So I happily unpacked my Marfy this week and was surprised that this seeming simple looking dress had seventeen pieces to cut. Its a really comprehensive though not complicated pattern as it turns out the overlay is a pattern within itself, no duplications at all.
As well as the eight piece boned bodice there are two underskirt, two skirt overlay (angled dramatically at back) two overlay bodice and two waist ribbon pieces.
I only made the bodice as the skirt is gathered and can be easily adjusted. I know I say it every week but this was a perfect fit, straight from the pattern. I tacked in four 8" spiral bones I had to hand just to check the length of the bodice for the boning chanels and went to decide on a fabric...
At this point I lost a couple of sewing days as my sewing room is in the original barn of our house, and the previous owners had never installed ceiling lights. I hated to ruin the look of the room but plug in lights were not enough anymore, it was still dark in there and my eyes are getting old!.....
and then I hit a blah.....its a seriously nice dress but I was so uninspired , even done in the black or cream silk I had in mind, it would be something I could buy just about anywhere.
and I know this was part of the Mad men Challenge, but it got me thinking, why not re-imagine what Betty would wear now rather than then...still the same styled black dress but updated to reflect this years runway trend.. while taking me completely out of my comfort zone. So I am using leather and lace, two fabrics I have no experience with at all but love. This is much more my aesthetic and apparently also my middle daughter's, she has big plans for this dress starting with a sweet sixteen next month..hmmm...
Needless to say I had no leather in my stash and only a half yard of heavy, pure cotton Alecon lace I had bought from B&J Fabrics last year on a whim so I sent my husband a panicked email asking if he could possibly drop by Mood and buy me the softest skins they could recommend and then as he was already out, possibly a quick trip to Steinlauf and Stoller for boning and channels??!
and I got down to some serious reading, I may be a tad biased but this is the best book in my library and exceptional for corsetry and gown construction (I am stunned at how much its selling for .. wow) I knew that becuase I wanted to use a super thin leather I would need to make a corselette to take the all strain from it but had no idea how to go about this...it was actually very straighforward and other than cutting the steel boning, which I needed help with..those things are tough!!... the diagrams and descriptions were easy to replicate...
I started with a very good quality medium cotton with no stretch, and just kept fitting it with additional boning until it smoothed out, a total of 13 boning chanels. The ones in the center are tiny but changed the way it lay immediately.
I added a waist stay (bright red because why not?) lined it with a black crepe de chine and then got down to the leather. I realised pretty quickly that you can throw all the sewing rules away. No pins, no carbon paper (it marks it permanantly, who knew?!) ) ) big stitches, I used a 3.5 and no unpicking.
Tape became my favorite thing for a day, I taped the right sides together at the seams and then flipped them and sewed just outside the tape feeling my way along, I used it to hold down the seam allowances for top stitching, I marked the zipper placement with it... its down and dirty sewing,whats not to love?! although this lambs skin is really divine. It was as thin as a medium cotton with the softest hand and was so easy to use and manipulate especially around the eased bust area, all for $21 a peice (I used two). It really does not look like leather either, more like a textured cotton/wool..
It came together beautifully and once I sewed the leather to the corselette and lining it left me speechless. It fits like a glove, its tight and yet so comfortable. I don't feel the boning at all and the leather just skims the corelette giving it the shape without any pull. Magic stuff. I used a seperating zipper (white was all I had and it can't be seen) in the cotton but have yet to install one in the bodice as I still have to make the skirt.
I have the leather outer shell pulled back, you can just make out the corselette, All todays pictures have been overexposed and thats without the new lights on ! apologises...
For the skirt, I was sure a lightweight matt taffetta that I had already would work perfectly to compliment the leather but I ended up going through my entire black stash frustrated as nothing looked right. I was really reluctant to do a full skirt in lace as the cost would be ridiculous for a occasional dress and then I remembered pining this on pinterest ....so my poor husband gets to go to Mood again today. Its a great way to use the last strip of lace and will tie it all in beautifully I hope..
But in the meantime I got to play with the bodice lace and I'm dying of happiness, seriously, crazy about this bodice overlay, this is the intended pattern just shortened four inches. I used left over leather strips to finish the seams and its gorgeous.
I am hoping that I can finish this skirt in the next few days, as my week is crazy busy and Friday is my first day of Susan Khaljes jacket class. So excited! next week is all about Baltimore. I am hoping to closely copy a Chanel jacket I love and have to make the pattern adjustments and muslin this week ready for a fitting on Saturday.. definitely a long term project..all that beading!
I have two other classes booked wth Susan this year, both for the sewing school, one in June and a final in September...and some big projects planned... so its going to be a skill enhancing year for sure.
I will do my best to have the dress finished and ready for posting on Monday as I really want to see it done and will also have pictures from Baltimore...always such a great week...
Audio book this week was finishing up The Aviators Wife, so facinating and I have Gift from the Sea to start next on the recommendation of a friend (thanks Tirza!)
Music, Brit week...David Bowie's new album, on repeat for days and days ... and Ed Sheeran which is going around and around in all our heads here and nobody seems grateful for it.
Still reading In Between Days, I have not had a lot of time but would highly recommend based on the chapters I have read so far..
Wishing everyone a lovely week