Saturday, 23 May 2015

Leavers Ball Dress

There have been so many designs in my hair for this dress over the last year, and I'm really pleased with what this dress evolved into. A friend of mine bought me a gorgeous vintage sari for my birthday, and I decided that it would make a great Leavers Ball dress. 
The fact that I cut the dress from a sari was both a blessing and a curse. What would have been the raw edges of the fabric had a rolled hem, so they were already finished for me (They became the front and back necklines). The sari was 4 metres long which is plenty of fabric for a short dress. I wanted to incorporate the stripes, but they only featured on the first metre or so of the sari so I could only use them on the front bodice. It would have been nice to continue them down into the skirt. There are also some worn patches on the skirt which I didn't notice until it was finished.
The back features a lower V-neck than the front, and the skirt was basically 4 gathered trapeziums. I learnt how to gather on my overlocker and it is fantastic. I'll probably never gather on my sewing machine again.
The bodice was my first ever attempt at draping! I pinned each selvedge to each shoulder of the mannequin, so the fabric was on the bias and the stripes were diagonal and improvised from there! I made a seam where the necklines met, which formed the V-neck. I then pinned the left selvedge to the left-hand side seam of the mannequin, and ditto for the right. All of the excess fabric was pleated towards the centre seam, which did interesting things with the stripes. I wanted the pleats to stay down, so I top-stitched them in place but I'm not really sure if they count as pleats anymore. They do kind of get lost in the print, so maybe they would have been more effective on a plain fabric, I did pretty much the same thing for the back. 
The skirt is pretty sad and droopy without petticoats, but with them twirling is just amazing. It's a pity the music wasn't jazz or swing, because that would have been amazing to dance to in this dress. I had 2 existing little black petticoats which I normally wear together because they don't have enough poof on their own. I added some white netting between the 2 of them to give it some extra oomph. 
The back and front bodices were tied together at the shoulders in a little double knot. There's an invisible zip in one of the side seams, which I managed to get pretty invisible. (Yay!) I did have some issues with the bodice side seams stretching out slightly because it's on the bias so I should have stabilized that because the waist seam is a tad slanted. It's hidden by the belt so it's okay.
Onto the flowers! When the the bodice and skirt were joined together, I felt that it was a bit lacking. I love all of the couture dresses that have 3D flowers on them so I thought I'd give them a try. I made them with rectangular strips, that were about 12inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide, folded them in half length ways, and gathered the raw edges together on my overlocker. Then you just wrap it into a flower shape and sew it where needed! 
 I used 3 different types of purple fabric to co-ordinate with the colour of the stripes in the bodice, and placed them strategically around the hem. It took a fair bit of time to get them all sewn on but I got there in the end! I only realised that I could have done the hem whilst sewing the flowers on with 1/4 of the hem to go, but oh well! Some of the flowers are more stable than others! After the first 50 I just wanted it to be done!!!
I also made a matching flower crown. I was orginally going to make one out of the fake flowers like I did for my year 11 prom, but they were too far out of my budget so I made flowers out of fabric scraps and sewed them to a paperclip chain the circumference of my head. It worked out pretty well!
I think that's it! I learnt so many things throughout this project: how to drape a bodice, gathering with an overlocker, how to make flowers and a flower crown. I love twirling around at Leavers Ball last night and recieved some lovely compliments.
Thanks to Paul for the beautiful fabric, and to Edward for the photos!
Lauren xx