Saturday, February 2, 2013

P-P-P-Polka Dots!

This has been one of my favorite projects. It's also the one that took the longest and that I put the most work into. I could get all philosophical and think about what that implies... but umm... let's move on.
I've been pretty excited about this one since I saw this beauty in the thrift store:
I've said it before and I'll certainly say it again - I've had a huge crush on polka dots, especially in these colors. I saw the beauty in this, but everyone who I've showed this dress to has asked, in one way or another "what were you thinking?!" The mentions of nightgowns, bedspreads and horrid pillows did not sway me into changing my mind - this was gonna. be. awesome. I think.
First thing I did was take away some of that fabric. This had to have had about 3 yards of fabric in it. Not only did it have a built in bib and neck ruffles, a long skirt, and long arms with even more ruffles, it also had a lot of extraneous fabric on the inside.
All that right there? Cut that shit out!
I was not 100% sure why they left all the fabric on the inside; my only (and best) guess was that they wanted to keep this fantastic dress around for the long run and wanted the full opportunity to take it out later, essentially allowing the dress to "grow with the owner".  First thing I did was cut out the bib, seam rip the sleeves, and cut out all the extraneous inside fabric. I also cut off about a foot of the bottom of the dress. I had quite the pile of junk fabric going on in my living room.
Whole lotta fabric.
After removing all the extra fabric, I tried on the dress. At this point, it was already better so I sighed a breath of relief knowing that I haven't royally failed yet. Happy dance ensued.
At this point, I took the sides in about an inch. After I tried it on again, I noticed that the armholes of the dress were a bit weird and right underneath my arms there was a HUGE gap. So - I improvised. I'm a bit ashamed that I just (how do you say "wing it" eloquently?) threw it together, but I ended up sewing a triangle shape from the seam into my armpit so it would "cut in". Not sure if this is how the pro's do it, or even if that's the verbiage they would use to describe it, but it did work. And yes - a second happy dance ensued.
Takin' it in, choppin' off the excess.
Once I had the armpit situation under control, I tucked in the arms all the way around and pinned it down. Armholes kind of tick me off because they are actually really hard. I read somewhere (probably one of the blogs that I stalk) that if you make small slits on the armholes you can manipulate the fabric a bit better in order to make a better armhole that doesn't pucker. I made slits. Did it help? Meh. They still ticked me off, but they got done, and they're pretty much even - considering I didn't measure or anything.
Then it came to the neck - I debated for a good 10 minutes on the ruffles. I wasn't sure if I should tuck them all in and sew them down, leave it half in/half out, or just keep the ruffles the way they were. I asked my husband about 14 times, explaining to him that I wasn't sure if taking them off would lose the integrity of the original design. He so eloquently replied "the polka dots are the integrity of that monstrosity". Realizing that he was right (but not telling him - I'm not crazy) I decided that I would leave it half-in/half out. I tucked in the ruffles from the shoulder around to the back of the neck and sewed them down. If the ruffles on the chest bother me too much, I can always tuck in the rest of the ruffles later. 'Cause I know how. Boom.
So how did it end up? You tell me. Because I'm actually pretty dang proud of it!

Of course I had to jack it up.
Personally, I like it all jacked up. I think that the red belt is certainly breaking up the dots. I also like that it is removable, so I could always accent it with different colored belts or even just a white  belt if I want to wear some fantastic stand-out shoes or something.
What did I learn? First off, I learned that I don't have to go crazy with the measuring and planning, although the copious amount of pins is still necessary. The bottom of the dress I just chopped off by following the original hem of the dress. The armholes I didn't measure either - I just did a "fold and go" method but everything seemed to come out okay. Additionally, I learned to pay attention to all the tidbits that I've learned from reading other blogs. I did make a rookie mistake on this one but luckily it worked out okay. The general rule is to bring in the sides of a dress before chopping off the bottom. Taking in the sides makes it shorter, so if you chop off the bottom first and then do the sides, you tend to get into a "hooch" look. Luckily, the way I chopped off the bottom the first time it was still too long, so when I took it in on the sides, it brought it up but kept it at an appropriate length.
So that's it ya'll. And you betchya that I will be wearing this to work on s Monday that's not too cold and snowy!