Saturday, 17 August 2013

The Dress: Planning & Preparation

Since my prom dress was THE DRESS that started this all off it was only fitting (Pun intended) that I start off by telling you ALL about it...

I decided to make my prom dress when I realised that I had neither the money or the inclination to actually spend money on a dress. I also couldn't find any dress that I thought were my "style", although I wasn't really sure what my style was! Every girl I knew was shopping, browsing the internet and finding the perfect dress and I was sitting the there being slowly dragged towards my deadline, whilst not even sure I was going to make the damn thing. Suffice to say I was NOT a happy bunny! (the Facebook group set up for all the girls to post pictures of their prom dresses on didn't help)

I spent A LOT of time thinking and sketching trying to decided on a "look" that I could design around (or blatantly steal) and I came up with this mood board.
1) Free people 2) Free people 3) Rachel Antonoff 4) Etsy 5) Modcloth 6) Ark 7) Asos 8) Asos
I fell HEAD OVER HEELS for numbers 3 and 5 so decided to make a strapless sweetheart bodice with a short twirly skirt. (This was to become a reoccurring theme!!) I then spent MANY weeks hanging out in the fabric store narrowing down my fabric options, since it was a one-time thing and would probably still be cheaper than a normal prom dress I was ready to give the big bucks (Read: over £5/m) for Silk. I'd narrowed down my fabric options to 2 purple silks (1 floral, 1 with squirrels) and 1ditsy blue. I was leaning towards the squirrels but wasn't sure they'd be very prom-y... Just as I was leaving I noticed the sales-lady sewing the price on a remnant... the same floral blue silk crepe that I had been ogling seconds before!! It was like a sign from the gods; the fabric was paid for before the price was even attached to it. I figured that even if I didn't use it for the dress it would be a good piece to experiment with (for my first time sewing silk. Eeep!) or just to add to my stash and stroke!

That night I drew up a vague pattern for the bodice and sewed it up in a random piece of black cotton from my stash. I loved it and decided to make the whole dress from the blue fabric (a la numero 3). I went back to the shop 2 days later to find absolutely NO SIGN WHATSOEVER that my blue silk had even existed!! (There was also no sign of the squirrels and i'm STILL kicking myself for not buying any when I had the chance! It was on sale and too perfect for words :'( ) Still reeling and unsure of what to do I wandered over to the remnants box where I saw a deep teal stretch satin material. There was a good lot of it for cheap and although I didn't like the right side (too shiny) I thought the wrong side went well with the little swatch of crepe i'd brought. (my friends had taken to carrying pieces of their dresses around in case they went impromptu accessories shopping, I had a slightly more legitimate reason)

As time went on, however, the dress ground to a halt. Why, you ask: 1) I had just been plunged into the BIGGEST MOST IMPORTANT EXAMS OF MY LIFE!! (Essentially life stopped and I disappeared into a revision-shaped cocoon, emerging only to restock on flashcards and take the damn tests) and 2) I HATED the skirt fabric. It was so much heavier than the delicate silk and and colours were so similar (yet dissimilar...?) that I really didn't think they'd work together. My mind essentially refused to work on the bodice until I had worked-out the skirt, and it wouldn't touch the skirt with a barge pole. 

So, 2 weeks before prom I was in the fabric shop, getting some light relief before my final exams, when I realised I'd walked into the middle of a half-price sale!! Say it with me now "HALF-PRICE SALE!!"...aaaah music to my ears. Then slap-bang in the middle of the shop was a roll of black sparkly lace. I took out my swatch and knew instantly that what my skirt needed was a black lace overlay for texture. I rushed home and a quick Google search (for Teal dress black lace overlay) confirmed my hope.
After all if it's on Modcloth it must be good ;)
I went back and immediately bought the black lace. It had a beautiful scalloped selvage edge and was luckily it was wide enough that I could squeeze both the front and back panel from one 70cm piece! I had also bought a long blue invisible zip and 1 metre of plastic boning and after reading this post (to find out what the hell I was supposed to do with it) I was ready to finally crack down on the dress!

For those of you who are wondering the dress was entirely self-drafted! I took a buttload (hehe, or rather boob-load!) of measurements and winged it referring to this post towards the end. I also bought a cheap nasty crop-top in the same sort of style as I wanted my bodice to be and took it apart to look at the construction. The skirt was just a simple gathered skirt I've made a million times before.

See Part II to see the final dress and find out about my nightmare sewing experience...

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