Monday, 21 November 2011
A rose is a rose, is a rose, is a rose - Vogue 1230
Yeah sure, roses are pretty; they smell good and they make for good perfume. But after making this dress, my favourite rose ... is made out of cotton. Cotton with a shiny lame blend to be precise.
I bought this shiny smack-you-in-the-face red while honeymooning in Hawaii (along with a good many other fabrics!) and the moment I saw it I started fantasising about it's possibilities in dress form. Even though I was sitting on beaches with the love of my life, lathered in inappropriate amounts of sunscreen (my skin aint getting any younger!) with Janome safely far away at home in Melbourne, Australia ... I could not switch my sewing brain off. In fact, relaxing on the sand sipping mojitos and making sandcastles (it's a hard life) actually increased my drive for creativity. What idea started forming in my mind as I stared at this shiny red cotton fabric? Roses. Of course. I must be a marketers dream, I have such mainstream associations. I knew I wanted to make a dress for my good friends wedding coming up early December, and thought that a cute cocktail dress with this fabric should fit the bill perfectly. So I started going through the catalogue in my mind of what I wanted the dress to look like and I knew I wanted to make the bodice using a pattern I'd played with before, Vogue 1230.
Looks a bit different huh! Especially in the lilac colour. I'd used the bodice before on my red lace Michelle my belle dress and I loved the flattering pleats on the bodice and the round neck line on the front and the back of the bodice. It's also a more conservative neckline and gives a more 'church' cleavage, versus the 'hello I'm female' neckline, which I have to admit, I'm a tad partial to. (Guilty!) So the only part of this pattern that I used is the bodice and I made my own sleeves (clearly) and skirt. I cut the bodice 1.5cm below the waist point on the pattern, which added the seam allowance and then joined it to my skirt that I'd made with my own pattern, which meant that I now how a waist seam.
What's nice about the neckline with the pleats is it gives a really pretty shape, but doesn't take away from the feature which is the sleeves. I didn't want to make the dress too busy.
You know, every day my brain starts thinking overtime of new design ideas and ways to chop and change a pattern. I'm constantly thinking of how I can make something look classic, but with a twist. The thing about trying out new things, is that most of it is in your head and until you try it you don't know if it's going to work or not. A LOT of things that I've translated from my brain onto fabric ends up being a massive fail. I have sad, sad piles of UFO's (un finished objects) lying (squashed unceremoniously) dejectedly in my over crowded closet. That's why it's so nice when an idea you have cooking in your brain actually WORKS!
I have to admit it readers, I am in LOVE with how this turned out! I'd been working on (speaking of sewing fails) a skirt made up in white silk dupion with the same concept as the sleeves but on a massive scale, and as beautiful as it looked on Diana my maniquin, it sadly made me look like an over fed chicken. I haven't given up on it yet, I will do something with it I swear! I was soooo disappointed when the skirt didn't turn out, and I couldn't get it off my mind. So I had the ah-ha moment when I had the idea of using this look not on the skirt but on the sleeves, to make it look sort of like roses! Oh boy that got me excited. I'm sure somewhere far away in my sewing room, my Janome started flashing on and off repeatedly in anticipation. Bless. Here's a photo of the chicken skirt if you're curious - don't laugh!
You see, there's always something to learn from every sewing experience, so I'm glad I put all the effort into this half finished skirt. Though it took many hours and over seven metres of silk dupion, and I'm not going to even tell you how much that cost me cause it makes me break out into a sweat just thinking about it.
Let's move on.
I made the same adjustments with the bodice of this dress as I did with the other version. I shortened the bodice by a few cm's - my usual as I'm short bodiced, and because I have a smaller back, I removed area from the shoulder blades area by creating a small dart on the back pattern pieces. My Doctor husband tells me that bone at the shoulder blades is called the 'Scapula(e).' I told my husband I'm pretty sure the correct medical term is 'chicken wings.' The jury is still out on who is correct ...
The result of removing that area gives the back neck more of a slightly squarer result, but I still think it looks good and at least this way my sleeves won't keep sliding down my shoulders.
I used an invisible zipper to close the dress, and fully lined the bodice and skirt, but not the sleeves. I also added a line of red lace to the lining hem, which is becoming a bit of standard for all my dresses at the moment.
Now for my favourite part the sleeves! I cut out two sleeves and gathered them at the top so that they would fit the arm hole perfectly. I added rows of raw edged fabric to give it a bit of a rough-ish look. I cut it on the bias though to stop it from fraying.
I'm really into textured 3D looks at the moment, and I really think this sleeve effect looks like a whole bunch of roses, especially in this striking red.
Each sleeve has about a 1/4 of a metre sewn onto it, bringing the sleeve to life. I love how when I lay the dress down, it looks like there are invisible arms inside, the sleeves stay up! It's alliiiiivve!
Interested in making these rose sleeves yourself? Keep an eye on my blog, in the next few weeks I'll be putting up a tutorial showing how I made them. Guess what - it involves no hand stitching! Seriously!
In conclusion, I'm so happy with how the dress turned out and I'm looking forward to wearing it to my good friends wedding. Looks like it's colour appropriate for Christmas functions this year too! Yay!