What to make for a friend’s wedding??

What to make for a friend’s wedding??

I just realized it’s August. Funny how that happens. The months roll by, you think you have enough time for all the projects on your plate, and BOOM! It’s all gone.

This finally hit me today because in just a bit over a month, a friend of mine is getting married and I can’t decide what to make to wear. I’ve got a 2-year-old UFO that’s all underlined and pleated and ready to be sewn together that I could finish. The fabric is a beautiful mulberry-colored metallic jacquard I picked up from the Haberman Fabrics booth at American Sewing Expo three or four years ago. The pattern is from an issue of BurdaStyle magazine from 2011. I still love the fabric, I still love the dress, and as it’s ready for assembly it would be easy to finish. But I’m not sure it hits the right note for an early September wedding and reception in a rustic barn in Connecticut at 3 p.m.

I could change plans pretty easily at this point and instead make the Cashmerette Upton dress with the full pleated skirt option. If past experience with Cashmerette’s patterns carries through to this one, most of my pattern alterations are already included in the pattern’s draft. I’d have to do a muslin, of course, and I’d have to pick a fabric. I have lots in my stash to choose from, but half my stash is now at my parents’ house 8 hours away, as I’m prepping for a move. What I do have on-hand is mostly casual, or intended for historical costume, or fancier but not enough yardage.

Here’s what I have that could make a just-fancy-enough-but-not-too-fancy Upton for my friend’s wedding:

A beautiful fuchsia jacquard-weave linen, which I’ve already planned to make into this dress anyway. I’ve got a solid 4 yards of this. The color looks a little hot in this photo, but it’s not far off the real color. There’s a large Art Nouveau-ish design woven into the fabric, and the linen has a beautiful hand, stiff body, and full drape, plus that lovely linen luminescence. I’d wash this by dunking it a few times in warm water and letting it air dry before pressing to preserve some of its crispness and the fiber’s natural glow.

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A silk shantung that started out periwinkle, but which I dyed to what I’ll call royal purple. Or maybe cornflower. It came out a tad splotchy in areas, but one more spin through the wash cleared most of that up. Still, the subtle sheen of shantung was diminished by the hot dye bath and washing it afterward. It definitely has a sand-washed appearance now. I have 3 yards of this 59-inch-wide fabric, which should be JUST enough for an Upton dress. I’d like to try a bit of painting on this one to disguise any remaining splotches, with black and gold paints. It would be semi-fancy, original, and just challenging and creative enough to keep my attention on it.

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Then there’s the 7+ yards of rose-gold silk dupioni that I bought for a Regency gown, but then decided it would be too stiff even after washing. It is very highly slubbed and medium weight. It would probably look great after a gentle wash with baby shampoo. Despite the texture and pretty color and nice sheen, it would be a rather plain dress. So I’d probably do some painting on it to give the dress more interest.

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What do you do when you’re faced with several good options and can’t decide which would be best? If there wasn’t a deadline involved I’d say: I’ll make them all and it doesn’t matter which one comes first. But since this is sewing for a goal, a dress to wear to a friend’s wedding, deciding is kind of important.

Here’s what I do when I can’t decide: sketch. I either free-hand draw the design, then color it in to get the full effect, or I use the pattern flats. Since the Upton is a very simple design and the flats are already nicely proportioned for my kind of figure, I decided to use them as the basis for my sketches.

Here’s option 1, from the linen jacquard:

Sketch 3-A

Here’s option 2, from the royal/cornflower shantung. I would apply a painted design that I call “shattered lace,” which is done by dabbing fabric paint or spraying liquid dye onto the fabric through scraps of lace. I love this technique because it’s so interesting. I’d use black and gold and scatter the patterns around the fabric randomly.

Sketch 1

And option 3, which is hard to get an accurate sketch for because the color is hard to reproduce with marker (I did some color saturation adjustment). For this option, I’d also apply a shattered lace effect, but in gold and bronze color paints, and probably only concentrated around the dress’s hemline. I tried to mimic the dupioni texture with metallic gold pen, but the color adjustment reduced its effect.

Sketch 2-ab copy

I really like all of these options, and making a decision is going to be tough. All the colors would look good with my complexion, I think. The linen is a fancy fabric, despite being made from a humble fiber, and it’s in one of my favorite colors. And it would require no additional embellishment.

The royal/cornflower shantung offers a real creative opportunity and could be a very unique, beautiful dress.

But the rose-gold dupioni also offers creativity, although it would be a more subtle paint-job. And the fabric is a bit fancier because of its sheen, maybe too fancy for the wedding time.

I’m leaning towards the royal/cornflower shantung, because I like to make things hard on myself, apparently. But it wouldn’t take much time to accomplish the painting. However, I have a lot of projects on my plate at the moment: I’m helping another friend with her wedding dress (for October), I’m supposed to be whipping up my fitting muslin for the Chanel jacket to contribute to a project at work (in September), and I’m trying to get some blouses made AND pack my belongings.

What would you do? Which would you wear to a 3 p.m. early September (read: potentially hot) wedding in a barn?

I know there aren’t a lot of followers of this blog out there, and it’s not often I ask for opinions because I usually have pretty firm ones of my own–but if you would like to share yours, please do! Help me out, folks!

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Dirndling–the real thing

Well, October is gone, and I’ve done quite a bit of sewing since finishing this particular project, but somehow I never got back to posting details about the finished dirndl.

In the few weeks since sewing the first and second dirndl muslin, I was sewing up a storm trying to get it completed in time for my office group Halloween costume on Oct. 30. (We were all Edna Mode from The Incredibles.) See?? A plain black dirndl is so versatile.

I decided not to use fusible interfacing with my black linen, as I couldn’t find black interfacing and I didn’t want anything to dilute the color of the outer fabric. Instead, I chose black cotton duck as an interlining. I sewed a few samples of various ways of applying it, and also a few without it to feel the difference it would make to the garment’s structure. Hands down, the cotton duck interlining was the best option. So I had to cut and sew 3 versions of the bodice: outer, interlining, and lining. (the photos here are kind of blown-out because to get a good view I had to adjust the images’ brightness and mid-tones, etc.)

The dirndl bodice interior is cotton canvas: firm, heavy, and sturdy. It really helps the bodice keep its shape.

The dirndl bodice interior is cotton duck: firm, heavy, and sturdy. It really helps the bodice keep its shape.

I chose a silk twill in black with a purple stripe for the bodice lining; unfortunately the fabric was too narrow to accommodate the skirt pieces, so I had to use a different fabric for the skirt lining. The pattern didn’t call for a skirt lining, but if I’m going to wear this in fall/winter, I’ll be wearing tights, and without a silky layer in between, the tights and linen would stick together. I chose a polyester-blend jacquard lining fabric in gray tones from my stash.

One lining for the bodice (silk twill) and another for the skirt (some kind of poly/rayon jacquard).

One lining for the bodice (silk twill) and another for the skirt (some kind of poly/rayon jacquard).

From the numerous dirndl images pinned to my Dirndl Pinterest board, I’ve found that one of the common details in simpler dirndls is piping at the neckline and armholes. It gives a nice finished-looking edge and adds a really crisp, professional-quality detail. Some of the black linen yardage, combined with some narrow cord from my stash, became piping for the dirndl.

Piping at the neck and armscye edges stabilizes the edges and adds a nice dimensional detail.

Piping at the neck and armscye edges stabilizes the edges and adds a nice dimensional detail.

Unfortunately I didn’t really think out how the piping would affect the shoulder seam, and I had some trouble getting it all tucked under the lining in a neat, clean way; if I used piping again, I’d have to change the construction sequence a bit and apply the lining entirely by hand, wrong sides together.

From the lining side, you can see all kinds of messiness caused by the addition of piping BEFORE sewing the shoulder seams.

From the lining side, you can see all kinds of messiness caused by the addition of piping BEFORE sewing the shoulder seams.

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But from the right side, it looks okay…Not ideal, but passable.

Live and learn! EVERY single garment I make provides a lesson in some way. Which brings me to the next issue I ran into with this project…

What should I discover once the skirt front and back were sewn together but that the two cuts of linen I purchased–from the same store, of the same type/weight, but purchased a few months apart–are two different shades of black. Of COURSE they are. Le sigh. The front skirt section is a brown-black while the back skirt and bodice are a blue-black. Different dyelots. I should have expected this. Learn from my mistakes, people!

It's difficult to see the color difference in these photos--or any photos, really--but in real life, it's obvious. If you're looking for it. The bodice and back skirt are from one dyelot. The skirt front from a different one that's a brown-black. Oh well.

It’s difficult to see the color difference in these photos–or any photos, really–but in real life, it’s obvious. If you’re looking for it. The bodice and back skirt are from one dyelot. The skirt front from a different one that’s a brown-black. Oh well.

If I was going to wear this as a festive dirndl with an apron, the difference wouldn’t be a problem. I’m still considering it not that big a deal because the color difference was only obvious once the two different dyelots were sewn together and viewed in the weird light (tinged with lime green) of my sewing room. Fortunately, when I wore the dress to work (with other sewing people who really notice things like this), I was told that if I hadn’t mentioned the color variation, it wouldn’t have been noticed at all. But it is visible at the side seam. Oh well.

Now, dirndl dress patterns don’t include pockets–but I really like a pocket in a full skirt. So I added some on-seam pockets, taken from the Sewaholic Cambie dress pattern (thanks, Cambie!). The pockets are inserted into the skirt side seams, and they live between the outer skirt and the lining.

Oh how I love pockets in a skirt!

Oh how I love pockets in a skirt!

The pattern calls for an invisible zipper, but I chose to use a regular zipper because they’re stronger, and the multiple, somewhat thick layers of the bodice would be too much for an invisible zipper. A centered application with little flanges covering the zipper looks fine and is the more usual closure used on RTW dirndls. This closure change necessitated a change in how the lining was applied at center front, but it wasn’t a big hassle.

Zipper installation was a bit different from the pattern directions because I used a standard zipper instead of an invisible zipper. My installs of this type are usually a bit pucker, but it's stronger than an invisible zip.

Zipper installation was a bit different from the pattern directions because I used a standard zipper instead of an invisible zipper. My installs of this type are usually a bit puckery, but it’s stronger than an invisible zip.

I even dangled a pretty silver charm from the zipper pull. Overall, I’m really happy with how the dirndl turned out. I still have to make some longer-sleeved blouses to go with it, but all in good time!

I actually like this blouse with the dirndl, but it's not good for winter.

I actually like this blouse with the dirndl, but it’s not good for winter.

Here’s my review of BurdaStyle 7443 on PatternReview.