Thursday, August 1, 2013
The Dress that Never Ends
Last August, when my great-grand-niece got married, I offered to make a Christening gown for their first child. The project got moved to the back burner for one reason or another until late May. I had an idea of what I wanted to make, and I knew what kind of fabric I wanted to use. When Martha Pullen had a fabric sale in late May, I ordered the fabric- a 55/45 cotton/silk blend she calls Elegance . I'd wanted to use Micheal Miller's Radiance, which is 65/35 silk/cotton, but at $15/yard, the on-sale-for-$4/yard fabric won. I ordered a lot.
MP usually has great customer service and quick order fulfillment. However- they got blasted out of the water with their sidewalk sale, so of COURSE the white fabric I needed was backordered til "sometime". I ordered the Radiance from LowPriceFabrics (it's a misnomer). While I waited for the fabric to arrive, I traced off patterns, found threads, cleaned my pleater, etc, so I was ready when the lovely stuff showed up.
So, cue a couple of days doing yardwork. Add 5 days of frantically readying my guest room for an actual guest- it's been the box room and the random storage room since we moved in. It's now looking pretty good, although I still need to paint and put up the new curtains. By the way- the guest didn't show up. By this time, the days between "now" and the Baptism were dwindling. I got busy.
These are things I re-learned.
1) pleating fabric for a full-smocked bodice is a job. It needs to be done slowly and patiently, and for best results without a cat trying to eat the dangling threads.
2) it always takes longer to smock a row of geometrics that you'd think it should. Add in lack of practice and bad counting skills, and the work time starts to really add up.
3) entredeux, good laces and Swiss embroideries are not cheap.
4) You don't just "put in the entredeux". First you measure, then you trim the seam allowance on the lace, then you stitch it on, press it open, then reinforce the stitching. Then you do it again for the other side. And you do these steps for each and every row of decorative stuff you put on that item. And they all take at least a half hour on a size 3 month.
5) A comfortable chair is a must for long stitching sessions. I have a decent chair at my sewing machine, but the one at my handwork table is just a folding chair. My lower legs and ankles are swollen as badly as they did when I was pregnant from sitting on it. (moving the good chair from room to room isn't a viable option - there are no paths big enough at the moment.
6)and speaking of that, having a tidy sewing area with stuff put away would probably be a really big help. [put on list of things to do soon]
I ran in to a couple of snags. The petticoat pattern has, in teensy letters, a memo that you need to cut apart the skirt pattern and spread it 7 inches in order to get the proper length. Guess when I saw that? Not before I cut, that's for sure. The skirt also didn't come anywhere near to fitting the bodice, either. I made a new skirt for it that was just gathered. It worked, but it added time. I can use the rejected skirt to make dolly underwear.
Somehow I wound up about 15 inches short of the lowest band of lace. I remember there being a loose piece that was on the table, but I'll be darned if I could find it last night or today. I discovered the shortage at 4:30 this morning. I had nothing similar in my stash and nothing I could substitute. Just what I didn't need- a trip to the fabric store in Mount Lebanon.
Did I mention I made this discovery by running out of the edging while sewing it onto the skirt band? Yeah.
Aaaand the Liberty Tunnel is closed, which means a new and exciting detour. yay!
AAAAnd, they didn't have the damned edging! Someone had bought up the whole card since I was there a couple weeks ago! We Hates THem! I got something that would blend with the intention of removing the current edging and replacing it with the other, but what I wound up doing is removing it, then putting it back on but starting with it centered in the front rather than starting from the side seam as per the pattern. I then improvised a small patch of the similar stuff in the center back. Nobody sees the back of a baby anyhow, right?
In any case, the gown, petticoat and booties got packed into a box and zoomed up to the Fed Ex store where they were shipped out via overnight delivery. Hopefully this means Aria won't have to be nakey for her big day.
I had no time to take photos. I finished sewing on the edging at 4:30 and needed to get the stuff packed and up to the shop by 5. I made it at 4:47. Go, me.