Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Gossip Girl Dress - The Toille

I hope everyone is fully recovered from the festive season. At the risk of sounding like a grinch I am always glad to see the end of this part of the year. Don't get me wrong, I love catching up with friends and family to celebrate Christmas and the New Year but I find that small doses of social activity are best for me.

I generally end up feeling exhausted, anxious and completely frazzled by the time New Year's Day comes around and I just can't wait to retreat into a bit of quiet and solitude to recharge! Plus it has been diabolically hot the past few days and nights so I am tired and grumpy on top of everything else! I for one have thoroughly enjoyed looking at the 'snow' pictures on the blogs of my Northern Hemisphere counterparts!

But it's a new year now, and who knows what it has in store for us? For me, I am looking forward to finishing the renovation, maintaining a work-life balance, developing a healthier lifestyle, spending quality time with my fella and lots of lovely sewing challenges of course! Starting with the 'Gossip Girl' dress I introduced here.

Thanks for the feedback on my dyeing samples, the votes were 3 to 1 in favour of the green.

As luck would have it that is the decision I came to independently but it's nice to have the back-up. The Selfish Seamstress recently wrote about chic and unique vs crafty-crazy and I admit I sometimes worry about my choices. Being unrestrained by retail availability I am concerned about looking too 'different' for comfort (not being of the personality type that enjoys standing out - kudos to those who love it!).

I spent New Year's Eve at a concert that was completely not my scene - no criticism of hip hop and drum and bass, it's just not for me. On the upside they let off terrific fireworks at midnight (I always love a fireworks show) and I pretty much spent the rest of the night day-dreaming about the dress. Do you do this too? Before I start a major project I tend to work through it in my mind to figure out what sort of techniques I'll use, any construction issues that might crop up, whether or not the style will really suit me, what design changes I'll make and so on, I'm sure you know what I mean (it has got me through many a boring meeting/conference!). So I was able to spend a really enjoyable evening going through this process and I realised every time I pictured an aspect of the dress in my mind, it was green. Decision made!

As to the style, I chose McCalls 5804 (as I created this link I noticed it's on clearance for US$3.00!!!), it's not exactly like the inspiration but waistline gathers aren't going to do me any favours and I think this style gives the effect I'm after.

As usual when using expensive fabric or a new pattern I made a toille. Generally I would only toille the bodice to save time and fabric but this time I decided to do the whole thing for kicks. Looking at the pattern tissue I noticed that there seemed to be a lot of ease so I thought I might be able to get away with a straight size 12 - I was right. So be warned people, if you like a neat fit then choose your size from the finished measurements, not the body measurements! The only change to the pattern I made at this stage was to lengthen it by 15cm (yes, that's right 6 inches in the old language!!). This baby is SHORT.

So here is the front view.
Clearly an fba is not needed here. I wear a D-DD these days so I would normally need to add a bit of room in the front, if you are more petite in the bust then I would suggest taking out some of the fullness unless you want to look like you are dressing up in your mum's dress. The midriff is a touch snug, but since I would normally cut a 14 in the waist it's not surprising. I'll probably let out the side seams a smidge.

The length is fine. Actually this will be the finished length of the lining, which will have a band of the dress fabric around the bottom. The shell of the dress will be a bit shorter. If you look at the inspiration picture there seems to be a double layer thing going on which I quite like.

Here it is from the side - I don't usually do profile shots for good reason but it illustrates why I do a couple of the alterations I always need. I believe this is known as 'military' or 'upright' posture, which shortens and narrows the back and lengthens and broadens the front.I am leaning my head forward here, which isn't my normal posture but you can clearly see the issues I have with the back of my clothes. Even though my shoulders go a bit forward, my shoulder blades actually sit quite far back and into the middle of my back which is why I need to do a narrow back alteration, here I have pinched out 3cm either side of the zip. I usually take this right off of the centre back line, but if your neck is average sized whilst your shoulder length is shorter you'd want to do this differently.

You can also see that my upper back is not straight above my waist, but curves backwards like a closing parenthesis ). This has the effect of shortening the centre back line so I normally take out an inch just above the waist, tapering to nothing at the side seam - here I've pinned it out above the midriff band.

Here is a back close up so you can see the alterations. I have pinned them myself (luckily I am flexible!) so they are a bit wonky. It doesn't matter, I know my body so well these days I only need a rough guide for this sort of alteration. You may have noticed a different backdrop for these photos. We took the pictures in the front of the house instead of the back for a change. We've done a bit of work out the front over the break, now we just have to keep everything alive in our harsh, dry conditions. My fella insisted on getting 'owlie' in the shot, he loves that owl! I like my front patch a lot more than my back courtyard (which hasn't had any work done), but I'm not sure I'll be doing photos out there regularly since I live in a complex and my neighbours might start looking at me funny!

I'll rush out after work tomorrow to buy the fabric and notions. I'll pre-wash the fabrics and I hope I can get the dyeing done over the weekend. I am still tossing up whether or not to underline the whole thing in silk organza. I know it will give a lovely finish but I am concerned it will make the dress a bit hot to wear.


Lisa said...

I am really exited to see the finished results . Your toile looks very promising and I'm sure it will be perfect as always when you are finished. Your garden looks lovely by the way.

Sue said...

Looking good!