Sunday, 22 January 2017

The red silk dress is still green polyester crepe. Final stretch for the toile. Helen's red silk dress part 3.

This past week

Green toile

 After finding the back of the dress was so very distorted, I cut a new back skirt piece. This time on single fabric. Very carefully.  I measured as well as I could to ensure the fabric was on grain. The fabric was lying smooth and square.  The result was much better.

I decided to attach the pockets to the front before around up the side dreams of the skirt part, as far as I felt reasonable to allow space for the side seams. The dress remained attached above the waistline.

As far as could see, there were two ways to attach the pocket.  
  1. The first was to sew the pocket from the inside so that the joining seam was exactly on the fold. Then edge stitch. Rory advised me this was difficult. I can see that. She had a name for this but I can't remember what it was, I'm afraid. 
  2. I therefore chose the second way, which was my plan in any case, which was to tack the pockets through the two layers including the dream allowance, to the dress and attach by edge stitching. 
First, I carefully marked the pocket positions. It would have been so much better to have done all the markings on the flat, while cutting out. This took quite a while. I did, incidentally, do something I wasn't going to and checked comparative lengths on the rest of the dress - no significant issue. I stitched the pockets to within a few cms of the side seams. This was easier than I had anticipated

I then attached the new skirt to the bodice and was pleased to see that the lie of the dress was much improved.

The next step was to attach the band to the back of the dress, again to within a few cms of the side seams. This I achieved without too many issues.

Then, I sewed the side seams. After that I attached the waist

Not so with the pockets, I'm afraid. I'll cut through hours of sewing, unpicking and redoing to say that I eventually got them sewn semi-satisfactorily. I have made notes for the real dress. I was disappointed that the top of the pocket was so gappy and tried to fix that by tightening the top which made everything worse as the dress didn't lie properly. So I had to redo. At this stage I realised that it was better to have the pocket attached through the gusset to the dress. That doesn't make sense - I mean I lined up the top of the pocket with the stitching to the dress and tacked; after all, this gusset is the equivalent of the edge on a box cushion. Then I was able to stitch where it should be.

However, when I came to do the pocket flaps, I found that one pocket edge had stretched by a fair bit, even though it is interfaced. I should say that the pockets started off identical - I checked. As I write here just before I go to bed, I'm not sure what to do. I don't think I can rectify it.  At least I fully understand the need for comprehensive marking on the silk dress - and much less handling than this one has had.  David had to remind me again that this is a toile - if wearable, fine, but its main purpose is to allow me to practice new techniques so get it finished and move on. He's right, I realise. I will finish and send to Helen and she can do what she wants with it. I have learned a few lessons and if course this fabric was never going to look like the original dress.

When I was making Helen's wedding dress, I made toile after toile but as Rory said, and has repeated, is had so much practice that sewing up the dress would be a breeze (it wasn't!) and the same holds true here.

If Helen was willing to have the pocket on the front only, that is so that it doesn't cross the side seam, that would make it a lot easier for me. If she's not willing, at least I have a much clearer idea of what to do and in what order. I managed the band okay which does cross but a band is much easier than a gusseted pocket. The need for interfacing the pocket edge is clear - I did interface but it has still stretched so I need to modify that. Silk is slippy but it's much less bulky than this polyester crepe, so the issues I've had because of bulk should be negated.

Sure, I'm disappointed that this won't be a wearable dress but I have learned a lot. I'm not saying I won't make more mistakes because obviously I will but I feel much more confident going forward to tackle the real dress.

So tomorrow, I'll do what I can with the flaps, which should also have been sewn on the flat as much as possible I now realise, make and insert the tie and hem. That's all that's left. Oh, not forgetting the poppets! Hopefully post Monday.


I decided to accept the pockets as they are (TBH if I'd done anything else David would have had something to say about it!) even though I think I can see how to improve the poorer pocket without toooo much effort. Obviously I'd do this on the real thing but not here.

I finished off all my ends. I pinned and basted the pocket flaps in place. Again, I realised this should have been marked from the pattern. The poor pocket side is sewn slightly too wide leading to asymmetry and the flap on this side was too short. However, I went with the flaps.

Because of the distortion, the pocket is lying too low on one side, the stretched, right side. The bottom of the pocket is supposed to be parallel to the grain of the fabric, but it isn't. That could have been fixed - and will be in the final version.

I measured the dress length from the floor and trimmed a little off the front only. I then pinned up a narrow hem, the edges overlocked, and top stitched. The dress has been on Missy for a couple of days. The completed toile is about 1.5 inches longer than the original. That should be fine as Helen wanted it the length of the hem I had originally allowed longer - I think it was about 1.25"

I then made the tie. Bias cut, folded, quarter inch seam, turned through, pressed. Then I inserted it into the channel. This went fine and I think my length is just about perfect.

Overnight tonight, the toile is therefore completed except for the poppet fasteners. I didn't have a choice when I went shopping for them and these aren't what Helen wants but again, practice. Tomorrow David will help me put them in.


David helped me put the poppets in today. We found it pretty difficult with the little tool supplied. To get roughly the right size on the surface, I bought 10mm jersey fasteners, which cut through the fabric with little prongs. Maybe in jersey, it can just push the fabric aside. These are a little bigger than the ones on Helen's dress and we don't think they'd be suitable for silk (tbh, I don't think this style is suitable for silk but that's another story!) as it would tear the silk. The original poppets are a little different but I'm not sure where to get them or what kind of tool to use. I had a look online and haven't come u with anything suitable as yet.

It's not a suitable fabric but the dress looks much the same as the original at least as much as it could

Lessons learned/ things I need to do before next time
·      Mark pattern
·      Make sure all marks are in place when cutting out before removing pattern
·      Cut out on single layer
·      I thought my tension was okay but looking at the dress now, I feel it was probably too tight. Test and check tension.
·      I will adjust the paper pattern before using it again. Full piece for the front (I've already done the full piece for the skirt). Draw on pocket and flap position.  When making up the toile, I found that the seam allowances on the back bodice didn't want to lie the way I had intended. The armhole ended up needing trimmed as there was a slight bulge at one part. I need to true this area to account for the changes.
·      First though, I need to get feedback from Helen. I've sent her a photo and video view on Whatsapp but I think she's away for the weekend.

Edited to add (Friday) - Helen thinks the dress is fabulous and is wearing it today! Woo hoo! She sent me a photo she took on her phone via Whatsapp. I need to work out what I can do with that.

I have lost another 2 lbs this week - 8 lbs in all. It's more difficult this week as Joanne is visiting for a few days.

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