I was somewhere on the canned goods isle when my phone rang about six months ago. I'm happy enough when Suzy calls me, I was through the roof when I heard she wanted me to make a dress for her to wear at her wedding reception in August!
The design process began with a series of sketches, which we slowly widdled down to this one:
Silk organza dress with gathered bias cut strips radiating from waist. Sheer organza overlay at shoulder, with keyhole at back neck and cap sleeves. Separate silk organza net crinoline
The dress that was picked was likely the most time intensive of all the sketches, so obviously it was one of my favorites. Having never done anything like this I was very excited about the project.
I think that 9 times out of 10 the fabric that I chose for a project is out of stock. The same was true with this project. The first thing I did was dye 10 yards of silk organza. To do this I used my trusty tamale pot and 6 bags of tea that I let seep for ~3 minutes. I then pre-wet the silk and let it sit in the pot for 45 seconds. The result was the perfect off white.
I cut 60+ 1" bias strips for this dress and then ran two rows of gathering down each side. I think in the future I will see if I can find a company that will do this for me. Keeping organza on a perfect bias is . . . really tough, but mostly really time consuming.
I discovered the wonderful fabric seen above on this project. It is a silk organza net and it is fabulous. I would describe it as a lightweight horsehair canvas. . . but obviously in silk. It was perfect. Without this fabric I would have had to use something nasty like nylon tulle (shudders) to give this dress body. . . no, I would never have done that. . . the dress would have had 30 layers instead of just 5.
Another thing I experimented with on this dress was creating a lapped zipper ending in three separate layers of fabric with french seams. On top of this was added a singular bias cut ruffle. Add to this the fact that I thought I was going to do an invisible zipper, so I only at 1/2" seam allowances to work with, not 3/4" . . . meaning I had to sew on an extra strip of fabric (you can see this on my sample above - there is an organza strip running next to the purple) on somewhere. In the end I think this strip was a good thing as it reduced some bulk at the waist.
I love making buttonholes by hand. These ones were a little tricky because of their very small size and the fact that I only had 1/4" of space to work in. The buttonholes you are looking at right now probably appear twice as large as they actually were.
On a side note, I also love sewing 1/4" bias organza binding around the edges of fabric that loves nothing better than to come unwoven in your hands.
Lapped zipper disappears when zipped up all the way.
Here is the dress almost done. It is missing the cap sleeves, which needed to be draped on the wearer and the uppermost row of gathers.
This is a picture of Sarah modeling the headband that I made out of braided organza strips. I am now completely obsessed with flat 8 cord braids. I love them because you can sit down and watch a movie and get a project done at the same time (this is also why I love hand sewing).
Here comes the bride. . .
These fab photos are taken by Avia Photography out of Columbia, Missouri, who did a wonderful job of capturing Suzy's festive fiesta themed Columbia reception (how appropriate that I dyed the fabric in a tamale pot. . .). Check out their blog.
Do you have a dress in mind that you are just itching to have created for you? Give me a buzz, I'd love to work with you on it! firstname.lastname@example.org