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Originally uploaded by jojof

This is the most engineered dress I have made. It is a multi-layered construction of many layers with steel bones and about five fabrics.




The party frock

Originally uploaded by jojof

This is the frock I made for my 40th birthday in Paris. Part of it was started in Melbourne, and some of it was sewn in a cottage in Croatia, and the hem was sewn as I travelled in a train from Munich to Paris.

It’s a poly crepe satin under a poly chiffon. I went for something practical that wouldn’t mind getting stuffed in a bag.


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Originally uploaded by jojof

I have some pictures, cut from the wedding photos. I do hope my father managed at least one with Gill standing up…


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Originally uploaded by jojof

Here are my bride (on the right) and bridesmaid.

This week I’m working on the bride’s dress.  However the travellers have returned with my previous dress, and hopefully i’ll have some pictures of that to post.  (Providing my broadband is back online by then).

I got a text this evening to the effect that the frock arrived and is perfect.  Since I am paranoid, this is good news indeed.  It’s a bit far to go to make last minute changes.

The paranoia comes from a couple of incidents – one where I took a tiny bit out of a bodice foundation, and that meant the difference between it doing up and it doing nothing of the sort.  The other was finishing the tie for a bodice on a very last-minute dress, and finding that it was just too wide to fit through the loops.  I had to turn it back the other way and make it smaller, then re-turn it.  This was (and I said it was last-minute) the morning of the wedding, and i hadn’t changed the clock in the sewing room to daylight savings.  I sweated bullets until I realised i had another hour.

It was done and I dropped it off early.  But I almost had a heart attack for about half an hour and now persistent paranoia.

My next project is in modification stage at the moment.  I have done a fitting and marked where the various style lines are to go.  Next I make a pattern, cut the underbodice and do a fitting of that.  Then I get brave enough to cut out the fabric.  There’s lots of it.  The skirt is a full circle.  That should be fun.

Gill’s dress has been finished for a couple of days now.  There’s only one thing left – pressing.

This is the vital last step to make it look smashing.  It’s been pressed at each of the component stages, but has acquired some creases and wrinkles during the final construction.

Once it’s carefully pressed, it’s off to be packed in my father’s suitcase for delivery to Canada.

I was missing it the other day so I hand overcast all the inside seam allowances in the skirt lining.  I’d been feeling a bit cranky but by the time I finished I was all over that.  There’s something quite soothing about the hand-sewing.

Speaking of hand sewing – a tape was applied along the top of the dress and foundation to provide some curve, the seam allowances were turned to the inside and catch stitched, and then the lining was fell stitched in.  The hems of the skirt and the skirt lining were hand hemmed.   It was lovely.  I am obviously bonkers.

Last night I fitted the lining into Gill’s dress and fell stitched the lot.

I’m apparently mad because I love the hand stitching.  I like making the stitches, spacing them evenly, making sure as little shows as possible, and there’s just that idea of luxury.  I could have used the method for attaching the lining as per the pattern instructions, but the outside of the garment wouldn’t look anywhere near as swish.  Nor the inside.

There are only two things left on this dress – the narrow hems for lining and outer layer, and the final pressing.  Then I have to find a nice garment bag and some bubble wrap so I can wrap it to send over to Gill with my father.

I’ve started dreaming about working on it.  Which is kind of cute.

In other news, yesterday Mary-Lou and I found her fabric at the Braybrook Spotlight.  It’s a taffeta-like silk,  red shot with black.  I haven’t seen it at the Moorabbin store, so we got it on the spot.  It’s rustly, like taffeta, but without the ribs.  The texture is smooth with a sheen, it will suit the dress well.  Dupion was another option, but it’s often a bit fuzzy, and the slubby texture wasn’t quite right.

I’m using a relatively new machine.  It’s a Brother.  I bought it on sale at Spotlight, when it was roughly what it would cost to have my Elna serviced.

I love my Elna.  However I have worked the poor wee thing to death in the last 16 years.  As a domestic machine used by a rabid home sewer, it has aged beyond its years.  The upper thread tension has been a bit off for the last few years, coming to a head with some top-stitching where it totally failed to maintain any kind of tension at all, with only the minor challenge of fake suede and top-stitching thread.

So currently she’s sitting on the shelves, and I’m getting used to a Japanese machine.

It’s a good little work-horse.  It apparently has 50 stitches or something insane like that.  I really only use the straight, the zig-zag and the button hole (yeah i am a slacker because i have always had automatic buttonholers).  It even has a needle threading widget.  I love that because i am long-sighted and only going to get worse.  It’s a bit weird because the needle is offset to the left.  If, like me, you use the 1.5 cm guide (yeah, once again, force of habit and commercial patterns) then you have keep it to the left or eyeball about 2.5 mm to the right.

The thing i immediately liked though was the excellent tension.

Except tonight.  For some reason it wasn’t playing fair.  The top thread was so loose i had to check that i hadn’t put up the Elna instead.  (nope.  I would have noticed the 5 kg difference in weight).  I re-seated the bobbin a million times, because i am a bit tired and slow and it was the TOP thread that was loose.

Finally I remembered that the bobbin winding had seemed a bit hinky for the first little stretch.  So what the hey…  I wound a new bobbin.

Presto.  Back to perfect tension.

In other news, I have taken the “no pins” philosophy to heart and am attempting to reduce my dependence on the little pointy bugger.  Even with slippery, slinky silk crepe satin I sewed some gorgeous curves around the princess seams at the front, using just a couple here and there .  It did make a big difference to the amount of time it took to sew the bodice lining, as in reduced it considerably.

Project progress continues apace.  I completed the lining today (6 bodice pieces and 2 skirt pieces), attached the foundation to the skirt lining (the skirt lining is actually inserted with the right side against the wrong side of the outside of the garment) and inserted the foundation zipper.

Tomorrow I will finish assembling the garment.  I think there is little chance of Gill taking it with her – she flies back into Melbourne tomorrow, then out again tomorrow night to the UK, but it will definitely be done for my father to take it next Saturday.

One bonus is that it does iron well and doesn’t mind a bit of steam.  So if it does get a little tired in the travelling, it will at least be recoverable.