Friday, December 31, 2021

A Floral Satin Luisa Beccaria Recreation

For the past several years, I've set aside the week between Christmas and New Years to participate in the Designin' December sewing challenge, hosted by Linda of "Nice Dress! Thanks I made it!". The challenge is to take inspiration from a designer garment and to re-create it for yourself. It's a fun excuse to make something for myself after weeks of Christmas sewing!

This year the plan for my garment began back in the summer when I found 4 yards of a floral print silver satin at an estate sale. For a couple bucks, the fabric came home with me - much to my husband's chagrin (He seems to think 3 rows of shelves of fabric in my parents' basement is enough material for anyone, I'm working on teaching him that each fabric is different and was acquired for different purposes.) 

This silver floral satin had a really nice hand to it, more weight than your standard polyester satin, and lots of drape too. After a burn test, a slight ironing incident, and lots of wrinkles, I'm guessing it's a cotton synthetic blend. 

As soon as I acquired the fabric I started brainstorming what to make from it. (I decided I'd better turn it into something soon to justify it's purchase to my husband.) After a bit of pondering and browsing Pinterest I decided this material would be the base of my Designin' December entry for this year. 

I started pinning designer dresses made from similar fabrics to mine to my Designin' December Pinterest board. After a bit I started to get a clear idea of what exactly I wanted to make. Some more browsing and pondering and I had it narrowed down to the exact design I would be re-creating.

 This Luisa Beccaria 2021 design. Looking back through my Pinterest board I've been pinning dresses by this designer for a couple years now, so it's about time I decided to actually re-create one of her designs!

Fabric picked, design chosen, I went through my pattern stash to find some base patterns to hack into my chosen design. I decided that by combining McCall's M6833 and McCall's M7974 I could get exactly what I was going for. I cut out the front bodice pieces of both patterns, thinking I could use 6833 for the bodice lining and 7974 for the outer layer. I would use the midriff piece and back bodice from 6833 and the long skirt and sleeves from 7974.

I measured myself from shoulder to under bust, then measured my pattern pieces as well. I needed to add about 3" to the front bodice pieces in order for the under bust seam on the dress to actually hit me under the bust, rather than in the middle of the bust.

I traced off the pattern pieces onto some tissue paper and made the needed adjustments. While I was at it, I also traced off the sleeves and made them a bit fuller.

And I added some extra fullness to the midriff piece so it could be gathered to match my inspiration dress.

I made a quick mock-up from an old sheet of the lining pattern to check the fit.

A couple minor adjustments were needed, but for the most part I was good to go!

I decided to use my sheet mock-up as my lining and proceeded to cut into my satin. I cut the skirt panels from M7974 to be fuller than they were drafted because I wanted a nice swishy full skirt.

I constructed the bodice first and ran into some issues with the ruched midriff piece.

It just didn't want to gather and lay the way I wanted it to. Turns out this fabric gathers better on the cross grain than on the grain. But did I check that before cutting stuff out? Of course not. Finally I decided to as "good enough" and tacked down the folds of fabric by hand.

The gathered bust pieces on the bodice wound up a bit more "poofy" than my inspiration, so I might go back later and tack down some of the folds there as well.

I decided to gather the bottoms of my sleeves into fabric bands rather than using elastic to gather them up. I think my inspiration dress either used elastic or a fitted lining, but I find cuffs like this to be more comfortable to wear.

Once the bodice was done, the skirt was easy.

A 7-panel gored skirt sewn together with pockets in the side seams.

The only issue I ran into was the gores stretched horribly on the bias. This was to be expected, but still annoying! I do not enjoy leveling skirt hems!

Once leveled, I finished the skirt with a simple rolled hem.

The dress zips up the back with a vintage metal invisible zipper. The best kind of invisible zipper! They don't break or get stuck at the waist seam the way modern plastic invisible zippers do! (I generally avoid invisible zippers like the plague because they don't hold up and I hate replacing zippers, but this design really needed an invisible zipper, the fabric wouldn't have played nice with a lapped zipper, so I decided to use one of my treasured metal ones.)

As the final finishing touch, I decided to add gathered ties to the sides seams. These should have been sewn into the side seams when I constructed the bodice, but I didn't think of it then, so instead they got hand sewn on.

And once those ties were securely on, my Luisa Beccaria copy dress was done!

I love it!!

It's not a perfect recreation, the original definitely has more fabric gathered into the bodice and sleeves, but it's comfortable and fun to wear!

I am so glad I took the time to make it!

The skirt is delightfully swishy!!

And I plan to get an awful lot of wear out of this dress!

Thank you Linda for hosting Designin' December yet again!


Tuesday, December 28, 2021

The Red Scalloped Christmas Party Dress (Butterick 6016)

 Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! I hope you had a fantastic Christmas celebration with those near and dear to you. Our first Christmas as a married couple was busy, as expected, but we were able to spend a good amount of time with both my family and my husband's family, so I can't complain at all! (Even if I did stress myself out a *bit* in the week leading up to Christmas, thinking I could do more than I actually had time for.)

Back in mid-November an invitation arrived in the mail in a big fancy envelope. It was for my husband's work Christmas party in early December. Ohhhh fun!

Now, I have worked my entire adult life as a nanny, so my experience with company Christmas parties is zero. I've babysat kids while their parents have gone to Christmas parties, but that's as close as I've gotten to these things. Add to that, my father is self-employed, so I didn't even grow up seeing my parents go to work parties. What should I expect? What should I wear?

I asked my friend, whose husband works for the same company as my husband, for wardrobe advice pertaining to this event. She said to wear something a bit fancier than my standard church dresses. Ok! Can do!

I headed to my fabric stash and started brainstorming design ideas.

I quickly uncovered two wonderful options in my fabric stash - a dark green polyester taffeta I've been hoarding for years and a bright red polyester faille I picked up at an estate sale last year. Either one would make a fantastic party dress! How would I pick?

As I contemplated the two options, I happened across an announcement for the Little Red Dress Project 2021, hosted by The Twilight Stitcher and The Island Sewist. That looked fun! My decision was made!

I would use the red faille for my Christmas party dress, and then I'd have my #littlereddressproject2021 entry too! Perfect!

(The reveal date for the challenge was actually last week, and, even though I've had my dress done, and the pictures taken, since the beginning of December, in the craziness of finishing up Christmas preparations, I forgot to share last week. Oh well, better late than never!)

The sewing challenge officially started on Black Friday, so I spent the week or so leading up to that date contemplating my design options. At first I thought I would do a 1950's style cocktail dress, but I couldn't quite fully settle on that idea. So, when we went back to my parents' for Thanksgiving dinner, I looked through my pattern collection to see if anything stood out to me. 

Butterick 6016 practically jumped out of the drawer and said "Use me! Use me!"

I picked up this pattern on sale a few years back because the diagonal darts on the bodice intrigued me. Looking at it again, I was also drawn to the center back pleats, reminiscent of 1890's skirts, on the view C skirt, and the additional skirt flair, pleats, and pockets, shown on the front skirt of view A.

The only thing I wasn't sold on with this pattern was the boat neck - but I could change that.

My red dress would be a combination of view A and view C, with a bit of my own style thrown in - because pattern hacking is fun!

On Black Friday, the official start of the challenge, I prepared my pattern.

Scallops! All the scallops! With the help of a spice bottle, I drafted a scallop template for the back neckline of the dress.

Then I folded down the front neckline of the pattern piece into a v-shape and drafted a scallop template for that as well.

Once my bodice pieces were ready, I looked at the skirt pieces. As I mentioned above, I would be using the front skirt from view A and the back skirt from view C. I didn't intend to make any changes to the skirt pattern, however, upon a closer inspection, the pockets of view A, inserted into the front pleats, were simply too small. There was no good way to make them bigger and keep them in the front pleats without distorting the lines of the dress. So, I decided to just scrap those pockets (but keep the front pleats of course!) and add slash pockets to the skirt front instead.

With the pattern alterations complete, I proceeded to cut out my dress. 

The faille was in several pieces of varying sizes and some pieces were rather damaged from sitting in someone's damp basement for decades before being unearthed by me at an estate sale. I'd washed the  fabric several times upon acquiring it, so the musty smell it came to me with was gone, but the damage remained. It took some careful positioning of pattern pieces to get them all cut out of the undamaged remnants of the material. Good thing I didn't decide to make a 1950's dress - I would not have been able to get a skirt that full cut out of this fabric!

 Challenges aside, all the pieces got cut out and assembly began!

I interfaced all the scallops on the neckline to help them hold their shape.

Last minute I decided to add some scallops to the hem as well.

So with the help of a spice bottle and some tailor's chalk. . .

That happened.

To add even more fanciness to the hem (as if scallops weren't enough . . .), I decided to finish the upper edge of the hem with some wide lace hem tape.

Once that was sewn on, the scallops were all turned right side out and pressed.

Then I took the time to sew the hem by hand with a catch stitch.

While I was at it, I installed the zipper in the left side seam by hand as well.

Hand sewn hems and zippers just look nicer in fancy garments.

For the finishing touch I made a matching belt with a center front bow out of my left over fabric.

The belt fastens under the bow with hooks and eyes.

And that is my "little red dress".

It had a bit of a high-low hem because apparently the view A skirt of Butterick 6016 is a bit shorter than the view C skirt.

Which you wouldn't know, until you try to use the front of one with the back of the other.

When I sewed up the side seams on the skirt and discovered the back was longer than the front, I didn't feel like leveling the whole hem, so I just angled the hem from the side seam to the center back and called it good. Apparently I will avoid leveling hems at almost all costs.

The dress was perfect for the Christmas party!

We had a whole lot of fun that evening, though I completely failed to get any pictures of the two of us.

We ate, we drank, we talked to lots of fun people, and we even got to explore the aquarium after hours!

As I mentioned earlier in this post, I don't know much about company Christmas parties, but one that includes a trip to the aquarium is pretty cool in my book!

I got several compliments on my dress, and my sparkly white cowboy boots. These are the boots I bought for my wedding, and I figured I ought to get some more wear out of them!

 Thank you Twilight Stitcher and Island Sewist for hosting the Little Red Dress Challenge and helping me narrow down what to actually make for this Christmas party!

I'm incredibly pleased with my new red dress!