Thursday, July 21, 2011

Not a Funeral Dress

Last July, when we received word my aunt was dieing, I set out to make a dress for the funeral, as I had no sad, summer clothes.  I had a lightweight black woven, with a beige floral embroidery.  It had been bought as remnant pieces, so I had to have a pattern I could work with, and chose Simplicity 5189 (which I posted a few posts back, in a different version).  This was before I knew about needing a FBA.  I made the dress based on my measurements.  And hated it.   It was baggy in the shoulders, my arms couldn't move, it was too long, baggy in the back....I took one picture, which didn't even turn out good (blurry, and my hair was in a towel).  I put it in the closet thinking "someday....".  In August, I learned about FBA, but didn't know how to alter the princess seams of an already made dress...especially the shoulder/sleeve relationship.

In June, I decided enough was enough, and I really wanted a dress with sleeves.  I thought it might be faster to alter it than to start new.  Not too sure about that, LOL.
 I knew I needed to cut the shoulders narrower, and have a little less length in the upper chest.  I played around, but was worried about how the princess seam would fit into the armhole, and if the sleeve would end up fitting right, with a higher, smaller armhole (it seems weird that the solution for a constricting armhole is to actually make it higher/shorter).  This picture above makes my left shoulder (with the sleeve) look very sloping!  So I cut it back even more!
Better, but I still felt the sleeve was somehow too I need shoulder pads in EVERYTHING?
I snugged up all the seams from the shoulder to the hips.  I wanted to keep the skirt fullness, but this resulted in a weird , giant pleat...the side front pieces folded inwards and the front center piece came to the front....

Edit to add:  I also shortened the sleeves.  I realized that while I don't like little cap sleeves or little flutter sleeves, I don't really like sleeves that go down my arms past my bust line (unless in a pattern, or slim fitting like a t-shirt).  I feel like  I look a lot wider than I am in the first picture above, because my arms blend into my bust.

I hated the neck facings.  I couldn't get a 100% cotton in black, so had to get a poly-blend, I hated the edging of it, nothing was nice.  Since I had just made my own bias tape for the other version, I went back to the store and got a bigger bias tape maker (it's for 1" tape, but the instructions say to cut strips 1" wide...the same as for the 1/2" maker!).  Doing it around just the neck was certainly easier than having to do the armholes too!

Once I lowered the neckline, I became perplexed with how the upper chest was laying.  I thought the bodice had too much length as I could pinch out horizontal darts.  But I knew horizontal darts were not the answer.  I could rotate them and make pleats along the neckline, but thought it looked a little slapdash.  I had hoped the bias binding would help, but it didn't.
(I also hacked off a lot of length!).  The neckline is held down by double-sided costume tape.  Which doesn't please me either.  I was just looking at the picture, thinking I could make it into a bit of a cowl neck...but how?  It doesn't need anything around the back neck, just something along the front neck.  What do I do to avoid this next time?  How do I make the upper bodice narrower but get the armholes in the right place compared to the shoulder?  And does this have something to do with how when I tried the FBA, the armhole ended up being a really weird shape?  Argh.  Just when I think I'm "getting it", something throws a wrench into it. 

I did just pick up two plain dress patterns from Value Village...a sheath dress and a simple dress with more of a full skirt.  I think I'll be able to do a basic FBA on them and get a good, dependable pattern.  Of course, neither has sleeves!


Sheryl Evans said...

It may not be perfect, but it looks nice in the picture. It seems to fit well. Sheryl

The Sewing Dork said...

That's a nice look with the shorter length. Good call!