Pour yourself a cuppa, this is going to take a while…
Pattern Description: From Vogue Patterns’ website – MISSES’ BOLERO & DRESS Close-fitting, straight, partially lined bolero has raised back neckline, shoulder pads, side back seams and long sleeves with slits. No Provision for Above-Waist Adjustment. Close-fitting, straight, lined dress, floor length, has boning, foundation, inside belt, shaped, back hemline and back zipper.
Sizing: 8-18. I made a 14.
Fabric Used: For the dress – Silk Charmeuse in Pauillac, Please! (sold out, sorry) For the lining, Silk Habotai in Malbec. For the bolero, an embroidered mesh that I have had in my stash for about 3 years. For the corset, cotton flannel and the silk habotai.
Needle/Notions Used: For the corset, I used a Universal 70/10 needle; for the outer dress and lining, I used a Universal 60/8 needle; for the bolero, I used a Universal 65/9 Needle. 22 inch invisible zipper, spiral steel boning (purchased from Susan Khalje – the best!), 5/8″ petersham ribbon for the boning casings, 1″ petersham ribbon for the waistline stay.
Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes.
How were the instructions? I didn’t use them. I constructed the gown in the exact opposite order from what Vogue’s instructions tell you to do. I started with the corset, then made the lining, then the outer shell of the dress. Once the dress was finished, then I made the bolero.
Any changes? I made the bolero from a sheer embroidered mesh instead of velvet, as the pattern suggests. For the other changes, read on.
I started with the corset. Phyllis helped me fit the muslin. I lengthened the pattern by 2 inches, so it ends at my high hip, instead of right at the waist. Once the muslin was fitted, I cut the corset from cotton flannel. The cotton flannel hides the boning so it won’t show under the silk. Next I inserted the bones. Instead of following Vogue’s layout, which had 4 pieces of boning total, I used Susan Khalje’s guidelines, putting boning at every seam. So I had bones at the side front, side, and side back seams. I put 1 inch strips of fusible canvas interfacing at the CB to support the zipper.
I made the corset lining from the habotai and sewed them together on the sides and bottom.
Once the corset is finished, the rest of the dress is pretty easy.
Next up was the dress lining. The lining and the dress use the same pattern pieces. There are only three pieces to the dress: front and two back sections. The only tricky part of the dress is the front darts. They are quite curved, so I traced them carefully with thread markings. I hand basted them, then I stitched them on the machine. A lot of work, yes, but well worth the effort in the end. Because these darts are so curvy, you need to clip carefully to get a smooth finish.
The outer dress went together very quickly. I made it the same way as the lining, hand-basting the darts before sewing them. One thing to note is that, while the fabric I used is charmeuse, I used the matte side as the face (I have an aversion to shiny fabrics of late). I inserted an invisible zipper using Els’ Amazing Method. I basted the lining and the outer dress together at the neckline, then attached them to the corset and finished the dress. Once everything was hemmed, I used thread chains to tack the lining hem to the dress hem at the side and back seams.
I decided early that I wanted to use a fantastic beaded mesh for the bolero. Phyllis helped me with the layout. I didn’t want to line the bolero, so I pretty much threw out the instructions and made it my own way. This is a very simple pattern, and it goes together quite easily, especially if you’re not lining it. I started out by trying French seams, but because of the heavily encrusted embellishment, the seams were way too thick. Instead, I simply sewed narrow double seams and pressed them to one side. Because the mesh is so airy, I couldn’t use tailor tacks for marking it. Instead, I used little pieces of masking tape, which got trimmed off with the seam allowances.
I used a narrow hem at the neck/hem. I thought about trimming to the edges of the motifs, but that just wouldn’t work for this pattern because of the curvature of the front pieces.
I shortened the sleeves by two inches. Vogue makes their sleeves very long anyway, and the original pattern had extra length as a design feature. I laid out the sleeves so the hems fall at the selvages.
Speaking of the sleeves, in the original pattern, the sleeves are very close fitting. If you have large biceps, measure to be sure you have enough ease to be comfortable.
Likes/Dislikes: Love. It! This dress is a lot of work, but worth it.
One of my biggest loves about this dress is that I didn’t need to do a FBA!!!!!
I think it turned out well. I’m wearing it to the Winchester Hospital Gala tomorrow night.
Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? I probably won’t make another one. I only need one of these. But yes, I definitely recommend it. If you are looking for a spectacular dress, this one is a strong contender. Do consider making some changes to the foundation and adding more boning if you’re busty like me.
Conclusion: Fabulous! Here are pictures of the front and the back. I’ll get pictures of it on me tomorrow night.
Parting Shots: Meeting Up With Friends and Making a New Friend!
When I was in New York, I met up with Renee and Rosie (Rosie, do you have a blog?). I also met the super-fantastic and delightful Trena. I didn’t get any pictures of Trena, sorry. Next time!
Well, that was a tome. Sorry. But I hope it was worth it!