This project took up about 4 months of my sewing time, with only one interstitial project–my February Tiramisu. Boy was I ready to be done when it was finally done!
I started by watching Susan Kalje’s Couture Dress course on Craftsy, and though I didn’t use the included pattern or finish all the steps, I really got a lot out of her tracing, thread-tracing and muslining process. In the end, I had to modify some of the design features of the pattern I chose, not only to get the fit I wanted, but also because the pattern didn’t achieve what I’d been attracted to in the envelope pictures.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Long ago I promised process posts. I didn’t manage that, and I don’t mind too much. But I can at least describe the whole thing a bit.
First, the pattern: Butterick 5750. It’s supposed to be made in a light crepe, but I think it would probably work best in a really, really light chiffon. I worked on the fit and design in three steps, first fitting the muslin to myself, then transferring those adjustments to practice fabrics and sewing up the dress in a poly crepe, then adjusting the design features on the poly crepe, then making up the dress in the beautiful silk crepe and crepe-backed satin that I chose for the final dress.
The muslin: The first muslin was terrible, as you see here. I made about 3 bodice muslins before moving on to the skirt and then on to the practice dress.
The practice dress: When I first got the bodice sewn up I discovered that the soft draping and folds didn’t function at all as I’d expected, at least not in the poly crepe.
So after some thinking, I went with a hybrid approach, using the lining pattern piece for the left bodice, and working out my own pattern of pleats and drapes for the right bodice, based on slashing and spreading the right bodice lining piece.
The silk: I made some mistakes with the silk, but not too bad considering the stress levels and how over my head I was in some respects. I also purchased and viewed the Craftsy course on Sewing With Silks, but didn’t find it too enlightening. I didn’t have a proper cutting table, so I had to let some of the quarter-circle skirt pieces hang over the edge of the table, which distorted them some.
I also didn’t experiment with sandwiching the silk in tissue paper or anything like that. And I used a rotary cutter, which may be a no-no, but anyhow, it all worked out. Once the dress was together I let the bias skirt hang on the dressmaker’s dummy for a couple of days, evened up the hem, and all was well.
The design features I added were:
- I made the right bodice piece in a blue crepe-backed satin
- I made 1/8 of the skirt in the same blue
- When the straps wanted to slide of my shoulders a bit, I added lingerie keepers, which worked a treat
- and when all was said and done (and my draping still didn’t behave quite as I liked), I made a 4-inch wide sash of the blue silk as well.
All in all, this was an arduous project but one I am so very glad I did it. Shortly before finally biting the bullet and buying very expensive fabrics, I went out looking for a dress I could imagine wearing for my wedding. It wasn’t out there.
So I made the dress I was dreaming of, and it turned out better than I may have deserved it to, considering how above my skill level the project was.
- Wax-paper tracing
- Thread-tracing seam lines
- Adjusting a muslin
- Creating my own pleats in a pattern piece (only half-successfully, but what the heck?)
- Proper catch-stitching for the rolled hem
- Thread-crocheted lingerie keepers.