It's all about the lace - GBSB lace project

My first properly formal dress ever to share with you here! I love it, and can’t wait to wear it.

Lilypad dress (Vogue 8766 in White Tree Fabrics' lace)

I swear that hem is straight in real life.
This project is part of a White Tree Fabrics blog series linked to the Great British Sewing Bee's new series, which I think most of you will have been watching. I’ve loved it, but the series seems so short! Is it really usually this short? Word has it that the GBSB contestants are going to use a lot of White Tree fabrics in the lace challenge. I'm wondering if I'll spot my lace! There are a group of bloggers making garments with the laces featured on GBSB. I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone else has made! White Tree Fabrics very kindly provided me with this lace and satin for this project, along with the pattern, Vogue 8766

I decided to make view C, the strapless, full skirted version. I recently realised I don't have very many fancy frocks in my wardrobe, and this seemed to be the perfect chance to change that!!! 

I do regret that didn't have the time I would have liked to spend on this project. A bit like the GBSB then! Having an actual countdown of hours and minutes must be so stressful. I'd hate that. I'm slow! So, I went ahead and toiled the bodice of V8766. It needed a lot of fitting work. No biggie, most patterns do, but just as I was about to hack into my traced pattern and start adjusting, I realised I had JUST completed a lot of fitting work on an almost identical princess seamed strapless bodice (Butterick 4443). Doh! At least I realised at this point and saved myself a lot of time. So this is my convoluted way of saying that this dress does look exactly like the pattern envelope of V8766, but it is actually the bodice of B4443 with the skirt of V8766 (which is a circle skirt, but I was glad to have the pattern pre-drawn rather than having to do the piece-of-string-tied-round-a-pencil circle drawing). 
There are so many beautiful lace dresses out there. I just adore the feminine, fancy look of lace. I pinned about one hundred lacy ideas here - I would like them all please. 

This particular lace is quite heavy, is corded and has a pretty scalloped edge. It would've been nice to use the scallops on the hem but obviously that's impossible with a circle skirt. I tried using them along the neckline but it looked a bit weird! While we're on the lace, I have to say I was really impressed with the quality. This is £9.25 per metre, which I think is excellent value for money. I'm very tempted to buy some of the red and make a fiery backless number at some point.

I am quite new to working with lace, but you might be seeing a lot more of it here soon (hint). I tried a bit of lace appliqué initially, to hide the princess seams, but I couldn't get it right, and the corded lace is quite thick. So I followed the pattern and sewed the lace and underlining together in the princess seams. I'm not sure Patrick Grant would be happy with my decision but I don't mind! Most RTW lace frocks I've seen are sewn this way, and quite pricey ones at that. 

The underlining is lightweight satin. Both fabrics behaved well, but presented their own challenges. My tips if you’re working with the corded lace:
  • thread trace the seam lines of your pattern. It takes a long time but is much more accurate and is really the only effective way of marking this type of fabric!
  • the lace will stretch on the bias (quite a lot). I hung my dress overnight before hemming so the circle skirt could drop where it’s on the bias, and didn’t expect the lace to drop very much, but it dropped a lot. 
  • be careful with the iron! I burned a hole in my hem trying to press it. Oops.
And the only tip I have for the lightweight satin is to pink everything if possible, even if you’re finishing the seam another way afterwards. It frayed like a good ‘un. 

I moved the zip to the side, and decided to put in a lapped zip. Under normal circumstances I would have liked an invisible zip but that would have been absolutely impossible with the thickness of the corded lace, so I went lapped. It’s a bit bumpy in the end but I’m happy with it.

My underlining hem wouldn’t win any prizes, but it’s the underlining so I’m not losing any sleep over that.  I love a circle skirt but man I hate hemming them. Especially when there are two to do in one dress! I did a (far from perfect) baby hem on the satin by machine, and turned up a 2” hem on the lace and sewed it by hand. I much prefer hemming my hand, even if it does take hours on a circle skirt. The lace has so much give in the open parts of it that it’s easy to ease it in when turning up the hem. 

Anyway, I’ve gabbed enough. Can’t wait to see the GBSB final and see who wins! 

I'll leave you with some more shots of my lovely purple lace dress. I adore it.  Now I just need an occasion to wear it! 

The Arrows Emery

Wow, my first post this year! I actually thought I'd already published this, but the post was sat in my drafts, whoops! The dress itself was also a long time in the coming! I'd had the fabric stashed away for yonks, having bought it as soon as I laid eyes on Sarah of A Million Dresses' version. Then I saw By Gum, By Golly's, and I knew I was right: I had to have an arrows dress in my life. 

All a-quiver dress (Christine Haynes Emery dress in Cotton + Steel fabric

I adore the print (by Melody Miller for Cotton and Steel). In fact I love almost every single Cotton and Steel print I have seen. On top of that, the cotton is of lovely quality and even though it's quilting cotton, is not too stiff for dressmaking in my opinion. 

As you can see it's another Emery. After all that time (I'm talking half a YEAR) in the planning, this dress got sewed up in about three or four little sessions over Christmas. It's hardly been off my back since and I adore it. 

Nothing to report on the Emery pattern as I've done all my adjustments long ago (see previous Emerys here) but I was carrying a little bit of extra Christmas padding when I made this, so I sewed the bodice side seams at 3/8". The padding has now mostly gone, and I have to say I do like the bit of extra wriggle room. May do the same for all future versions.

The hem was a bugger as well. No idea why, but it was soooo far from level. I pinned it up on my new dress form (Christmas pressie from my lovely Liam) measuring from the ground, but it transpires that something in my posture makes hems hang differently when on me than when on the dress form. Great! 

Bless Liam for helping me. He had lots of patience with me turning very slowly and was great at spotting even the slightest of hem discrepancy. I'm glad we took the extra time over it, it would have bugged me something rotten if not. 

I didn't match the pattern per se, but did make sure I had a line of arrows or dots meeting up across all the seams. I just marked where a few lines were on my pattern pieces and lined them up that way pre-cutting. You can see what I mean in the side view above, and also below (this is the matching across the invisible zip).

Not that I'm in it for the compliments, but this dress has received probably the most of any dress I have made. Also the most "oh I didn't think you'd made THAT one"s, which I think might be a good thing?!

Again, it cements what I love about the Emery pattern. A simple shape which allows a great print to do the talking. 

So, if I adore this dress so much and it has hardly been off my back, why is it being modelled by my new dress form rather than by me? Life got in the way, I'm afraid. I had no daylight time available to take pictures with the dress on me (I don't have a remote and tripod yet. Must sort that out soon.) so you shall have to make do with my lady valet as a model, and these two quite crap mirror selfies:

Cardi / no cardi. With Topshop shoes from years ago
As you can see, I've finally succumbed to the wonders of the Hell Bunny Paloma cardigan, after years of coveting Forever Amber and Roisin at Dolly Clackett's Paloma collections. I bought mine from Tiger Milly on eBay, and would be more than happy to recommend this seller and the cardigan alike. The cardi is so so comfy, a lovely fit and just the perfect length to wear over waisted dresses. I may now need to buy the green and black versions as well... 

Well, I'm off for now! On a side note, wedding dress sewing is taking way longer than I thought it would. I'm spending every spare moment on it, and I've still not finished the "rehearsal" dress (the wedding is in June). Better get a wriggle on!