Stefania´s Dress

Yesterday was a big day! Stefania came over to get her dress, that has actually been finished for some time now, we just didn´t have the chance to meet.

As during the whole process she tried it on only twice, you can imagine how my hands were shaking when she slipped into it and I pulled the zipper to close it. I was even afraid to look over her shoulder to the mirror and was ready for her to say “Eemmm, I want it tighter here” or “Why is it like this here?”, but…. it was perfect. As I mentioned before starting the dress, I wanted to use a waist stay to make it absolutely secure and comfortable for her, but apparently I miraculously managed to make it exactly tight enough for no need for a waist stay. I actually had added it and just wanted to add the hooks as the last step, but in the end I ripped the waist stay out, there was simply no need for it.

I must admit I got goosebumps when I saw her twirling in her dress, fitting her just right. Honestly, I am proud! It was the first time for me to make a strapless bodice, the first time to use boning and the first time making someone else a garment that requires such a precise fit. Another stress factor was that the dress will be worn for Stefania’s sister’s wedding in December, making it even more important to look nice on her.

I must disappoint you though, because my friend refused to have any of the photos we took yesterday uploaded here, as she was on her way to work, wearing very little make up and having her hair casually loose. I was too happy for the fit of her dress, so I agreed to wait until she sends me some photos of her in the dress that she wouldn’t mind sharing with you. In the meanwhile, I cannot even show it on the dressmaking dummy, because as it appears, Stefania is still a tad smaller than the smallest setting of my dummy, and the dress just wouldn’t go over the shoulders of the dummy. I am trying to tell myself that patience is a virtue, but I am not very good at it.

This is an earlier photo of the dress, while it didn’t have the zipper attached yet and thus no problem to show it on the dummy:

Notice that it doesn’t have the belt detail yet.

So, as already said, the pattern I used is Simplicity 4070, view C:

The pattern was relatively easy to work with, but as I understand, it requires sewing the bodice and skirt together, treating the lining and fabric layers as one, which would not look very nice on the inside. So what I did differently, was that I sewed the fabric skirt to fabric bodice and the lining skirt to the lining bodice, so basically it looks like a dress you could wear inside out as well. I then sewed the zipper only to the fabric layer and folded the lining layer away very close to the zipper and hand stitched it into place.

For the boning I used rigilene boning and I sewed it onto the seam allowances of the lining with a wide zig-zag stitch. The pattern requires for plastic or metal wire boning to be sewn into cases, but I think the rigilene worked just fine with less fuss. According to some instructions I found online, I melted the sharp ends of each strip with a lighter, so they became smooth and would not cause any discomfort by poking through the fabric against the skin. On the bust, I cut the strips short enough to end right under the bust, not run over it. Since the seams are curved over the bust, I didn’t see a way to sew the boning on such seams.

I cut size 8 according to the size chart and Stefania’s measurements, but there must be too much ease in the pattern, because I had to take in quite a lot on the bodice, maybe a size smaller would have worked better (I am still waiting for a sewing disaster to happen to force me to consider making a muslin).

A few photos here of the finished dress lying flat on my sofa:

The inside of the dress

I didn’t realize the quality of the last two photos was so bad until I opened them in my computer but then it was too late. I am keeping my fingers crossed to get some decent pics from Stefania soon!

The belt detail of the dress is sewn into the zipper seam and then just attached with a few hand stitches at every seam of the bodice. When worn, it fits snugly around the waist, not loose as it looks when not worn.

I got a lot of self assurance with this project and celebrated the success with…. fabric shopping and a glass of cool rosé wine with a friend from the Estonian Embassy in Athens 🙂

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