Sunday 29 December 2013

The Christmas dress


I hope you're all having a happy holiday! I've been staying at my mother's in Stockholm, celebrating Christmas the swedish way (traditional swedish food and hanging out with the family on Christmas eve). Also, there's been the usual running around Stockholm to meet up with everyone... =)

Last year I bought 2 metres of jersey and 2 metres of lace and figured I'd make it into a Christmas dress for this year. I came close to stumbling on the finish line here... I started drafting the jersey on Friday evening the 20th, sewed the jersey on Saturday morning, drafted and toiled the lace on the afternoon/evening. Sunday I packed for Christmas and sewed the lace-dress.

The bottom layer is a plain jersey dress, without sleeves. The top layer is more interesting - it's lace cut on bias. The lace has no stretch on it's own, but it's a loose weave lace, so it has some natural stretch due to that. But as I didn't want to join the two layers, I also didn't want the opening a waistseam would require. This was my solution:

A bias cut diamond shape in the side. I first got this idea from one of the dresses in the Hollywood exhibition at Albert & Victoria museum in London last year. I'm not sure how period accurate it is, but they did use paneling during the early 30s.

The front was also a new to me: I made a high cowl neck, with the bodice pleated to a midriff piece.

The skirt is my by now trusty bias A-line pattern. The back is also cut on the bias.
One of the trickiest part was figuring out the pattern layout, so that the weave strength on both sides of all seams matched each other.

This was a really fun project, and I'm thrilled I managed to get it done in such a short time!

Happy holidays!
Love, Erika

Monday 9 December 2013

A dress for blues dancing

A dance night that comes only once every 6th month is a special event, right? And it’s made to feel even more special with something new, special to wear! =)

As per usual my carefully laid sewing plans this fall went straight to… *erhm* They didn’t work out as I had planned. Or at all. That meant my grand vision that included a gorgeous rayon, matching chiffon with embroidery and sequins, and of course a smashing 30s silhouette, that vision had to be put on hold for a later date if I wanted a finished dress to wear to the dance instead of just an idea. So what to do instead?

I wavered between the three drawings to the left above, but even though I decided for the one to the farthest left, it was never a “Yay! I’m going to love this dress!”. At first I tried to ignore it and stick to my chosen path, but as I picked out the jersey I bought in London last year (intended for a bluesdress) and the pattern pieces, a new dress just seemed to grow out of what was in front of me. The result was the dress on the right, minus the split (when test-dancing the dress, I realised I didn't need the split).

Ever had that happen; that a project seems to change itself, and take an ok idea to something totally different? The end result was a lot more suited to the occasion, to the fabric and to what I really really deep deep down wanted. It’s strange what can come out of being true to one’s gut feeling and just follow the intuition. I’m not sure I can say I drafted this dress, it more or less drafted itself.

The entire front bodice got an overlay of lace, pleated to the neckline. The skirt was cut (on-grain) from my bias 30s skirt pattern, so made long + slim. Sleeves also got a cover of lace.

The best is the back! Covered with lace, the jersey beneth dives into a deep V. This is a style I’ve dreamed of wearing, forever! But with my bust, skipping the bra just isn’t an option. However, when I realized the Glamour Corselette I also got in London would be ideal under the thin jersey skirt, my mind raced to the conclusion “Holy Moses, I can make a deep back!”. As a deep back isn’t ideal when dancing - the lead’s hand goes right over there, and as I’ve discovered myself when leading followers wearing tank tops with spaggetti-straps, it really is a much more pleasant experience to have some fabric between hand and back – I kept the full lace back, and just cut out the jersey.

Due to the cut out back, my slips wouldn't work, so I made a lining from knit stretch lining.

Dress inside-out with the back lining visible...

...and the front.

Did I lose something with this change of plans? Yes and no. The original jersey dress would have been an allround Little Back Dress, usuable for many occasions, from dancing to dinner parties. The dress that I ended up making is a pure Blues Dance Dress (ok, I may wear it for New Years Eve as well ; ) ). However, a multi-purpose allround LBD wasn't really what I desired deep down. I wanted a dress that walked the narrow line between classy, but not "funeral". Elegant and simple, but interesting. Sensual, but not sexy nor slutty. A bit like blues dancing =)
Also, from a more practical point of view, this jersey isn't of a very high quality and I fear it wouldn't make it long as a much-in-use allround LBD...

 And I did my first attempt on fingerwaves!!! The rest of the hair is brushed through and pinned up in a faux bob.

The dress was fantastic to dance in, and we had a wonderful Blues Dance Night! Above is me and my sister Kajsa during clean-up after the dance. We didn't coordinate or anything, but I love how our outfits matched with black jerseys, textured bodices, matt skirts and long-ish sleeves =)

All for now!
Love, Erika