Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Party Dress

I have been waiting to write this one for weeks now, but I didn't want to explain all my mishaps with this dress and then wear it to a party - it's like everyone knowing your secrets! Plus, I was a bit flattered by people doing the surprised "you made that?" question; it tells me I didn't do too bad of a job!

So I don't quite have a "before" because this dress I put together with a yard of fabric and a tank top - so here are the general pieces, as well as the general idea of the look I was (trying to) head for.
Sorry about the straight up blurriness - not sure how that one happened.

So I bought the tank at Salvation Army for $1.50 (50% off "original Salvation Army price - love that they do sales on their own low prices). The above picture also shows my general idea - put the fabric at empire waist and sew down. Easy peasy was what I was going for! However, the yard of fabric was quite the headache. My initial idea was to buy a thick piece of elastic and then add a fun piece of fabric to the bottom for the skirt and do it on the cheap. While in line to have the fabric cut, I saw this fancy taffeta fabric (already connected to elastic) and thought "Shortcut! Sweet!" and the fact that it had a huge 50% off sign on it helped quite a bit as well. So I had them cut that fabric instead - never looking at the price, mind you - and happily skipped walked to the register.  Come to find out, my "shortcut" fabric was originally priced at $30 dollars! So I forked over my $15 and learned my should-be-obvious lesson of looking at the original price before saying "1 yard please!" There goes my holiday dress on the cheap. Here's a close up of the fabric:


I have to admit, though - it's really pretty! So once I sucked it up that I spent too much on this dress, I pinned it together and went to the machine to sew the fabric onto the tank. And this was my first mistake.

So this is the tank, inside out, with the fabric pinned inside it, and it's all jammed up inside my poor, poor sewing machine. It was at this point that I realized a) I probably should have known this was not going to work and b) there was no way this was going to rotate easily with the huge excess of fabric I had all jammed up in the arm (or whatever it's called... where's my book?). At this point I had a breakdown - you know, like a totally rational adult. I even pulled the hubster's into the craft room begging him to use his engineering skills on the fabric that I was quite obviously not going to fit on the machine like I wanted it to. His response? "I seriously have no idea what you're doing. You'll figure it out". And with that overwhelming sense of "oh crap", I took a break. He and I went to go pick up his parents at the airport and had a fantastic dinner. I only thought about the logistics of the dress a little, I think. By the end of dinner, I was back to my sane mind and ready to go at it again.

The way I figured it out? I pinned it up how I wanted it to look and then broke it down in both my head and in its physical being and finally figured out how it had to go so that I could send it through the machine like a regular old piece of fabric. Here's what I figured out:

The dress had to go inside the shirt, and one had to be inside out and the other had to be right side out. (I'm sure you can see how the wine helped on that one). So I pinned it all up and sewed it together. Then I cut out the excess shirt on the inside of the dress. I didn't finish the edge because I knew no one would ever see the inside of the dress. For pure comfort, I should have kept the shirt whole and not cut off the excess, but that's for future reference.

Luckily, that is literally all I had to do with the dress - it was done.


So I slapped on my favorite shoes (which are literally what I built this dress around), and threw on some accessories and gave it a go. I think it turned out rather well! Then I realized it was December in New York, and slapped on a sweater:



Done and DONE! Although the sweater was not warm, I knew the party would be inside so it would make due (do?) But I did decide that black tights were the way to go to be a bit more comfortable, as well as some added warmth. I bought a pair of clearance patterned tights at WalMart for $4 dollars and the party dress was done! Altogether, I spent $20.50 for my homemade party dress. Not too shabby, but I'm still a bit angry that it's a higher price than I anticipated.

So what did I learn? Mainly - look at prices when shopping outside of the Salvation Army. In Salvation Army I'm in pure "cheap-o" mode, but outside of it, I get into an impulse mode that I can't seem to stop. Time to take a breather and look at tags. Also, making clothes is a bit more difficult than I thought, something that a dressform (I may or may not have already named my future one Sophie) may make a bit easier. That's for way in the future when I know better than to jam up everything into my sewing machine arm (seriously, is that what it's called? That's what it sure looks like. Where is that dang book?!).

Hopefully, I'll be writing again soon after Christmas for a breakdown of my Christmas gift! Unless the recipient does not like it; then I will hide that post forever in my computer and never let it come out again. Just kidding - I promised I'd even post my fails!