The outer fabric arrived last week. A five-yard bolt of crepe-back satin in cream. When I looked into its shimmering, buttery folds I noticed lots of cool details -- how soft it looks and feels, its wrinkle-resistant drape, the unexpectedly stark contrast between its lustrous front and matte back, both of which can be used -- but most of all I saw deep, satisfying justification for years of being cheap. I didn't regret buying the less than 100% silk satin. Yaas.
I took several deep breaths and cut into it, this time using extra-fine pins for delicate fabrics (+$3.99) and a rotary cutter instead of clunky fabric scissors. Internalized lessons and personal growth.
The cutting and final construction went smoothly for the most part. But y’all. When I tell you I was nearly taken out by that butt bubble again, please believe me. I have never been so baffled by a sewing problem, especially after following a Vogue pattern with precision three times. To be fair I also never really developed a plan for fixing the bubble, I assumed it would just go away as I progressed from toile to lining to the outer shell — but it remained and it looked awful.
I put the thing away and took a long nap, tuckered out by frustration, then drank a generous glass of wine and watched some Netflix. Magically when I came back to the dress after a much needed break, I figured it out. A shortcut I’d taken when tracing the raw pattern for the very first toile -- which at this point feels like YEARS ago -- had been causing issues this whole time. I'd traced one piece onto tissue paper right-side-up rather than face-down (as the instructions said), and that tiny mistake cascaded from draft to draft disguised as careless stitching.
Stubborn as I am, I still refused to frog the whole dress and start again like a responsible seamstress. Instead I gutted just the bottom half, cut away the excess created by my mistake, and rigged the bottom hem with interfacing to hide the evidence of my improvising.
It worked-ish! Here is what the dress looks like now, fully constructed:
Also below are a few details that I'm particularly proud of: a matte bust using the wrong side of the fabric, a side dart under the arm hole, the full-length lining attached invisibly to the outer shell (in part by hand), a lapped zipper to hide the metal a bit more, and the (mostly) corrected butt bubble:
Whew, we are making progress. I would say I'm almost done but I know from experience that handsewing lace flower-by-flower can take longer than constructing the dress itself, and that's what's up next.
Tune in next week when I'll start adorning the outer fabric with lace applique. What do you think of the flower arrangements I've sketched below? Which combination of front and back do you think looks best? Or is there a better lace pattern that I'm missing?