Thursday, April 30, 2015

Honey bees, oranges, limes and lemons, oh my!

A few months ago I was introduced to a new client, Sarah, who wanted to get a 1950's dress made.  I knew her through church and a few parties I'd been to.  We started off looking to make a Disney themed dress for her to wear to Dapper Day.  I met her at Joann's fabric store and the rest is history.

It didn't take long for either of us to realize that we were going to be fast friend's.  We both have endless creative energy and that was made evident in the process of creating this dress that I'm about to detail for you.  We started with one idea and went through three before landing on the "fruit dress".

Firstly we thought about a Tower of Terror dress (which is now in the making, several months later, for a completely different event), then we transferred to thinking about a train conductors dress with the conductor mickey ears.  We also thought about doing a Jane Porter from Tarzan.  All of these ideas were possibilities when we first went shopping for fabric.  While at the thrift store (my favorite place for inexpensive fabrics), we found all the parts for Jane, including the adventurers pith helmet.  There is no way to explain the extent of how randomly wonderful this coming together of parts was.

However, shortly after we went shopping, Sarah found an absolutely yummy fabric printed with oranges, limes, lemons, bee's, and fruit blossoms.  It was perfect for the theme of that Dapper Day, which was "It's going to be sweet".  Their flyer included an orange with it's leaves and blossoms.  We knew we had to make a fruit dress out of this fabric.  Therefor the themed dresses were put on hold and the fruit dress project was commenced.

First I transferred the pattern to my favorite butcher paper.  I've started doing this with all my patterns.  I don't waste the whole set of sizes cutting out one size for one client. Instead, I can transfer the one size, adjust it if need be, and have all of the original sizes intact for the next client that may want the same or similar pattern made.

Then I made a mock-up with muslin fabric. Fitted it to Sarah.  My pattern drafting/draping class has been amazingly helpful and this was the first time I truly noticed how much I've been learning.  I knew from the class how to fit the muslin to her and that I didn't need to freak out when I had to take in a chunk of fabric in her back.  I knew from the class that this was okay because she has a gymnast/dancer's back.  She has better formed muscles in her back and a different resting posture than people who don't have a background in dancing.

After the fitting, I set to cutting the fabric. The cat-goyle decided to oversee the project at various stages throughout the duration of it.  She even wrapped herself up in the fabric hanging over the edge of the ironing board at one point.  It is always ever so much fun sewing with animals to help.

On the left you can see the white eyelet fabric underneath.  This is from a petticoat that I made out of a bedskirt that Sarah and I found on that same shopping day.  Below there is a full view of it.  It is the right length to just barely peek out of the bottom of her dresses. 

Construction of the dress naturally came next, after cutting the fabric.  I had to return to the thrift store to find a lining fabric and there was a perfect two set of lime green curtains there that matched beautifully.  It was a very soft fabric, but not silky as Sarah let me know she didn't like the feeling of the slick linings often found in jackets, skirts and things.

The bodice gave me the most trouble.  It has a contrast color shoulder strap piece that is sewn separate from the bodice section, then slip stitched onto the bodice.  If I had done it this way, it would have taken days of hand sewing in the evenings to complete.  I'm better at slip stitching and plan to give this process a try the next time I make this dress.  It really would make for a very invisible and clean construction of the bodice sections.

The first time I constructed the separate strap section, it was too big.  I had made alterations to the original bodice pattern pieces to fit Sarah better and didn't adjust the strap section pieces accordingly.  I spent some time, adjusted them and sewed a new section.  After that it fit perfectly and I just top stitched it to the bodice section instead of the slip stitch method.  It looked great non-the-less, as you will see below.

The completed dress, shown here, came out just fine, despite the slight construction setbacks.  Sarah wore it beautifully, pairing it with a vintage orange overcoat, white handbag, vintage style nylon leggings, and a gorgeous fascinator that she made to go with it. 

During out Dapper Day event, I went off on my own for an hour or so to check out the vintage market that the event hosts put together.  At one of the vendor booths, there were beautifully made wood jewelry.  They had so many wonderful choices, but the fruit jewelry was what caught my attention.  My final choice was this oranges pin that I knew would perfectly compliment the fruit dress!  Sarah loved it and wore it for the rest of our trip.

It was a wonderfully fun project and an equally fun adventure through Disneyland with Sarah and Justin.  Thank you so much for asking me to create something for you for Dapper Day and the friendship that has grown as a result!

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