The Teal Dress
At the end of the school year, our school has a formal banquet honoring our seniors. Our students look forward to the event, and even though it is held in our gymnasium, it is complete with a catered meal and decorations. Hmmmm . . . . I wonder what artistically talented person they have doing all those decorations? Oh yeah, that's me. So, in addition to everything else I do, I get to figure out how to decorate the gym. For the third year in a row. Fortunately, I have a great group of students that help me out - some have been helping me do events for 5 or more years and know how I operate. I also get to hostess the event, which brings me to the teal dress.
As hostess, I run around all evening coordinating the event and making sure things happen in the correct order and the emcee does what he's supposed to and that the seniors and their parents are well taken care of. I always dress up a bit for the event - I don't wear the long gowns and spend hours at the salon like the girls do, but I do try to wear something dressy. I've wanted to make this dress for a while now, and it looks like this week and next is the time to get it done. My original inspiration came from this Bottega Veneta dress from the Spring 07 collection (photos from style.com):
The style instantly reminded me of a vintage pattern I had seen! The pattern is similar enough to capture the style and the shape of the dress is good for me, too. While the Via Spigga colors are lovely, they're just not for me. Personally, the color is a bit bland and washed out. I had been looking around for something that was a bit different than what I usually wear (which is, yes, black or red). This teal is perfect. It's actually a sheer fabric, and photographing it has been difficult. It also has gold irridescent threads running lengthwise through it, which give it a bit of sparkle. I finally found lining that matches pretty closely, so last night I cut the whole thing out. The sheer was very slippery, so I placed the pattern pieces underneath the fabric, pinned them down, and then cut them out. It was a little easier than having the whole thing slide around.
Today's task was to get started on all the smocking. The pattern still had the original smocking transfer, and believe it or not, it actually worked! The only problem is that the transfer is dark blue and my fabric is a medium/dark teal. It doesn't show up so well, so I had to go to plan B, and eventually plan C.
Obviously, white or yellow would show up well. I have 3 options for white markings: pencil, chalk and tracing paper. Neither are easy to do, and all of them rub off more easily than I'd like. I also have the problem of making precise dots (stitching guides), spaced 5/8" apart on quite a large piece of fabric. The dots just weren't going to happen, to I decided to make a grid instead. The dots would be where the lines intersect. Drawing the lines wasn't easy, either. The fabrics, even though basted together were very shifty. I tried using the ruler and either the pencil or chalk. I liked the chalk best, but it can't be pressed or it remains permanently in the fabric. Notice how big the transfer is - that is the transfer for the front.
The next thing I tried was making a template of sorts. I took a piece of freezer paper and drew lines on it 5/8" apart. I then placed tracing paper on the fabric, with the coated side down, the stencil on top and traced the lines. This made for the most accurate, albeit faintest lines. The good thing is that I can either add the perpendicular lines to the template or I can just turn it 90 degrees and trace the other lines. I haven't traced the back bodice yet, so I'm not sure how I'm going to do it.
The smocking part it is actually very easy. It's extremely repetative, so once you get it, it's sort of mindless. Now you know I couldn't get away with a project this easy without adding some beads. I found some beads that matched perfectly - they're green, but chartreuse lined, so they actually mimic the color of the irridescent threads in the sheer. Here's what I have done so far, and tomorrow, I'll show you how the smocking stitch is actually done.
Parting Shots: The irises are blooming! Here are the first irises of the season and the iris bed. As you can see there will be more to come. I'm glad I'm home to enjoy them.