Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Latest project - Orange dress for a wedding

I had a wedding to go to and I simply wasn't in the mood to canvas the city for a dress that would fit my 'now' mature figure. Not to mention something that covers my arms, is not too short or revealing, and isn't too expensive. I usually wear pants to these types of affairs, but given the popularity of dresses these days, I decided to reveal my legs for a change. A little spray tan should make them fit for the task. Plus, its a summer wedding, so a dress just seemed an appropriate choice. 

It took me weeks to decide on a style. None of the commercial patterns seemed just right.  I liked one style with just the right sleeve, another where the body style was interesting, you get the picture, but no one pattern would do.

It wasn't until I watched Katie Couric on a TV special about the British Queen's upcoming Diamond Jubilee that I saw the dress I wanted to make. It was a fairly simple, shift style dress with raglan style sleeves, a slight gather at the front and 3/4 loose fitting sleeves. Nothing particularly elaborate, but quite lovely. It seemed like something I could dress up for evening, and was in the color of the season - tangerine tango (at least that's what it looked like on TV).
This style seemed just right up my alley, fulfilling all the criteria I required and it could be dressed up with some glitzy accessories for the evening wedding. Of course, no pattern on earth exactly replicated the dress Katie was wearing. This McCalls pattern #6460 was the closest I could find, but even figure B wasn't anywhere near Katie's dress. The raglan sleeves on hers cut much deeper into the body of the dress replacing the bust darts. The neckline featured some, though not a lot of gathering. And, the sleeves were attached to the bodice more dolman style under the sleeve and constructed in two parts to create a nice curve over the shoulders. 

Clearly, I was going to have to make a lot of changes to the pattern.  Without having to completely redesign the pattern I made the following modifications:
- At the neckline front, instead of gathers, I added six tucks.  
- I left the raglan sleeves as the pattern directs, but split them into two parts to produce a much nicer curve over my shoulders. I shortened them to a 3/4 length and widen them a bit both to better fit my arms and to achieve a slightly looser look.
- As for the body portion of the dress I widened the hips a bit, reshaped the side seams, eliminated both back and front darts (the tucks produced enough fullness to accommodate my breasts), I lengthened the dress, added a kick pleat in the back and used an invisible zipper for the back closure.
- I also lined the dress to give it nice finish. 

There was no way I was going gamble with the beautiful tangerine orange fabric I bought. There were simply too many alterations that I had to be sure were going to work for me, so my first step was to make a muslin of the dress.

My first muslin was a bust. I made it way too big, and I didn't like the tucks I created in the front, so I went back to the drawing board. The second one was just right in terms of size and length overall. Hips, just right, sleeves just right, tucks realigned and simplified, I was ready to cut the real thing.

I'm pleased with the way it turned out. It looked lovely for the wedding and I received many compliments for selecting such a nice summer color. To dress it up for evening wear I chose bronze crystal jewelry, bronze sandals and a french twist hairstyle.

The fit in the back was perfect and the front flowed nicely. I was pleased I removed the darts both in front and back as I didn't want those seams to detract from the solid lines of the dress. As a final flourish I added a jewelry detail (an earring really) in the center of the tucking that matched perfectly.








Next on the docket is a very simple top to wear to my birthday dinner next week with my sisters and cousins. Just one yard of fabric and mastering a rolled hem is in order.








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