Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Guipure dress: step-by-step plan

Today, I finished a short shift at the Leventis Museum, researching the garments they have in their collection. I managed to examine four dresses - all custom-made - and what wonderful dressmaking it was. I'd really rather write about it now, but I got to finish my guipure dress by Friday. 

I am sharing here a step-by-step work plan - it helps me focus and gives me a rough time estimate. Maybe it will also convince you to never make a strapless garment with a corselet foundation. After all, the preceding work took me about thirty hours. I am not counting the first failed foundation (failed because of the wrong fabric choice). By accident, I bought cotton with cross grain stretch. I tried to rescue the corselet by cutting one layer on straight grain, and another on crossgrain, but it didn't work very well. At the end, I decided that having paid a little fortune for the guipure lace, I should make an effort and sew a new corselet... The plan!


I will start by finishing the corselet: the only thing missing is a waist stay, which will be attached by hand. 

This type of inner foundation is necessary for this dress since it doesn't have a waistline seam to support boning. The corselet is tighter and more fitted that the dress itself, allowing it to hang freely. 

The corselet is sewn using two layers of woven cotton. The boning channels are stitched through both layers. Cotton edges at the bottom are hand overcast, and the hem lace provides neat and less bulky finish. 


The outer layer is practically finished: the shell was fitted, seams stitched, guipure was hand-basted to the two layers of charmeuse and muslin. Now I only need to close the gaps along the centre back seam by carefully appliqué of the quipure lace.


As next I need to cut and sew the lining, which I will cut using the original fitted toile pieces. 


Once all the layers are done, they need to be connected. Lining and the corselet and basted together at the top edge and then sewn to the outer shell. The last step is best done with a zipper foot to avoid hitting the boning.  Seam allowances are trimmed, graded and clipped. 

The top edge is understitched by hand 1/2" from the edge. 

The lining is fell-stitched to the zipper tape.


Finally, the lining needs to be stitched to the dress hem and the hem slit needs to be tacked so it doesn't accidentally rip apart.

Writing the plan, while helpful, gives me wrong feeling of accomplishment now. I should go start the real sewing now. Thanks for keeping up with it )

Do you use brief step-by step plans for your sewing projects?

Monday, June 29, 2015

Blog, interrupted

Almost a four-month blog break, and I am in need of a twelve-step blog recovery programme.

The main reason is that I had to undergo a surgery in April. All is well now, yet, three months later and about 12 pounds thinner, I am crying out for a whole new wardrobe. The only thing I managed to finish is my Chantilly lace skirt. Which puts me on the accelerated path of making a few garments to enjoy what's left of summer in style. 

In the next couple of weeks I would like to make two dresses. One of those, a strapless guipure dress was started about five years ago in Susan Khalje's couture class, but never completed because I gained weight and could not get it on despite some most desperate and embarrassing physical efforts. Now it fits again, and I MUST finish it by Friday for a party.

Current state of the guipure dress!

The recovery period, however, was great for completing my bead embroidery odyssey and now I have all the stitches ready to put in a sample book.

One of the first bead embroidery samples: variations of an outline stitch

And, finally,.. (drumroll!) last week I was accepted as a volunteer in Nicosia's Leventis Museum to photograph, catalogue and research their 20th century costume collection. How amazing is that! I am not sure how many haute couture garments they have, or, if any at all, but having seen a few photographs already I believe I will get my hands on many interesting vintage specimens. The best part: the museum allowed me to share the photographs and some info on my blog. 

I start my museum assignment tomorrow, and will post quick updates on my Facebook page and in-details posts here on the blog, so stay tuned for more. 

Nice to be back )


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