Okay, no updates on my May challenges just yet, but I’m excited to finally share this project here! As I mentioned in a few previous posts, I made a dress for a wedding I attended at the beginning of February. My cousin got married in Sacramento, California, and almost all of the east coast clan attended. We all stayed at the same hotel and basically treated the lobby and breakfast bar as our living room and family kitchen. My family is HUGE, so you can imagine that it was quite a scene to behold.
I really wish I had taken more of my own pictures of the evening, but you will just have to trust me when I say that the wedding was beautiful! Thankfully, I managed to get my sister to snap a few photos of my dress. But first, the details!
This is a Vogue American Designer Badgley Mischka pattern (V1374). It is a dress designed for 4-way stretch knits, featuring a low back with a drape and a fishtail hem. I couldn’t find many reviews of it online before I started on my version, so hopefully this post helps someone else out in the future.
We had a blizzard around here in January, and I put those school closings to good use by making up a muslin in some stashed jersey. The pattern calls for 4 yards of 60″ wide fabric because all of the pieces are cut on the fold, but you could get away with less if you don’t mind having seam lines (and if there’s no nap/directional print). For the muslin, I had seams through my upper back and drape, and I don’t think you can really tell.
I loooove the figure-skimming silhouette, it feels so glamorous! Of course, it needed modifications. I cut the size 14, and the fit was pretty good in a knit (if not a little baggy). I clearly needed to narrow the shoulder by about 1″ and shorten the sleeves by 2″, both of which are usual alterations for me. I also decided to lower the neckline by 1/2″ at the center front, just for comfort. The bigger issue was that I had a not-so-stretchy sequin fabric in mind for the final version. To account for the lack of stretch, I straightened out the fish tail to make it more of an A-line starting at mid-hip. This way I’d be able to move my legs around and, you know, walk.
I kind of made up the narrow shoulder adjustment. There is a yoke at the top of the shoulder, and I simply folded an inch out of the middle of it. Easy peasy. Next I had to match the new yoke width with the front and upper back pieces. I understand the general idea of a narrow shoulder adjustment (as explained here and here), and I’ve done them before. You want to make the shoulder seam narrower without changing the armscye or removing width from the bust. I’m just lazy and hate making all those cuts and hinges. For my method, I drew in the seam lines and marked the inch I wanted to remove from the width. I then drew lines from there to a single point on the armscye seam line (making what looks like a dart), and folded the wedge out. A little tape and everything stays in place. I know I probably broke some pattern-making rules and risked messing up some grainlines, but it worked!
With those alterations made to the paper pattern, I started making up another muslin in some stashed black lace (no lycra, only some mechanical stretch) and poly crepe lining. I figured it was a good idea to try the pattern again in a non-stretch fabric. By the time I was done, I kind of loved it! I also realized that I could not for the life of me figure out how to lay out the pattern on my sequins in a way that would fit all of the pieces and look okay. (Still love those sequins, though! I’m desperate for another wedding so I can sew them up!)
As usual, I had to make some adjustments along the way. I found out that having an open back means you can get the dress over your head easily, but it does NOT mean you can get it over your bust easily. I needed a side zip. Putting it in was easy enough (I took some tips from the Colette sew along blog), but I later realized that I needed something a little longer. My zipper was only 9 inches and slightly useless. I also ended up taking the sleeve seams in by 1/2″ (and now looking at the muslin photos, I wonder why I didn’t notice they were big before).
Those are pretty much all of my construction notes! I didn’t hem the lace originally, since it seemed to actually look better without it. After putting it through the wash once, though, the white (?!?!?!) cording in the lace started to peek out on the cut edges. I just turned the hem about 1/4″ and topstitched with a zigzag.
Once the dress was done, finding the right bra to wear became an issue. I don’t feel that the stick-on cups are very supportive, so I actually sewed a RTW bra into the lining. This felt great at first, but by the end of the night didn’t really do much for me. I think that with the moving and dancing and one quick costume change, the dress lost a bit of its shape. My sisters assured me that they did not notice anything weird, and I’m sure I asked them a million times!
I played up the back drama by hanging some gold necklaces across my back. My only other jewelry was a pair of simple dangly earrings. I felt super glamorous for a change, especially with the awesome hair and makeup I got done!
I really love having special occasions like this so that I can try out some fancier designs, but deadlines can be a lot of pressure. I was lucky enough to have all those snow days to get a lot of the fit issues out of the way, but I still ended up putting the finishing touches on it just a few hours before my flight!