Friday, January 6, 2012

Burda 06-2010-126, 1930s Old Hollywood Glamour Evening Gown

Burda 06-2010-126 Thumbnail

One of our PR Weekend DC events (in addition to cake!) was visiting Exquisite Fabrics, which has to move out of the creepy Georgetown mall after only a couple of years because the mall's developer plans to renovate it, hopefully to make it less creepy.  Exquisite has not yet found a new space, but they are open through January 2012.  In the many years I'd visited it periodically, I had only bought one piece of fabric at Exquisite because much of it is high end (and high dollar) and I don't share enough taste with their buyer to spend the money.  They carry a huge selection of wool in all colors, and the one piece I bought was to match a wool jacket purchased at a thrift store--found the perfect piece.  Anyway, for their moving sale most things are 50% off, so I went bargain hunting.

Joan Crawford
When I found a roll of Fortuny pleated fabric in gray with subtle purple effects, I fell in love.  The owner at Exquisite told me it was from Mary McFadden's warehouse.  It was originally $60/yd, on sale for $30/yd.  It was in two pieces, one about 1 1/4 yards and the other 2/3 yard.  I bought the larger piece, thinking it would make a beautiful skirt.  Then I got it home, and started thinking about the wedding I would be attending on New Year's Eve.  I hadn't come up with an idea yet and suddenly had a vision of 1930s old Hollywood glamour and knew I needed the rest of that fabric.


Jean Harlow
The boyfriend works in Georgetown, so on Monday I called Exquisite to see if the 2/3 yard piece of fabric was still there.  My heart was pounding!  I really wanted to make my vision into a reality but the piece I had was not large enough.  They answered the phone.  The fabric was still there.  They put it aside for me.  I called the boyfriend several times to remind him to pick it up after work.  Mission accomplished.  So happy!  The next time I saw him we were off to South Carolina for Thanksgiving.  I'm not going to lie to you, I put the fabric in my suitcase and took it with me so I could caress it occasionally. At about $75 for fabric and supplies, this is one of my most expensive projects ever.  But I think it was worth it (and looks like more than a $75 dress).

Next step was to find a pattern.  I wanted a triangle top front and back, but of course I purged all the sundresses out of my pattern collection because of my fear of sunburn (over the summer I realized that I want at least one strappy dress for evenings).  I went through my Burdas and came up with Burda 06-2010-126, which has the requisite triangle top, and a midriff band, which is flattering for me.

I wasn't into the shoulder ruffle, but the shoulder line is the marked gather line so it was easy enough to leave off the extra ruffle bit.

Front Bodice Pattern with SBA

I started by muslining the bodice.  Well, I was hoping the muslin could become the lining, but I had to change it significantly enough that it was just a muslin.  Before cutting the muslin I shortened the diagonal neckline and narrowed the gather area on the front bodice for a small bust adjustment.

After muslining, I took another tuck in the diagonal front neckline to shorten it further.

The muslin revealed the armscye to be uncomfortably high.  This is unusual on a BWOF pattern for me.  I lowered the armscye about 1/2 inch.

I also found the shoulder too tall at the shoulder edge.  This might have something to do with the gathered design, but I gathered my shoulder as well, just without the standing ruffle.  I had to shorten the shoulder about 1/2 inch at the shoulder, tapering to nothing at the neck (this also influenced how much I had to lower the armscye).

Then it was time to make the terrifying first cut into my most-expensive-ever and totally-irreplaceable fabric.  I pinned the pattern in place and walked away a few times before taking a deep breath and cutting.

Hand Stitch Midriff to Underlining
Of course, I did make a mistake!  I combined the midriff pieces so that it would be a single length of fabric with a CB seam.  I also changed the shape--the original shape was narrower at the top and wider at the bottom.  I am shaped wider at the ribcage and narrower in the waist, as are most people, so the design was a little odd.  I cut the midriff on the fold, and it turned out I didn't have the fabric laid out perfectly on the underside of the fold, and the pleats started wandering downward at the CB seam on one side.  Ugh!!!!

As it turns out, I had to fix that anyway.  For the midriff, I cut my usual size 34 at the ribcage to 36 at the waist.  It fit in the muslin, but somehow in the real fabric I found it *much* too small.  I added a squidge over an inch at each side using fabric insets.  I was so upset to have to interrupt my smooth  line, but it had to be done, and it allowed me to re-cut that wandering, off grain side (didn't have enough fabric to re-cut the entire midriff).

I underlined the midriff with lightweight lining fabric.  The weight of the skirt was hanging from it and it had to be stabilized.  I hand-stitched in the ditch at the side inset seamlines to keep the midriff fabric in place.

Mark Stitch Line on Skirt

I was not 100% sure how I was going to do the skirt when I started the project.  I figured I'd get the bodice done and then drape the skirt in place.  I figured I would need to do some side-seam shaping.  But while making the bodice, I saw that the pleated fabric gathered unexpectedly well, so when it came time for the skirt I just used the entire large piece of fabric.

I did not want to cut off the upper selvage as the fabric frays weirdly (more like fuzzes), even after being serged.  So I determined the skirt length (based on my shoes--I wore heels, OMG--Born Divinity, which is as comfortable as a heel that high can possibly be, which is to say, not very unless you are sitting down), which turned out to be 3 inches shorter than the manufactured width of the fabric.  I chalk-marked the skirt seamline and put my gathering stitches in above the chalk-line.  Then gathered and stitched to the midriff along the marked line.

I was so relieved with how easy this was, because I had been really sweating the timing.  I *planned* to have loads of time over the holiday, as I had two days off work after I returned from Texas.  Well, those days just evaporated and it got to the point where I had about 10 hours of available time before the wedding (assuming I sewed up to the moment I needed to leave) to finish the bodice, drape the skirt, and do miles of hand-sewing.  I had budgeted 1.5 hours for the skirt and it only took about 40 minutes.  Once it was on I breathed a sigh of relief that I would actually finish in time!

Hand-Picked Zipper
After the skirt was on it was time for the hand-picked zipper.  I use invisible zippers almost exclusively, and have completely lost my ability to install a regular zipper by machine.  After the last disastrous attempt, I decided that any time I need to put in a regular zipper, I will just do it by hand.  It's faster and nicer looking in the long run.  I didn't want to attempt to get an invisible zipper past the heavy seam at the midriff, so hand-picked zipper it was.

I started doing a beaded hand-picked zipper, but sadly it just looked like a total non-sequitor on this dress.  So I ripped out the beads and started over.  I had a couple of false starts, but eventually got the zipper in and looking pretty good.  The prick-stitching is practically invisible in this fabric, so all my hard work can't be seen!

After that hand stitching was done, it was on to hand-stitching the edges of the walking slit.  Although I *could* walk in the dress if the CB seam was sewn all the way down, I did have some restricted motion so I went with a slit.  I used the selvage as the hem.

Midriff lining

Next I needed to hand-sew the midriff lining in place over the skirt/midriff seam.  This had been on my schedule as a "dress can be worn without this" item, but I ended up having loads of time in the end.  So it was properly finished on the inside.  I used a lightweight but color-matching lining for the bodice in because I thought I would twist the shoulders, and a nicer but non-matching lining at the midriff.

My original vision was to twist the shoulder straps before sewing the side seams, as I did several years ago on the Vogue 8386 I'm wearing in my profile photo.  Unfortunately, the fabric was just too thick for it to look nice.  I needed to have re-drafted the bodice to have a thin strap, rather than a thick gathered one.  Alas.  So I gathered the shoulders (by hand).

The final step was embellishment.  This is always a mine field for me because I do not trust my eye.  I have a magpie instinct to pile on the shiny and the frilly.  When I was buying the fabric, the owner at Exquisite had said it was a great purchase because you can use every inch of it.  He demonstrated by folding a bit of the fabric with the pleats running vertically and then fanning out the pleats.  I was suitably impressed.

Making Flowers:  Hand Gather

So I took my scraps and made them into flowers, using a sort of modified yoyo technique.  First, I cut rectangles of fabric, with the pleats running down the short side.

I took them to the serger and finished all the edges, due to the fuzzy fraying.

Next, I sewed the edges together, with the pleats running parallel to the edges, to make tubes.

Making Flowers:  Pull Gather Thread



Then folded them in half, wrong sides together (with the seam along the inside), and did a running stitch by hand around the edges.



Pull the running stitch tight and knot in place, and then open out the flower.  Voila!






Making Flowers:  Decorate Centers with Beads

I bought some purple ribbon flowers in Dallas while visiting the fabric stores there.  I put the dress on my paper tape double and pinned the self-fabric and purple flowers cascading over the neckline on one side.  When I tried the dress on I couldn't tell if it was cute or 70s bridesmaid.  I unpinned all the flowers and started over, but just couldn't find anything I like.  Then as sort of a joke I put two big flowers on my shoulders and oddly, it totally worked.  Who would have guessed?  They are "upside down"--cupping the shoulders. I covered the messy middles with sparkly beads.

Beaded Midriff



 My last embellishment was to sprinkle (and by "sprinkle" I mean individually hand sew) small, very subtle smoky glass beads in the pleats of the midriff.  I'm not sure if they show at all to anyone not specifically looking for them, but my hope is that they randomly catch the light on occasion.  I like them, at any rate.




I could not believe how smoothly this went!  I had time to put my hair up in pincurls, make my dangle earrings, and even take a nap--which turned out to be very smart as we were out until 4:30 am that night!!!

Front
Side
I was entirely thrilled with the way the dress came out.  I felt that it captured my inspiration without being costumey and I felt utterly glamorous after an initial panic with my hair (when I took out the bobby pins the curls stuck straight to my head and I looked more Little Orphan Annie than movie star--combing, weighing down with clips, and using the curling iron as a straightener finally took care of it).  The fit is good and it was comfortable to wear and move in.

I wasn't the only person in a full length dress, thank goodness, and several guests gave me really nice compliments.  The bride told me I looked like a movie star, which was so sweet.

I LOVED wearing this dress.  It was my first true evening gown.  Now I need another occasion to wear it!

All photos are here and the pattern review is here.

94 comments:

Myrna said...

GORGEOUS

Shannon said...

So nice when a vison becomes a reality - you look lovely!

SEWN said...

Absolutely stunning. I love this dress. I love everything about it. You look gorgeous. I love how you did your hair too. This has to be one of my fave dresses you have ever made. BEAUTIFUL!!!

Cennetta said...

Wow! You look smashing, my dear!

Lisette M said...

You look stunning! You really capture the look you were going for and I loved your fabric story, it is always better when we produce garments that have one.

Debi said...

Absolutely stunning! I just love it!!!

AngelatheCreativeDiva said...

Wowza Trena! I agree. You look stunning. What an amazing dress. Fabulous work.

Mikhaela said...

Totally gorgeous and I love your hair too!

Peter Lappin said...

Beautiful and a very flattering style. Great job!

Becky said...

Gorgeous! And it looks like a lot of hard work. I would be terrified to cut into that fabric too! But all of your hard work definitely paid off.

redhotpepper said...

Absolutely stunning. The whole ensemble, including hair, is just perfect!

ReadyThreadSew said...

Beautiful dress. I love the throw away statement near the end - "... make my dangle earrings" - more details, or at least photos required.

countrygirlcouture said...

This dress turned out amazing! The finished look is so pretty! :-)

Karin said...

I hope you get loads more chances to wear this dress. It is stunning. It really is perfect for you.

Ruth said...

Looks a million dollars! Well done.

wendy said...

Love it! that's been one of my favorite BWOF evening gowns for a while, and this is really a beautiful version.

Tina B said...

The dress is just stunning! That color perfectly sets off your hair and I love all those micropleats. I would have been so intimidated by that fabric. Wow! Well-done. I'd end up wearing that around the house just because... :-)

Toby Wollin said...

Everyone else has said everything I'd say but you look wonderful and that fabric just makes that dress. Bravo!!

Connie said...

Bee-utiful !! You did indeed look like a movie star!

shams said...

Wow! In that dress, with that hair, you look like a gorgeous movie star from the forties!

badmomgoodmom said...

Oh, wow. That is so fabulous, inside and out.

Can you come out and wear it to the Turner Classic Film Festival? The theme this year is style in the movies and I need to get busy and sew period dresses for the screenings.

http://www.tcm.com/festival/

Gernella said...

Absolutly gorgeous. Would have cost a fortune to buy.

AuntieAllyn said...

Ultra glamorous!!! The dress is just too fabulous for words, and you look wonderful in the photos. You must find another reason to wear this dress again, and soon!

Carolyn (cmarie12) said...

Trena - this is just AWESOME! And you do look like a Hollywood Movie Star!

Jean S said...

You did a great job--it's stunning. And I loved your comment about taking a deep breath before making that first cut!

Venus de Hilo said...

Daahling, you look maaaahvelous!
And how courageous of you to cut into such luscious fabric! A complete sewing triumph.

Kathryn said...

Amazing! You did such a great job with a difficult fabric and you look stunning in it.

Adelaide B said...

This is pretty amazing. It looks great on you and really captures old style glamor. (Also, your hair is perfect!) Totally impressed.

MAD14kt said...

You are working that dress!

BConky said...

I just love it. Love the style, fabric and how it looks on you. I think it's adorable. I just love old movies and they really knew what glamour was back then.

Connie said...

Beautiful gown and you looked fantastic! The hair, the shoes, everything was totally in sync. That's the hardest thing about a long gown, it is hard to find another event to wear it to! But this is so timeless, it could be worn years from now and still be "in style" whatever that phrase means LOL!

Amanda S. said...

VERY pretty!

ELMO said...

You look fabulous in this gown!

window dressing said...

The dress is amazing and so are the hair by the way.

Seraphinalina said...

Wow, what a stunning dress. Your hair is perfect for the feel of that dress. It's all just lovely.

emadethis said...

You look beautiful. That is the perfect pattern for that fabric. The flowers with the beads are a really cool touch. Well done!

Some day I hope to find fabric pretty enough to have a REAL dress to wear to the opera.

Stephanie said...

That is a fan-freakin-TASTIC dress. I am totally gobsmacked! Your hair looks amazing, too. Well done. :D

Mary said...

What a gorgeous dress, and gorgeous model! Thank you for sharing all the details of how this look came to be.

McVal said...

Gorgeous!!!!!

thornberry said...

The dress is stunning, you look stunning, and definitely like a 30s Movie Star! Wow - no wonder you love this dress.

Janice said...

You look awesome! Did you cut your hair?

Uta said...

You put in so many lovely details (I love the tiny beads!) that I hope you get to wear it again and again!

BetsyV said...

Really spectacular! The dress, the hair - your entire look for a glamorous wedding is, well, glamorous!

Beangirl said...

OMG girl, you look AMAZING, that is the perfect style for you. And such a fabulous job creating it. I am completely impressed by this whole project, start to finish.

liza jane said...

Wow! Beautiful! I think the tiny beads are one of my favorite details. It's such a gorgeous dress. Fun to go to a wedding new year's eve, too.
What part of SC did you go to for Thanksgiving? Just curious. No one ever comes here, lol!

KID, MD said...

Wowza!! Screen siren/greek goddess - absolutely amazing!!

Marie said...

Stunning. I love it.

Audrey said...

The dress is gorgeous and you do look like a glamourous movie star. Bravo!

T. Sedai said...

The dress is absolutely beautiful! Everything is just perfect, and I love the beaded flowers!

Jilly Be said...

ohmegoddess - knockoutstunninglygorgeousfantabulous! Every superlatie in the book!

AllisonC said...

Oh wow this dress is amazing and you look absolutely stunning in it. I love all the adjustments you made to make this pattern your own style and your styling is spot on - Hollywood glamour indeed!

marysews said...

Wow! You are quite the '30s Vamp!

NancyDaQ said...

What a beautiful dress. Wow!

montanachic said...

Stunning, beautiful,gorgeous. One of the best you have ever done and you have done some amazing stuff!

Anna said...

This is just absolutely stunning. Beautiful work, and you look wonderful in it. Your hair styling is perfect and I love the shoulder embellishments. Really really wonderful!

K.Line said...

Fantastic!

Lori said...

Fantastic dress.

verypurpleperson said...

Amazing! The fabric is fabulous and the style is so flattering on you!

Carol said...

Oh you look lovely! I just traced this pattern to make in charmeuse, so it's great to see it on a real person. Your hair is gorgeous and you do look like a movie star!

Sew Ducky said...

This is totally gorgeous, and I love the fabric.

You look amazing, and I seriously wish I could get away with that kind of look.

Lynn said...

Anytime you get over sixty comments, you know you are doing something right! Amazing!

Sheila said...

Stunning... Absolutely stunning.

Debbie Cook said...

You DO look like a movie star! So glam! You definitely NEED to find another occasion for wearing this dress.

Tell me more about the creepy GT mall? Why is it creepy? Is this a different mall than the one that was new at the end of the 80s?

Gorgeous Things said...

Beautiful! I think you should abandon the moniker "Slapdash", because this is anything but.

Valerie said...

Truly elegant and glamourous--you did a beautiful job!

Beth (SunnyGal Studio) said...

Love love love it, perfect style and color on you. what a way to start 2012.

kathy said...

Exquisite!

Summer said...

Gorgeous dress, and it looks fantastic on you!

SheriNJ said...

When I saw the first picture in your entry, I wanted to know all about your hair. Perfection! Glad you answered my questions about it down further in your entry. Beautiful dress, beautiful you!

Elaray said...

One word: amazing! Actually, two words : amazing and beautiful!!!

Mrs. Micawber said...

Wow, your hair must really take a curl! (That's jealousy speaking.) It looks beautiful.

Fortuny-pleated fabric - what a treat, and worth every penny. I like the subtle curve of the midriff. The embellishments are perfect.

Such a gorgeous dress. Now I'm off to your photo stream to see if I can get a closer look at the earrings. Thanks for letting us all in to the sewing room!

Digs said...

Totally glam! A perfect vision.

moggy said...

That is one seriously fabulous frock. All your sewing is lovely, but you've outdone yourself this time!

gwensews said...

That is a beautiful gown, and you do look like a movie star! Move away gals, and make room for the new starlet on the runway!

kbenco said...

Visually, the photo of you in this dress was a knockout from the wrap up post, you look terrific, but reading all the details makes it really interesting (and maybe a dress that mere mortals might aspire to, should they ever come across Fortunay pleated fabric). Thanks for your thorough post. I enjoyed every bit of it, except where the cutting out did not behave itself, that was scary - lucky there was a happy ending!

MushyWear said...

Gorgeous dress and you look absolutely stunning in it!

Andrea said...

You look stunning in this gown, and you did a beautiful job!!!!

Noile said...

Trena, this dress is a real tour de force, and absolutely stunning on you. (Oops, I see that my adjective is hardly original -- that's OK, we're all right!)

Everything about it is perfect, including the way it fits and suits your body. Your hairstyle is an ideal final touch -- and so are the shoulder rosettes. Wow. Just wow.

julandmatt said...

Simply GORGEOUS!
Congrats.
Julie

meli88a said...

That dress is awesome. How did you keep the pleats in the fabric? I would be worried about stretching it out while sewing.

Elizabeth said...

You look amazing in that dress! Beautifully sewn and fitted to you!!!

techwriter said...

there is a psychology to using 'expensive' fabrics - it means that you get a product that you really want and enjoy it more - not always that way round as a good fabric, doesn't necessarily equate with monetary expense, but I have discovered sewing with great fabric, you get better hang, drape, sewing is easier and I feel better in it - hope this of help - cheers Sally
PS it looks great!

Sue Campbell said...

All I can say is Wow! That turned out great. I love the texture and the color is great for you!

Clio said...

UH-MAZING! It really is dazzling.

melissa said...

LOVE THIS! It's a perfect marriage of pattern and fabric. Your photo of the hand stitches on those pleats reminded me of the Madame Gres exhibition - her designs were full of tiny couture details like that.

Lisa said...

What a beautiful dress you have made an awesome job of this one :-))

Meetzorp said...

That turned out completely glorious. Seriously, this is a gorgeous dress and perfect on you!

The hair is adorable, too. Makes me think a bit of Kristen Schaal, who I think is darling.

dashingmarmot said...

What beautiful work! Sure, the materials may be pricey but the results are so worth it and you will have that dress forever.

Joy said...

Uh, yes, it does look like a more than $75 dollar dress! It's beautiful in a Grecian statue sense; the fabric is perfect for it; and the style really suits you.

senaSews said...

Fabulous dress. You look like one of these Hollywood divas. Fantastic!

Aroura said...

This dress is so classic movie star classy, you are just gorgeous in it! Amazing work.

Nancy K said...

Stunning! Very glamorous indeed.

-E said...

I did the out-loud "WOW" when I scrolled to this post. Very nice.

Victoria said...

Gorgeous!!!