the top to be so unstable even with making bra strap guards to keep it on her shoulders…so we compromised. With the waist measuring 11 X 4 to have enough ease, the skirt sections also had to match and then flare out a little over the hips.
By raising the underarm seams it made the dress more modern and young and with a short waisted client you need to emphasize the waist and bust and not let it be covered up with so much fabric. So what did it look like inside? Well, the back neckline was bound and the front neckline had a facing and the shoulders had bra strap guards: and the hem had a Hong Kong finish:
The one drawback to this nice slippery fabric is the weave…it can catch on sharp things and make a pull which shows, so I advised my client to wrap it in tissue paper for the trip in case it shifted in the suitcase and caught on something.
Before I get back to the brides I want to share what I find under the dresses all the time:
Layer after layer of crumbled, folded, smashed netting will do nothing to hold out the skirt of a gown and bridal shop owners never steam/iron these layers. It makes me crazy and I iron every layer to make them crisp enough to do their job.
Next time a real treat…flash back to the real 1980’s!